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In honor of Mary Fisher’s 11-year anniversary with McClain Insurance, we’re playing “Get to Know the McClain Team.” We hope you enjoy learning more about Mary, what she loves about our community, and her answers to our lightning-round questions.

Tell us about your family, where you grew up and what you were like as a kid.

I was born in Minnesota and moved to Southern California when I was 2 ½, then moved to Hood River, Oregon when I was 12. I consider Oregon home.

Mary Fisher as a young girl4-year-old Mary, ready for Easter

I graduated from Oregon State with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a Home Ec. minor. I guess I was ahead of my time since HGTV was not around back then!

My brother and sister are 20 and 15 years older than me so special childhood memories revolve around weddings and becoming an aunt at age 6! We had a fabulous parks and recreation department and our summers were filled with field trips to the beach, zoo, and museums! Good times!!

Mary Fisher with her mom and sisterMary with her mom and sister

I met my husband, Mike, at my oldest niece’s wedding – he was best man and I was a bridesmaid. I caught the bouquet! That was 35 yeas ago on August 28. We have a daughter, a son, and a soon-to-be son-in-law. Our daughter has an Australian Shepherd named Buckley who keeps all of us on our toes! We lost our little Yorkie, Jake, a year ago but we’re not quite ready to replace him yet.

Mary and Mike FisherMary and her husband, Mike

Tell us about working for McClain Insurance.

I joined McClain Insurance in 2009. It was my first job in the insurance industry. I love the community involvement and the outstanding reputation McClain Insurance has in the community and industry!

What do you like to do outside of work?

Family time is important! I miss my extended family and my close friends a lot! When we are not in a pandemic, I like to spend time with them.

Kendall, Mary and Grant at Grand CanyonKendall, Mary and Grant at the Grand Canyon on Mother’s Day in 2019, after Grant’s graduation from Northern Arizona University

We also like wine tasting and road trips. Seeing every national park is on my bucket list!

Lightning-round questions!

1. What new hobby or skill would you like to learn? I have always wanted to learn to crochet. I am currently learning all about rain gardens.

2. What’s your favorite local business or restaurant? Wood Fire Grill, Scuttlebutt, and El Paraiso

The Fisher familyMary and her family at Christmas: son, Grant; husband, Mike; future son-in-law, Josh; and daughter, Kendall

3. What motivates you to work hard? My kids and setting an example for them. I was raised with a strong work ethic and I am proud to say that my kids have one, too!

4. What would you sing at karaoke night? First of all, I don’t sing. I lip sync in the shower, I’m that bad!! If I had to pick a song, it would be “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert.

5. What’s the most useless talent you have? I can solve a TV/movie crime before the show is half over.

6. What food do you love that a lot of people might find a little odd? Lutefisk and lefse! I’m half Norwegian. And to be fair to my other half, I love Irish whiskey!

Mary and Dusty the horseMary as a teenager on Dusty the horse

7. If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? I have always been a Wonder Woman fan! To be honest, when I was younger, I was often told I looked like Lynda Carter. LOL! So I guess a Lasso of Truth (don’t lie to me!) and deflecting arm bands would be my super powers!

8. What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation? Making gravy!

9. What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Spending time with family! My nephew has been hosting Christmas Eve parties at his home in Bellevue for the past 10 years and it is always a fun time. We like to kick back on Christmas Day and go to a movie. It all changes with adult kids!

10. What pets did you have growing up? When I was born my family had a German Shepherd named Chita who was my personal bodyguard! When I was 7 she developed cancer and died. We got another German Shepherd named Queenie who had been abused and was very skittish. Poor thing. I also had a cat named Keesa which means female kitty in Norwegian. Then we found out she was a he!

11. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? Daring or stupid? I went down a raging river on a raft made of 26 truck tire inner tubes. And I don’t swim!!

We’re so glad Mary is part of the McClain Insurance family! To learn more about Mary and the rest of our team, visit

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On Aug. 22, McClain Insurance Vice President Nick Pembroke set out to complete one of his biggest goals yet: running 100 miles on the Japanese Gulch trails in Mukilteo.

Nick's 100 mile raceNick celebrates after his run

But he didn’t do it just for himself. Nick dedicated his run to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County (BBBS), a local organization focused on helping kids achieve their potential through one-on-one mentoring relationships. BBBS is near to Nick’s heart, and is one of McClain Insurance’s “Share the Good” referral program nonprofit partners. We are also proud to sponsor their upcoming Dream Builders Auction.

Giving back to our community through volunteering

Our partnership with BBBS grew out of Nick’s involvement with their school-based mentoring program. At McClain Insurance, we offer each of our team members 16 hours paid time each year to dedicate to volunteer efforts.

Since 2013, Nick has used his volunteer time to serve as a “Big” with BBBS. Each Monday during the school year, Nick spends his lunch hour leading a book club for 2nd and 3rd graders at Madison Elementary in Everett.

Book clubNick with his Madison Elementary book club

The book club members play games, practice their reading, and celebrate each other’s successes.

And while improving the students’ reading is a primary goal of the group, one of the main benefits for the kids is having a consistent, positive influence in their lives. Many of the kids in Nick’s book club come from challenging life experiences and may face academic difficulties as well.

“Spending time with my book club kids is one of the highlights of my week,” Nick says. “I love getting to know them and seeing them become stronger readers, build confidence, and develop friendships with their fellow book clubbers.”

In 2019, Nick was also asked to serve on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County. He’s seen the difference BBBS programs can make in kids’ lives and is excited to contribute to the organization in another way.

Running with purpose

Nick has been an avid trail runner for several years now, and was planning to run this year’s Cascade Crest 100, a trail run based in Easton, WA. When the race was canceled because of COVID, Nick started brainstorming with other members of his local running group, the Japanese Gulch Runners, about developing a DIY 100 miler closer to home.

Nick on a training runNick on a training run

He trained all spring and summer, with lots of long weekend runs on area mountains, including an overnight 62-mile run that he started one Friday evening at the end of a work week.

100 miles is a long way to run, and Nick knew he would need extra motivation to keep him going when things got challenging. He decided to dedicate his run to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County. He shared his goal on social media, and soon, friends and family started donating to his effort.

Nick started his 100-mile run early on Saturday, Sept. 22, and ran all through the day and night. Our McClain Insurance team had fun surprising him throughout the day with personalized signs and cheer squads.

100 mile raceMary and Laura cheering Nick during his race

Nick finished his run Sunday morning, in a little more than 28 hours – and he still had a smile on his face! To add to his accomplishment, Nick raised more than $6,700 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County!

Making a difference in the lives of local kids

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County relies on community support and donations in order to serve the many local kids who take part in one of several BBBS programs.

BBBS is probably best known for its community-based mentoring program, where “Bigs” and “Littles” are paired and meet together multiple times a month for social activities and one-on-one time.

