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STORM SEASON
Important Note:

June through November our agency may become prohibited from binding coverage should a “Tropical Disturbance” enter the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea.

In these cases we may be unable to bind new coverage quoted in open proposals until the storm leaves our area and our binding authority has been restored.

Please arrange your coverage protection early to avoid this type of delay. While we regret any inconvenience, the carriers impose these restrictions on all agencies.

Skylights are Hazards Worth Protecting Against

Did you know that OSHA requires roofers and other construction workers to secure and protect skylights and open roofs? In spite of this construction sites continue to be plagued by fatal drops.

Often workers falsely believe that plastic dome covers offer adequate protection. But these are often not strong enough to carry weight and prevent falling through.

NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) offers the following advice for construction situation:

  • Have adequate training in place to ensure workers understand the threats of resting on skylights. Be sure they are also aware of how deadly falls can be, even from heights that are perceived as “safe”.
  • It is important that all roof openings and skylights are clearly delineated with barriers or warnings before work begins. This is especially true for roofing work but applies to any construction activity. These protections should remain in place throughout the project.
  • Workers should be outfitted with safety harnesses to help protect workers from falls.
  • Sometimes guardrails, safety harnesses, and other methods are impractical. In those cases, alternate forms of protection need to be leveraged such as safety netting.
  • Skylights can be particularly dangerous. They should have warning labels affixed that caution against stepping on them.

It may seem silly or a waste of time to some to take these precautions. But, one worker death or serious injury can completely undo a construction project and an ill-prepared company.

Running a construction company can be a rewarding business. But, risk management is critical. Small investments in safety will protect against workers comp cost increases. In turn this helps to ensure maximized profitability.

Be sure to talk with your insurance professional for other risk management ideas that can help to improve the bottom line.

Controlling Auto Insurance Costs

Does it feel like automobile insurance rates just keep increasing? It is part of a national trend. Blame increased accidents resulting from distracted driving.

But there are some ways you can save on your policy:

  • If you are a student, you can save as much as 25% with good grades. It pays to strive for those A’s!
  • Higher deductibles can also help reduce your insurance premium costs. Just be careful about leaving yourself with too much exposure. (Your deductible should be something you can afford to pay.)
  • If you are over 50 you may be able to take defensive driving courses. These could qualify you for savings up to 10% per year depending on your insurance policy.
  • If you own a paid off older vehicle, it may make sense to drop coverage for collisions… but only if the car’s value is less than 10x the insurance premium.
  • If you are driving less than 7,500 miles a year, your costs may also go down since you are limiting your exposure by driving less.

Be sure to review your situation regularly with your insurance agent as life changes can also have an impact on your rates.

For example, in some states, an improving credit score can help reduce your insurance premiums.

Another life change that can have a positive impact is becoming a homeowner. If you own a home, be sure to talk with your agent about bundling. Combining auto and home policies with one carrier can offer savings. (Versus placing the home and auto policies with different carriers.)

And remember, your independent insurance agent is able to shop between multiple carriers to help you find the best rate for your specific situation. They can help you evaluate your risk profile to make sure you have the exact insurance coverage you need for your situation.

Why Having an Ergonomic Chair Matters

Consider your work chair. Is it comfortable and also supportive? Do you feel healthy being in it? Is it steady?

If you responded to “no” to any of these questions, you could need a new chair– one that is ergonomically correct. But it is essential for your company and you to do the research initially. “There are lots of ergonomic chairs available, however it can be a blunder to purchase one simply since it is labeled ‘ergonomic,’”

Some ergonomic chairs are more expensive than others but what matters is that the chair fits the person. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety, a chair ends up being ergonomic only when it:

  • Particularly suits an employee’s dimensions,
  • Their desk, and
  • What work they do there.

The ideal chair is flexible:

  • Can the seat height be adjusted? It’s really important that a seat elevates an employee to the correct height.
  • Is the backrest adjustable? It needs to have the ability to be changed both vertically as well as in frontward and also backward directions. In addition, the chair should have a company lumbar support.
  • Does the chair have a seat deepness appropriate for the worker?
  • Is the chair stable? Having a chair with a five-point base is best.

