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How to Create a Culture of Safety in Your Business

When you think of “workplace culture,” you probably picture casual Fridays or volunteering as a group. Having a positive workplace culture is certainly something that benefits businesses and helps with employee retention. But what some people forget about is that a “culture of safety” is an equally important type of workplace culture.

What Is a Culture of Safety?

Essentially what this phrase means is the attitude of all members of a company – from the bottom to the top – towards safety in the workplace. Cultures of safety can be positive or negative. In a negative culture of safety, workers, managers, and anyone in between do not respect the recommended safety measures. As a result, more accidents happen in a workplace with a negative safety culture. In a positive safety culture, everyone respects and obeys the safety rules and regulations without complaint, and less accidents and workers compensation claims happen. So how do you create a culture of safety in your business? Here are some helpful tips.

Engage in Continued Education

Safety meetings are a great occasion to maintain your employees’ safety education. It’s normal for people to forget what they learned the first week on the job in orientation safety training. If your employees’ work includes a significant physical aspect, the safety meetings are a great opportunity to review proper physical operations such as how to lift heavy objects or how to safely operate large machinery and equipment.

Look Into Near Misses

It may not have actually hurt anyone or resulted in a workers comp claim, but a near miss could be a full on accident next time. If an almost-accident occurs, put on an investigation to look into its cause and determine what could have prevented it. Then observe these new safety practices to reduce the possibility of that near miss becoming something more serious.

Reward Employee Reporting

In a positive safety culture, employees feel comfortable reporting safety concerns or hazards to management. Going along with this, the management must take the reports seriously and work to correct the situation. It can be important to reward employees who step forward about concerns they see on the ground, Often, these individuals are in the best position to notice safety hazards and as such should be listened to as a valuable safety resource.

Every business should work to create a positive safety culture, but accidents may still happen. Ensure your operation has the best insurance coverage to reduce losses in the event of an unfortunate accident or injury. Talk to your agent today to make sure your business is protected.

Don’t Get a DUI: Tips to Have a Safe Holiday Weekend

A DUI charge can have serious consequences. For one, driving under the influence makes you a danger to yourself, your passengers, and others on the road. Each state has different laws and penalties, but in most cases your license will be suspended, you’ll have to pay large fees and fines, and you may even spend time in jail. Your car insurance premiums may also go up by a huge percentage, depending on your state. Police are more vigilant in looking for intoxicated drivers around holidays, so in light of the upcoming Labor Day weekend, here are some tips on how to have a safe holiday weekend.

Most Importantly: Don’t Drink and Drive

This is the simplest way to avoid a DUI. There is always a risk when you drink alcohol and drive, even if you are smart about it. You can keep yourself and others safe by avoiding the practice completely. One way of doing this is to simply not drink when you know you’ll need to drive a vehicle later or to use a designated driver. Everyone appreciates a designated driver (DD), and with your friends or partner you can take turns acting as the DD so no one has to do it all the time. You can also use a diver service app, taxi, or call someone to come pick you up. A little expense, or owing someone a favor, is worth it in the long run if you’re able to stay safe. 

If You Do, Be Smart About It 

Three things are the most important when you drink alcohol and know you will be driving later. 

First: Hydration

Before you begin drinking, hydrate yourself by drinking several glasses of water. Also drink a glass of water in between every drink you have. One bonus of doing this is that you’ll end up spending less money on expensive drinks!

Second: Food

It is incredibly important to eat enough food before you drink alcohol. Consuming a full meal, especially one that contains protein and fats. It should be noted that after you begin drinking alcohol, eating food will not “absorb” the alcohol like many people believe it will. Only the food that is already in your stomach will slow down the rate that the alcohol enters your system. 

Third: Number of Drinks

Limit yourself to a small number of drinks. This number will change depending on your weight, age, and gender. There are methods and apps that you can use to estimate what your blood alcohol content may be. 

The Bottom Line 

The only thing that will, without fail, keep you from getting a DUI is to not drink and drive. This is especially important on a holiday weekend, where DUI patrols are increased. If you do partake, be responsible about it. It’s possible to enjoy your holiday weekend and still stay safe and DUI free. 