In addition to community-based mentoring, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County also offers several school-based programs:

  • School-based mentoring is similar to community-based mentoring, but Bigs and Littles meet at the student’s school for homework, games and other activities.
  • The Beyond School Walls program brings students to a local company to learn about careers and participate in group activities.
  • Kids Books Clubs, like the one Nick leads, provide an opportunity for struggling readers to work on literacy and discussion skills in a small-group setting.
  • BBBS’ newest program is MentorU, which pairs high school students with local community members. Through electronic communication and a monthly in-person group session, MentorU is designed to help students develop personal, academic and career skills.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has been around since 1904. It is the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the country. Kids involved in BBBS make huge strides in key skills and behaviors, such as school attendance and grades, ability to get along with peers, and parental trust.

Our partnership

In addition to Nick’s volunteer work, McClain Insurance Services has supported Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County for many years. BBBS is one of our Share the Good referral program beneficiaries. Every time one of our clients refers someone to our agency, we donate $25 to one of our nonprofit partners.

Big Brothers Big Sisters checkThe McClain team presents the Safeco grant to Pam Shields, executive director of BBBS

In January 2019 McClain Insurance was named Safeco Insurance’s Northwest Region Agent for the Future. As part of the award, Safeco donated $5,000 to the nonprofit of the agency’s choice. We chose Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County to receive the grant McClain Insurance matched the Safeco grant with another $5,000 to BBBS.

We’re also proud to be a signature sponsor of this year’s Dream Builders Auction, one of BBBS’ main fundraisers. The virtual event begins with a silent auction on Sept. 9, leading up to the live auction on Sept. 12. To get more information or register for the event, visit

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As coronavirus continues to impact our community, there are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, fearful, and discouraged.

We want you to know you’re not alone. The entire McClain Insurance team is here for you and thinking about you during this difficult time. Over the past 43 years in business, our office has experienced five major recessions (and a Y2K scare!). Rest assured we’ll weather this storm together, too.

Our team has been busy fielding questions about how COVID-19 is impacting insurance policies across the Pacific Northwest. Below are some of the most common questions we’re receiving.

We last updated this post on Sept. 1, 2020, and we’ll continue to update it as the crisis unfolds.

How does working from home affect my insurance?

With many people still working remotely due to COVID, clients have asked us whether working from home impacts their insurance. Here are 5 important questions to ask:

  1. Do you have business equipment, supplies or inventory at your home? First, check with your employer to see if they provide coverage for business property at your home. In most cases, this coverage should be enough for any equipment or supplies you’ve brought home. Your homeowners policy also provides some coverage for business equipment like computers, desks, phones and tools, which should be adequate for most of our clients. However, if you have high-value equipment or inventory, contact us to see if you need to add coverage on your homeowners policy.
  2. Do you have regular business-related deliveries or visitors to your home? While your employer may provide limited coverage for business property at your home, they generally do not provide liability coverage for business activities at your house. If you have regular business-related deliveries or employees or customers coming to your home, give us a call to discuss whether you need additional coverage.
  3. Are you working in a detached structure on your property? Your homeowners policy typically covers hobby-related equipment and supplies stored in a detached structure, but it’s not designed to cover the risk that can come with businesses. If you’re using your detached garage, shed or outbuilding for business purposes, let us know.
  4. Are you self-employed? This is an important distinction for insurance providers. If you’ve got an in-home business or a hobby that’s turned into a side gig, we recommend a home-based business policy to make sure you’re properly covered.
  5. Are you driving less? In some cases, working from home may actually reduce your insurance rates! If you’ve gone from commuting to Seattle to commuting to your basement office, send us a text or email. We’ll update your auto policy and you may qualify for a low-mileage discount.
McClain Insurance Services is here for you!

The U.S. coronavirus pandemic started in the Seattle area. That’s why on March 12, 2020, our Everett, Washington-based office implemented a work-from-home policy to help keep our team healthy and do our part to prevent the virus’s expansion.

With the exception of walk-in visits, it’s business as usual at McClain Insurance. We are available to you by phone, text, or email, and through our website:

  • Phone: (425) 379-9200
  • Text: (425) 379-9200
  • Email:

Our entire team is monitoring phone calls, text messages, and emails during our normal business hours of Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Please contact us for claims, changes to your policy, questions about your bill. We’re also accepting new business.

The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly.  We’ll continue to follow local, state, and federal government recommendations to help keep our community safe.

My hours were cut, and now I can’t afford my insurance payments. What can I do?

First, we’re so sorry you’re experiencing financial hardship. You’re not alone – many of our clients are being affected by the spread of coronavirus.

We’re proud of the resources and support our insurance company partners are offering to policyholders. All proactively issued formal statements offering payment leniency, waived late fees, and other support for policyholders experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

In addition, on March 25, 2020, Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued Emergency Order No. 20-03,  which applies to all insurers authorized or admitted to transact property and casualty insurance business in the state of Washington.

Commissioner Kreidler’s order states:

A. Between March 25, 2020, and May 9, 2020, all Regulated Entities transacting any property and casualty insurance business shall provide grace periods for nonpayment of premium and shall waive otherwise applicable charges and fees associated with nonpayment of premium, such as late fees and reinstatement fees.

B. Between March 25, 2020, and May 9, 2020, no property and casualty insurer shall cancel a policy issued for nonpayment of premium, unless specifically directed to do so by the insured.

If your employment or income has been impacted, please call or text us at (425) 379-9200. We are on your side, and we are here to help.

Does my life insurance policy cover death from COVID-19?

Life insurance offers financial protection to your loved ones in the event you die unexpectedly, so it’s no surprise many people are asking, “Does my life insurance policy cover death from COVID-19?”

Yes, the insurance companies we work with do not exclude coverage for death from COVID-19 or similar pandemics. At this time, all of our life insurance companies are also continuing to write new policies. As long as you honestly answer the questions on your life insurance application,  you have little reason to be concerned about whether or not a claim related to COVID-19 would be paid.

I lost my job due to coronavirus and want to drive for Uber Eats to make ends meet. Do I need to tell my insurance company?
The coronavirus pandemic has already started to hit American pocketbooks, with nearly 1 in 5 households experiencing a layoff or a reduction in work hours, according to a poll by NPR. Employees of the restaurant, bar, hotel, and airline industries are among the hardest hit. The Seattle Times says 50 Seattle restaurants announced temporary or permanent closures in the first two weeks of March alone.

As a result, many laid-off employees are turning to delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates to replace lost income. This begs the question: If you start driving for a food delivery service, should you tell your insurance company?

Yes. Standard personal insurance policies exclude coverage for the delivery of food, people, and goods. This means if you get into an accident while performing these duties, you have no insurance coverage for the resulting damages and/or injuries. Luckily, many of our insurance companies can add an endorsement to your policy to cover food delivery for a small additional fee.