Finding a chair that fits:

Office workers spend the bulk of their time sitting… and sitting incorrectly can lead to injuries. So to have a great chair that fits, take these variables into consideration:

  • Understand that chair won’t always help every worker.
  • Make sure the chair seat elevation is 1/4th the worker’s elevation, but also make sure it fits the employee’s leg-to-torso ratio.
  • The same chair is not always ideal for all activities. Be prepared to have different types of chair in your environment that are task and worker specific.
  • Some are surprised to learn that chairs require maintenance. Be sure to check with the manufacturer for what possible issues may arise.
  • Be sure to allow users an opportunity to try and compare chairs. After all, they will be the ones using the chairs on a daily basis.

It may surprise you, but many workers’s compensation claims are related to poor ergonomics.

Millions of workers suffer work-related musculoskeletal disorders each year. Hundreds of thousands miss work as a result. Shockingly $1 of every $3 spent on worker’s comp claims is from inadequate ergonomic protection. Total annual costs for these types of claims exceed $45 billion each year.

The best “cure” for these situations is simple prevention. An investment in ergonomic chairs is far better than the claims that could result from poor seating for your workforce.

Have questions about ergonomics and their impact on worker’s comp claims? Be sure to reach out to your worker’s compensation insurance professional for answers!

If You Are Older, A Little Extra Fat Can be a Good Thing

Yes, it’s true. There are buffets that can cause the most disciplined dieter to succumb to temptation. They entice us to overeat. They tempt us with calorically dense foods and deserts that are rich and tasty.

Of course, few of us eat at buffets every day. Yet most of us have lifestyles that could be improved.

And we know that being obese can cause heart disease and is linked to some cancers, osteoarthritis, and yes, type-2 diabetes.

But it turns out that as we age, having some body fat can offer some advantages as a Senior.

Offset Illness

It’s pretty common for older individuals to lose weight later in life. A little extra body fat can help offset this. Also, individuals fighting cancer often lose weight so some body fat reserves can help during treatment.

Better Absorb Vitamins

Certain vitamins are absorbed by fat tissue. These are called “fat-soluble” vitamins and include A, D, E, and K. People who have minimal body fat often lack those vitamins. Fortified milk, avocados, cold-water fish, and other foods contain helpful fats that can help keep your skin healthy, reduce inflammation, and strengthen bones.

Keep Nice And Warm

Fat helps to keep a core temperature. It works as an insulator. It protects from extreme cold. Adding a few pounds in the Winter is the body’s natural way of keeping warm.

Protects Your Insides

Some fat around your body organs offers protective cushioning. This can be really helpful in situations like falling.

The key to this is moderation. If you are too skinny you could be at risk. And with more than 60% of Americans being obese, you may in fact be too heavy.

So take note. This is not an endorsement of obesity. Rather it is an acknowledgement that some fat on an otherwise healthy Senior body can have positive health benefits. So, If you have a few extra pounds, there’s no reason to feel shame. Simply recognize that a little bit of extra weight is a natural part of the aging process and a way for the body to help protect you.

Just be sure you watch out for rapid weight gain or loss as these can be signs of other underlying conditions. And always consult with a medical professional if you have any concerns about your weight.

Watch Out for Rip-offs When You Move

Moving is stressful! Whether you are moving across town or across the U.S., it’s a huge undertaking. You hire movers to help relieve stress, but it can actually cause problems. In fact complaints about moving companies have climbed by more than 25 percent in recent years.

For example, in 2014 there were more than 800,000 interstate moves. Of those, 3,600 resulted in complaints. So how do you avoid issues with movers and potential scams?

First off, watch out for low bids. One of the biggest complaints stem from movers that quote one price and then hold your items hostage, compelling you to pay a higher rate. Low quality movers will also give you a bid without inspecting your items. They will often say they’ll give you a final bid once your items are loaded on the truck. Avoid these!

Movers that leverage these tactics tend to be unlicensed and often advertise in classifieds or on Craigslist. A better resource is to check moving.org for more reputable movers. If you are looking for a better way to save, set your move dates carefully. Summer months are the busiest… and end of month moves tend to be more expensive than mid-month moves.

