107 Airport Rd. Westerly, RI 02891 (401) 596-0146 service@thorptrainer.com
Apple Squares

Apple Squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar

  • ½ cup white sugar

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ½ cup chopped apple

  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch square pan.

  • Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon into a medium bowl. Stir 2 tablespoons white sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon together in a small bowl.

  • Mix brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, and melted butter together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in egg and vanilla. Blend in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in apple and walnuts. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared pan and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over top.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until the top springs back when lightly pressed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting into 16 squares.

Broccoli Casserole

 

 

Easy 7 Layer Dip

Easy 7 Layer Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  • 1 (10 ounce) can rotel tomatoes and green chilies drained
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 3 medium avocados peeled and seeded
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream
  • 2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese and Monterey jack cheese blend
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup diced cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or roma tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup sliced green onions

Directions

  1. Combine the refried beans, rotel tomatoes and taco seasoning.  Spread the mixture in a 7 x 11 inch casserole dish.
  2. Mash the avocado.  Mix in the lime juice, garlic, cilantro, onion powder, salt and cayenne.  Spread it over the bean layer.
  3. Carefully spread the sour cream over the avocado layer.  Top with the finely shredded cheese, black olives, tomatoes and green onions.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Broccoli Casserole

 

 

Tuscan Garlic Chicken and Linguine

Tuscan Garlic Chicken and Linguine

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 1 pound linguine pasta, uncooked
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Chardonnay
  • 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning Blend
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a small handful of salt and the linguine and cook until it’s al dente (has a bite to it). Drain the pasta and reserve 2 cups of the pasta water.
  • Meanwhile, warm a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Once you can feel the heat when you hold your hand 6 inches above the skillet, add the oil. Season both sides of the chicken with the salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the skillet. Cook the chicken until it’s a deep golden brown and completely cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and place it on a plate.
  • Add the garlic, bell peppers and red pepper flakes to the skillet and cook until the peppers are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and seasoning blend to the skillet and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the wine to a boil for 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half and the Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese melts into the sauce, about 1 minute. Add the reserved pasta water, a ladleful at a time, to thin the sauce if necessary. Sprinkle in the spinach and add the pasta.
  • Twirl the pasta and spinach into the sauce with tongs. Top with the cooked chicken. Sprinkle with the parsley
Broccoli Casserole

 

 

Homeowners Beware: Infestation and Animal Damage Exclusions

Homeowners Beware: Infestation and Animal Damage Exclusions

Wildlife is a pleasure to experience — but not inside your home. Animals can move into your attic, walls, chimney or other nooks and crannies. Dealing with their waste, unpleasant smells and damage is frustrating (and potentially expensive).

Most homeowners insurance expressly excludes damage from:

  • Birds
  • Rodents
  • Insects

Even if your problem doesn’t fit into one of these animal classifications (people have argued them in court), homeowners policies have a fallback exclusion. They exclude loss caused by “nesting or infestation, or discharge or release of waste products or secretions by any animals.”

How much (if any) your insurance will cover depends on the language in your policy. Even so, claims are often denied, leaving you holding the bill or taking your chances in court.

Insurance companies view infestations as preventable because they take time to occur, and it’s presumed reasonable maintenance would have solved the problem. If you neglected to take steps to rid your home of pests, you’ve allowed them to take residence. And that’s a failure to defend from an insurance company’s perspective.

A few critter scenarios

Infestations and the damage they cause are an out-of-pocket expense. But what about rogue attacks and other animals? Whether a claim is paid or denied is in the details, so make sure you discuss the nuances of animal damage with your agent. Until then, here are a few examples.

Raccoon party

A raccoon family invades the attic in your vacation home. On your next visit, you notice foul smells and hear the scurrying of the attic intruders. Instead of enjoying your vacation, you’re left mitigating an infestation.