Progressive Insurance has taken a leadership position in providing temporary coverage for food deliveries, as has PEMCO Insurance. Please contact us for information about this temporary coverage and its restrictions.

What is the insurance industry doing in response to COVID-19?

All of our insurance company partners have the well-being of their customers, their independent agents, and their employees in mind. Most have enabled 100% of their employees to work remotely. Currently, there is no impact to normal customer service operations.

I own a small business. Does my business owners policy cover business interruption or loss of income while my business is closed?

McClain Insurance specializes in family insurance protection, including auto, home, boat, and earthquake insurance.

That said, we can tell you that according to the insurance industry publication National Underwriter, “Experts believe it will come down to what the insurance policy says and how it is interpreted.” Our recommendation: if you own a small business that has been negatively impacted by coronavirus, contact your independent insurance agent for guidance. They should be able to walk you through what your policy does and does not cover.

Can I get coverage for a canceled wedding?

At this time, insurance companies are no longer writing special events or wedding insurance policies that include cancellation or postponement coverage and lost deposit coverage as a result of COVID-19.

If you purchased a policy prior to the pandemic, please contact us for assistance.


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Wednesday, Aug. 5, marked 10 weeks of Food for Our Future, the McClain Insurance Services initiative to help provide food for teens living at Cocoon House during the pandemic. Each week the McClain team and their partners purchase and deliver a Wednesday night dinner from a local restaurant to Cocoon House.

Under normal circumstances, Cocoon House receives homemade dinners from churches and other local groups, but COVID-19 restrictions prohibit that. In response, the McClain Insurance team came up with Food for Our Future.

Dropping food at Cocoon HouseClaudia McClain delivers food from K Fresh to Christina Cuenca of Cocoon House

“Our goal is to reduce the strain on Cocoon House’s food budget while also helping keep Everett restaurants afloat,” said Claudia McClain, president of McClain Insurance Services. “The past several months have been difficult for so many people in our community. We’re grateful for the ongoing support from our customers and wanted to pay it forward.”

A community coming together

When her team first developed the idea, McClain said, they reached out to some of their partners. Alpine Cleaning and Restoration, another local business, immediately stepped up to co-sponsor the effort. Along the way, other organizations have joined the cause, including Everett-based Advocate Telecom and PEMCO Insurance.

Kevin Kaczka at Cocoon HouseKevin Kaczka delivers dinner from Red Rock Subs to Cocoon House

“Giving back to the community is always a focus for our team, and now that’s more important than ever,” said Kevin Kaczka, owner of Alpine Cleaning and Restoration. “We’re also glad to have the opportunity to help support Everett restaurants during these uncertain times.”

Food from all around Everett

So far, the teens at Cocoon House have enjoyed a wide variety of dinners, from lasagna to burgers to bibimbap bowls, with dinners provided from:

“Our local restaurants have been incredibly generous, providing us with huge platters of delicious food for the teens at Cocoon House,” said McClain. She has also used gift cards from Progressive Insurance and Safeco Insurance to purchase dessert some weeks, including from Petite Sweet Bakery and Café and the Midnight Cookie Company.

Food for our FutureNick Pembroke, McClain Insurance vice president, with his kids and Patrick Doyle of Advocate Telecom

“We are so grateful to McClain Insurance Services and the growing number of community partners and restaurants who have joined the Food for Our Future project!” said Chelsea Monroe, senior director of operations and development at Cocoon House. “This is a challenging time for our community, and even more so for the young people who depend on Cocoon House for safety and stability. Having delicious meals made especially for our young residents has been such a welcome treat for both the youth and staff, and we are proud to be a part of this incredibly supportive and generous community.”

Cocoon House has been one of McClain Insurance Services’ designated nonprofits since 2012, and the McClain team provides financial support for Cocoon House events and other programs.

With restrictions still in place for the foreseeable future, McClain is committed to continuing the weekly meal deliveries for as long as they are needed. To learn more about our partnership with Cocoon House, visit

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In honor of Caitlin Klosterman’s 6-year anniversary with McClain Insurance, we’re playing “Get to Know an Agent.” We hope you enjoy learning more about Caitlin, what she loves about insurance, and her answers to our lightning-round questions.

Tell us about your family, where you grew up and what you were like as a kid.

I was born at Everett General Hospital in Everett, WA. I grew up here and went to Everett Public Schools (Monroe Elementary, Eisenhower Middle and Cascade High). My mom grew up in Everett as well and went to St. Mary Magdalen. She was in the first graduating class of Mariner High School. I have one older sister, Helene.

Caitlin playing soccerSoccer star Caitlin!

As a kid I was really into soccer and played for about 12 years.

Caitlin Klosterman and her mom LindaCaitlin with her mom Linda at the Evergreen State Fair

My mom and I share a birthday in August and one of our family traditions is going to the Evergreen State Fair on our birthday and getting a photo button together.

Caitlin and her dog RussCaitlin and Russ

My husband Akeem and I went to middle school and high school together but didn’t really know each other. We ran into each other many years later in the Providence Hospital cafeteria, and the rest is history. We live in Marysville with our dog Russ. I also have a wonderful stepdaughter, Kaitlyn, who will be 11 this fall.

Akeem, Caitlin and KaitlynAkeem, Caitlin and Kaitlyn at the Everett Community Ice Rink after Christmas

How did you get into the insurance field and when did you join the McClain Insurance team?

I started in insurance, working for Safeco, the week before my 19th birthday. My sister had started working for Safeco in Bothell in 2001 and I joined her in 2004. I’ve also worked for PEMCO and Liberty Mutual. The only non-insurance jobs I’ve ever had were working at Safeway and in a dental office while I was in high school.

Caitlin and sister HeleneCaitlin and sister Helene, who helped her get her start in insurance

Before I started working for McClain Insurance I was working as a claims adjuster for Safeco at their office in downtown Seattle. I joined the McClain Insurance team in July 2014.

What do you like most about working for McClain Insurance?

There’s a lot! Firstly, I feel really good, really proud, about working for a small business that does so much good in the community. I’m proud to work for Claudia McClain because she is an incredibly kind and generous person and takes such good care of everyone.

Dodgeball tournamentCaitlin playing in an Everett YMCA dodgeball tournament with McClain Insurance teammates Nick Pembroke and Ann Franklin

I really like my co-workers. I work with a lot of great people.

And lastly, I like educating people about insurance. I like helping people understand it better. Insurance can be a really frustrating thing. It’s not tangible – you can’t see, taste, touch or smell it, etc., but you put all this money into it year after year. I like being able to help people protect the things that are most important to them in a way that is affordable, and in a way that helps them understand and feel like they’re getting the best value.

What do you like to do outside of work?

