I Am Vermont Strong License Plate- Released and Approved for Use

Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in Business Insurance, Downey Insurance, Farm Insurance, Insurance

Image courtesy of I Am Vermont Strong Faceebook Page

The state of Vermont and the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles has approved the use of the “I Am Vermont Strong” license plate for Vermonters. The plate may be displayed over your current Vermont registration on the front bumper of your vehicle through June 30th 2014.

You may pre-order your one of 10,000 license plates for $25, for shipment on 2/1/2012. More license plates may be created if there is a strong demand, but pre-ordering will get you on the list for the first edition.

The idea for the plates arose the of the “I Am Vermont Strong” movement that was started by Lyz Tomsuden and Eric Mallete of Rutland, VT. Originally “I am Vermont Strong” started as a Facebook photo that went viral. Vermonters loved the message so much that they started requesting t-shirts by the hundreds. So far they have sold over 4,500 t-shirts to Vermonters and Vermont supporters.

“I am Vermont Strong” will be donating $18 to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, and $2 to the Vermont Food bank for every license plate sold. Irene cause so much damage to the state of Vermont and donations are starting to decline, new sources of revenue for the relief funds can only help our cause. The resiliency and resourcefulness of our people never cease to amaze me as we travel on this journey to recovery.

To Pre-Order Your “I am Vermont Strong” plate you may do so through Vermont Life, and to read more about the “I am Vermont Strong” movement check out their website http://vtstrong.vermont.gov/ or Facebook Page.

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It’s Moving Day! Downey Insurance is Back on Flat Street in Brattleboro VT

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in Business Insurance, Downey Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, Insurance

After 3 months at our temporary location at 57 Elliot Street  Brattleboro, VT we are finally back in our 80 Flat Street Location that was flooded out by hurricane Irene.  What a crazy ride it has been, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  Overall Downey Insurance Group is lucky, all we lost were material possessions.  Thanks to technology and the ability to work “in the cloud” we did not lose any of our policy data and we were able to help clients with their own claims during and after the disaster.  We could work from the top of Mt. Wantastiquet if we wanted to, but there is nothing like you own familiar surroundings to make you feel at home.  With the addition of new office furniture and carpet we think our office is looking pretty snazzy.  Thank you to Conte Office Interiors for helping us with our new office furniture!


Looking around Flat Street it is hard to envision what it looked like during the flood.  We found this video on You Tube, we don’t know this guy but I would like to thank him for this crazy footage of Flat Street during the flood.  Check out this video of our office building being ravaged by the flood waters…

To get the whole story read our first Flood Blog post.

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How to Carve a Fantastic Pumpkin

Posted by on Oct 10, 2011 in Downey Insurance, Insurance

There is something magical that happens when you turn a pumpkin into a Jack O’ Lantern or other carved masterpiece.  It is something of a tradition in our family, and every year our creations tend to get more and more elaborate.  This year’s pumpkins are pretty mild compared to some we have done in the past.  It is something our whole family looks forward to in the fall, for us it marks the beginning of the change in seasons we experience here in New England.  Nothing says “fall” to us more than cool crisp air, changing leaves, and a freshly carved pumpkin.  We have come up with some great tips over the years that make for a fun and rewarding pumpkin carving experience. I am happy to share them with our fellow pumpkin carving enthusiasts.


1.) Pick the perfect pumpkin.  It should have a good surface for carving.  Make sure there are no deep ridges or bumps that will make carving difficult.  Keep in mind the size of the carving you are considering.  You want to make sure you have enough height to fit your design.

2.) Choose a design to carve.  There are many kits available that come with pumpkin carving stencils and utensils.  I highly recommend these kits for a professional look that can be created by almost anyone.  They come with many stencil designs that vary from easy to difficult, so there are many different options and degrees of difficulty to choose from.  You also can make your own stencil, or draw freehand on the pumpkin with a Sharpie or other permanent marker.

3.) Prepare your pumpkin for carving.  Cut an access hole in your pumpkin at the top around the stem.  Make sure you do not cut too far down the carving surface of the pumpkin.  Cutting about 2 inches from the stem all the way around usually work well, make sure to angle your cut slightly inward so your top will not fall in when replaced.  Then scoop out the insides of the pumpkin.  If you save the seeds they are great for roasting for a tasty snack (wash the seeds thoroughly, salt lightly, and then bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes).  After you have scooped out the inside of the pumpkin, choose which surface of the pumpkin you will carve.  If your pumpkin is really thick, it is a good idea to scrape down the inside of the pumpkin where you will carve it.  This makes carving difficult designs a little easier.


