Esurance Homeowners Coverage Has Arrived in the Heart of Dixie

The Heart of Dixie just got even better

There are a lot of reasons to love Alabama: unbeatable food, great music, and miles of beautiful beaches, just to name a few. But here are a few things you may not know about this gem in the heart of the Deep South.

1.    The town of Magnolia Springs boasts the U.S.’s only all-water postal route. That’s right, every piece of mail in Magnolia Springs is delivered by boat on the Magnolia River.
2.    In 1902, Dr. Luther Leonidas Hill performed the western hemisphere’s first open heart-surgery in Montgomery.
3.    Activists like Rosa Parks and Helen Keller hailed from the Heart of Dixie, contributing to a long history of pursuing social justice and civil rights.
4.    No stranger to world records, Alabama’s home to the world’s largest cast-iron sculpture. It’s called The Vulcan and it’s a whopping 56 feet tall, weighing in at 120,000 pounds.
5.    Esurance now offers reliable and affordable homeowners coverage in Alabama! See if you could save money and protect your biggest investment. Get a quote today.

Coverage around the country

Don’t live in Alabama? That’s ok. Esurance offers homeowners coverage in many states around the country. Find out if Esurance homeowners is available in your state.

And if you’re not a homeowner, Esurance also offers renters coverage and auto insurance.

Washington Homeowners Rejoice! Esurance Homeowners Coverage Has Arrived in the Evergreen State

5 wonders of Washington State 

If you’re already an Evergreen State buff, you’re probably aware that Washington was the forty-second state in the U.S. And you may even know that Lewis and Clark began their exploration of Washington in 1805. But if you’re looking to increase your Washington knowledge, here are a few things you may not know about this great state.

  1. Aptly nicknamed the Evergreen State, Washington is home to the Olympic Peninsula — and some of the rainiest forests on the globe.
  2. Washington is the only state in the country named for a United States president.
  3. The islands of Puget Sound demand the largest ferry fleet in the country.
  4. According to National Geographic, Washington’s Mt. St. Helens is one of the most active volcanoes in the U.S.
  5. Esurance now offers homeowners coverage in Washington!

Coverage around the country

Not a Washington resident? Not to worry. Esurance offers homeowners coverage in many states around the country. Find out if Esurance homeowners is available in your state.

And if you’re not a homeowner, Esurance also offers renters coverage and car insurance quotes.

5 Holiday Plants That Could Be Dangerous for Your Pets

It’s the season of decorations: garlands, ornaments, tinsel, and, of course, a bevy of colorful holiday plants. And though it’s important to keep your home looking festive for your celebrations, don’t forget about your furry friends — some of your decor could be toxic to dogs and cats.

Check out the 5 most dangerous holiday plants so you can spend your time celebrating … and not at the vet.

1. Poinsettias

With its big red petals, this iconic flower finds its way into numerous homes during the holidays. And though it’s got a reputation for being highly dangerous to pets, there’s some good news: while definitely unpleasant, the effects of poinsettia are usually not dire.

For cats, the milky sap can cause indigestion, vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, and some skin irritation if direct contact is made. Fortunately, it’s not deadly. Nevertheless, keeping these flowers out of your home is a smart idea because no one wants a sick pup or kitty during the holidays.

Watch out for: drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation.

2. Lilies

This holiday favorite is also popular throughout the year, making it trickier to manage. On top of that, there are a multitude of varieties, some of which are particularly toxic.

Peruvian, Calla, and Peace lilies are more benign, but they can still irritate tissue in the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus, which can lead to drooling or vomiting.

Toxic lilies, on the other hand, can cause acute kidney failure in cats. These varieties include Day, Asiatic hybrid, Tiger, Easter, Japanese Show, Rubrum, Red, Western, Stargazer, and wood lilies.

If you have pets, it’s best to avoid Lilies of the Valley. These can cause heart arrhythmias in dogs and cats, with the potential to be fatal.

Take your dog or cat to the vet immediately if they ingest lilies or show these symptoms.

Watch out for: hiding, vomiting, diarrhea, halitosis, dehydration, inappropriate urination or thirst, seizures.

3. Holly

Holly may be the trademark of wreaths and mantelpieces, but its spiny leaves and red berries could spell gastrointestinal trouble for your dogs and cats. The leaf, in particular, can cause injury, leading to drooling or head shaking, while the toxins can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Keep these plants away from your pets and call a vet or poison helpline if you suspect that any holly has been ingested.

