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As the days grow longer and warmer, you may find yourself soaking in the sunshine for a few more hours each day. This has many health benefits, from improving your mood to increasing your vitamin D absorption, but there is a key caveat – you must protect your skin against sun damage. Here are four ways you can stay safe while enjoying the outdoors this summer.

Apply Sunscreen (Even on Cloudy Days!)

While this may seem like the most obvious way to protect yourself from sun damage and skin cancer, you should ensure that you are using the appropriate SPF-level and reapplying at the correct intervals. Sunscreen protects your skin from UV rays which cause burns and potentially skin cancer. Because UV rays are reflected off water particles, they can actually be even more harmful on cloudy or overcast days. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more for your face and body, and reapply often on days when you are outdoors. Make sure the sunscreen is not expired or more than three years old, as it will no longer be effective. 

A recent FDA study also revealed that many of the common ingredients in chemical-based sunscreens (which absorb UV rays rather than repel them) are also absorbed into the bloodstream at levels above what the FDA deems “safe.” Look for products that use minerals such as zinc instead. These minerals sit atop the skin and reflect UV rays like a mirror on your body, but they are not absorbed into your body. 

Wear Protective Clothing

On days that you plan to be in the sun for a few hours or more, choose your attire carefully to ensure you are protected from UV rays. If your job requires you to be outside, try to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts. For those days at the beach or pool, bring a t-shirt or cover up to wear when you are not in the water. Dark clothing provides more protection from UV rays, and many manufacturers are now creating clothing with an SPF 30 rating or more. 

Cover Your Head

It is easy to overlook caring for our scalp on days spent outside, but your head actually needs to be covered as well! Look for a wide-brimmed hat in a woven fabric without holes. Straw hats are often popular in the summer due to their breathability, but a wide weave will still let UV rays through. Wide-brimmed hats are a great choice because you benefit from your entire head and shoulders being shaded. A baseball cap is another good option, but be sure to apply a mineral-based broad spectrum sunscreen to your neck and ears. 

Don’t Forget Sunglasses

Sunglasses do more than simply prevent you from squinting on a bright day – they also help protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the chance of developing cataracts. Any pair purchased in the U.S., regardless of the price point, will most likely include UV-blocking lenses. Pairs with larger lenses, wrap-around sides, or wider arms will also block rays that can creep in from other angles. Similar to sunscreen, you should wear sunglasses even on overcast days. 

While each of these practices are good to implement on their own, it is ideal to combine sunscreen, protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses for full-coverage UV protection. As you make plans to spend days outdoors, be sure you are caring for your skin. If needed, don’t be afraid to look for shade or bring a portable shade tent for extra protection. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, but it is also one of the most easily prevented if proper sun safety measures are followed. Reduce your risk today by following these steps this summer!

Summer is beginning to peek its head around the corner and it’s time to get your home ready for the summer heat! You should have maintenance upkeeps throughout the yearbut summer is going to be our main focus in this blog. By starting your maintenance early, around mid to late May, you can bring down energy bills, improve the efficiency and life of the components of your home, and increase the overall safety of your property. Below are some ways you can help you help your home run at its best during the summer months. 

Home Exterior 

Over the course of a year, your homes’ exterior can become covered with dirt, debris, dust, or even mold that makes your home lose its curb appeal. By using a power washer, you can clean off the dirt on all points of your home no matter how many levels it has. While inspecting the exterior of your home you may come across pieces of chipped, cracked, or faded exterior paint. If so, it is important to repair those quickly as fully painted homes are more protected against the elements. Inspecting your foundation is the most important task to undertake when doing your summer maintenance. If your foundation is cracked it can create an entryway for water that can lead to serious flooding. 

Gutter Cleaning 

Cleaning out your gutters is typically a job saved for the fall but when you experience high levels of rainstorms, they can knock some tree foliage down into your gutters. Gutters are designed to collect rainwater from the roof and steer it away from the foundation of the home. Clearing out your gutters is important to ensure that there is no water coming to damage the structural foundation. Did you know that foundation repairs can cost almost close to $10,000? Clogged gutters can also cause issues for your roof due to the increased weight on them. If your gutters become too full, there is a potential risk of the gutters being pulled off of your home, causing damage to the shingles of the roof and the exterior of the house. 

