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The latest articles and news from Roeding Insurance

  • Is the risk associated with Monday’s solar eclipse sufficient reason to close schools? August 17, 2017 6:27 pm
    Article Written by: Keven Moore Local school officials have recently reached out to me as one of their risk control advisers to ask if they should cancel classes because of Monday’s Great American Solar Eclipse. How I would have longed for that call when I was in school. I’m pretty sure that I would have advised them to cancel the week before, the week of and the week after due to the “glaring” risks associated with this solar phenomenon. These inquiries have allowed me to finally put to use those two college astronomy classes that I took as I dodged more challenging courses while I was at the University of Kentucky. On Monday, the entire United States will experience a solar eclipse. The moon will cover at least part of the sun for 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through, anyone within a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will be able to view a brief total eclipse, which includes parts of western Kentucky. The moon will completely block the sun’s bright face for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds, turning day into night. The temperature will begin to drop and, weather permitting, most of us will be able to experience one of nature’s most awesome sights — one that hasn’t occurred in this country since 1918. Because of the rarity and risks associated with this extraordinary occurrence, school districts are being forced to consider closing for the day. When I first heard the announcement that a school district had decided to cancel classes for safety reasons, like you, my first reaction was “you’ve got to be kidding.” But then my risk-adverse juices began to flow and I soon recognized the potential liabilities that districts could be faced with as a result of this once in a lifetime occurrence. As late as this week, to close or not to close continued to be a heated debate for many schools as they made their decisions. Here’s the issue: When a student steps onto school property, the well-being and safety for that child rests with the school district. To take it a step further, the liability rests with the entire community since as taxpayers we help fund local schools, including insurance costs. That liability extends all the way home to their front door, so when a school superintendent is faced with something as rare as a total eclipse, you can image the “what if” scenarios that go through their minds. Yes, a total solar eclipse presents a tremendous learning opportunity for the students, but so does feeding great white sharks in cages or mixing chemicals in science classes. As any good superintendent will tell you, effectively educating and preparing kids for their future is their top priority, but it’s concern over the safety of those kids and the school staff that keeps them awake at night. For example I work with a school district in Central Kentucky that was pressured to an extent into having school a couple of winters ago after having missed several days due to a significant snow fall. In the haste to open back up to avoid extending the school year into the month of June, they regrettably decided to have convene classes for the last two days of the week. Unfortunately, that decision resulted in two of the district’s biggest workers compensation claims due people suffering falls on the ice in the parking lot. My point is that such decisions are not to be taken lightly and regardless of the decision, half of the community will applaud and the other half will disapprove. So, the first rule of thumb — and advice that I give any school district making such a decision — is to put safety first, regardless of what the critics may say. And don’t second guess the decision as long and your concerns rest with the safety of the students and staff. When reviewing the risks involved with the solar eclipse, there are several scenarios that play out in my mind that could result in liability for the schools. For instance, what if a bus driver looks up at the solar eclipse while driving kids home and is temporary blinded, runs off the road students suffer significant injuries or death? Should school districts issue eclipse glasses to all their bus drivers? Glasses could obstruct their vision. So do you not provide glasses and take the chance? What if Johnny knocks the specially designed glasses off of Billy while the class is outside observing the eclipse and Billy is rendered blind afterwards. Is the school at fault? What if a school district chooses to not cancel classes, doesn’t alter their hours and release all the students as scheduled at the height of the eclipse, then the following day, parents call the office, blaming them for their son’s or daughter’s temporary or permanent blindness as a result of their unsupervised viewing? The parent will want to know where to send that optometrist bill and who their attorney should contact about the pending lawsuit. In today’s litigious happy society, these scenarios may appear farfetched, but they are really a distinct possibility. Trust me, I see it everyday. The event in question is always somebody else’s fault. School districts are simply faced with the following risk management options — cancel classes, dismiss early, hold a non-traditional instructional day (work from home) or remain inside the school for the duration of the eclipse and dismissing afterwards. When these questions started to come into our office, we first decided to defer to the insurance carriers since they would be on the hook for any claims. All were reluctant to provide an official position, but instead directed us to the NASA’s How to View the 2017 Solar Eclipse Safely flyer. Another carrier replied that their official position was summed up in two simple words: “Be Safe!” Not to speak for carriers, but when dealing independent school boards or districts, they know when it’s best to leave well enough alone and to let each chose the course they believe is right for them. So none of the insurance carriers were willing to issue a recommendation to guide our clients. As for coverage related questions, we were able to determine that eclipses were not excluded on the policies we reviewed, but more questions remained. Insurance isn’t too complicated, but when it comes to coverage-related questions, you need to absolutely read the fine print. To avoid dodging the question entirely and to be a trusted adviser to our school district clients, we issued the following statement: “The “what if” claims scenarios cannot be given direct, final answers due to not knowing all the circumstances that may arise or be involved during the claim. While an eclipse or damage resulting from it is not specifically excluded from your policy, there can be extenuating circumstances to prevent or limit coverage.” With any claim, no carrier can make a determination on coverage until the claim occurs.  All claims have varied circumstances and those variances may affect liability negatively or positively, so insurance carriers are reluctant to answer these “what if” scenarios for obvious reasons. If schools district opt to remain open, issue approved glasses and make the eclipse viewing voluntary, then they should obtain written parental permission for younger children, who shouldn’t be allowed to make that decision on their own. Begin a good riskologist, I decided not to dodge the question, and therefore will end this article by with an answer. I always operate and err on the side of caution whenever trying to make sound risk management decision. Simply put, schools cannot afford the risk exposure to allow students outdoors to observe this solar phenomena. School districts also cannot release students during the event, hoping students exercise good judgement until they get home to their parents. You have to consider what traffic will be like when schools dismiss. Transportation officials are projecting heavy traffic in many communities, especially where the total eclipse will appear. Approximately 200 million people (a little less than two thirds of the nation’s population) live within a day’s drive of the eclipse’s path. Many of these visitors and locals will be outside, adding to the increased risk of distracted drivers. Hospitals in the affected areas are bringing in additional staff for this very reason and additional police officers will be out to address this resulting traffic nightmare. Back to school traffic is a naturalphenomenon in its own right. When you compound it with the solar eclipse, all coinciding during peak dismissal times for schools, this is the perfect traffic storm. Many parents will choose to hold their kids out of school so they can witness this event as a family. The economic impact to the school district’s budget as a result of possible low attendance will make it too costly for some school district to remain open. When considering all these variables, it is of my personal and professional opinion that school districts should cancel classes for the day. With that said, I just know that somewhere within my inner childhood there is an younger version of Keven snickering and laughing. Be Safe My Friends.