Watch out for: drooling, lip smacking, head-shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite.

4. Mistletoe

For many of us, mistletoe means a kiss from someone special. But if your pet accidentally mistakes it for a snack, it could be hazardous.

There are 2 varieties of mistletoe: American and European. American mistletoe, while more common and less harmful, poses risks for both cats and dogs. In small amounts, it can cause gastrointestinal irritation, while larger amounts can lead to abnormal heart rate, low blood pressure, and a loss of coordination. It’s also been known to cause seizures and could even be fatal in some cases. Contact your vet or pet poison control line right away if ingested.

Watch out for:
vomiting, diarrhea, signs of abdominal pain or discomfort, impaired walking and coordination, collapsing, seizures.

5. Christmas tree

Dogs and cats might be tempted to gnaw on parts of the Christmas tree, which could cause a few problems. Although the toxic effects of needles and sap are typically mild, it’s still important to take some precautions. Needles can puncture the intestines or cause intestinal blockage, while toxins from needles and sap can cause irritation in the gastrointestinal tract. The level of severity depends on how much is consumed.

Particularly hazardous, however, is the basin water, which can contain pesticides, preservatives, and fertilizers. This could be deadly to cats, dogs, and even children if ingested in high amounts, so a covered basin is highly recommended. You could also go with an artificial tree (although the consumption of synthetic material could cause intestinal blockage and some toxicity).

Watch out for: drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive licking or salivating, changes in appetite or behavior.

Festive alternatives

So does that mean your home can’t be decked out with holiday cheer? Not at all! In fact, there are several ways to work around these obstacles. Poinsettias, for example, look great on patios and porches. And they’ll survive as long as they aren’t exposed to extreme cold. Just give them a spritz of pet repellant to keep the neighbor’s outdoor cats at bay.

You can also hang synthetic poinsettias, which let you keep the festive look without all the risk. And did you know that roses and Christmas cactus are nontoxic? Boasting bright red hues, they’re brimming with holiday cheer.

As for your Christmas tree, the most foolproof plan is to keep pets away from the tree when you’re not home. There are a variety of pet-safe sprays, some of which come with a motion-sensor release that’ll deter your cat or dog from tampering with the tree. You can also install a tree barricade to keep cats from climbing the trunk and ingesting sap, needles, tinsel, or electrical wires.

And to ensure your pets are totally protected, get a quote for pet insurance today.

Happy holidays!

How to Jump-Start a Car [Video]

A dead battery is no big deal if you’re within reach of jumper cables and a friendly car owner. (And, for added safety, a flashlight, goggles, and gloves.) But if you’ve never had to jump-start a car, or if you want to brush up on your battery knowledge, check out our handy how-to video.

Related links

How to Park on a Hill

How to Parallel Park 

How to Cool an Overheated Engine

How to Avoid Panicking When Your Brakes Fail

How to Check Your Oil

How to Survive a Blown Tire

Famous, Impressive, and Super Cool Doors Across America

Providers of welcome, protection, and passage, doors can be far more than just slabs on hinges — often, they have a story to tell about the place you’re about to enter or what the world was like when the door was first hung. From monumental doors honoring history and literature, to massive portals taller than moon rockets, to decorative entryways that are masterpieces of style, these cool doors will knock your socks off.

Bronzed and beautiful doors

Doors of DC

As symbols of American history and democracy, it’s only appropriate that Washington DC’s federal institutions have doors worthy of their status. All the main buildings of the Library of Congress have elaborate doors, but perhaps the most famous are the doors of the John Adams Building. Sculpted by American artist Lee Lawrie, the doors depict mythical and historical heroes of the written word, including Hermes, messenger of the Greek gods, and Sequoyah, a Native American who created an alphabet for the Cherokee language. To make the doors more compliant with safety regulations, the bronze reliefs were recently recast in glass —the original doors are on display nearby, set into niches.

Not to be outdone, the U.S. Capitol boasts 3 sets of monumental bronze doors. The main entrance doors depict the life of explorer Christopher Columbus, the Senate doors are decorated with scenes from the Revolutionary War and the life of George Washington, and the House doors feature major events from American history, such as the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

Longing to see the Renaissance art treasures of Italy, but can’t go that far afield? Visit San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral instead. The church’s gilded, 15-foot-high main entrance doors, which depict scenes from the Old Testament, are replicas of the Gates of Paradise by Renaissance master Lorenzo Ghiberti (the originals were crafted in 1452 for the Baptistery in Florence’s Piazza del Duomo). The Grace Cathedral doors are considered to be the most accurate replicas in existence since they were cast from molds made from the original doors.