4.) Transfer your design.  If you are drawing your own design, then go for it.  Just make sure you do not draw where you will not be cutting.  For example, if you are cutting a smile with teeth do not draw the smile first then add the teeth because you will have a black line across your tooth!  If you are using a paper design, tape your stencil onto your pumpkin.  Sometimes you have to fold the paper around the edges to make it fit to the round surface of your pumpkin.   Pumpkin carving kits come with a tool to transfer your design by poking small holes along the cutting lines.  You could also use a toothpick.

5.) Carve your pumpkin.  Using your knife (serrated works best) or pumpkin carving tool, connect the dots of your stencil to cut out your design.  Working in small sections works best.  If you have a large piece to cut out, sometimes it is a good idea to do it in smaller sections, especially if it  is an intricate design.  Don’t be afraid to go back and scrape down the wall of the pumpkin where you are carving, this can make the process much easier if you are struggling!  Another great tip is to let the tool do the work, just like cutting a loaf of bread, let the serration of the tool cut through the pumpkin.  It will be much easier to control your tool if you are not putting a lot of pressure on it.

6.) Light and enjoy.  Tea lights work best because they are encased in metal and they will not burn or melt wax into your pumpkin.  Lastly, light up your pumpkin and display it so it can be enjoyed for the work of art that it is!

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Downey Insurance Group Is Balancing Its Own Disaster Management Crisis as They Maintain Continuity of Service for Their Clients

Posted by on Aug 29, 2011 in Business Insurance, Downey Insurance, Insurance

Downey Insurance Group is fully functional even as our Brattleboro, VT office is currently under water with the many other businesses near Main Street in Brattleboro, Vermont.  The area is experiencing devastation from flooding conditions that have not been seen in nearly a century.   Many of the residents in Vermont were not expecting this magnitude of flooding from hurricane Irene. Rivers and streams flooded quickly forcing people to evacuate without much notice and without many options.   Many of these flooded homes and businesses are without flood insurance which will make recovery difficult for many.   FEMA will be assessing the damage and should be accepting request for Disaster Assistance shortly.


Unlike some of the businesses in the area, it is crucial for Downey Insurance Group to maintain complete functionally during this crisis due to the nature of our business. We are responsible for filing claims for our clients during this difficult time.  We are simultaneously working on our own claim for Downey’s Brattleboro office that is currently still unreachable due to flooding conditions.  We have re-routed our phone lines to our only fully operational location in Keene, NH where we currently have power, internet, and phone.   Our Marlborough, MA office is semi-functional  with power and phone, but no internet.  Thankfully as part of our Emergency Management Plan we have the capacity to handle this type of  situation with lists of phone and fax numbers for our insurance companies and paper claims forms.


Charlie Downey sprang into action this morning by driving up to Brattleboro, VT through the devastation zone to reach out to the community to find a temporary office space to house our Brattleboro, VT during the cleanup.  The rest of our team at Downey Insurance is working feverishly to file claims for our clients and to help the people during their time of need.  The teamwork and quick action of the Downey Insurance Group family have made this all possible.


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Have a New Driver? – You Need to Read This

Posted by on Aug 23, 2011 in Insurance

At Downey Insurance Group we have a lot of clients that take this course because it can save them on their MA Auto Insurance.  But the safety factor trumps any cost/benefit of this coarse in my opinion.   I am now determined to send all 3 of my daughters to this In Control Crash Prevention class when they are learning to drive.  See if yo can get through this without crying…


A Message from In Control Crash Prevention Training 

As we approach 20,000 graduates we may get more used to receiving notes like this, but after getting our fifth unsolicited “In Control Moment” email in just two weeks, we wanted to share this timely and well written note:


My daughter was driving with her best friend, also 18, in the front passenger seat towards her old high school. A pickup truck didn’t see  her coming down the road, in oncoming traffic around 40-50mph. And turned left directly in front of her. Thanks to your instructors’ teaching, she slammed on the brake, maintained control of her car, swerved successfully around the pickup truck just barely missing it.