    Hannah French
  • Return to Work Services Overview August 8, 2017 2:36 pm
       Are you aware of the financial benefits of an effective return to work program? ·     The longer a workers’ compensation claim stays open, the more it will cost you. Roeding Group Companies can help you implement a comprehensive return to work program that will protect your bottom line, while still providing your employees with appropriate care. Do you have the right documentation for a successful return to work program? ·     Documentation and collaboration are key aspects of any return to work program. We have all the forms necessary to document every step of the process and ensure that everyone at your business is on the same page. How do you communicate your return to work program to employees? ·     Our employee communications take the mystery out of the return to work process, so your employees can focus on their rehab and recovery instead of worrying about filling out the wrong form. RETURN TO WORK POLICIES AND PROGRAMS Develop comprehensive return to work policies and programs at your business so employees and management are aware of their responsibilities in the event of a workers’ compensation claim Alternate duties suggestion flowchart Use these suggestions for alternate work duties to transition injured employees into roles that best suit their care plans. EVALUATION FORMS AND LETTERS Make communication a priority during the return to work process by using these customizable letters and evaluation forms to stay in contact with employees and physicians. Employee communications Let all of your employees know that their recovery and well-being is a priority with these employee-facing articles. Injury and illness investigation programs Make sure that injuries and illnesses only cost you a single time by investigating the true sources of workplace incidents and reducing the chances of re-occurrences.
    Hannah French
  • Keep Kids Safe with These 5 Tips to Prevent Heatstroke in Cars August 1, 2017 3:12 pm
    Summer is a favorite time of the year for many with warm, sunny days. But it's important to remember extremely hot summer temperatures can be dangerous and even deadly.  During periods of elevated temperature, your body must work more intensely to maintain its internal temperature of 98.6 degrees, leading to the threat of dehydration, among other things. Beyond the risks to people, extreme heat increases a number of exposures. For example, vehicles can break down if there aren't enough fluids to keep the car cool and functional as it reacts to the increased heat.  Of the numerous risks that can occur with increased heat, a heatstroke is often overlooked. Children, especially those under a year old, are at risk because their body's temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adult's, and they're often too young to alert others for help.  In the span of 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 20 degrees — enough to kill a child left alone in a vehicle. On July 31, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will tweet every 15 minutes for 24 hours to raise awareness about the dangers of heatstroke. You can follow the conversation through NHTSA's Twitter page and participate using the hashtag #HeatstrokeKills. The risks of vehicular heatstroke Vehicular heatstroke happens when a child is left or trapped inside a car or truck. As NHTSA explains, the temperature inside a vehicle can quickly rise high enough to kill a child—even when it doesn’t feel that hot outside. Understanding how and why these tragedies happen is the key to protecting our children. In 54% of cases, the child was forgotten by the caregiver. In 28% of cases, children got into the vehicle on their own.  High body temperatures can cause permanent injury or even death. It begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees and the thermoregulatory system is overwhelmed. A core temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal.  Regardless of the temperature, heatstrokes pose a risk at any given time; they can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. Heatstroke fatalities have occurred even in vehicles parked in shaded areas and when the air temperature was 80 degrees Fahrenheit or less — rolling down a window does little keep a vehicle cool. The warning signs of a heatstroke can vary, but may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; a throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; being grouchy or acting strangely.  Follow these five tips from NHTSA to keep children safe from vehicular heatstroke: Look before you lock Get into the routine of always checking the back seats of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away. It sounds unthinkable that you'd forget your child in the back seat, but if the child is asleep and you're distracted or in a rush to get somewhere, it does happen. Have a gentle reminder Keep a stuffed animal or another memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place your phone, briefcase or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.  Do a routine check If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely. Set a reminder on your phone to call and check in.  Keep track of your car keys Keep your vehicle locked and keep your keys out of reach; nearly 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.  If you have a newer model car that has a keyless entry, check with the vehicle's manufacturer on ways to keep children from getting into the car unsupervised. Act to save a life You should act if you see a child alone in a vehicle. Call law enforcement immediately, and free the child from the vehicle to protect that child’s life. Don't be afraid to break a window if necessary. Content Provided by PropertyCasualty360
    Hannah French
  • Clear policy regarding personal use of company-provided vehicles a must for businesses July 31, 2017 4:51 pm
    Personal use of company-provided vehicles has long been a perk that many businesses provide to their employees. In my business, one of the risk management controls that we check is the personal usage policy for company vehicles, one that sets guidelines governing who can use the company vehicle. But recently an increasing number of employees have been found to be using their company cars as a tool to generate supplemental personal income. This is not a completely new phenomenon, but coincidentally there appears to be a recent uptick in such activity with the creation of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. According to the Uber website, the vehicle being used does not have to be in their name but the driver must show proof of insurance, which can be altered or fabricated with enough ingenuity. As risky as that may sound, it’s not beyond someone’s imagination. As a point of reference, I can recall working with a fellow risk control consultant who had questionable work habits and a tendency to disappear at times. Over time, management discovered this individual was running his family business, his own car wash and other family ventures utilizing his company vehicle, printer, fax, cellphone and office space. As it turned out, his day job often times took a backseat to his personal business, but eventually it caught up to him and he was terminated. Over the years employees have been known to use their company vehicles to deliver pizzas, groceries, Amway or Avon supplies, move friends over the weekend or provide caregiving for elderly relatives. Some have even been known to lend their vehicles to their kids. When my son delivered pizzas, the only requirement was to show registration and proof of insurance, but no one checked what vehicle he drove on any given day. Service technicians, landscapers, plumbers, heating and air specialist, cable installers …etc. have all been known to use company trucks and vans to moonlight for their personal business after hours. Some of these individuals even return to offer competitive services for a lower price or for cash on their own time. In addition to the increase in wear and tear on company vehicles, this also depreciates the value due to the extra mileage. More importantly such actions increase liability for the employer when it comes to “negligent entrustment exposure,” not to mention the negative impact on brand image with potential customers. The best method for employers to address the issue of unauthorized vehicle usage is to develop a clear policy. It should permit and define personal miles as “reasonable and incidental,” and prohibit livery service making such use cause for immediate termination. A good employee usage policy should prohibit loaning the vehicle to unauthorized users, hiring it out to others, using it in any livery operations, or any other enterprise not approved by the company. To add more teeth, I have seen companies go as far as prohibiting attaching equipment such as snowplows, winches, or luggage carriers for personal business, as well as banning towing of trailers, boats, jet skis and campers. When writing a personal usage policy that lists prohibited usage, I would further recommend inserting the qualifying phrase “including, but not limited to” to help keep the attorneys happy. Employers should stress to employees that they will be held accountable for violation of the personal usage policy, and will face consequences for unauthorized use of company vehicles. Because different policy violations may call for different consequences, human resources professionals claim that you shouldn’t be too specific unless it’s required. For example, fleet policy can simply state, “Unauthorized personal