What Kind of Insurance Does a College Student Need?

With colleges starting back up, maybe you have a child returning to school or leaving for the first time. You’ve got the twin XL sheets, the posters and the textbooks. Did you know that you also might need insurance for your college student?

Auto Insurance

If you already have auto insurance for your child’s car (and you should!), don’t cancel it if they are not taking their vehicle to college with them. There is a chance your auto insurance premiums could actually drop significantly if your child moves more than 100 miles from home. Most importantly, your child will still be covered when they return home and drive their vehicle. If they do take their vehicle off to college, thankfully they should still be covered under your policy. However your premiums may change depending on where your child is living during college – especially if they go out of state.

Renters Insurance 

The good news is that if your child will be living in on-campus dorms or other university sponsored housing, their possessions should remain covered under your homeowners insurance. It’s important to note that the coverage limits may be different, so be sure to thoroughly discuss everything with your insurance agent before your child leaves.

If your child will be living off-campus, their possessions will no longer be covered under your homeowners policy, and you will need to purchase a separate renters insurance policy to cover their items. A renters policy can protect your child’s expensive electronics such as a laptop or TV as well as other high value items like musical equipment or instruments. Like your homeowners insurance, your child’s renters policy also covers their insured possessions whether they’re inside your child’s living quarters or not.

Health Insurance

Although your child is eligible to remain on your own health insurance plan until they turn 26, there are still some things to consider when they leave for college. If your child will be living out of state during the school season and is not willing or able to return home for doctors’ visits, they may struggle with finding in-network providers. With the exception of emergencies, many health policies offer limited or no coverage for out of network providers. Before you make any moves, check with your child’s school to see if there are any in-network providers close to campus.

If there are not, you have two options. First, you can have your child knock out all necessary medical appointments before leaving for school and schedule future appointments to coincide with breaks. If you do want the peace of mind that good coverage offers, look into supplementing your child’s health coverage with a student health insurance policy. Coverage may also be available through their college or your child could purchase their own coverage in the health insurance market.

Sending your child off to college is an exciting time, whether they are a freshman or a fifth-year senior. Make sure your student has all the protection they need by utilizing the right insurance tools.

Why Wear and Tear Isn’t Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance

You purchase homeowners insurance to protect your greatest investment against damages that are out of your control. Most often, this means emergencies or acts of nature – forces you cannot control. What can you control? How you maintain your own home. This is why homeowners insurance is unlikely to cover claims you make that turn out to be due to wear and tear.

What Constitutes Wear and Tear?

Wear and tear is generally considered to be gradual damage that happens to a home over time, as the years and the elements take their toll. In some situations, wear and tear is unavoidable as a home ages. However to most insurers, there are certain failures and property damage that can be avoided if a homeowner performs the proper routine maintenance to their home. Common instances of wear and tear include roof leaks, slow leaking pipes, and mechanical breakdowns of appliances, among others.

Why Isn’t Wear and Tear Covered?

When homeowners adopt an insurance policy on their home, it is understood that there is an agreement between the homeowner and the insurer. This agreement asks that the homeowner keep up with regular, expected maintenance and repairs on their home, and the insurance will be there if an unexpected loss occurs. The insurer expects the homeowner to prevent any negligence that could cause property damage. The wear and tear exclusions arise from an understanding of the basic responsibilities of all homeowners. The exclusions keep insurers from being liable in situations where the damage is actually due to the insured’s failure to repair, replace, or maintain the aspects of their property that need work.

How to Avoid Claims That Get Denied

As far as wear and tear goes, it is pretty simple: maintain your home and do not delay if you notice an issue. If you notice a leak, do not wait a few months to report it to your insurance agent. This is the first thing you should do, and in the event that it’s not covered, get right to fixing the issue. Do not wait to tackle anything that needs repairing or replacing. Small fixes can seem like a large financial burden in the moment, but in the event of a large scale failure, you could be left responsible for a large bill of repairs if your insurance claim is denied due to evidence of wear and tear. In the case of mechanical breakdowns of appliances, you would be better off seeking coverage through a home warranty rather than home insurance, which will often exclude these appliances from coverage.