Windows and Doors 

It’s crucial to check your sealant on your home’s windows and doors. If there are any leaks in the sealant, you could be letting out cold air causing your energy bill to increase in the summer months and potentially letting in little bugs. When inspecting your windows, check the screens for any rips or tears. Replacing or repairing these screens will help keep debris, leaves, insects and other animals from entering your home when you aren’t inside. 

Looking to add more home-related coverages to your policy? Talk to your local agent today for more information. 

The Spring season may bring the rain showers and flower blooms we have come to associate with this time of year, but the constant change in temperatures and air pressure also has another effect – tornadoes. Certain parts of the U.S. are at higher risk for tornadoes, even being called “Tornado Alley,” but they can truly happen anywhere that warm, humid air meets cool, dry air. The majority of tornadoes occur between March and May, but they may take place seasonally if there are significant changes in weather patterns. 

If your business is located in an area like the Great Plains or Southeastern U.S., you are more likely to encounter damage from a tornado. Because these natural disasters are often unpredictable and occur in the evening or even overnight while you are away from your office, it can feel impossible to stay protected against tornadoes. However, one of the best ways to secure your business is through tornado insurance. 

There are a few types of insurance that can provide you with coverage after a tornado. Here are options to consider depending on your operations. 

Commercial Property

You may have traditional insurance for your office building to protect the location in the event of a tornado. Most standard policies have some amount of coverage for this, but you will want to check the value of the property against what your policy allows for. If your policy covers the cost to rebuild but you have done significant work upgrading and outfitting the property to suit your business needs, such as adding a kitchen or additional restrooms, you will want to be sure your policy is updated to reflect this. 

Loss-of-Use

Loss-of-use insurance is an added coverage policy that provides reimbursement for the time when you are not able to use your business office. This could include a short-term office rental or community space while your property is being rebuilt. 

Comprehensive Coverage

If your business has its own vehicles or fleet cars for work-related use, you will want to be sure you have comprehensive car insurance that includes coverage for tornadoes. Should you decide to ship this coverage in order to save on the monthly cost, you will find yourself in a difficult position if these vehicles are damaged or a total loss due to tornadoes. By having this added coverage, you can also ensure that work can resume much more quickly if your business relies on traveling to your customers. 

Personal Property

Personal property insurance is another vital protection against tornadoes. If you own the land that surrounds your business, this is a key policy to consider. It protects your property, belongings, and any damages due to theft or vandalism. While you hope this never happens, it is a frequent occurrence after natural disasters. Having an accurate inventory of the business’s assets, furniture, and more will come in handy should you be a victim of theft after your property is damaged by a tornado. 

Tornadoes can be one of the most devastating natural disasters. While they are rare in some parts of the country, they are extremely common in others. If you are not sure if obtaining any form of tornado insurance is right for you, just consider the years of investments you have made in building your business. This can be taken away in a matter of minutes if a tornado strikes. To determine which coverage policies are ideal for your business’s needs, speak with your insurance agent today. 

Feeling the wind as you ride your motorcycle down a winding mountainside can certainly be exhilarating. Riding is an activity that combines mindfulness, adventure, and nature in a way that is uniquely distinct from simply driving a car. Unfortunately, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a motorcyclist who crashes is 30 times more likely to experience a fatal outcome than a motorist who crashes. May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, but you do not need to wait to practice responsible riding. Here are four ways that bike safety practices create a pleasant experience and don’t compromise on fun. 

A Joy at Any Age

Motorcycling can be active and thrilling or leisurely and scenic. Regardless of your age, riding your bike can be a wonderful lifelong passion. However, safety measures must be put in place to ensure an injury, or worse, does not prevent you from enjoying your hobby for many years. This means wearing a helmet that meets the DOT, Snell, or ANSI standards of safety. While your head is the most vulnerable part of your body and therefore in need of high-quality protection, it is also important to cover your core and limbs with protective hard materials. Never ride your motorcycle without wearing sturdy closed-toe boots and gloves. 