use of a company vehicle may result in loss of vehicle privileges, or more serious discipline up to and including discharge.” It’s important that all company drivers should sign a statement that acknowledges that they have read the employee usage policy and agrees to follow company policy. In an article in automotivefleet.com, it’s suggested that to better safeguard the fleet policy is to reduce respondent superior liability. The term “respondent superior” is a legal concept that, in this context, essentially states, “As long as an employee is using a company vehicle to perform work for the company, the company can be held responsible if the employee gets into an accident with that vehicle.” Therefore, if policy prohibits employees from using vehicles for specific types of personal use, and, for example, an employee gets into an accident while moonlighting, a company can use this fleet policy rule to argue it is not liable for the accident. It’s not up to the employer’s duty to block the employee from obtaining secondary employment, and such action is typically not legal. Instead, employers should focus their attention on areas of legitimate business concern when addressing the matter of outside employment and instead consider developing a conflict of interest policy that is applicable. It should prevent the personal use of company-provided vehicles for personal gain or non-company related endeavors. No fleet policy can be 100 percent successful in preventing employees from abusing personal use privileges, because a policy is simply nothing more than just a collection of words. It does inform employees of the consequences of breaking company policy and helps employees stay between the lines. Fleet safety policies are crucial to operating a well-managed program and are the first thing underwriters request when evaluating the risk exposure to insure your business. Any good fleet safety manager will tell you that you need to not only communicate fleet policy to employees, but, more importantly, you need to re-communicate it to your drivers regularly. When it comes to fleet policy, there is no such thing as being redundant. Insurance follows the vehicle so regardless of the most specific vehicle usage policy written by the best team of lawyers money can buy, the risk still remains. If there is an incident involving your company vehicle, the employer will be on the hook for any damages or liability resulting from the use of that vehicle. In today’s litigious society, the employer is always viewed as having deeper pockets with higher limits of liability to chase after. By developing a formal and inclusive employee usage policy in combination with a sound fleet safety program, which includes driver training, you can better manager your risk exposure and it should help reduce the amount punitive damages an attorney may try to seek. Article Written By: Keven Moore
    Hannah French
  • 4 Things That Might Not Be Covered by Your Renters' Insurance Policy July 31, 2017 3:28 pm
    When you purchase a renter’s insurance policy, you do so hoping that all of your belongings are covered against theft and damage. Renters’ Insurance is one of the least expensive policies to buy, so purchasing a policy can seem like a great deal. But don’t let any renter’s insurance policy lull you into a false sense of security — you need to do your homework. Your renters’ insurance may not cover everything you would expect it to — a lesson these four renters learned the hard way: 1. Natural disasters: “When I purchased my renters’ insurance a few years ago, I was surprised that I had to buy earthquake insurance separately as a California resident,” says Jackie Lam, a frugal-living guru running the blog Cheapsters.org out of Los Angeles, California. She’s not alone. When you live in an area known for extreme natural disasters — hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and so on — you may not be covered against the elements. So don’t allow a natural catastrophe to also destroy your finances, and find out ahead of time which disasters are covered. 2. Water damage vs. flooding: Understanding the difference between water damage from outside your home and from inside your home is important. If a pipe bursts and you have renters’ insurance, there is a good chance that you will receive enough money to replace your items. However, that may not be the case if groundwater rises and enters your apartment, or if there is a flood that infiltrates your home. “Nobody ever thinks they need it until it’s too late,” says Doug Nordman, a military financial expert from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He has seen people disappointed when floodwaters disqualify renters from receiving payouts for damaged or lost personal items. It’s also worth noting that hurricane-protected renters might get help if the structure of their home is damaged first by the storm and water enters as a result – but water damage from flooding alone may not be covered. 3. Exclusions for valuable personal property For many, purchasing renters’ insurance is about protecting expensive items like computers, other electronics, musical instruments and jewelry. However, Bobby Lee, the money master behind the video blog 2-Minute Finance and a Danville, California resident, discovered that some renters’ insurance policies specifically exclude these items. “I was surprised at some of the exclusions* for computers, tablets, cameras, jewelry and valuable personal property,” he says. “It’s important to ask for additional endorsements for items you believe are especially valuable.” Nordman says active military personnel need to be particularly attentive. He says that many service members living on-base assume they’re automatically insured when they aren’t. “They only realize they need personal property insurance after it’s too late,” he says. 4. Lack of documentation You might claim that you lost something due to a break-in or natural disaster, but the insurance company may not pay your claim if you can’t prove the item’s existence and value. “I was surprised to find that I need to basically itemize everything and take photos of valuables,” says Jackie Lam. Store your list safely by using the online cloud so you can access it from anywhere, or save it to a flash drive kept in a fireproof and waterproof safe. Overall, it’s important to take the time to fully understand your renters’ insurance coverage. Read through your policy, and ask your provider plenty of questions, so you won’t be caught unaware at a time when you really need your insurance to come through for you.
    Hannah French
  • Your Step by Step Guide to Buying a Car July 31, 2017 3:15 pm
    For most people, buying a car is a major investment requiring thought, research, planning and finances. With the multitude of make, model and options available today, this major purchase is enough to make your head spin. And that’s before you’ve even waded through the wide array of financing arrangements. To be sure you make the smartest choice, you’ll need to do some homework. Here are some helpful tips to guide you through the process of buying a car. Selecting a Car Evaluate your needs and preferences to determine your current car style. If you know the answers to these questions, you may help yourself determine which car fits you best. What are the primary and secondary uses of the car? This may help you determine the best size, gas mileage, and durability for your needs. Who will be in the car most of the time? This will determine how much interior space you need. How often will the car be used? The more time you spend in your car, the more important comfort is likely to be. Considering frequency of use can also help determine engine needs. Budgetary Issues New or used, bought or leased – you need to know all the costs involved in getting your next car. If you’re not sure how much you can afford, talk to a financial advisor or get pre-approval on a car loan from a bank. Professional financial advice will help you know ahead of time how much you can really afford. Once you set your price range, stick to it. If you’re buying new, don’t be tempted by unnecessary extras that will run up the price of the car, and be cautious about purchasing extended warranties. If you can’t afford everything you want in a car, prioritize the features on your list. Don’t forget that owning a car costs more than the monthly payments. Gas, maintenance, taxes and insurance should all be figured into the cost of car ownership. Negotiate a Deal The difference between the dealer’s invoice (estimates are available from automotive magazines, websites, and auto pricing services) and the price listed on the sticker is your bargaining range. The more information you have on exactly what the dealer pays for the standard package and for each option, the stronger your negotiating position. It also helps to know whether the manufacturer is offering any cash rebate offers or factory-to-dealer incentives (which give the dealer more latitude in pricing). The popularity and availability of a particular car can also play a role in your negotiation with a dealer. And keep in mind that the time of year you shop may make a difference in the final price you pay. The end of the model year (September and October) favors consumers because that’s when dealers are reducing inventory to make room for next year’s models. Late December, when more folks are worried about holiday shopping than car shopping, is another good time. Leasing a Car When you lease a car, you make monthly payments in exchange for using the vehicle for a set period of time. Generally, at the end of the