You’ll need to hire an exterminator to remove the critters and close off the entry points. The damage to personal property, furniture, flooring and walls could be extensive. In addition to a professional cleaning and disinfection service, you might also need to replace some furniture and hire a contractor to repair any structural damage (like the roof or walls).

The cleanup cost to end this critter party can be thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, insurance may not pay for much (or any) of the damages.

Skunk spray

A terrible smell is wafting into your home. You discover that a skunk sprayed its scent under the porch. You contact your insurance company only to find they may not pay to clean or deodorize under your home due to an exclusion dealing with “nesting or infestation, or discharge or release of waste products or secretions by any animals.”

You could appeal this claim based on evidence that it wasn’t an infestation, but it’s all in the wording of your policy.

Deer charger

You’re standing in your living room, amazed to see a family of deer grazing in your front yard. You begin videoing the encounter from inside your house. Suddenly, one of the deer charges through your front window. It trashes your living room, smashes holes in the ceiling and floors, and destroys furniture. It takes a police intervention to coax the deer out.

Your insurance company reimburses you for the structural damage (drywall, window and hardwood flooring) but doesn’t cover your personal contents (area rug, chairs, sofa, table and window coverings).

The partial denial is because your personal contents are covered on a named perils basis, and destruction by deer is not one of the perils listed.

A (partial) solution to contents coverage gaps

You might be able to expand your contents coverage to include open perils rather than named perils. Open perils are usually less restrictive than named perils, giving you more wiggle room in case of a claim (like a wild animal break-in). Your agent can advise you on your situation.

Language like “nesting or infestation, or discharge or release of waste products or secretions by any animals” is hard to overcome. Your best bet is to prevent infestations and act fast when you notice a problem.

Prevention tips

You can protect your home from animal damage by taking proactive measures. For example:

  • Keep food storage areas clean and secure.
  • Seal entry points using caulk and weather stripping.
  • Use a smart collar or microchip device so your pet door opens only for your pet.
  • Cut back your trees at least 10 feet from your home to discourage animals from jumping onto your roof.
  • Walk the perimeter of your home and look for signs of damage (like scratches or burrows).
  • Get your home inspected by a professional exterminator. They know what to look for, how to remediate problems and how to prevent infestations before they occur.
  • Set up regular pest control services. (Humane and eco-friendly pest control services are available for most regions. Include those terms in your online search.)
  • Research landscaping options and plant vegetation that doesn’t attract unwanted animals.

Call Thorp & Trainer Insurance

If you have concerns, contact your account manager at Thorp & Trainer about the language in your policy. Infestations and critters are a standard exclusion, but it’s worth discussing your concerns before those raccoons decide to make your attic party central.

Safeguard Against Ice Dams

Safeguard Against Ice Dams

An ice dam is a thick ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof. It prevents melting snow from draining off, forcing the melted water to seep underneath shingles. The water can leak into your home, damaging insulation, walls and ceilings.

Here are some suggestions from This Old House and energystar.gov on how to remove and prevent them.

Why ice dams form

Ice dams form when heat from your attic warms the roof, but not the eaves. The uneven temperatures cause the snow on the warm roof to melt and then freeze on the cold eaves.

What to do if you have an ice dam

Try the following if you have ice dams on your roof:

  • Call an expert. A roofing professional can break the dam into small pieces with the least amount of damage to your roof.
  • Rake your roof. Remove the snow from your roof using a roof rake or push broom.
  • Use calcium chloride to melt the ice. Fill the leg of a pair of pantyhose with this ice-melting compound and tie it off. Then place it vertically across the dam, so it slightly hangs over the gutter. This will slowly melt the ice and create a path for water to flow. Don’t use rock salt, which can cause damage.

Put safety first! Don’t get on the roof to clear the dam and don’t stand underneath the dam to chip away at the ice. You can damage your roof or seriously injure yourself.

How to prevent an ice dam

You can clean out your gutters before the first snowfall to reduce the severity of ice dams. But to prevent them, you need to tackle the problem from the inside of your house.