Customizing Your Gear

Once you have the appropriate safety gear and protective clothing in mind, you can shop for the best fit and fabric for your needs. This can be an exciting process as you select items that represent you, while also maintaining the appropriate level of protection. Common fabrics for motorcycle jackets, pants, and suits include Kevlar, Cordura, Lycra, leather, thick denim, and more. For warmer weather climates, vent panels may be included in your attire to allow for aerodynamic cooling. Helmets can contain radios and Bluetooth headsets so you can communicate with a passenger or rider in your group. 

Safety Course Completion Discounts

A big perk that can bring a smile to any biker’s face is the discounts that many dealerships and manufacturers offer for riders who complete their safety and handling course. If you are loyal to a particular brand, or simply wanting to try an updated model, this is a great way to get to know your new bike in a safe environment while receiving a discount. These courses will often teach you about your state’s laws that apply to motorcyclists. Some courses may even teach you how to maneuver and handle your specific bike in potentially dangerous situations. 

Share Your Passion

If your bike allows for two passengers, this can be an exciting way to travel. Whether it is with your partner, spouse, child, or close friend, you want your loved one to be protected at all times. Any time someone asks to ride along with you, be sure they are also wearing the proper protective gear and clothing. If they do not have even one of the required pieces, tell them you would love to take them on a ride when they can be protected. As the driver, it is your responsibility to communicate safe motorcycle habits to your passengers, and it makes the trip more enjoyable for them as well. Even a tiny pebble or insect can cause extreme pain and damage when you are cruising at 60 miles per hour. You want to share this passion with them, and ensuring they have a safe experience is the best way to help them share your love for the open road. 

The most vital protection for yourself will always be what is protecting you at the moment an accident occurs. Even for those who take every safety precaution, injuries and collisions may still be unavoidable. Make sure you have high-quality motorcycle insurance to protect you as a driver. Speak to your insurance agent about the best possible coverage for your needs and take your joyride with confidence and peace of mind. 

As a homeowner, you hope never to encounter a fire on your property. Home fires are a common occurrence, taking place about every 93 seconds. Therefore, it is vital to prepare a fire safety plan, should the unexpected arise. Here are a few tips to ensure you and your family are ready in the event of a fire and have the proper insurance to cover the damage. 

1) Fire Detectors

While it may seem like the obvious first step, installing fire detectors throughout the first level of your home is vital to your fire safety plan. Although most home fires start in the kitchen, they can truly occur in any room due to electricity shortages, candles, general accidents, and more. Installing fire detectors throughout your home, especially on the main level, will help provide early alerts to your local fire department. Be sure you conduct monthly battery checks on all fire detectors, and replace all units that are more than 10 years old.

2) Communication is Key

You and your family must determine a clear and simple plan for evacuation in the case of a home fire. Select a meeting point that is easily accessible but away from the potential heat of a burning house. Ensure all family members understand that their only priority in the case of a fire is to get out of the home as quickly as possible and not return inside for any person or possession. If you have young children, communicate their exit strategy and practice this with them a few times. Communicate this plan regularly. 

3) Identify Potential Fire Hazards

After confirming you have the proper fire detectors and evacuation plan, the next step is to identify and remove all possible fire hazards from your home. Consider all electronics that produce heat, including clothing irons, hair styling tools, portable heaters, and more. These should be stored away from highly flammable materials such as wood, and they should also remain unplugged when not in active use. Allow all furniture and possessions to maintain at least three feet of space from any heating element such as a stove, fireplace, or portable heater. If you are a smoker, it is never advised to smoke in your bedroom near highly flammable objects such as drapes and bed linens. Finally, use safety precautions when lighting candles and ensure they are always visible and never placed on flammable surfaces. 