At the moment, my favorite thing is home decorating! I love planning and searching for things, and then when everything comes together the way I envisioned it in my head it makes me happy. I’m the “brains” and Akeem is the “brawn.” I come up with the idea and then he perfectly executes it!

Home decoratingCaitlin and Akeem’s beautiful living room

Lightning-round questions!

1. What new hobby or skill would you like to learn? I would like to learn Spanish, and I would also like to learn how to play the guitar, the piano and the violin.

2. What’s your favorite local business or restaurant? I really like Emory’s on Silver Lake. I love their cheesy garlic bread and buffalo chicken strips and they have the best prosecco – LaLuca Prosecco (SO good).

3. What would you sing at karaoke night? “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon

4. What did you want to be when you were a child? I wanted to be the first female President of the United States. And that’s actually still a possibility! My other career choice was astronaut.

5. What are two things you know you should know how to do but don’t? I don’t know how to change a tire and I can’t whistle very well

Caitlin and AkeemCaitlin and Akeem on a hike

6. Who would you most like to sit next to on a 10-hour flight and why? Akeem! I’m serious. He and I have never been anywhere together on a plane. We’ve been together for 6 years and have never gone anywhere. We were supposed to go to Vegas this spring but had to cancel because of the pandemic.

7. If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? I would fly and read people’s minds.

Caitlin, Helene and LilyCaitlin, Helene and their dog Lily

8. What pets did you have growing up? We had a dog named Lily and multiple cats – Rajah, Buster and Cleo.

9. What’s your favorite holiday tradition? In my family the adults don’t exchange Christmas presents, we play a white elephant gift exchange type of game. Each person that plays contributes a cool, silly, lame (one year my niece’s gift was a golf ball), ridiculous “gift” with a maximum price limit of $25. It’s really fun to see what the gifts are and get to steal gifts.

Caitlin in front of the Berlin WallCaitlin visiting the Berlin Wall on her trip to Germany

10. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? I’m not much of a daredevil, so the most daring thing I can think of is when I was a sophomore in high school, we had an exchange student from Germany live with us for the school year. When the school year was up and she went home, I flew to Germany by myself at age 15 to stay with her and her family. I was there for 5 weeks and it was great!

11. What motivates you to work hard? My family and making sure they’re ok. I’m also very motivated by what we do for the community at McClain Insurance and I want to be able to help contribute to that. And also so my dog can have a better life!

We’re so glad Caitlin is a part of the McClain Insurance family! To learn more about Caitlin and the rest of our team, visit

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Around here, we like to say that summer officially starts on July 5. With warmer weather arriving, we know many classic car owners are taking to the roads to show off their hard work. But do you have the right coverage to protect your investment?

Three classic carsThree Chevy Bel Air cars at a Michigan car show

When I was a kid, my parents had a knack for buying cars that ended up becoming classics, even though they didn’t know it at the time. My mom and dad’s first car was a turquoise 1955 Chevy Bel Air convertible, just like the center car in the photo above. They next bought the classic white Ford Thunderbird.

Claudia McClain and vintage ThunderbirdA young Claudia McClain in front of her family’s Ford Thunderbird

My own dream car was a bright red 1965 Ford Mustang convertible that a friend was bored with and decided to sell in the mid-70s. She wanted $750, but I didn’t have that kind of money at that point and had to pass. Worst investment decision ever!

McClain Insurance Agent Nick Pembroke remembers the thrill of taking his grandpa’s 1967 Ford Mustang out for a spin when he was 16. The car was one of his grandfather’s prized possessions and he always kept it in pristine condition.

Like Nick’s grandfather, most vintage car owners invest many hours and dollars into their cars. But if you don’t have adequate insurance coverage on your classic car, you may be at risk for unexpected costs in the event of an accident or other claim.

Check out our 5 common questions about classic car insurance below and then contact us to make sure your vehicle is properly protected.

But first…

What is a classic car?

Age isn’t the only feature that makes a car “classic.” If your vehicle is worth more than its original sale price, it may qualify as a collectible.

If you own a vehicle that falls into any of these categories, we encourage you to contact us to discuss class car insurance:

  • Antique and classic cars (typically classified as those 25 years and older)
  • Hot rods or modified vehicles
  • Exotic or limited-edition modern classics
  • Collector trucks and SUVs
  • Vintage military vehicles
  • Antique tractors
  • Vintage commercial vehicles

Classic car vintage fire truckA vintage fire truck belonging to team member Meghan Pembroke’s uncle. He plans to drive it in their community parade once it’s fixed up.

Now that you know what makes a car “classic,” here are some of the classic car insurance questions we often hear from customers.

1. Will I still be able to take my classic car out for a weekend drive under a classic car policy?

We frequently hear from customers who are concerned that they won’t be able to drive their vintage car as often if they insure it on a classic car policy. In the past, this was sometimes an issue for classic car owners. Specialized policies limited the number of miles the vehicle could be driven each year.

These days, we have great options for customers who like to drive their classic cars to the grocery store or take them on road trips once in a while. Some of our insurance providers offer flexible policies that allow our customers to take their vehicles to the local farmers market and to events and car cruises.

However, if you are planning to use your car as your daily commuter vehicle, a classic car policy will not be the best choice for you. In fact, most classic car insurance providers require that all drivers in the household also have a regular-use vehicle for daily driving.

Vintage truckClaudia and Pat McClain’s 1979 GMC pickup

2. If my car needs repairs, can I do the work myself and still get adequate coverage?

Special vehicles need special care when it comes to repairs. In fact, many vintage car owners prefer to do repairs themselves.

With standard car policies, companies often provide a limited selection of repair shops that customers can choose from in the event of an accident or breakdown. Most classic car policies, on the other hand, allow owners to choose the repair shop that they are most comfortable with. They will also cover the cost of repairs if you choose to do them yourself.

In fact, some classic car insurance companies will even help you track down hard-to-find replacement parts for your vehicle if you need to make a repair.

3. I only drive my classic car in the summer. Can I drop insurance coverage in the winter when it’s in storage?

Just because you won’t be driving your vintage car during the winter months doesn’t mean that you should drop insurance coverage. Some owners believe that as a “collector’s item,” antique cars that are in storage or parked in the garage or shop are covered under their homeowners policy. That is not the case!

Homeowners insurance excludes coverage for all motorized vehicles that are designed for road use.

It is important to maintain year-round coverage for your classic car in case of fire, theft, or another unexpected loss. If you don’t have your antique car listed on an appropriate policy, you may be left to absorb the cost of a loss out of your own pocket.

Classic car - Chevy coupeA vintage Chevrolet coupe

Classic car insurance was a huge help for one of our longtime clients a few years back. Our customer had his 1957 Chevrolet 150 in storage over the winter. When he checked on it, he discovered that mice had created a nest in the vehicle, causing more than $2,000 in damage to the ceiling fabric, upholstery and carpet.