To keep heat from escaping to your roof:  

  • Seal air leaks. Cap attic hatches and whole-house fans. Flash around the chimney. Seal ducts.
  • Add more insulation in your attic. Keep the heat where it belongs — inside your house. Check with your building department to see how much insulation you need.
  • Make sure your attic is well ventilated. Ventilate eaves and ridges. Check to see if insulation is blocking ventilation.

An energy specialist can help you pinpoint the specific source of your problem. You’ll prevent ice dams and make your house more energy efficient in the process. 

If you have further questions about how to best safeguard your home, please call Thorp & Trainer Insurance at 596.0146 to speak with one of our account managers.

Chicken Stuffed Crescent Rolls

Chicken Stuffed Crescent Rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 8 oz cans Pillsbury crescent roll dough
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 8 oz pkg cream cheese softened
  • 2 – 3 c shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 pkg Italian dressing mix (or 3 TB)
  • 2 – 3 green onions chopped – optional

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Add cream cheese and both cans of soup to a medium pot and turn to medium heat.
  • Add dressing mix and stir until well combined. Turn down to low heat.
  • Pour most of the mixture into a large bowl, leaving enough in the pan to use as a gravy to put on the chicken bundles.
  • Add the chicken and the green onions to the large bowl and mix together. Set aside.
  • Separate the crescent roll dough and place the individual triangles on a cookie sheet.
  • Scoop a spoonful of chicken mix onto the crescent roll dough and roll (we fold the left side in, right side in, and then roll towards the long point).
  • Bake in the oven for 9-12 minutes.
Broccoli Casserole

 

 

Lemon Blueberry Loaf

Lemon Blueberry Loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Lemon Glaze/Syrup

  • 2 to 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*
  2. Grease the sides and bottom of a loaf pan
  3. Sift together all dry ingredients for the bread
  4. In a large bowl, mix together all the moist ingredients
  5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients
  6. In a separate bowl, add the tbsp of flour to the blueberries and fold gently into the batter
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan
  8. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. If a toothpick comes out clean the bread is done
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes
  10. Remove loaf from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack
  11. In a small saucepan on low heat, add the powdered sugar to the lemon juice and let it dissolve. Simmer for 3 minutes
  12. Using a toothpick, poke holes all over the loaf, top and sides
  13. Use a pastry brush to brush the lemon syrup on the top and the sides.
  14. Let harden for 15 minutes before serving
Broccoli Casserole

 

 

Chocolate Lasagna

Chocolate Lasagna

Ingredients

  • (1) 5.1-ounce box of instant vanilla pudding

  • (1) 5.1-ounce box of instant chocolate pudding

  • (1) 14.3 oz package of Oreo cookies (regular, not double stuffed)

  • 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened

  • 16 oz container of cool whip, softened

  • ½ a cup of melted margarine

  • 3 cups of milk

  • 1 cup of powdered sugar

  • Chocolate syrup

Broccoli Casserole

Directions

Layer One:

First, add the whole Oreos to a food processor and pulse until you have even sized Oreo crumbles. Make sure to set aside one cup of these crushed Oreos for the topping at the end. 

If you don’t have a food processor or just don’t feel like taking it out and then cleaning it… you can also just throw the Oreos in a ziplock bag and crush them with a mallet or rolling pin!

Next, mix the crushed Oreos with half a cup of the melted margarine. Then, pat this mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Firmly press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.

Place the crust formation in the fridge to chill and set.

Layer Two:

Mix together the 8 ounces of cream cheese, 8 ounces of Cool Whip (½ the container), and one cup of powdered sugar.

Take the crust out of the fridge and add a layer of this cream cheese mixture to it, then place the entire thing back in the fridge to continue to chill.

