Mother’s Day: The Esurance #Sorta Mom Sweeps

Moms — we need them, love them, and even have an entire day dedicated to appreciating them. But what about those lovely ladies who, though they may not be your actual moms, are definitely like a mom to you?

We’re talking about the #Sorta Mom. Maybe she’s your favorite aunt, your best friend’s mom, your stepmom, or your next-door neighbor who looked after you as a kid. Whoever your #Sorta Mom is, she totally deserves a shout-out on the day we recognize all moms.

The Esurance #Sorta Mom Sweepstakes*

At Esurance, we understand that sorta you isn’t you. But occasionally, that’s a good thing .… Take “Sorta Moms,” for instance. Just because they’re not your actual, real mom doesn’t mean they didn’t do a million mom-like things for you.

So, this Mother’s Day, we’re giving flowers to 25 lucky #Sorta Moms. Because who doesn’t love flowers, right?

How to enter the Esurance #Sorta Mom Sweepstakes

Want a chance to win your #Sorta Mom a beautiful bouquet on us?

Step 1

Be 18 or over (or the age of majority in your state of residence).

Step 2

Visit us on Twitter or Instagram.

Step 3

Post a picture, quote, words of wisdom, or your favorite memory of you and your #Sorta Mom using #sorta and #sweeps.

The nitty-gritty

Entries must be received between April 28 and May 4, 2015. Enter as many times as you’d like during these dates — your posts could pay off and win your #Sorta Mom some fantastic flowers!

Twenty-five lucky winners will be selected at random. If you’re chosen as a sweeps winner, we’ll ask you to send us your #Sorta Mom’s mailing address so we can ship her flowers in time for Mother’s Day.

Subject to Official Rules found here.

Happy Mother’s Day, all moms!

We hope you’re able to score some flowers for your #Sorta Mom, but don’t forget your real mom either!

In fact, here’s wishing all the hardworking and just plain awesome moms a very, very happy Mothers’ Day.

Stuff our legal team makes us say

*No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning.  Open to residents of the 50 US and DC who are 18 or over and the age of majority in their state of residence. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Sponsored by Esurance Insurance Services, Inc.

5 Strange Insurance Policies from Around the World

We’ve all read the stories of celebrities and athletes insuring their body parts for incredible amounts. But sometimes, the risk being insured can be more interesting than the policy itself. And we may even be covered by a policy we never knew existed.

Check out these 5 unexpected and strange insurance policies, some of which may be covering you without you knowing it.

1. Turmoil in Thailand

Thailand has become the tourist capital of Southeast Asia. Each year, approximately 16 million visitors arrive in the country looking for adventure, and most of them will have some sort of travel coverage to keep them protected. But what many visitors don’t know is that they already have a little insurance coverage, courtesy of the Thai government. See, Thailand has experienced more coups d’état than any other country in contemporary history, making large protests and the odd military takeover a relatively commonplace occurrence. As a result, the Thai government has purchased an insurance policy that promises to provide $10,000 to each tourist harmed in any political turmoil.

 2. “Take us to your insurance broker.”

Some people say there’s no “official” evidence that any higher intelligence has ever made contact or visited Earth. Others disagree … um, adamantly. Whether intelligent life beyond us exists in the universe or not, over 30,000 people throughout Europe have purchased alien abduction insurance. Now, why they think they’d be selected for abduction over the other 7 billion people on the planet or how they know that kidnapping would be at the top of a visiting alien’s agenda is another story, but … good luck to them.

3. Paranormal policies

“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?” Apparently, your friendly neighborhood insurance company, that’s who. The owner of the Royal Falcon Hotel in Suffolk, UK has taken out a policy to insure him against damages caused by his “supernatural guests.” The policy offers up to £1m in the event that his staff or customers are killed or hurt by the ghosts, poltergeists, or other abnormal phenomena that allegedly live on the property. Simon Burgess, the policy’s chief underwriting officer, told the BBC that, “There has been paranormal activity there, and we will treat any claims very seriously, and carry out our normal psychic investigation.”

4. Hole-in-one!

We’ve all seen the almost-impossible, full-court free throw challenges at basketball games. And many golf courses offer amazing prizes to anyone getting a hole-in-one. Of course, nobody really expects anyone will actually win one of these unlikely challenges … nobody, that is, apart from us savvy insurance types.

Prize indemnity insurance is the most popular way of covering these highly valued promotions, with the risk carefully calculated and a series of rules explicitly laid out. Unfortunately, the rules are often overlooked. In fact, one golfer had his hole-in-one prize rejected because the prize indemnity policy for the course needed 2 witnesses and the tournament he was in could only provide one. Oh well, he still has a 1 in 12,000 chance of hitting another once-in-a-lifetime putt, right?

5. Where there are winners, there are losers

Picture this: you’ve built a wonderful midsize company with happy employees, good products, and a healthy bottom line. Then, out of nowhere, the manufacturing department wins the lottery jackpot. The next day, nobody in manufacturing shows up and the company goes from happy, lottery-playing workplace to failing to fulfill their orders and losing the credibility they spent years building. This worry is so prevalent with business owners in the UK that they can now take out a policy protecting them from lottery winners who decide to suddenly leave work after winning.