Because he had a classic car insurance policy, he was able to choose where he wanted to have the repairs done. The insurance company even sent a claims representative out to talk over the damage and repairs with the repair shop. Our customer was very glad to get his car back in pre-mice condition!

4. Do I need to insure my classic car that isn’t currently running?

We know that many collectible cars start as a work in progress. And if your project vehicle isn’t currently running, you may not think you need to cover it with a classic car policy. But that can be a costly misconception.

If a vehicle is completely in parts and boxes, your homeowners policy might provide limited coverage in the event of a fire, theft or other loss to those parts. But in general, our rule of thumb at McClain Insurance is: If it looks like a vehicle, insure it like a vehicle – even if it isn’t currently running.

Classic carMeghan’s dad is planning to restore a 1939 Fordor that belonged to his great uncle

Homeowners policies exclude coverage for motorized vehicles designed for road use. If you are restoring a vintage car, we recommend getting a classic car policy to make sure you have the coverage you need in the event of a loss.

5. Why can’t I just add my classic car to my auto policy?

While you can add your classic car to your standard auto policy, we don’t recommend it. Going that route will likely cost you more and will not provide the special benefits that a classic car policy offers.

Standard car insurance policies are designed for daily driving in a standard vehicle. Unlike classic cars, which can gain value as they “age,” standard vehicles depreciate as you add miles and years to them. In the event of a claim, a standard car policy will cover you based on the current market value of your car. Providing adequate coverage for a vintage or collectible car under a standard policy can be significantly more expensive than a classic car policy with rates built for collector vehicles.

Classic car policies, on the other hand, are based on the “agreed value” of your vehicle (see “properly value your car” below). They also offer unique coverages tailored to meet the needs of classic car owners, like those described above. Those include:

  • Choosing your own repair shop (or completing repairs yourself)
  • Special coverage for auto shows
  • Spare-parts coverage
  • Classic car memorabilia, such as vintage signs
  • In-house claims handling
  • Roadside coverage
Other classic car insurance considerations:
  • Specialized roadside assistance: Vintage car owners are more likely to experience a breakdown than an accident. In addition to typical coverage provided by a standard auto policy, classic car policies often offer specialized roadside assistance, including flatbed towing. In the event of a breakdown or accident, flatbed towing is the safest way to transport a damaged high-value car.
  • Properly value your car: To make sure you have the coverage your vintage car deserves, you need to properly value your vehicle. A classic car policy, unlike a standard auto policy, is based on “agreed value” rather than actual cash value, which factors in depreciation of the car as it ages. Agreed value considers other factors like miles driven, customizations and modifications. In the case of a total loss, it would pay for the full value of the car. The National Automobile Dealers Association offers helpful tips on to help you determine the appropriate value of your classic or collectible car.
  • Secure storage: Some carriers will require that your vintage car be stored in a locked, enclosed structure, such as a private garage or storage unit. Others allow vehicles to be stored in driveways, carports or car hauling trailers.

Contact the McClain Insurance team today to learn more about our classic car insurance options!

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We are pleased to highlight the Everett Animal Shelter, one of our wonderful local nonprofit partners!

McClain Insurance has been a proud sponsor of the shelter since 2017. And as a team full of animal lovers, this organization holds a very special place in our hearts.

McClain Insurance Pets

Altogether, our team currently has six dogs, one cat and a bird – plus several grand-pets and pet cousins!

Everett Animal Shelter

Mary Fisher‘s daughter, Kendall, and Buckley participate on a “Global Pet Call”

The McClain Insurance extended family includes several pets who were adopted from local shelters. Caitlin Klosterman’s dog, Russ, was a former shelter pet, and Ashley Abrams’ cat, Max, came from foster care.

Caitlin Klosterman's husband and dog

Caitlin and Akeem with Russ

For many of us, shelter pets have been some of our most treasured family members. Nick and I have years of special memories of Stella, the feisty and lovable terrier that I adopted while I was in graduate school in Pullman. Stella loved camping and hiking, never met a squirrel she didn’t want to chase, and was utterly devoted to our family and her adopted brother, Monte.

Meghan Pembroke's dogs

Meghan Pembroke with Stella and Monte in the Skagit Valley

Every shelter pet brings their unique personality and experiences to their new family. Claudia and Pat McClain can attest to that! About 20 years ago, they adopted a sweet and shaggy golden retriever named Magoo from the Everett Animal Shelter. A neighbor had surrendered Magoo because they couldn’t handle her repeated escapes from their yard.

Claudia and Pat soon discovered that it wasn’t mischief that led to Magoo’s frequent breakouts. Another of their neighbors was a retired physician with Alzheimer’s who would take daily walks through the neighborhood. Somehow, Magoo instinctively knew that her calling was to be a watchful and attentive walking partner for the doctor, and no fences were going to keep her from her task.

About the Shelter

The Everett Animal Shelter has been serving animals like Magoo for more than 30 years. They are an open-admission shelter, caring for and comforting homeless and abused pets in our community. And though their team is based in the northeast corner of Everett, they take in animals from all over Snohomish County.

Like the McClain Insurance team, the shelter team is small but mighty – and busy! In 2019 they cared for more than 5,500 animals. Their on-site veterinarian staff performed more than 1,920 spay and neuter surgeries last year.

The shelter even boasts some pretty famous alums, including a very special dog named Noodle. Noodle came to the shelter in 2017 with a spinal cord injury that left her back legs paralyzed. The shelter team quickly determined that the active puppy would need custom equipment to keep her moving. After weeks of specialized care from shelter staff and volunteers, Noodle was adopted by an outdoors-loving couple who also happened to be physical therapists.

Everett Animal Shelter

Ashley and Claudia with super-dog Noodle in front of the shelter

The energetic dog has gone on to achieve viral fame, including a recent appearance in the Petco Foundation’s Holiday Wishes competition. We dare you not to smile at this adorable video of Noodle as a puppy!

Serving Our Community

Everett Animal Shelter is open admission, meaning they do not turn any animal away. They take in stray animals, animals surrendered or abandoned by their owners, and animals that have been involved in cruelty cases. That kind of care can be costly, and the shelter relies on support from the community to care for animals as they heal and wait to be adopted.

In addition to adoptions, the shelter provides pet licensing and animal control services in the Everett city limits. You can also visit them to get your pet microchipped. (A microchip is a permanent ID that makes it easier for you to reconnect with your pet if they go missing.)

If you haven’t visited the shelter yet, we highly recommend it! The shelter moved to its beautiful, state-of-the-art home across from Langus Riverfront Park in 2013. The facility features spaces for dogs, cats, birds and other small animals, kennels with access to the outdoors, and a large grassy area with room for dog walking and exploring.