4) Know Your Response

Understanding how to react in the moment is the final step in any fire safety plan. As with your exit strategy, it is important to also plan your responses for while you are still within your home if it catches on fire. First, check the heat of a door with the back of your wrist. This area is highly sensitive, and if the fire behind a door is too hot, you will be able to determine this without causing serious nerve damage to your palms. This will also prevent you from entering a room that is filled with unbreathable air. Next, stay low to the ground to avoid breathing smoke. Heat rises, and the higher you are to the ceiling, the more difficult it will be to breathe with ease. The final response strategy is to know all possible exits, including windows or second-story escapes, and how you will get out if a door is too hot to touch. Collapsible ladders are an excellent item to keep stored in all second-story bedroom closets, and children should be educated on how to employ these in the case of an emergency. 

5) Take Inventory and Appraise Annually

In order to protect your valuables, you should conduct an annual inventory of all possessions and valuables. Using your insurance agent’s recommended appraiser, you can also determine the appropriate value of your home along with the cost to rebuild in the current market. If your home is not appraised at the value of homes today, you may find that your insurance policy will pay you less than the price to rebuild. This will leave you with large out-of-pocket expenses in order to rebuild your beloved home. Speak with your local insurance agent to determine both the appropriate home appraisal schedule and fire protection policy that is right for you. 

Fire preparation and safety can make a vital difference for you and your family. The main priority is to ensure that each family member understands how to escape your home if it is burning and that they are not to re-enter for any reason. However, this may mean that many of your possessions and valuables could be permanently damaged. Your local insurance agent will be able to determine if your standard homeowners’ policy will cover these damages and also suggest additional coverage policies if needed to protect your possessions. Speak with your agent today about conducting a thorough inventory of your valuables and ensure your home is protected in the case of a fire. 

 

Once you enter the workforce and become a true working adult in society, words like 401K and insurance can become a little overwhelming. You may ask yourself; do I even need insurance? The simple answer is yes! Getting insurance is a way of managing all of the potential risks life forces us to face. You have worked hard throughout your life, and it’s important to protect that hard work. Insurance helps to protect you if any accidents or disasters should happen. There are two main types of insurance categories: personal and commercial. Personal focuses more on your daily life while commercial focuses more on the business side of life.   

Personal Insurance 

When it comes to what insurance covers, it’s important to note that you can insure pretty much anything. Personal insurance plans can give you so much more than basic replacement or cash value coverage. Insurance is there to cover you every step of the way in life. From starting a family, settling down in your first home, and all the way to helping you stay protected if you are planning retirement. 

Categories of Personal Insurance: 

  • Home and Property 
  • Health 
  • Life 
  • Auto 
  • Recreational 
  • Medicare 

Commercial Insurance 

Commercial insurance can often be labeled as business insurance so don’t worry if you think they are different, they share the same coverages! If you are just starting a business or have a business and need to look into different coverages, commercial insurance is there to help you tackle any surprise accidents. As a business owner, you take risks, make investments, and employ others to work for you and help your company grow. It is important to protect yourself, your finances, and your employees in the event that something goes wrong. In addition to businesses, commercial insurance also handles some forms of trucking insurance.  

Categories of Commercial Insurance: 

  • Business 
  • Trucking 

Ready to start your insurance coverage? Talk to a local agent today for more information on what coverages you should get. 

While you hope never to experience a theft or home invasion, there are unfortunately about 2.5 million burglaries annually in the U.S. According to the FBI, this equates to one burglary every 30 seconds. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy covers personal items such as jewelry and artwork, but most policies have a limit of $1,000 to $1,500, regardless of the item’s value. With the average loss from a burglary being $2,661, it is in your best interest to add protection to your valuables. Here are five high-value possessions you may want to obtain a dedicated insurance policy for. 

1. Jewelry

When purchasing fine jewelry, many jewelers offer insurance policies. These may provide cleaning and maintenance, repairs from scratches or accidental damage, and replacement stones should any come loose. However, these policies almost never cover the unfortunate loss of your sentimental items due to theft. Having additional coverage protects you from both burglary and even accidental loss from a broken clasp if the piece falls off while you’re away from home. 