And for your more everyday needs …

At Esurance, we may not offer policies for events as exotic as ghost attacks and lottery wins, but we do expertly insure cars, motorcycles, homes and even renters coverage. Get a quote today and see how much you could save.


Span-tastic: The Top 10 Most Amazing Bridges in the U.S.

There’s something special about bridges. Crossing one always feels like an adventure: the thrill of being suspended in air, the sense of transition and connection, and amazement at the architectural skill that makes it possible.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, bridges are a very big deal. I could write an entire post about our bridges alone, but that would leave out North America’s many other historic, beautiful, and record-breaking structures. For your river, gorge, and bay-crossing pleasure, here’s a list of amazing bridges that, ahem, spans the country.

The nation’s 10 most amazing bridges


1. Brooklyn Bridge
Between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York

Perhaps America’s most iconic bridge, the graceful and striking Brooklyn Bridge was influential in many ways. Its groundbreaking use of galvanized steel wire allowed it to stretch a record 5,989 feet across the East River, 50 percent longer than its closest rival. The diagonal cables that run down from the towers turned out to be unnecessary, but were kept for aesthetic reasons.

2. Smolen-Gulf Bridge
Between Plymouth and Ashtabula Townships, Ohio

Ashtabula County in Ohio happens to be a hotbed of covered bridges. There are 18 in all, but the star is the 613-foot-long Smolen-Gulf Bridge. Opened in 2008, this concrete, steel, and timber construction is the nation’s longest covered bridge.

3. Cornish–Windsor Covered Bridge
Between Cornish, New Hampshire, and Windsor, Vermont

If you like your covered bridges more romantic and old-fashioned, you’ll love this New England charmer. Dating back to 1866, it’s the country’s longest wooden covered bridge and the world’s longest wooden 2-span bridge.

4. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway
New Orleans, Louisiana

Want to get away from it all? Cross this remarkable bridge, and you’ll lose sight of land for a full 8 miles. The causeway currently holds the Guinness World Record for being the longest continuous bridge over water. It was considered the world’s longest bridge over open water until China’s 26-mile Jiaozhou Bay bridge opened in 2011. Some argued that 23.76 of the causeway’s 23.87 miles are over water, compared to only 16 miles of the Jiaozhou Bay bridge, and the new Guinness World Record category was created accordingly.

5. Royal Gorge Bridge
Cañon City, Colorado

Acrophobes may want to steer clear of this lofty span. Built in 1929 as a tourist attraction, it soars a dizzying 956 feet above the Arkansas River, making it the highest suspension bridge in the U.S.

6. London Bridge
Lake Havasu City, Arizona

This bridge comes by its name honestly — it used to span the River Thames in London, England. Completed in 1831, it wasn’t designed for modern-day automobile traffic. By the 1960s, London Bridge was literally falling down. When city officials put the bridge up for auction, entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch placed the winning bid and moved it to Lake Havasu City, the Arizona town he’d founded. It’s now Arizona’s second biggest tourist draw, topped only by the Grand Canyon.

7. Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
Boulder City, Nevada

Before this bridge was built, drivers on U.S. Route 93 had to navigate a treacherous road across the top of Hoover Dam. Today, the bypass is not only safer, it’s an engineering marvel of its own. At 1,905 feet long and 880 feet high, it boasts the widest arch in the western hemisphere and the highest concrete-arch bridge in the world.

8. Governor Albert D. Rosellini Bridge — Evergreen Point
Seattle, Washington

Lots of bridges cross over water, but this one actually floats on top. Also called the SR 520 Bridge and the Evergreen Point Bridge, this roadway spans Lake Washington to connect Seattle with the suburb of Medina. It’s supported by huge, watertight, concrete pontoons, each approximately the length of a football field. With a floating section of 1.44 miles, it’s the world’s longest floating bridge. The original bridge opened in 1963, and a replacement bridge is currently being built.

9. Bixby Creek Bridge
Big Sur, California

Arguably one of the most recognizable symbols of the rugged West Coast, this magnificent structure was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1932. Rising 260 feet above the rocky shoreline, it’s still one of the highest single-span arch bridges on earth. Fittingly, when this portion of State Route 1 was officially designated as California’s first scenic highway in 1965, the dedication ceremony was held here.

10. Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, California

I admit, I’m biased. But no list of iconic U.S. bridges could leave out the Golden Gate. When it comes to fame, this bridge is right up there with the Brooklyn Bridge, gracing innumerable postcards and vacation snapshots. When it opened in 1937, the bridge’s 4,200-foot suspension span was the world’s longest, a record it kept until 1964. The name Golden Gate refers to the entrance to the San Francisco Bay, not the bridge’s color. The bridge is painted “International Orange” to increase its visibility in the fog. (The U.S. Navy pushed to have it painted in yellow and black stripes ­— fortunately, that plan was overruled.)