Impressively massive doors

NASA Vehicle Assembly Building, Kennedy Space Center, FL

When an upright space rocket needs to pass through your doors, no ordinary egress will do. This 525-foot-tall building was constructed in 1966 for the assembly of the Apollo / Saturn V moon rockets, and the entrances to its 4 construction bays are each 456 feet high — the largest doors on earth. For the next 30 years, the building was used to build shuttle orbiters and other equipment for space shuttle missions. Public tours of the interior were offered between 2011 and 2014 (after the space shuttle program ended), but those tours were halted when NASA began work on its awesomely named new rocket, the Space Launch System for Deep Space Flight. Visitors can still view the massive building from the outside.

Stratolaunch Systems hangar, Mojave, CA

What kind of vehicle needs the world’s largest garage door? The world’s largest plane, of course. This aircraft, the Stratolaunch Carrier, is being built at the Mojave Air and Spaceport inside a humongous hangar specially constructed for the purpose. The plane will have a wingspan of 385 feet, requiring hangar doors wider than the length of a football field.

Viking Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

Speaking of football … when the Vikings’ new football stadium opens for the 2016 season, fans will enter and exit through what the designers are calling the world’s largest “operable” doors. While their meaning of the word “operable” is rather vague (and while the 2 huge doors listed above seem pretty operable), these doors may well be the world’s largest pivoting glass doors. Standing 95 feet high, they’ll swing open to create an entranceway 350 feet wide.

Adorably miniature doors

Tiny Doors ATL, Atlanta, GA

Walking along the streets of Atlanta, you may be surprised and delighted to come across a 6-inch door set into the base of a tree or the column of a tunnel. Is Atlanta populated with tiny people? Not that anyone knows of. The mini portals are the work of Tiny Doors ATL, an artist cooperative “bringing big wonder to small spaces.”

Art Deco divas

Chrysler Building, New York City, NY

Manhattan is filled with stunningly ornate Art Deco facades, but its crowning glory may well be the Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, this skyscraper is the Jazz Age personified, from the shimmering curves of its iconic spire to the gleaming stainless-steel doors and jewel-shaped windows of its 42nd-Street entrance.

Cochise County Courthouse, Bisbee, AZ

Big cities aren’t the only places you’ll find Art Deco treasures — the town of Bisbee in southeastern Arizona boasts a gem. Founded in 1880, Bisbee was known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps” and was home to some of the richest ore deposits in the world. It soon grew from a bustling town into a highly cultured city, filled with fine examples of period architecture. Because of its prosperity, the county seat was moved to Bisbee from its nearby rival, the notorious town of Tombstone, in 1929. A courthouse was duly built in the latest Art Deco fashion, with a striking pair of copper doors featuring stylized images of justice.

Famously fabulous doors

Hammond-Harwood House, Annapolis, MD

The ornate white doorway of this graceful eighteenth-century mansion has been called the “most beautiful door in America.” Festooned with garlands of plaster flowers and topped with an elaborately carved pediment, the doorway — and the home itself — is a prime example of Anglo-Palladian style (influenced by sixteenth-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, who in turn was inspired by the classical temples of ancient Rome).

Frederick C. Robie House, University of Chicago Campus, Chicago, IL

This house is the quintessential expression of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style, characterized by bold horizontal lines that evoke the flat plains of the Midwest. Wright used stained glass extensively in his Prairie designs, creating what he called “light screens.” The living / dining area of Robie House features a band of 24 stained-glass doors, which bathe the rooms with natural light and blur the line between exterior and interior.

Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, IL

Reopened in 1873 after the original building was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, the iconic Palmer House has been in continuous operation longer than any other hotel in the U.S. and is decorated in opulent Beaux Arts style. If you enter via Monroe Street, you’ll pass through 2 exquisite bronze doors adorned with peacocks. Acclaimed artist Louis Comfort Tiffany designed these doors for the storefront of the hotel’s C.D. Peacock jeweler (a historic retailer that was the city’s first incorporated business). The doors were relocated to the Monroe Street entrance in 2006 so visitors could better appreciate their beauty.

Want to make your own front door more impressive? A fresh coat of paint and some updated hardware can add curb appeal and might even raise your property value. Be sure to protect your door and everything behind it with reliable homeowners insurance.