Second, look for clues that indicate you are likely dealing with a reputable company…

  • They’ll answer the phone with their actual company name. Less reputable movers will answer with “moving companies” because they are trying to avoid answering calls from dissatisfied clients.
  • Their website is modern and well branded. It also states their physical address that is tied to a real office. Less reputable movers will have a “virtual” office and their mailing address will be a P.O. Box.
  • They offer absolute clarity on their insurance coverage.Less reputable companies won’t.
  • They clearly show their licensing. Less reputable firms may not have licensing at all.

The key: Expert movers demonstrate clear professionalism throughout the process.

Third, protect yourself from ID theft. You would take extra care to protect expensive jewelry and family heirlooms, right? You also need to protect your personal records! Any paperwork that contains personal identifiable information should be secured to protect it. Important documents to protect include:

  • insurance documents,
  • stock certificates,
  • wills,
  • passports,
  • social security cards, and
  • birth certificates…

Fourth, read your contract carefully. If you don’t understand the terms, be sure they are explained to you. Keep copies of everything you authorize, particularly the “bill of lading”. (This recognizes the mover is in possession of your items… it also serves as your receipt.) Be particularly careful with moving insurance. Often times the standard insurance is minimal and won’t offer true “replacement-value” coverage. (Be sure to check with your insurance agent to see how your home owners policy may cover items that are lost or damaged during a move.)

By following these tips and leaning on your insurance agent for guidance, you’ll be well positioned to have a low-stress move.

Life Insurance is Difficult to Talk About… But a Divorce Makes a Conversation Necessary…

Divorces are painful. They can cause emotional harm to all participants. For example, imagine what might happen if a current spouse and an ex-spouse file competing claims for life insurance on a decedent.

Divorce related life insurance conflicts often end up in the courts. Such proceedings can be an emotionally charged experience for all involved.

Is that what you would want for your estate? Let’s say you have a policy worth $1,000,000. How much of that could be lost in legal fees as competing parties fight each other over who should receive the death benefit?

It may be surprising, but life insurance is often overlooked in divorce proceedings. This sort of oversight sets up the potential for future conflicts.

It forces the courts to made decisions on behalf of the decedent… something that no life insurance policy owner wants.

But avoiding this issue is relatively easy. Be sure your life insurance is discussed during your divorce and be sure it is properly updated.

As difficult as it may be, talking with your Insurance professional about your divorce is important. They’ll be really understanding. They’ll ask you the necessary questions to help you decide how best to handle whatever changes you need to make to your policy. They’ll offer you great advice that you can count on to be sure your estate is protected and that your wishes are followed if something should happen to you.

It’s Only Concrete…

As a contractor, concrete is one of those materials that is worked with pretty often. It’s easy to forget that you have to be careful when handling it.

After all, cement is considered one of the safest building materials. It’s found in playgrounds, sidewalks, workplaces, and homes…

But proper precautions have to be observed when working with concrete, otherwise it can be quite dangerous.

Concrete Basics

Portland cement is the most common active ingredient in concrete. Mixed with water, sand, and rock it solidifies into a rock-hard material. Thing is, because it is so abrasive, it is really harsh on the skin.

And even if concrete doesn’t come in contact with the skin directly, it can saturate clothing and still negatively impact the skin.

In fact, fresh concrete that comes in contact with skin can cause chemical burns. It can also cause severe damage to the eyes. How bad can the burns be? According to the Portland Cement Association, it can result in third-degree burns.

That’s the last thing you want your crew to face!

Remember, your Workman’s Comp rate is based on claim experience. Taking appropriate steps to ensure proper concrete handling will help you manage risks associated with handling cement…

  • It’s important that anyone handling Portland cement wear water-proof gloves, shirts and pants that fully cover arms and legs, as well as rubber boots that are high enough to prevent concrete from getting in.
  • It’s also important to wear eye protection to prevent concrete dust from getting into the eyes.
  • Also, concrete is heavy. Workers need to take extra care when handling it. (Be sure they push with a shovel rather than lifting concrete with it.)

Following these simple guidelines will help ensure that your team is protected as they work with concrete. You’ll keep your workers safe and you’ll help control your insurance costs.

So, how much insurance do you need for your new business?

Opening up shop? Wondering what kind of insurance coverage you might need? Chances are you’ll likely need to protect yourself. You have to watch out for things like liability claims, injuries, accidents, damage to equipment, and burglary as well. It’s enough to give a person an ulcer.