contract period, which is usually two or three years, you can simply turn in the car and walk away. Since you don’t own it, you get no trade-in or resale value. If you need to end the lease early, you may face steep charges. Likewise, you may be charged for excessive mileage or excessive wear and tear. Most leases include an option to buy at the end of the lease for a predetermined price. Generally, however, you may pay more than if you purchased the car in the first place. On the positive side, a down payment may not be required, and monthly lease payments are generally lower than monthly payments when you purchase a car. Be sure you understand the terms of the contract and review it carefully before signing. Buying Used Buying used is very similar to buying new: You need to assess your needs, estimate what you can spend and do your homework. You have one additional variable to consider when buying a used car: wear and tear. However, assessing a used car is better left to the professionals. If you think you’ve found a good option, have your mechanic check it out before you buy. A qualified mechanic can tell if the car is in good condition and worth the price, or if it’s maybe just a good wax job. To figure out the going price for a used car model, consult one of the used car price guides available, such as the Kelley Blue Book, which lists estimated values for used cars based on what car dealers are paying for various makes and models. Keep in mind that price guides aren’t the final word on a car’s fair value and that factors such as mileage can change a car’s value considerably. Whatever your final decision may be, make it with confidence and make sure it’s the best car for you (and your family). Content provided by MetLife Insurance
    Hannah French
  • Tips to Prevent Theft and Avoid a Break-in June 30, 2017 6:40 pm
    Residential break-ins and burglaries spike over the summer months. Because as the temperature rises and the weather improves, we tend to do things that make ourselves more vulnerable to theft, like: Opening and forgetting to close and lock our windows, sheds and garages. Leaving our sunroofs open, windows down or convertible tops removed while we’re away from our vehicles. And going on summer vacations with our kids, making our homes a hotter target for burglars. But, with a couple of preventative measures, you can help deter would-be thieves and keep your property safe. Lock it up. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), about 35% of household burglaries in the U.S. were “unlawful (no-force) entries,” which means that the burglars were able to easily access the stolen items, such as through an unlocked door or window. And in 2015, the average dollar loss per burglary was $2,316! So, rule No. 1 when you’re trying to prevent a break-in is to make sure your home and car are properly locked up. Here’s a checklist to help you get started: Close and lock outside doors and windows before leaving your home or going to bed. Have deadbolt locks installed on all outside doors and check that your outside doors’ hinges are on the inside of your home. If your outside door has glass panes or there is a window within 40 inches of the door’s lock, you can install a double cylinder deadlock which must be unlocked from both the inside and the outside. Install special locks on sliding glass doors or place a strong dowel, a steel bar or two-by-four, in the bottom track to prevent the door from sliding back and opening. Change your locks immediately if your keys are ever lost or stolen. Never put personal identifiable information on your house keys, such as your full name, address or phone number. When you’re moving into a new home, have all the locks changed. Instead of hiding a spare key outside your home, give it to a trusted neighbor that you know well or a friend who lives nearby for safekeeping. Keep your garage door closed and locked. And lock the door leading from the garage inside your home. If you own a shed, always lock it up. Stop your windows from opening more than a few inches by inserting a pin or nail into the window frame. This provides extra protection in case you leave the window unlocked. Before you walk away from your vehicle, put your windows up, close the sunroof or convertible top, lock the doors and never leave your keys inside the vehicle—even for a short period of time. Don’t be a showboat. Take steps to avoid advertising to burglars. Don’t allow them to see all the nice things you have that might be worthwhile to steal. Try this out: open your curtains and blinds at your home so that you can see outside, then walk around your home to see what’s visible when you look inside the windows from outside. Take steps to move valuable items away from plain view or make a note to keep those shades drawn. This also means that if you just bought the latest cutting-edge electronic gadget, you should make sure the box it came in isn’t visible on the curb with your trash and recycling. Here are a few more tips: Keep your lawn mowers and bicycles stored out of sight and locked up. Use curtains on garage and basement windows to hide what’s inside. In your car, don’t leave valuables out, such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, wallets, purses, shopping bags and other valuables. Don’t leave your garage door opener in view inside your car. If at all possible, don’t move items to the trunk of your vehicle when you’re in a public place. But in a pinch, it’s best to store them in the trunk than in a front or back seat. Confuse and deter crooks. Burglars want an easy target, where they can get in and get out unseen. They tend to make their move when people are away from their homes or vehicles and other people aren’t around to see them. Consider taking these steps to make your home and car less desirable and more difficult to break into: Keep trees or shrubs that are near your home trimmed so they can’t be used as a hiding place. Add exterior lighting or use motion-sensitive lights in your backyard. Think about installing an alarm system in your home or vehicle and make sure you use it. Consider installing security cameras at your home to deter thieves. For especially vulnerable windows, a heavy-gauge metal ornamental grille can be used. It should be attached with non-removeable screws or fastened from inside your home. And if you’re planning to be away from home for a while, do your best to make it look like you’re still there. Connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on and off during the day and evening. Leave a television or radio on to make it seem like someone is home. Arrange for the post office to hold your mail and ask a friend or neighbor to pick up and keep newspapers or deliveries until you return. Have someone mow your lawn or shovel snow off your driveway and sidewalk if you’re going to be gone for a long time. If you have a home phone, don’t change your voicemail message and tell callers that you’re out of town. Keep your travel plans private. If you park your car outside, ask a friend to move it periodically to make it look like you’re still at home. Let the police know that you’ll be away from home for an extended time and request that they drive by your property to check on things periodically. Talk to the experts. Your local police department knows the ins and outs of burglaries and crime in your area. If you want additional advice on how to best secure your home, car or business, you can ask for a police officer to conduct an inspection and give you advice on how to improve your security. Many police stations offer this service for free. Another smart thing to do is to educate yourself on what crimes are common in your area. Some cities have an online crime map that shows exactly where reported incidents have occurred. And finally, get to know your neighbors. If you and your neighbors know each other, then strangers will stand out. Community Watch Programs, which began in the 1960s, have been proven effective in lowering and preventing crime. So, watch out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood to help both you and your neighbors prevent break-ins. This article is for informational purposes only. The suggested tips do not constitute an all-encompassing list, and Grange Insurance makes no guarantee as to their effectiveness in preventing break-ins. References: -Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) -San Jose Police Department -How Stuff Works
    Hannah French
  • In a Car Accident? Helpful Tips on what to do next June 29, 2017 8:11 pm