Utilize Your Resources

Your agent is available to answer any of your questions or concerns regarding coverage on your home and property. Give us a call as soon as possible if you notice a concern in your home!

What Happens if Your Business Loses its Leader?

If you go unprotected, the death of your company’s leader could well mean the death of your company itself. There is a type of insurance that can help protect against the consequences of a tragedy like this. It is called key person insurance.

Key Person Insurance

Key person insurance is a type of life insurance that is designed not to protect your family, but to protect your business operation in the event of its leader’s – or a top employee’s – death. The company is the beneficiary on the policy, and the benefits can provide funds to help hire an individual or individuals to perform the duties that the key employee once did. It can also help in the event that your business does need to cease operations.

Crucial Operations Stop

Especially in small businesses, much of the work that keeps the company running is performed by the owner or another leader. This includes tasks such as keeping the books, payroll, handling important accounts or customers, and more. If your business leader were to die suddenly, there might not be anyone who can step in to perform these duties. As the owner or leader, the individual often does the job of several people. For that reason, the remaining employees may feel the need to hire several new people to perform the jobs that the business owner used to do. But where will you find the funds for this? That is where the benefits from the key person policy come in.

Your Business Closes

The business could also face closure after its leader dies. Sometimes this is unavoidable. If your business relied heavily on the work of it leader, and the leader not only did things no one else could, but also knew information no one else did, it is possible that your best option is to close the business. In these situations, the death benefits from the key person insurance can be used to pay off debts, give severance to employees, and perform any other financial matters that are needed to close the company. This kind of policy can help your business to avoid declaring bankruptcy in the face of a sudden key person death.

If you care about your business, you want to make sure it either goes on after you or is able to close down with minimal losses. Speak to your agent about whether your business has the coverage it needs.

This Is How Your Insurance Can Cover You During a Vacation

School’s out, the sun’s out, and pretty soon you might be out of town! As you’re packing for your summer vacation, insurance is probably the last thing on your mind. You’re probably thinking about what clothes to bring, whether you need both your phone and tablet, or trying to dig out the snowboard you haven’t used in months. However as with every big moment in life, there are always insurance considerations to keep in mind. 

Property Damage 

This can come in two forms – damage or loss of your own property or damage to others property. In the first instance, the same homeowners or renters insurance that covers your personal property against theft, vandalism, or some acts of nature when you’re at home also covers your possessions you take with you on vacation. This is especially important for more expensive items such as electronics, jewelry, or even sporting equipment you take on vacation. On the flip side, this coverage also ensures you are safeguarded against any loss that happens to the property you left behind when you’re away from home. The important thing to note for this kind of coverage is that your policy must have certain limits of coverage in order to protect everything you want protected. 

The other way in which your insurance can protect you in the case of property damage while you’re on vacation applies to the property of others. This is especially important if you’re renting a house or condo and end up breaking or damaging the property itself or something inside it. This type of coverage is called your personal liability policy, and if you cause damage in the place you’re vacationing, you may be covered by it. 

Medical Emergencies

This one depends on where you are vacationing. In the case of medical emergencies inside the U.S., you should not encounter many obstacles regarding your insurance coverage extending to other in-network hospitals. You should expect to pay rates similar to what you’d pay at home. However, depending on your policy you may not be covered if you visit an out-of-network hospital in another city or state. It is best to know up front before you embark on your journey – for this you will speak to your insurance agent. You should also put “insurance card” on your packing list, if you don’t already carry it with you at all times (which you should!). Your home doctor may also offer “tele” services – meaning he or she can diagnose you over phone or video chat, and you get to stay in network no matter where you are in the country. 

If you’re traveling out of the country, you may be surprised to learn that your coverage is more than you expected. Again, this is an instance in which it is most appropriate to speak to your agent before your trip to find out exactly what the out-of-pocket expenses would be for medical care abroad. Keep in mind this only applies to medical emergencies, not elective procedures. 