Our Partnership

We’ve been partnering with the shelter for several years. In 2017 we successfully nominated Everett Animal Shelter for a $1,000 Safeco grant to help them care for animals throughout the community. That holiday season we also donated a bag of dog food for every pet insurance quote our team completed.

Everett Animal Shelter

Caitlin, Mary, Dova and Nattie at Mutt Strut

In years past, the McClain Insurance team has been the “Top Paw” sponsor of Mutt Strut, a fun event where dogs are the stars. Mutt Strut features dog parades, agility demonstrations, cute accessories and yummy treats… if you’ve got a dog in your life, you won’t want to miss it!

Get a taste of Mutt Strut fun with this video of the 2019 event (bonus points if you spot McClain Insurance team members and our pets!).

Get Involved

The shelter is fortunate to have an incredible team of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers who support their important work. From dog-walking to fostering to helping keep the shelter neat and tidy, caring for animals in Everett is truly a community effort.

Kim Matthews' dog

Kim’s dog Sadie with her own furry friend

Team member Kim Matthews has been a longtime supporter of the Everett Animal Shelter. She donates food regularly throughout the year. And she and her husband, Phil, organize a big pet food drive around the holidays as part of their annual Christmas party.

If you love animals as much as we do, there are lots of ways to get involved with the shelter!

  • Volunteer: Volunteers are essential to the shelter’s ability to care for lost and abandoned animals in our community. Whether you like walking dogs, planning events, talking with potential adopters, or even doing laundry, the shelter has a role for you! The shelter holds regular orientation sessions for potential volunteers. Bookmark their website to find out more!
  • Foster an animal: Foster families help extend the walls of the shelter and allow the team to care for more animals in our community. Fostering is also a great way to get your whole family involved! The shelter needs foster homes for cats, kittens and puppies, and even has a special foster program for senior dogs.
  • Donate: Many animals come to the shelter in need of extra attention – whether that’s a special diet or extensive veterinary care. Donations to the shelter’s Fund for the Animals help their team support every animal in their care, no matter what they need. The shelter also accepts food and supply donations and maintains an Amazon wish list of their frequently used items. You can also sponsor a kennel in the shelter for a donation of $100-250.
  • Participate in an event: The shelter frequently participates in City of Everett events and partners with local businesses to highlight adoptable animals. Watch community calendars and the City of Everett website to learn more.
  • Adopt: Whether you’re looking for a guinea pig, a kitten or an older lap dog, the shelter has your “furever” friend! Visit their website to see adoptable animals and follow them on Facebook to find out about special adoption events. (Hint: If you’re looking for a puppy, plan to get there early!) If you do adopt a new pet, don’t forget to contact us for pet insurance!
Share the Good Referral Program

Everett Animal Shelter is one of the Community Partners in our Share the Good referral program. We invite our clients to tell friends and family about their good experiences with McClain Insurance. Then we pay it forward in our community!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Someone calls, texts, or emails us and says you referred them. (Thank you!)
  2. One of our licensed agents provides a free protection review.
  3. We make a $25 donation to one of our nonprofit partners: Everett Public Schools Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County, Everett Animal Shelter, and Cocoon House.
Watch for more

We’ll be partnering with the shelter on some fun virtual events in the coming months, so stay tuned. Be sure to follow us on Facebook to get the scoop – and to see photos of our own adorable pets!

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Detached structures. They are one of the areas that homeowners often overlook when it comes to updating their insurance policies. And it’s something that we’ve seen popping up more often as our clients have been spending a lot of time at home this spring.

If you’re like our family, you’ve spent some of your quarantine time tackling long-overdue outdoor projects. Our yard and garden are looking the best they have in years!

What does that have to do with insurance? Well, if any of your recent projects involved adding or updating a shed, a barn, or any other “detached structure,” you’ll want to check in with us.

What’s a detached structure and how are they insured?

A detached structure is any additional building or structure on your property that’s not attached to your home. This includes detached garages, sheds, greenhouses, barns, shops, and gazebos. It also includes items you might not think of, like driveways, fences, and adding or replacing an existing dock on the water.

Your homeowners policy automatically covers additional structures on your property. However, that coverage generally only covers your structures for up to 10 percent of the coverage amount of the dwelling itself. For example, if your house is insured at $400,000, your automatic coverage would total $40,000 for the detached structures on your property. (Remember, this is the most common coverage amount. You can check your own policy to confirm your coverage details).

For many of our clients, that may be adequate. But as construction costs continue to rise in the Pacific Northwest, the coverage included in your homeowners policy might not be enough.

Depending on how many structures you have – and what you’re using them for – you may need additional coverage to make sure you’re adequately protected.

Have you added a shed and forgotten to tell your agent?

Here are some scenarios we run into from time to time:

  • A longtime customer decides he’s tired of his boat sitting out in the elements and builds a garage to store it.
  • A retired client takes up pottery and fixes up her garden shed to house a new kiln and pottery supplies.
  • A couple decides to renovate the attic space above the garage and rent it out for extra income.

In all of these cases, the customer may not be fully protected if their homeowners policy hasn’t been updated to reflect those changes. And you don’t want to discover that after you’ve had a claim!

So, if you’ve built or added structures on your property, give us a call! Here are some of the questions we’ll walk through with you:

1. How many additional structures do you have?

When my wife and I bought our house, it came with a small greenhouse and work shed, and a detached carriage garage. Because we don’t store any big-ticket items in those buildings, the automatic coverage provided by our homeowners policy should provide enough protection in the event of a fire or other disaster. But if we decided to add a big playhouse for our kids or expanded our shed to hold more garden supplies, we might need additional coverage.

Detached structures coverage

If you have multiple structures on your property, check with us to make sure you have enough coverage to protect them. It might seem unlikely that a disaster would affect all of your structures at one time, but we have seen it happen, especially in the event of a large fire.

2. Are you renting out your detached structure?

Have you considered jumping on the VRBO and Airbnb trend? In recent years, more and more communities are allowing detached accessory dwelling units, or DADU. As a result, we’ve seen lots of clients adding tiny homes on their properties or converting rooms in their detached garages and barns into rental units. That’s an important change that needs to be reflected in your homeowners policy.

While a rental unit within the house is typically covered under your homeowners policy, renting out part of a detached structure is not. That can be a costly discovery if that rental unit catches fire or is otherwise damaged.

If you are converting (or have already converted) part of a detached structure into a rental, contact us to update your policy.

3. What do you use your detached structure for?

Another common scenario is a homeowner using a detached building for a hobby or side hustle: A movie buff turns part of a large shop into a top-of-the-line home theater with a bar and surround sound. Or an artist sets up a studio in a detached garage and takes on a few students. If this sounds like you, this is a great opportunity to contact us so we can look at your options.

Detached structures coverage

Here’s an example from my own family: My mother-in-law, Melinda, is an incredible quilter, and recently invested in a used long-arm quilting machine. She moved it into their large outbuilding and created her own quilting den.