    No one expects to get into a car accident. Although you can work to prevent and prepare for one, the sudden jolt may leave you shocked and stressed and unsure of what to do next. While you try to wrap your head around what just happened, it’s easy to forget vital actions that can aid your physical and financial recovery. Just remember to be SAFE—both literally and by following our acronym: S – Safety first A – Alert authorities F – Fact collection E – Exchange information Safety first The No. 1 priority after a car accident is the safety of yourself and others. Immediately after the accident, be sure you: Turn on your hazard lights. If possible, pull your car over to a safe place. If not, stay inside with your seatbelt on. Check the safety of others and provide assistance to anyone with an injury. Don’t move an injured person. This can cause additional damage and should be avoided unless the person’s safety is at risk. Alert authorities Even if it’s a minor fender bender that you think you can settle among yourselves, it’s still important (and in some states, the law) to call the authorities no matter how small the accident is. Call 911 or the local police station. Avoid saying “I’m sorry.” Even if you feel guilty, don’t admit fault—especially when talking to the police. You may find out later that the other driver was actually to blame or that you share the blame. Even if you don’t show visible injuries, it’s recommended to call for medical help or at least visit the emergency room or your doctor after you leave the area. Be sure to file an accident report, even if police don’t come to the crash site. Depending on the state’s laws and the severity of the accident, police may not be dispatched. Filing a report puts the accident on the books and can help speed up the claim process. Fact collection After an accident, you may feel a whirlwind of emotions. Stay calm, and immediately document the accident as you experienced it. Take pictures of your car, any other cars involved and the surrounding area. Take notes on what happened before, during and after the accident. Include details about the location, weather, road conditions and traffic control. Write down the names of any law enforcement officials or witnesses who are at the scene. Exchange information Swapping information is essential to work through any sort of claim or legal process that could result from a car accident. Be sure to exchange: Names Addresses Phone numbers License plate numbers Driver’s license numbers Insurance providers Policy numbers What to do once you arrive home Unfortunately, even after you have SAFE-ly left the accident, there are still a few matters to take care of, such as filing a claim. You’ll want to report your claim ASAP. The sooner you file a claim, the sooner your insurance provider can start working on it—and the sooner you can get your life back together. If you’re a Grange policyholder, you can report a claim by calling our 24-Hour Loss Reporting Center at (800) 445-3030. You can also report your claim online after logging into or creating your own My Grange account. Note: This article contains helpful tips for any driver involved in an auto accident. Policyholders may choose to follow this advice or not without it affecting their auto coverage. References - Edmunds.com - CNN - How Stuff Works - TeensHealth from Nemours Content provided by Grange Insurance
    Hannah French
  • Will I Pay More for Car Insurance with a Teen Driver? June 29, 2017 8:02 pm
    Auto Insurance for Teenage Drivers This post is part of a series of insurance blogs on Safeco.com showcasing the expertise of local independent agents and aimed at helping you understand important insurance coverage and issues. As much as you’ve been waiting for this moment, you’ve been dreading it, too: your teen has passed the state driving test and is now an officially licensed driver. You no longer have to taxi him or her to school, to practice, or to friends’ houses. But, your newfound convenience isn’t without concern. Of the many things you worry about with your young driver, including your child’s safety, high on the list is the cost of insuring your teen. So, let’s take a look at what goes into teen car insurance rates so you can better understand what may be awaiting you. Do Teenage Drivers Increase Car Insurance Rates? In most cases, yes. After all, you’re extending your coverage to another driver, and that typically costs more. And, not just any driver, but an inexperienced one. The direct impact on your car insurance rates can vary depending on the state where you live. That said, most states allow insurance companies to utilize the following factors in pricing coverage for a young driver: Male or Female: Premiums are often driven by statistics. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for young male drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013 the motor vehicle death rate for drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 was almost twice as high for males vs. females. Primary Driver: If your teen has her own vehicle, she will likely drive it more often than if she were sharing it. More time behind the wheel can mean higher rates, as your teen has gone from an occasional operator with limited use to a primary operator. Type of vehicle: The make and model of a vehicle always impacts your car insurance costs. If it’s a high-end vehicle, you can expect to pay more, particularly for an inexperienced driver. Always check how much a vehicle will cost to insure for a teen driver before you plunk down the cash for it. Ask for Discounts for Your Teen Driver It’s true teen car insurance rates can be pricey, so be sure not to overlook opportunities to save. Your independent agent can help you better understand potential discounts that may be available to you. Here are a few common ways to save on teen car insurance, but these can vary by carrier: Drivers education: Knowledge is power so many insurance carriers will provide a discount if a newly licensed driver takes a driver’s education course. Ask your independent agent which courses may qualify you for a discount. Good student: Most insurance companies provide a discount for students who have at least a B average. This may need to be verified each year, so be sure to keep a copy of the latest report card handy, given that this credit can be as much as 20 percent. Electronic monitoring: Some insurance companies offer a discount if you adhere to safe driving habits as verified by an electronic monitoring device that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port. In most cases, monitoring only lasts for a specified period, and you have access to the data collected. Away at school without a car: If your young driver attends a boarding school or college more than 100 miles away, be sure to tell your insurance company. There is typically a large credit for this while still providing coverage when she’s home. What if I Don’t Tell My Insurance Company About My Teen Driver? The consequences of not informing your carrier of a new driver can vary by state and carrier. However, the end result may be financially devastating. In the best case scenario, if your teen causes an accident, the insurance company may decide to cover the claim. However, it may also charge you for back premium, billing you for the extra cost of insuring your teen, dating back to when his license was first issued. This may be significant depending on how much time has passed. Even if the carrier does agree to cover the claim, it may only do so according to the minimum liability limits of your state. This scenario could leave you severely under-insured, and you may have to pay for some of the costs out of your own pocket. In the worst case scenario, the carrier may deny the claim entirely, leaving you responsible for all damages. That includes damage to all vehicles and property involved, bodily injury, pain-and-suffering and loss of income. Is this something you are willing to risk with an inexperienced driver? Handing your keys over to a teenager may be terrifying, but it also provides freedom for you both. With careful consideration of your insurance needs, you can enjoy this time as the rite-of-passage it is. Stay safe and contact your local independent agent with all of your teen driver insurance questions!  About April McBriarty-Weismann and HPM Insurance April McBriarty-Weismann has worked in insurance nearly her entire life. She began modestly, cleaning her father’s insurance agency, McBriarty Insurance, back in the ‘80s as a high school student. She went on to obtain a degree in journalism and work in advertising before getting back to her roots and joining her father’s firm. Helping run the firm for 10 years, she then sold it to HPM Insurance, where she now serves as the Vice President of Business Development and Communications. Combining her insurance expertise and creative writing skills, she seeks to make insurance understandable and even fun for clients of HPM, which has locations in Amherst, New Hampshire, and Bedford, New Hampshire. Content Provided by SafeCo Insurance Article Posted by April McBriarty-Weismann, HPM Insurance 
    Hannah French
  • How to Create a Business Continuity Plan June 29, 2017 7:52 pm
    When you run a business, there’s nothing worse than a missed opportunity. And when an unexpected event—whether it’s natural or man-made—disrupts your business, every minute can feel like a missed opportunity. To avoid such issues, it’s essential that you have a business continuity plan in place. A business continuity plan will help you limit downtime and loss in the event of a disruption, while boosting customer and employee confidence, lessening business risks and reducing potential financial losses. Follow these five steps to help create your business continuity plan and keep your business on track, even during the toughest of times. 1) Uncover your risks The two biggest mistakes businesses make are failing to identify a potential threat and underestimating the severity of a known threat. To avoid these mistakes, follow these simple steps: Identify your threats, including natural hazards that might affect the location of your business. Rank the probability of those threats, then rank the severity of each. Multiply the probability and severity to create scores for each and address the highest scores first. 2) Analyze your operations Responding quickly to a disruption can be the difference between survival and closure. Identify your key business functions and processes and decide how long you can go without them and remain in business. Consider the answers to these questions when formulating your answer: What is your main product/service? What are the things that could most likely impact your ability to do business? Which of your business functions and processes have legal, contractual, regulatory or financial obligations? 