The most important thing is to notify your insurance agent that you’ll be traveling, and to ask them if there are any updates needed to your policies. With an independent insurance agent on your side, you’ll have a friend to help you properly prepare for this exciting upcoming trip. 

How Technology Can Protect Your Home

According to a study by the Insurance Information Institute, around one in 250 insured homes files a theft claim each year. Although this is not the most common claim, it is significant enough that insured homeowners should be looking into their options for getting the best home security. Technology is constantly changing and improving, and there are now some rather impressive and very effective systems available to protect your home and help you avoid property damage theft claims.

Smart Doorbells

This is not your average doorbell. A smart system features a camera that can show you who is outside your door – even if you are not home. Many smart doorbells also allow the homeowner to speak to doorbell-users via intercom. Since thieves will often ring doorbells to check if a home is occupied, being able to see and speak to any visitor, threatening or not, is an attractive security advantage. If you are able to respond to the potential thief, making them think you are home, they may well leave your house alone.

Smart Locks

In our modern age, no one should be leaving a spare key under a doormat or plant. These common hiding spots are the first place a burglar will look, and unless you check the spot every day your key could be stolen, copied, and returned without you ever knowing. A smart lock system gives you the ability to lock and unlock your exterior doors from anywhere at any time. Many systems allow you to check the status of your locks remotely, and some will alert you to any attempt to tamper with the lock. You can also create codes for people you need to let into your home. It is important to note that your smart lock system will need strong encryption and two-factor authentication (such as a passcode and a fingerprint) in order to be safe from hackers.

Video Monitor Systems

Similar to smart doorbells, a video monitoring system allows you to check up on your home even when you’re far away. However, these systems take the surveillance a step farther since they can monitor any areas of your home that you wish – your only limitation is where you can set up a camera! If you want to install cameras that will cover the entire perimeter of your home, you can do so, and you’ll be safer for it. Some video monitoring systems even allow users to set up virtual boundaries and the system will alert you if the boundary is breached.

Full-Service Security Companies

There are many companies, large and small, that offer full-service security systems. These companies will often install the system for you and take care of most of the monitoring themselves. If you don’t feel comfortable with the DIY approach to home security or are not able to access something like a smart doorbell camera from your cell phone, a full-service company may be a good option for you.

A Final Note

Oftentimes, insurance carriers will offer discounts on your monthly premium for a home that has security systems. You will need to make sure that the system you have or intend to purchase is eligible for a discount from your carrier. Speak to your agent about this, and get on your way to saving money and staying safer.

Ride Safe: May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

It can be a glorious feeling to ride with the wind in your face and the sun on your back, but the fun can turn deadly in an instant if riders do not take the proper precautions. Motorcycle riders are overrepresented in traffic accident fatalities. Take the right precautions every time you ride your bike in order to protect yourself, your passengers, and your fellow drivers. Since May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we put together some guidelines to help riders stay safe every time you start up your engines.

Check Your Bike Before Every Ride

Before you get on the road, it is important to check that every aspect of your bike is safe and operational. This is especially vital for those who only use their motorcycle occasionally, but full time riders would do well to follow a strict safety routine as well. Always be sure to check for gas or oil leaks, test headlights and turn signals, brakes and fluid levels, and examine tires before you ride off. If you have a passenger, remind them to keep their feet on the foot rests at all times and to keep a tight hold on your hips, waist, or belt.

Protect Your Body Properly

You must always – ALWAYS – wear a helmet when you ride your motorcycle. There are no exceptions to this rule! NHTSA recommends wearing a helmet that meets DOT, Snell, or ANSI standards – these have been tested and certified to ensure maximum protection. There should be a label indicating certification on either the exterior or interior of the helmet. It is most important to protect your head, but the rest of your body needs protection as well. Cover your arms and legs with a tough material such as leather or heavy denim, and wear the right gloves and boots.