Layer Three:

Mix one package of instant vanilla pudding and one package of instant chocolate pudding together with three cups of cold milk. Again, take the pan out of the fridge and spread the pudding mixture on top of the cream cheese layer, then place it back in the fridge.

Layer Four:

Finally, spread the remaining 8 ounces of Cool Whip over the third layer. Sprinkle the remaining crumbled Oreos on top. Drizzle a light layer of chocolate syrup over the entire cake. Top with chocolate curls, mini chocolate chips or your favorite chocolate candy (chopped into small pieces) as a garnish if you like.

Make sure to refrigerate the pie until you’re ready to serve it, and in between servings. It will melt quickly and it’s much better when it’s had time to set in the fridge.

 

The Growing Need for Personal Cyber Insurance

The Growing Need for Personal Cyber Insurance

The internet has made our lives easier, but it comes with its share of risks. In just one week, you could receive a threatening automated phone call, 200 junk emails, five worrisome text messages and three fake Facebook invites, all trying to bait you into giving up personal information. These days you cannot surf the web without having an active firewall. The cyber threat is very real.

Cyber insurance, also known as cyber liability or cybersecurity insurance, was created to cover the millions of dollars of damage companies suffer due to hacks and data breaches. In 2017 the first personal cyber insurance endorsement for high-end homeowners was introduced, and now several insurance companies are offering these endorsements.

Are they worth the cost, and what do they cover?

What cyber insurance covers

Most policies will cover damages and expenses related to cyberattacks, including:

  • Cyber extortion
  • Cyberbullying
  • Data restoration 
  • Identity theft 

This means if you accidentally unleash a virus, you will have coverage to restore your system and reinstall your software. Your insurer may also authorize ransom payments to avoid disclosure of stolen information. There are so many different cyber threats that it’s impossible to list them all here, but most of them will be covered under a fully featured personal cyber insurance policy or endorsement.

How cyber insurance works

The majority of providers offer personal cyber coverage as an endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy. It can also be purchased as a stand-alone policy. Coverage amounts range from $50,000 to $250,000.

The endorsement has limits and sublimits. The policy limit is the total amount of damages covered in a given year, while the sublimit is the total amount of coverage provided for each covered event (e.g., $25,000 for cyberbullying). Some policies will also have a deductible, the amount you have to pay out of pocket per claim.

Why you need cyber insurance

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans have been exposed to data theft. Those who have had their identity stolen will tell you how traumatic it is having to spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars trying to reestablish their credit rating, cancel fraudulent claims and reissue official documents.

If you have children, especially teenagers, the risk of a cyber event is compounded. Gaming platforms and websites you aren’t even aware they are accessing can expose your family to invisible threats. Teens may also be less experienced than you are at recognizing phishing attempts.

Controlling the risk

Of course, insurance is not enough, nor will it prevent you from being the target of an attack. Follow these tips to stay out of trouble:

  • Beef up your system: Set your firewall and security to the highest settings.
  • Get rid of backdoors: Reboot your router periodically.
  • Hide your network: Router settings allow you to hide your network from public view.
  • Create multiple network accounts: Limit your connected smart utilities to their own subnetworks so hackers won’t gain complete network access if they attack your smart toothbrush or take over your doorbell.
  • Choose secure passwords: Passwords remain your first line of defense against hackers — make them hard to guess and change them often.
  • Use multiple passwords and manage them: utilize a password management system and never forget another password
  • Shield your online presence: Remove personal information from Facebook and other social media sites.
  • Manage your subscriptions: Make sure you know what you’re subscribed to.
  • Always go to the source: Don’t trust an urgent message or text from one of your institutions. Do to their website or call the normal phone number to verify the message.

Contact your insurance professional about cyber coverage

Technology, the internet and the internet of things (IoTs) are now a part of our everyday lives. Taking the necessary precautions to protect your family and personal information has never been more important. A personal cyber policy can be part of that protection. If you would like to learn more, speak to your insurance professional. They can help you choose a policy that is right for you.