As my daughter reported to me: Mom, I just have to tell you, taking that course saved Brooke’s and my life today! I didn’t have time to think… I just reacted as they taught us. We would have been killed… At least an ambulance ride… The pickup driver was so shaken up and apologetic. He kept saying how sorry he was… He said he just didn’t see us. I wouldn’t have known what to do, or slam on the brakes, if it weren’t for this course and what they taught us…..it saved our lives.


So, can you please tell the course director and driver from Sunday, that they saved 2 lives on Friday: my daughter and her best friend.  I am flying today to drop my daughter off to start her freshman year. If it weren’t for your course, and the superb teaching, we would be having a very different experience this week…and not celebrating a daughter’s milestone to begin college, but a far worse parent’s worst nightmare instead.


So, just wanted to thank you and your instructors from the bottom of my heart.


In Control Crash Prevention is offering a Summer 2011 Family Discount through September 1st.  Please consider signing up yourself and your loved ones today.

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Your Car Will Not Feel Abandoned If You Leave It Behind, But I Guarantee Your Family Will If You Drive Drunk

Posted by on Jul 21, 2011 in Downey Insurance, Insurance, Personal Insurance

I met a new friend this year her name is Beatrice Serewicz -Homes.  We met at an infant swim class with our daughters, later to find out that we lived a mile from each other.  We have become close over the last year and when she told me her brother was killed in a horrific drunk driving acident on July 17th 2010 I remembered watching the story on the news and feeling for the family even though I had no idea his sister lived so close to us.

The other driver was drunk and traveling in the wrong direction on I-90 in Worcester, MA.  This drunk driver struck Thomas Serewicz vehicle, head on, killing Tommy and his friend that was a passenger in the vehicle.  Thomas was 24, he was married with 2 small boys.  Tom’s two sisters, his wife and children, his Mother, and his friends were devastated.  My friend Bea was 9 month pregnant at the time and gave birth to her daughter 2 weeks later.

Here is an excerpt from a note written by Tom’s Mother Lynn Serewicz:

Altering your mind, is altering your mind. Drugs, alcohol, sleep deprivation…. kills! And for some who say I’ll take my chances it’s my life… NO IT ISN’T!! not when innocent people die! and little boys are left without their daddy!!!  Have you ever heard or said yourself, I don’t even remember how I got home last night.. I’ve heard people say things like “there’s a dent in my car, I don’t know what happened”, or, I banged up my knee and I don’t know how I did it..” all this after a night of drinking… ever wonder how many accidents they may have caused without ever knowing it? Maybe in the paper that next day was a story of a car that went off the road…. and people killed… maybe the one who doesn’t
know how they got home, drove that car off the road!! how would they ever know???? Or a victim of a hit and run.. could THAT be how your car got dented???

This mom sureis MADD, but most of all, wants others to know Tom was here, he was/is important to this world. but is gone now because someone decided this was how she wanted to live her life. Imagine how her family must feel? the devastation from this one act is endless.

PLEASE, think before you drink/drug. (she was highly intoxicated and drugged).

Thank you all for reading. I’m so sorry it’s sad. I’m so sorry we live in a world where this kind of thing can happen.

God Bless us all!


Last week the family held a 1 Year memorial for Tommy at the Stone Church in West Boylston, MA.   They chose the location because it was Tom’s favorite fishing place. They had prayer, memories, released red balloons (for MADD) with red ribbons tied to them with messages from the hearts of family and friends written on them.  They sang by the water’s edge, Amazing Grace.  Tom’s Mother Lynn and family were deeply touched by the presence of many friends and love ones and their gift of love and remembrance of Tommy.   Later, they shared food, laughter, tears, and stories of Tom, his antics, his love.

I am telling this from a third person perspective because that is all I can do, I have a hard time imagining what it would be like to lose a loved one to such a tragic accident that is 100% preventable.  Tom also did not have a Life Insurance policy.   While Life Insurance cannot begin to make up for the loss of a love one, it can make the lives of those left behind a little more manageable.    At Downey Insurance we support making your car a “No Phone Zone” to prevent Texting While Driving  this may not be as much of a no-brainer as not driving drunk but it is just as important.  So PLEASE do not drive drunk, and PLEASE don’t allow someone else to drive drunk whose judgment may be impaired.  Your car will not feel abandoned if you leave it behind but I guarantee your family will if you drive drunk.

Cate Downey Potenza

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