Don’t Take Risks on the Road

Many crashes involving motorcycles happen because a vehicle driver simply did not see the bike on the road. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times, leave ample room between your bike and other vehicles, and remain on the defensive when there are other drivers around you. Always obey traffic laws. Just because your bike is small and can move differently than a standard passenger vehicle, it does not mean you have an excuse to do whatever you please on the road. Following speed limits and traffic laws helps keep not only you, but also your fellow citizens safe.

Don’t Drink and Ride

It is never safe to use alcohol or drugs before driving a motorcycle. Just like driving a car, boat, or other craft, driving a motorcycle while impaired will seriously impact your ability to operate the bike, make decisions, and react to dangers. According to a 2017 study by NHTSA, 28% of motorcycle drivers who were involved in fatal accidents were under the influence of alcohol. Do not ride your bike if you know you’re going to be drinking. It is never worth it to risk your life.

Having the right insurance also protects you as a motorcycle driver. Speak to your agent about motorcycle coverage and stay safe every time you ride.

When Do You Need Commercial Auto Insurance? The Answer Might Surprise You

For some, it’s an easy question. You need commercial auto coverage when your business owns company vehicles – whether it’s one or an entire fleet. However this is not the only instance in which a commercial auto policy is recommended. If you often use your personal vehicle for work purposes, besides commuting, you just might need a commercial auto policy, too.

You Do Not Always Need a Commercial Auto Policy

As we previously stated, simply driving your own car back and forth to work is not a situation where you need to consider commercial auto insurance. Neither is giving rides to coworkers or taking your car out on a coffee run for the office.

What Kind of Use Might Necessitate Commercial Auto Coverage?

However, if you use your personal vehicle to transport tools or equipment to a job site, you should be considering a commercial policy. This is especially true if the tools and equipment are expensive and their damage or theft would put your company at risk. Another instance in which you might consider commercial auto coverage is if you use your own car to travel long distances for work or to transport clients. Even a teenager who delivers food with his own car poses a liability to his company.

It Is Different for Rideshare Drivers

There is a slight exception in the case of rideshare drivers working for companies such as Uber or Lyft. Most commercial auto policies do not offer the coverage rideshare drivers require for their unique needs, although some insurers have started offering rideshare insurance.

It All Depends on Frequency

If you only occasionally use your own vehicle for work purposes, it is likely you will only need personal auto insurance. On the other hand, if your use of your own car for business needs is frequent and ongoing, you should talk to your agent about your options.

Commercial Auto Policy or Modified Personal Auto Policy?

Your insurance agent is equipped to advise you on whether you truly need a commercial auto policy for your own vehicle. Commercial auto coverage can be expensive, but it may be possible to modify your personal auto policy to take occasional business use into account. Otherwise, your independent agent can shop the market to find you the best quotes for commercial auto insurance.

Using Your Tax Refund to Buy Life Insurance

If you are in the position to receive a tax refund, the first thing you think of when you consider using it is probably not life insurance. However, it’s important to keep an open mind! Instead of using your tax refund on things you don’t truly need such as more material possessions or a beach trip, consider using your refund check to invest in the future financial security of your family. Here’s why it’s an idea you should seriously think about.

A Small Investment Now Provides Long Term Security

Life insurance rates may surprise you. For a more affordable amount than you expect, you can provide long term security to your family. This is especially important if you have young children. If you or your spouse were to die unexpectedly, the death benefits would be able to cover not only your final expenses, but they can also go towards childcare or education for your kids.

You and Your Spouse Will Have Greater Peace of Mind

No more worrying what would happen if one of you passed away unexpectedly. With life insurance at your back, you can rest easy knowing your family will be taken care of. Using your tax refund towards material goods or temporary pleasures might sound good in the moment, but nothing can give you peace of mind like knowing your family would have the burden of your debts or final expenses lifted off of them in the event of your passing.

Being prepared for the unexpected means needing to make some sacrifices. You may not want to spend your tax refund on something like life insurance, but when you consider the benefits for the long run, and the protection it will give to those you love, perhaps you’ll see that this idea is not only sensible, but loving as well.