2. Artwork

Art is one of the most common physical investments that may increase in value over time. If you’ve purchased any one-of-a-kind pieces, these should be appraised and insured. While the work of art may be irreplaceable if stolen or damaged beyond repair, obtaining an accurate appraisal for your insurance policy is vital when recovering the value of the art. 

3. Fitness Equipment

In today’s time with many people creating home gyms, the amount of equipment may have a very high total value. Although these items such as treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bicycles, and weight machines are often very large, if you are out of town for a prolonged period of time and suffer a major home theft, these pieces may be targeted. This equipment could also become badly damaged or inoperable in a fire or natural disaster. If you have made an investment in outfitting your home gym, consider protecting it.

4. Musical Instruments

If you or a family member are a musician, chances are you have musical instruments stored within your home. Anything from a baby grand piano to violin can have a high value that exceeds your standard homeowner’s insurance. Similar to fitness equipment, larger musical instruments may not be an immediate target during a home invasion, but they could still be stolen. As many are made of wood, they are naturally extremely susceptible to fire damage as well. 

5. Recreational Vehicles

Most states require some amount of liability insurance for owners of recreational vehicles such as four-wheelers, golf carts, snowmobiles, or boats. However, your state’s minimum liability coverage requirements only cover damage done to others, not you or your property. These items are also highly susceptible to theft. Even if they are eventually located by law enforcement, you may receive them returned to you having been stripped of all high-value parts and modifications. As with all recreational vehicles, there is a risk of damage as well. If your lifestyle includes using these regularly, you may want to look into increasing your liability insurance and adding protection in the case of theft or damage. 

With most of these high-value items, you may have to conduct an official appraisal. Speak with your insurance agent for a referral to a professional appraiser they use and trust. As collectible items potentially increase in value, you may even want to conduct routine appraisals every few years. This peace of mind 

Whether on the road or at home, you do what you can to keep yourself and those around you safe. But accidents happen — and sometimes they can lead to pricey lawsuits. Have you ever considered what you’d do if you were sued for something like accidentally injuring a guest on your property or being at-fault for a major car accident? How would you cover the expenses? The primary liability coverage on your home, auto or recreational vehicle insurance may not cover all the costs. If you owe more than what your primary insurance covers, you’ll be left paying out of pocket. 

Umbrella Insurance 

If you’re at fault for an accident or injury and faced with a lawsuit, you may be required to pay above and beyond the primary liability limits on your homeowners, auto or recreational vehicle policy, especially if there are serious injuries. What would you do if this were the case? You may have to sell some of your assets, drain your bank account or hand over future earnings. But this doesn’t have to happen. Personal liability umbrella insurance helps protect all the things you work so hard for. If you have a liability lawsuit against you, umbrella insurance helps cover beyond what your primary liability coverage will pay for — keeping your assets, savings account and future earnings safe and sound. 

Liability Insurance 

Liability coverage is probably the most understated coverage when it comes to the insurance purchase. Since personal liability coverage comes with most primary residential insurance policies as part of the “package” people, tend to focus more on the value of their building, condo, or contents, and take the liability portion for granted. 

Errors and Omissions 

Even if you try your hardest to avoid an errors and omissions lawsuit, a dissatisfied client or business partner may still decide to sue you. Errors and omissions insurance covers your legal costs in this situation, including: 

  • Lawyer’s fees 
  • Administrative expenses 
  • Court fees (filing fees, court reporter fees) 
  • Expert witnesses 
  • Settlement costs (settlement payments, mediation expenses) 
  • Court judgments 

If your errors and omissions policy include a “right and duty to defend” clause, you won’t have to worry about spending time arranging your own legal defense. This useful provision shifts the burden of managing the case from you to your insurance provider. 

Needing to know more about protecting yourself from a potential lawsuit? Contact your local agent for more information. 

When it comes to automotive insurance, you may find yourself faced with multiple decisions to make. Should you choose a high or low deductible plan, minimum or maximum coverage, or pay premiums monthly versus an annual lump sum? Although there is truly no wrong answer, it is important to ensure you have the best possible coverage for your budget, driving habits, and lifestyle. Your local insurance agent can guide you toward the ideal policy for your needs, but this may still leave you questioning the frequency of your payments. 