3) Know how to contact employees and vendors What happens if an emergency prevents your employees from accessing your business? Would a local disaster also affect your vendors? Two-way communication with your employees and vendors is critical before, during and after a disaster. Make sure you can answer the following questions: Would you know how to reach your employees? Do you have current home and mobile telephone numbers, addresses, emails and emergency contact information? Do you have current contact information for key suppliers, vendors and business administrators? Is all this information available offsite from your business location? 4) Have an information technology (IT) plan No matter the size or scope of your business, it’s nearly a certainty that you rely on computer hardware, software and digital data. Having access to these tools and information is crucial to your ability to stay in business. Keep backup copies of everything on or accessed by your computer including operating systems, critical software, files, logins and passwords. Store one backup copy onsite and another in a safe at an offsite location that will still be available in the event of a large-scale disaster. Before an event, shut down and unplug all your computer hardware. Consider elevating or moving equipment offsite. 5) Prepare your business finances Whether it’s having the correct insurance or an emergency cash fund on hand, preparing your finances in advance of a disaster is critical to keeping you in operation during a disruption. A well-stocked emergency cash supply can help you buy supplies or crucial equipment during a disaster. Identify all financial obligations and expenses that must be paid. Work with your independent insurance agent to determine the best coverage for your business. References - ContinuityCentral.com - DisasterSafety.org Content provided by Grange Insurance
    Hannah French
  • Westfield Insurance Foundation's Legacy of Caring Fund Benefits NKY Family Promise June 29, 2017 6:49 pm
    NEWS RELEASE Westfield Insurance Foundation's Legacy of Caring Fund Benefits Northern Kentucky Family Promise Newport, KY May 10, 2017,-- Northern Kentucky Family Promise received a grant from Westfield Insurance Foundation thanks to the help of Roeding Insurance Group. The grant is part of the Westfield Legacy of Caring program, which invites Westfield independent insurance agents to nominate a local nonprofit in the areas of disaster recovery, insurance pathways, family stability or safety. "Thanks to the generous donation from Westfield Insurance Foundation, we can increase our efforts toward2 ending family homelessness," said Amanda Speier, Executive Director. "We have strong relationships with our agents, and we value the important role they play in their communities," said Ed Largent, Westfield President, CEO, board chair and Westfield Insurance Foundation chairman. "Our agents help provide peace of mind and security, and the Legacy of Caring fund is an extension of the fundamental role insurance plays every day stabilizing families, businesses and communities." Roeding Insurance Group and its employees are proud members of the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati community. Our collaboration with Westfield allows us to further our citizenship efforts and have impact in critically important initiatives," said Steve Roeding, President. Northern Kentucky Family Promise is one of 78 nonprofits nationwide receiving a Westfield Legacy of Caring grant - collectively totaling nearly $550,000. Westfield is proud to work with their independent agents in distributing nearly $1.3 million since the onset of the Legacy of Caring program in 2015. Roeding Insurance Group was founded in 1921 and is today one of the largest employee-owned insurance and financial services agencies in the Cincinnati Tri-State area and the state of Kentucky. With offices in both Crestview Hills and Lexington.. l<Y, they are managed by local residents committed  to the  communities  they serve. Family Promise of Northern Kentucky is a faith-based collaborative that empowers Northern Kentucky children and their families, experiencing temporary homelessness, to attain sustainable independence.   About Westfield  Insurance Foundation Westfield Insurance Foundation was established in 2005 as an independent private foundation endowed by Westfield Insurance. In keeping with the values of Westfield Insurance, the Foundation exists as a dedicated community and industry partner; concentrating resources to have an impact on safety, disaster relief and family stability. The Foundation  donates over $3 million annually to  a variety  of charities.   About Westfield Insurance Westfield Insurance is a part of Westfield Group, a customer-focused insurance and banking group of businesses headquartered in Westfield Center, Ohio, and in business for nearly 170 years. Westfield Insurance provides commercial insurance in 21 states, personal insurance in 10 states and surety services to customers in 50 states. Westfield is one of the nation's 50 largest property and casualty insurance groups, represented by a network of more than 1,000 independent  insurance agencies. Westfield Insurance has won consecutive Gold and Silver Healthy Ohio Worksite Awards in 2016 and 2017 from the Ohio Department of Health and Healthy Ohio Business Council. Westfield Bank provides banking solutions for businesses and individuals, and Westfield Services provides service and training support for independent insurance agencies. Learn more about Westfield Group at http://www.Westfieldlnsurance.com&nbsp; and  www.Westfield-Bank.com.
    Hannah French
  • Kentucky Supreme Court Ruling: Parker v. Webster County Coal June 29, 2017 5:09 pm
    Parker v. Webster County Coal The following information was put together by our legal and workers compensation team. There was a recent decision within the KY Supreme Court that will affect not only future workers compensation pricing, but could also have an effect on future claim settlements. Previously, the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation system terminated all income benefits on the date the employee qualified for normal old-age Social Security retirement benefits or two years after the employee’s last injury or last exposure, whichever last occurred.  On April 27, 2017 the Supreme Court of Kentucky declared this provision unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court stated there was an equal protection problem with the statute by treating injured older workers who qualify for normal old-age Social Security retirement benefits differently than it treated injured younger workers or older workers who never paid into Social Security such as the Teachers Retirement. Summary of the Effect of the Parker Decision ·         For Fatal claims, the benefit duration will increase to lifetime for spouses who remain unmarried, as well as for other dependents such as parents or siblings. ·         For Permanent Total Disability (PTD) claims, the benefit duration will increase to lifetime for the injured worker. ·         For Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) claims for affected older workers, the benefit duration will entitle them to full award to 425 weeks or 520 weeks, depending on the disability rating. Though not quantifiable, the Parker decision is expected to result in significant unfunded liability, as claimants who would currently be entitled to receive income benefits in Kentucky only to their (or the deceased worker’s) Social Security Retirement age will now continue to receive benefits for the statutory duration of the disability (PPD) up to life (Fatal dependents or PTD injured workers).  Furthermore, some claimants with previously closed PPD awards who are within the statute of limitations for reopening claims in Kentucky per KRS 342.125, may seek to have their claims reopened to pursue a PTD award based on this decision.  Under KRS 342.125, a claimant may reopen their claim within 4 years following the date of the original award or settlement. What this means to your business is an average increase on Kentucky Workers’ Compensation rates by 5.6% potentially starting with renewal dates of 7/1/17.  The Law change also states carriers can make the rate change retroactive back to August of 2016, so far none of our companies have given indication of going back. June 21, 2017 update from our defense counsel on this issue: “Status of the Parker v. Webster County Coal – Webster County filed a Petition for Rehearing with the Supreme Court.  Parker has filed a Response to the Petition.  The next step will be a ruling by the Supreme Court.  The Court can either change its ruling on the issue, or not.  Should the Supreme Court deny the Petition, the Opinion will be final as of the date the Petition is denied; however, the Supreme Court is not under a finite timeframe in which to rule on the Petition.  Given that, we have no idea when the ruling will occur, but believe it will be at least two to three months before they render a decision on the Petition. Until the case becomes final, ongoing claims that are awarded or settled will be awarded under the pre-existing law; the claimant bears the burden of preserving the issue to entitlement under Parker v. Webster County Coal on appeal.   If the Supreme Court sticks with its ruling that this statute is unconstitutional, the only way for Industry to address this will be through the legislature.”