Has this post inspired you to set out for a spring road trip? Before you go, compile a list of amazing roadside attractions, make sure your car’s emergency kit is stocked, and don’t leave home without the right car insurance coverage.

From Valets to Servers: Top Tips on Tipping

Sure, tipping’s appreciated by those working in service-based industries, but most of us would probably leave this guy without a cent — and with good reason.

Why do we tip?

In the U.S., it’s customary to leave tips for certain services. For example, some employees who work in restaurants, bars, hotels, salons, spas, and other service-based businesses expect (and may even rely on) tipping.

But how did an aristocratic European tradition establish itself as part of modern America? Historians have suggested that tipping arrived in the U.S. after the Civil War. But by and large, Americans resisted the practice. Other studies suggest that tipping became tradition as a result of the temperance movement. Businesses lost profits when they stopped serving alcohol during prohibition, and tipping was heavily encouraged to help waitstaff make ends meet.

But however it arrived on our shores, tipping, it would seem, is here to stay. To help you tackle tipping in the modern world, here are some top tips (so to speak) on tipping.

Always check if a service charge has been included

For things like room service at a hotel or limo services, always check the small print before dishing out extra cash. Oftentimes, the tip’s automatically included on the bill. This also applies at some restaurants when you’re dining with a larger party (usually 6 people or more). But remember, you don’t have to stick to the included tip and can always add more if you received special treatment or outstanding service.

Carry plenty of small bills

This is pretty obvious, but it’s also a common issue when it comes to tipping. Especially when traveling. How many times have we all suddenly realized that a tip’s expected and either felt compelled to over-tip with a large bill or been left red-faced with excuses of running to an ATM? Keep a small stash of $1s and $5s on you at all times.

Smartphone calculators are your friend

For restaurant bills, 15 to 20 percent is the standard addition for good service. However, if your math skills are limited and you don’t want to be caught calculating your tip, try doubling the sales tax often printed on the bill. This should average out to about 12 to 19 percent of the total bill (depending on where you are). Then you can add more or subtract accordingly. For more details on whom and how much to tip, check out a brief guide to gratuity below.

Tipping can mean better service

If you tip someone who may be waiting on you more than once, the tip amount could directly affect the level of service you get in the future. A valet (for example) might remember you gave them a couple of extra dollars, and it could mean you get your wheels back a little faster the next time you park.

Don’t forget the less-obvious service providers

After tipping the bellhop, valet, server, and those who served you directly, it’s easy to overlook staff who work behind the scenes. Common service providers who often get overlooked are maître d’s, concierges, hotel housekeepers, and even the building’s door attendant — especially if they help take luggage out of your car.

When in doubt, tip

However you look at it, tipping’s here to stay. Some workers depend on tips as a significant part of their income. Traditionally, tips are given to restaurant waitstaff, valet drivers, bellhops, bartenders, hairdressers, cab drivers, and others providing a direct service. If you’re not sure, it can’t hurt to leave a few dollars. You might just make someone’s day if they weren’t expecting a tip.

Still confused? Check out this brief guide to gratuity.


  • Taxi driver/car service: 15 to 20 percent of the bill, although some app-based driving services like Uber include the tip in the final bill
  • Shuttle driver, door attendant, skycap, bellhop: $1 to $2 per bag carried or general service provided
  • Concierge: Approximately $5 to $10 for special services, such as making a restaurant reservation
  • Hotel housekeeper: $2 to $5 per night, adding an extra buck or 2 for special requests like towels, rollaway bed, etc.
  • Valet: $2 to $5 when you park or retrieve your car

Restaurant, bar, or club

  • Coatroom/restroom attendant: $1 per item handled by coatroom attendant; 50¢ to $3 for to use any products displayed on the sink
  • Server: 15 to 20 percent of the bill
  • Host, maître d’: No official obligation for being greeted and shown to a table; $10 to $20 if they go above and beyond to find you a table during a busy period
  • Bartender: $1 to $2 per drink or 15 to 20 percent of the tab

Salon or spa

  • Hair stylist, manicurist: 15 to 20 percent of the bill
  • Aesthetician (providing facials or waxing), masseuse: 15 to 20 percent of the bill

Have any tip-worthy recipients been left out? Share some of your top “tips” below.

Related links

4 Tips for a Drama-Free Valet Experience

Valet Parking Confessions: What Happens After You Hand Over the Keys

Personality Quiz: What Kind of Houseplant Are You?

From furniture to wall color, the things inside your home can say a lot about you. We’d all like our stuff to reflect who we are — because we’re all awesome, right?

If design style or color choices have the power to represent who you are, you may start to wonder … does everything in your space reflect the very essence of you? To help you answer this question, and in the spirit of spring, we’ve created a botanically inclined personality quiz. And who knows? The result just might inspire a vegetal addition to your home.

So without further ado, we’d like to ask:

What kind of houseplant are you?