So how do you know if you have the right business insurance for your needs? And how can you be sure you are getting a great deal on your coverage?

We’re certainly here to help you with that!

Talking with an independent insurance agent will help you figure out which kinds of commercial coverage are most appropriate for your company. And being independent means we can work with multiple carriers… that means you have a choice!

Getting help for your business insurance is a smart choice. You likely save time. You’ll also get the benefit of working with someone who knows the right questions to ask to help really understand your risk profile. (Getting a full assessment of your needs is critical to be sure you aren’t over-insured or under-insured.)

So what are the kinds of business insurance you may need to consider? It all depends on the business you are in but your insurance needs will include one or more of the following:

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Workers Compensation
  • Commercial Vehicle
  • Information Breach Protection

Sometimes these insurances will be sold separately. However, they are often packaged together into a BOP (business owner’s policy.) A BOP may include discounts vs. buying the coverage separately.

Working with a seasoned professional will help you make informed decisions. They’ll ask tough questions to make sure you’ll balance your potential risk exposure with cost savings options. (Many business owners we work with are surprised to learn how they might be exposed and how costly a potential loss could be.

Making sure you have the right coverage to protect your business investment is critical! After all, you want to be certain your company can be around to serve your clients should a disaster strike. Having this sort of peace of mind allows you to concentrate your energy on what you love & do best… building your business and helping your clients.

So skip the ulcer. If you’re thinking about starting a small business or if you already have one, be sure you chat with us about your insurance options.

Automobile insurance rates are on the way up because of distracted driving…

More drivers are taking their eyes off the road. They are being distracted by mobile devices and it is resulting in more accidents. Worse, it’s inflating your costs for coverage as well.

In fact, a state-by-state evaluation has uncovered that rates have been increasing for the last 5 years.

There are a few factors that influence rates going up…

  • More people are driving.
  • Cars are more expensive to repair.
  • Texting while driving has become the largest cause of accidents…

(The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined distracted-driving deaths increased 9 percent in 2015 alone!)

Of course insurance companies have to bill more because of the increase in insurance claims… in some cases with rates increasing by hundreds over the span of a few years.

You can help reduce accidents by putting down your cell phone while in your car. But if you’re having a hard time separating yourself from your cell phone… you aren’t alone.

You see, it’s all about dopamine. Each time an Email or Text is responded to, it gives a feeling of satisfaction and creates a need to do more. The result? It’s difficult to stop checking cell phones for texts and Email.

And with their flashing and beeping and icons indicating there are unread messages, it all adds to the addictive effect. It’s a combination of classic conditioning and dopamine responses that make you feel like you’re addicted.

There is hope that technologies being introduced into vehicles will help to curb distracted driving. But for now, the best practice is simply to leave your device alone while driving… no matter how hard it might be.

Credit insurance scores poorly…

Many kinds of credit lines and installment loans offer credit insurance. These products are designed to “protect” an individual’s credit score by covering installment payments in case of certain qualifying situations.

Sadly these tend to be overpriced according to recent research. A study covering 2004 through 2013 demonstrated that 44.4 cents in benefits were paid for each dollar spent on such insurance policies. (By comparison, typical health plans offer 84.1 cents in benefits for each dollar spent.

So if the goal is to protect yourself in case you get sick or injured, you might be better off finding other forms of personal protection. (Be sure to check with your financial advisor for options.)

Also bear in mind, having such credit insurance is not a requirement for receiving a loan. It is always an option.

So when you are getting a line of credit, a car loan, or a store credit card, remember than this “insurance” may have a low payment but can be an expensive option when it comes to potential payout.

Also it is important to understand that options are limited. There’s virtually zero competition. Under normal circumstances you’ll be offered insurance from one provider… that’s it. There’s zero choice.

So what are your alternatives to Credit Insurance?

Term life insurance is a great way to protect beneficiaries. In the case of your death, your beneficiaries can leverage the funds to pay off your debts. Of course a life insurance benefit can cover all financial needs whereas credit insurance is limited to only covering that specific loan.

And in case you are injured, disability insurance can be beneficial. As with term life insurance, disability insurance is far more flexible than standard credit insurance.