Melinda uses the long-arm to finish her quilts, and occasionally the quilts of friends and family as gifts. Because she doesn’t charge for it, her quilting is considered a hobby and the machine is covered under her personal property.

In other cases, however, homeowners do use their detached buildings for business purposes, anything from landscaping to home-staging to yoga workshops and cooking classes. Or, something that begins as a hobby, such as growing flowers, gradually expands into selling those flowers at the local farmers market.

If you’re using your detached structure for business purposes, your coverage for that structure will be voided; homeowners policies aren’t designed to handle the risks that can come with businesses. In those cases we will recommend a home business insurance policy, and will change coverage for the detached structure on your homeowners policy.

If you’re not sure whether your hobby has grown into a full-fledged business, just contact us, and we can make sure you’re adequately protected.

4. What are you storing in your detached structure?

If your detached garage is mostly holding old yearbooks and kids’ bikes, you likely have adequate coverage under your homeowners policy. But if you’ve added a boat or snowmobile – and haven’t contacted us to update your policy – you are likely under-insured.

You might be surprised that someone would forget to tell us about a new car or dirt bike. But detached structures can sometimes cause an out-of-sight, out-of-mind forgetfulness – and your homeowners policy does not provide coverage for your vehicles.

Basically, if you got anything with a motor on your property, you should contact us to double check your coverage. This includes:

We recommend taking a quick inventory from time to time, just to make sure that your insurance coverage reflects the actual value of your property.

5. What is your structure like?

How fancy is your detached structure? Is it a plastic-sided, pre-fab shed? Or is it a fully-insulated shop with a bathroom and sealed concrete floors? For basic structures, the automatic coverage provided by your homeowners policy will likely be enough to cover your replacement cost in the event of a disaster. But if you’ve built a barn as big as your house with a sleeping loft and mini kitchen, we’ll likely need to look at increasing your coverage.

The same applies to any significant improvements that you’ve made to an existing structure on your property.

I’ll use my in-laws as an example again. When they purchased their home, I worked with them to make sure they had enough coverage for the large outbuilding on their property. A couple years later they decided to convert to solar electricity. All of the new solar panels were added to the roof of their outbuilding. That greatly increased the potential replacement cost if the building were to be damaged, so we updated their policy to reflect the change.

If you’ve updated a detached structure on your property, be sure to let us know.


Whether you’ve added a gazebo this spring or are just realizing that you forgot to tell us about the shed you built last year, we can help. Contact us today and we’ll make sure you have the protection you need.

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McClain Insurance has had an ongoing partnership with Cocoon House since 2010. Back then, Cocoon House volunteers operated a small eight-bed emergency shelter out of an old home down the street from our office in Everett, Washington. Since then, Cocoon House has expanded its operations to include long term housing, street outreach, and a nationally recognized prevention program that focuses on parents building their family management skills.

Cocoon House’s work is deeply important to our team.  We want to do everything we can to help ensure they can continue providing the housing, mental and physical healthcare, food and basic needs, and other support our at-risk youth deserve.

Food for Our Future Partnership

It’s a difficult time for many people in our community. We’re more grateful than ever for your support.

By purchasing insurance from an independent agency like ours, you’re assuring that careers and payroll remain in the Snohomish County economy. Your support in turn allows our team to give back to the community that means so much to us.

After talking with neighbors and friends, our team realized we needed to amplify our efforts to support other local businesses and nonprofits during this challenging time.

McClain Insurance has pledged to provide a hot, catered dinner every Wednesday throughout the COVID-19 crisis for the resident teens of Cocoon House. We feel honored to help provide food for the future of our community.

We’re purchasing the weekly meals from local restaurants struggling to stay afloat. It’s our hope the meals will help support these businesses while off-setting Cocoon House’s increased food costs due to COVID-19. Previously, church and community groups often supplied homemade dinners. Regulations now prohibit this, putting a large strain on the Cocoon House food budget.

Each meal will be delivered by our team. You can follow along with our Food for the Future deliveries on our Facebook page.

Cocoon House Everett Meal delivery

We’re deeply grateful for our vendor and insurance company partners who heard about our Food for the Future initiative and asked to join us. Our current Food for the Future partners include:

  • Alpine Cleaning and Restoration, a family-owned restoration company specializing in water and mold restoration, smoke and fire restoration, and biohazard cleanup
  • PEMCO Insurance, one of the Pacific Northwest’s top-rated insurance companies
Cocoon House and COVID-19

Cocoon House provides an essential safety net for homeless and at-risk young people in Snohomish County who have nowhere else to turn. These vulnerable youth experience elevated health risks, especially so during this time of crisis.

Cocoon House is often these young people’s only resource. These are youth working to overcome significant barriers and unimaginable life challenges– many are homeless, survivors of abuse or other trauma, teen parents, or battling addiction or have family members who are addicts. Among the homeless population Cocoon House serves, the average age is 14.5 and 40% are LGBTQ+. It is imperative Cocoon House helps keeps these children safe and healthy. COVID-19 does not discriminate, and anyone is susceptible to being exposed or contracting the disease.

Since early March, the Cocoon House team has worked around the clock to adapt and continue their programs while working on the front lines of COVID-19.  While many other non-profit partners in our community have discontinued services, Cocoon House remains committed to keeping vital services in operation throughout the entire experience of COVID-19, including “The Hub,” their state-of-the-art 32,000 square foot, three-story complex. Here, Cocoon House operates dorm-style housing units and a full-service day center offering meals, chemical dependency and mental health counseling, showers, a computer and music lab, rooms for employment training, and more. All these programs continue to operate with new guidelines in place to ensure the safety of staff, youth, and the greater community.

Cocoon House Food for Our Future

Cocoon House also has a nationally recognized prevention program that focuses on parents building their family management skills. These programs are also continuing on a modified basis. Rather than in-person meetings, Cocoon House family specialists are connecting over the phone or by video conference to guardians and families who need support.

More than 2,500 youth and families rely on these critical programs every year. In 2019, this included 6,000 visits to Cocoon House’s drop-in center, stable housing for nearly 200 youth, 3,500 street outreach contacts, 9,500 survival aid items distributed, and 6,500 meals. When young people leave Cocoon House programs, 86% are exited to safe destinations, 89% are enrolled college, and 77% obtain employment or are improving their job skills.

Cocoon House Butterfly Celebration McClain Insurance

McClain Insurance’s Ongoing Partnership with Cocoon Hosue

As our team has grown over the years, Cocoon House has also grown. So, too, has our relationship with them.