    Hannah French
  • College Students and Insurance: A Primer for Parents June 29, 2017 4:19 pm
    The Typical College Student’s Insurance Needs This post is part of a series of insurance blogs on Safeco.com showcasing the expertise of independent insurance agents and aimed at helping you understand important insurance coverage and other important issues. It’s an exciting and emotional time when a child – err, young adult – heads off to college. And, for many parents, a confusing time in regards to car insurance coverage and personal property coverage. Should college students remain on the family’s auto policy? Do they have coverage for their belongings in the dorms? Let’s take a look at these and other issues to help clear up some of the confusion. Wheels or No Wheels? If you’re supporting your college student financially, you can still consider her a household member for insurance purposes. Yes, even if she doesn’t live at home or moves out of state, and even if she is older than 18. This means that: If she takes a car to school, she can stay on your auto insurance policy. Be sure to tell her that lending the car to friends is out of the question! If she leaves the car at home, there’s likely no need for her to be listed as a daily driver on your policy. This could reduce your car insurance rates, especially if the school is more than 100 miles away from home. If she returns home for a weekend or holiday, she can still drive under your coverage. However, if she will be using the car for an extended period, such as during summer break, you should let your independent agent know. Oftentimes carriers offer a Good Student Discount for students who maintain a high GPA, such as 3.0 or above. If your college student is remaining on your auto policy, be sure to talk to your independent agent about whether this is available for you. Also be aware that, if your student owns her own wheels or you transfer ownership of a vehicle into her name, she will need to register and insure the vehicle herself. This is a great way to start building her insurance history! What’s It All Worth? Car or no car, your student is no doubt taking several thousand dollars’ worth of personal belongings with him to college: laptop, tablet, TV, smartphone, gaming equipment, books, wardrobe, luggage, etc. Some lines of study may even require costly gear, such as musical instruments or cameras. Your existing homeowners policy should extend some personal property coverage to your student. For example, 10 or 20 percent of your personal property coverage may extend to your student’s dorm stay. So, if you have $100,000 of personal property coverage on your policy, your student has $10,000 or $20,000 worth of coverage. This may even follow your student to a foreign country if he’s studying abroad for a semester or longer, but be sure to check with your local independent agent. To make it easy to take advantage of this coverage in the event of a covered incident, be sure to: Create an inventory of what your student is taking before he heads off to college and what it’s all worth. Include receipts, photos, serial numbers, and as much other information about the items as you can. Itemize any items worth more than $1,000 since, in most cases, there is a cap on how much coverage particular items or types of items receive under your policy. Itemizing the valuables offers broader coverage and also broadens the coverage territory to anywhere in the world. For students renting a house or apartment off-campus, or even a dorm on-campus, a renters insurance policy in their own name is another option. Renters policies are oftentimes highly affordable ($10 to $20 a month in some cases) and provide liability and medical payment coverages in addition to personal property. What About Umbrella Insurance? An umbrella policy covers all household members. If you have one, it gives your student even more liability protection in auto accidents and other mishaps, according to your policy. It’s normal to be nervous when your kids head off to college. But, there’s no reason to be nervous about whether you’ve handled their insurance needs properly. Use this primer as a guide but remember that your own insurance coverage may differ depending on your policy, your carrier, and your state. To further put your mind at ease, check in with your local independent agent for regular guidance. Trust me, there is no such thing as too many questions when it comes to keeping your young adult safely insured!  About Cresta Combs and Menicucci Insurance Agency About Cresta Combs and Menicucci Insurance Agency Cresta Combs brings nearly 10 years of insurance experience to Menicucci Insurance Agency, an independent insurance agency based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As the agency’s personal lines manager, she strives to provide the best in service and education, helping clients understand how their coverage works. She draws on a wealth of knowledge about insurance and current practices within the industry to help clients maintain broad coverage at a reasonable price. Privately held and locally owned since being founded in 2007, Menicucci Insurance Agency further emphasizes excellent customer service, high-quality insurance products and a deep commitment to ethics throughout the organization. Content provided by SafeCo Insurance
    Hannah French
  • Young Minds + The Insurance Industry: How to Unite an Unlikely Pair June 29, 2017 3:44 pm
    Let’s face it: a career in insurance isn’t the first thing on the minds of most high school and college students. While those of us in the industry know it’s an interesting and ever-changing career path, insurance has a bit of an image problem for those that aren’t involved in it, especially the millennial generation. When I speak with young people, they tell me they feel like the insurance industry is alien and intimidating to them and they imagine insurance agents sitting in dull, gray cubicles doing the same thing every day. A transformation from student to independent agent This pervasive, misaligned view of the industry is why it’s so important for all of us in the IA channel to embrace programs like InVEST – a non-profit organization associated with the Big “I” – which provides insurance education to high school and college students, and gets them interested in working in the industry. I have a long history with this program and I’ve seen it from many perspectives. Strategic Insurance Services, the agency I work for, is a sponsor of InVEST, which is how I initially got involved with the agency. I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the great help that I got through the InVEST program. An insurance industry wake-up call I didn’t know that I wanted to be an insurance agent when I entered high school. In fact, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. A meeting with my guidance counselor during my junior year of high school led to the suggestion that I take an InVEST class as an elective. Within two weeks of the program, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was the class assistant during my first year of the program and I wound up becoming the InVEST president at the school my senior year. In addition to learning about the insurance industry, InVEST helped me develop critical skills for the business world in general, such as how to ‘dress for success,’ prepare for an interview and put together a resume. Having that knowledge gave me an extra edge when I was entering the workforce. Helping give back by serving with InVEST These days, I’m still involved with InVEST classes through my volunteer work. I collaborate with an InVEST teacher to develop lesson plans; I put together a ‘Career Day,’ acted as a judge for the students’ mock insurance agencies and took charge of the lessons focused on auto insurance. One key component of InVEST is that it teaches students what career life is like, because the regular core classes in school aren’t teaching students important life skills like how to handle a job interview or write a resume. Please get involved InVEST helps introduce young people to potential careers in insurance. I would suggest to established professionals in the insurance industry to find ways to educate and share your experience with younger people, such as through volunteering with the InVEST program. The insurance world is always changing; in auto insurance alone, we’re already encountering changes with ride-share apps like Uber and self-driving cars on the horizon. We need bright, young minds that are going to have a fresh take on new obstacles in the industry. Get involved in InVEST - host a job shadow day, visit a classroom, recruit a graduate and more! Find an InVEST program near you - If InVEST doesn’t have a program in your area, it will provide the materials and resources necessary to launch one at a local school – for free. Content from SafeCo Article Written by Amy DeLorenzo 