Depending on your budget, it may be harder for you to pay your insurance premium up-front. However, this is still the most cost-effective way to purchase coverage. Insurers may offer what seems like a discount when you pay annually, and this absolutely benefits you as the consumer. However, what this also means is that those who elect to pay monthly or quarterly are actually being charged added fees as a penalty for delaying payments. These fees cover the insurer’s “carrying cost” of delaying collection, the back-office expense for processing multiple transactions, and the risk of consumers terminating payments earlier than expected. If you are able to pay annually without causing financial strain, this is a great option for you.  

Of course, the most ideal payment schedule remains one that you can manage. Paying annually in a lump sum could leave you strained to cover other bills such as a car payment, or you could find yourself facing significant late fees if you aren’t able to make the next year’s annual payment. Should you choose to pay monthly, a major benefit is being able to maintain a consistent budget schedule without falling behind or incurring late fees.  

One additional payment preference is using either a personal debit or credit card, or setting up automated electronic funds transfers (EFT). When using a card to make a payment, you may run into additional card processing fees from the insurer. Some providers will offer an incentive discount should you choose to pay via an EFT, which comes directly from your bank and does not charge the insurance provider additional fees.  

Overall, there is no incorrect method for making payments toward your auto insurance premium. Keep your budget in mind, and be sure to speak with your local insurance agent to obtain the appropriate level of coverage. Once you understand the policy that is best for you, you can make an informed decision regarding how often to pay. Your agent can help provide clarity around the price differences between paying monthly and annually, so contact your local insurance agent today.  

In the past, most businesses retained their data either in a hard copy format, such as paper records and files, or on a private computer server that was stored within their building. However, cloud-based software has exploded in recent years. It offers affordable and scalable methods for data management to companies of all sizes. The data can be accessed from virtually anywhere, allowing businesses to operate remotely or after hours as-needed. 

While there are numerous benefits to the digital data transformation, it also leaves companies vulnerable to cyber attackers and potential data breaches. Cyber liability insurance can protect your business, should the unfortunate occur. In most cases, it is not included as part of your general liability insurance, so you will need to speak with your agent to add this to your policy. Here are some ways you can stay protected and determine if this is right for your business. 

The Digital Age

The majority of companies today, whether they are major corporations or small, locally-owned operations, use the internet and technology to conduct business in some way. Regardless of whether your business uses the internet only to send emails or manage your entire portfolio of clients, your data could be hacked and used against you.
If you use technology at all, it is a good idea to speak with your agent about cyber liability insurance. Should a breach occur, you and your business would not be held liable for any damage that occurs.

Client Protection

When you handle sensitive information about your clients, such as billing details, financial records, or even simply names and addresses, your clients are trusting you to keep these details private. Should a cyber attacker obtain this data, they can use it in many ways. These range from posing as your company to “phish” for additional confidential information to making client details available publicly.
This can be damaging and even embarrassing for your customers, but it can also severely harm your company’s reputation. By ensuring that you have cyber liability insurance, you can cover the expensive yet vital processes such as notifying clients about a data breach, restoring clients’ compromised identities, recovering corrupted data, and repairing damaged software. 

Confidential Company Data 

Businesses may also decide to obtain cyber liability insurance if they retain confidential data of their own such as trade secrets, privately developed software, and other intellectual property, or even simply their employees’ Social Security Numbers. If this information is stolen by cyber attackers, the added liability insurance can even cover the cost of legal expenses, forensic investigation, and loss of business income during the time of the breach. Any stolen data that is used without your consent or knowledge is legally protected. This allows for a quicker recovery of the data, along with a more streamlined litigation process so your business can return back to normal as soon as possible. 

Cyber liability insurance is a vital safeguard against potential hackers. While you hope never to experience a data breach to begin with, having this additional coverage can significantly improve your company’s reputation, your clients’ trust, and the digital security of your employees and private intellectual property.