Our relationship with Cocoon House is not defined by a single project or initiative but is instead an ongoing partnership of support.  Below are some of the other ways we support Cocoon House:

  • An Evening in SILK Dinner and Auction: Cocoon House’s An Evening in SILK Dinner and Auction is their largest fundraising event of the year. McClain Insurance has been a Silver Sponsor of this event (along with big names like The Boeing Corporation) since 2015, helping ensure every dollar raised at the event goes directly to Cocoon House’s vital youth outreach, housing, and prevention services.
  • Butterfly Celebration and Luncheon: We began sponsoring Cocoon House’s annual Butterfly Celebration and Luncheon in 2015. This is a unique opportunity to recognize and honor the many accomplishments of Cocoon House young people who have overcome significant barriers and unimaginable life challenges. Each year, we join more than 600 community allies to listen to these young people’s stories, show them how much their community cares about them, and cheer them on as they graduate from Cocoon House’s programs.

  • Capital Campaign: In 2017, Cocoon House launched a $13.7 million capital campaign to build a 32,000 square foot, three-story complex that would including dorm-style housing units and a full-service day center offering meals, chemical dependency and mental health counseling, showers, a computer and music lab, rooms for employment training, and more. We were humbled to invest in their capital campaign to build this state-of-the-art facility, and we were thrilled to celebrate its grand opening this April 2019.

  • Give Hope for the Holidays Drive: We launched our Give Hope for the Holidays Drive in 2019. Throughout November and December, we collected donations from Cocoon House’s holiday wish list so more than 2,500 young people across Cocoon House programs could celebrate the holidays. The drive brought together our team, clients, community centers of influence, and insurance company and vendor partners. Everyone generously donated new clothing and shoes, make-up and personal care items, diapers and wipes, fun items like bluetooth speakers, nearly $400 in gift cards, and a sizable cash donation. In the past, we’ve also organized diaper drives for Cocoon House’s teen parents and collected donations of warm socks for teens on the street. 

  • Providing Unique Experiences.  Our commitment to Cocoon House includes creating new opportunities for their youth. This started in 2014 with “Take a Teen to Work Day.” Because many Cocoon House youth come from difficult family situations, fun holidays like “Take Your Kids to Work Day” are difficult for them to participate in. We want all children to have the same opportunities, so we partnered with Cocoon House to create our own “Take Your Teen to Work Day.” Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to host a Halloween party for more than 50 youth at Cocoon House’s U-turn Teen Resource Center and hosted Cocoon House staff, youth, at their families at a Seattle Mariners game and showing of the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. 

  • Share the Good Referral Program. At the core of our community giving is our Share the Good Referral Program, which donates $25 to our designated Charity of the Quarter for every referral we receive. We receive more than 650 referrals a year. Cocoon House has been one of our designated charities since 2012. 

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Protect Yourself From ID Theft During COVID-19

Use our tips to reduce your risk of being caught by identity thieves

ID theft In the past month we’ve seen an increase in identity theft, as fraudsters take advantage of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Use our tips to avoid becoming a victim of ID fraud.

As the Everett Herald reported in May, much of the recent ID theft in the Pacific Northwest is tied to false unemployment claims. Tens of thousands of Washington residents have been affected by “imposter fraud.” If your information was compromised under an earlier data breach, you may be more at risk for unemployment identify fraud.

The good news is, the state’s Employment Security Department has implemented new security measures that have significantly reduced the number of imposter unemployment claims in the last few weeks. However, our team has also seen an increase in ID theft related to mail theft and online shopping, as families do more of their shopping through websites and phone apps.

This is a great time to do a quick risk assessment and take steps to protect you and your loved ones.

1. Reduce your risk:

  • Don’t get hooked! Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of our uncertain situation with phishing scams and fake online offers seemingly related to the coronavirus outbreak. Be extra cautious when opening emails or clicking unknown links. When in doubt, go to the source – contact the institution directly or type in the URL for the organization you’re trying to reach. Consumer Reports recently published some helpful tips for avoiding coronavirus phishing scams.
  • Safeguard personal information on printed materials. Invest in a locking mailbox if possible and resist the urge to use your car as a storage spot for documents. For paperwork that must be kept, consider using an off-site safety deposit box or scanning documents for online storage on a secure server. Shred any documents that are no longer needed.
  • Be password savvy. Experts recommend that strong passwords be at least 8 characters long (even longer is better!) and not contain common words, such as “password.” Avoid using proper words or names or dates like birthdays and anniversaries. And while it’s not a good idea to use the same password for multiple sites, you can adapt your password for different sites by adding extensions. A recent CNET article has several tips for developing strong passwords and keeping them safe, including considering using a password manager.
  • Use a credit card when possible. Debit transactions draw funds directly from your bank account, and once the money’s out, it can be very hard to dispute the expense. Credit cards, on the other hand, don’t instantly transfer funds out of your account and typically allow a longer time period for questioning or disputing charges. For our team member Caitlin Klosterman, the first sign that something was amiss with her debit card was an emailed payment receipt in a foreign language. When she logged into her bank account, she discovered a thief had already racked up nearly $1,000 in charges! Because it was a debit card, the charges had to clear the bank before Caitlin could dispute them and get her money back, which took nearly a week.

2. Protect your phone:

  • Your phone is just as susceptible to identity theft as your computer. Most of our phones are connected to the internet for much of the day, putting them at risk for cyber threats. Whether you’re checking your email, scrolling through social media or searching the web, be just as alert for phishing scams on your phone as you would be on your laptop.
  • Watch out for “smishing,” or phishing by SMS/text message. The FCC reports an uptick in scams delivered via text message, often appearing to come from a bank and containing a link to click or phone number to call. Experts advise that most of us are at greater risk for falling for scams on our phones because we tend to trust text messages over emails. If you receive a suspicious text message, delete it. Don’t click on any links and don’t respond (even just to reply “STOP”). The FCC also recommends making sure you have the latest security update installed on your phone.
  • Think twice before adding a new app. “Before downloading a new game to kill time, do a little research on the app and the app’s developer,” suggests The Balance. “Carelessly downloading apps invites spyware, ransomware, and data leakage.” An app may seem harmless but could be gathering personal data that puts you at risk for identity theft.

3. Make the most of automatic alerts and free resources:

  • Many banks and credit cards offer notifications, such as “card-not-present” alerts, that will give you a heads up about suspicious activity in your accounts. Just last week, team member Nick Pembroke’s mother-in-law got a text message from her bank about a suspicious charge on her credit card. She was able to stop the charge and have a new card issued before any further damage was done.
  • Your credit reports can help alert you to signs of fraud. Visit to request your free reports.

4. Get help in dealing with identity fraud:

Most homeowners policies offer ID fraud expense reimbursement coverage, and we highly recommend that our customers carry this coverage. If you’re a PEMCO policyholder, for instance, you have access to PEMCO ID Smart: In the event of identity theft, PEMCO ID Smart representatives will walk you through each step of the process.

If you’re not sure whether you have ID fraud expense reimbursement coverage, contact our team and we can review your policy with you.

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