    Hannah French
  • Hard lessons from Grenfell Tower Fire; Shortcuts, Outdated Codes have Consequences June 29, 2017 2:59 pm
    The Grenfell Tower fire in west London that killed 79 people and injured another 74 people was heart-wrenching to watch on TV on the night of June 14. According to reports, it was the deadliest fire in Great Britain since World War II. The 43-year-old building housed approximately 600 people, contained 127 flats and had 227 bedrooms. Emergency crews were quick to arrive on the scene after being notified and were able to rescue 65 people from the 24-story building before flames trapped many others on the floors above. Fire crews quickly extinguish the fire on the 4th floor where a faulty refrigerator apparently started the fire. But by then the fire had quickly jumped to the exterior of the building and spread upward where it penetrated the interior of the building. It continued to burn out of control for another 60 hours. The speed at which the fire spread was believed to have been aided by the building’s recently added exterior cladding. Cladding is the application of one material over another to provide a skin or layer. In construction, cladding is used to provide a degree of thermal insulation and weather resistance, and to improve the appearance of buildings. The 10 columns up the side of the building represent an unusual design, and when fitted with combustible cladding and flammable insulation they created an air gap. Investigators think the cladding and triangular-shaped concrete columns led to a so-called ‘chimney effect:’ a space through which the flames were able to race up the side of the tower. Preliminary tests show the insulation samples collected from Grenfell Tower combusted quickly. The equivalent aluminum composite tiles used as cladding in a recent refurbishment of the building failed initial safety tests. In just about every tragic scenario of the past, there is always one person who cried wolf. While I watched the news that evening they reported that one man had predicted that such a fire could tragically occur because of the recent installation of exterior cladding. But like a prophet in his own land, his concern fell on deaf ears and was not heeded. What may have also contributed to the number of deaths was the fact that many of the residents sheltered in place once the fire began. In a July 2014 Grenfell Tower regeneration newsletter, the KCTMO had instructed residents to stay in the flat in case of a fire (“Our longstanding ‘stay put’ policy stays in force until you are told otherwise”) and stated that the front doors for each unit could survive a fire for up to 30 minutes. The smoke detection systems had been upgraded, but there are reports that some of the alarms were not operational. What is more disturbing was that like many other high-rise buildings in the UK, the tower had only a single central staircase. Unlike many other countries, UK regulations do not require a second staircase, a policy which is baffling and inconceivable to me. To add to the perfect storm scenario, the building was not equipped with a fire suppression sprinkler system. The Grenfell Tower residents as a group did not favor adding sprinklers during the recent renovations because if they had been installed, because it would have delayed the refurbishment and been more disruptive. According to 2012 report each flat could have had fire sprinklers installed for less than $1,500 or approximately $175,000 for the entire building. Some experts are saying that if the cladding was at fault for the fire spreading as quickly as it did, then a sprinkler system would have had little effect. But I would argue that if the flat had been equipped with a fire sprinkler system it would have extinguished the blaze and prevented it from spreading from that kitchen, or at least contained it long enough for the fire department to arrive. Many are accusing the British government of ignoring warnings about fire safety in tower blocks. A former chief fire official and secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on fire safety said ministers stonewalled requests for meetings and efforts to tighten safety rules. What is even more troubling is that there are estimates of some 4,000 older and similar tower blocks (high-rise apartment complexes) throughout the UK that have the same safety concerns. From what I read this weekend, officials have already identified at least 11 other tower blocks in England with cladding similar to the kind that apparently fueled the rapid spread of the fire in Grenfell Tower. In America today, we would not dream of building a high rise building under the safety and building code standards of the 1970s because as a civilization we have learned and grown from our mistakes and past tragedies. However those that inhabit and work within these older buildings have to live with the legacy of those outdated codes that can prove to be deadly. As with any tragedy, you can rest assured that there are several people who could be blamed, who made decisions that were not in the best interest of safety. In my profession as a safety and risk management professional, I see such oversights on a regular basis after an incident has occurred. In this particular situation, however, the police are now considering manslaughter charges, among others. According to reports, the building was insured for a little over $25 million, but the direct costs of the fire are likely to be substantially higher. The financial impact could reach as high as $1B when you factor in the combination of litigation, compensation for deaths and injuries, rehousing and rehabilitation, the cost of demolition and rebuilding and the possibility that other tower blocks may have to be improved or evacuated. As with any tragedy, lessons are learned and new safety standards are issued to prevent reoccurrence. The defining outcome of this tragedy may be the demolition of these obsolete building that represent the worst mistakes of buildings dating from the 1960s and 1970s. Those of you who poke fun at health and safety regulations and red tape need to take a hard look at the consequences of the Grenfell Tower fire and ask yourselves: Are shortcuts and ignoring requests for safety improvements worth the risk? Maybe the more important question is: Can you live with yourself and your regrets from behind bars if you are responsible for such a tragedy? Decisions can have deadly consequences. Be Safe My Friends. Written by Keven Moore
    Hannah French
  • Firework Safety Tips for the Fourth of July June 29, 2017 2:07 pm
    TOLEDO, OH (WNWO) - The Fourth of July is just eight days away and many people are gearing up for one of its most popular past times – fireworks. However, fireworks put thousands of people in the hospital each year so NBC 24 has a few safety tips for the big day. It’s one of the biggest days of the year for pyrotechnics so before you light that fuse, you want to be sure you are prepared. First of all, there are multiple forms of fireworks. “You start out with your basic novelties," explains Billy Smith of Uncle Sam's Fireworks. "Like your snakes and your sparklers and things. And then you have things like fountains. And then you start to get more into your aerials with your artillery shells and your 500. We call them cakes.” And depending on your location, some of these fireworks may not be legal. Chief Dave Moore of Sylvania Township Fire Department shared, “Ohio law says that in order to do the aerial shows, the big ones that you see at the shows, you need to be a licensed exhibitor and you need to have a permit for your local jurisdictions signed by the fire chief and the police chief.” The state of Michigan has recently changed its legislation to allow aerials. However, whatever form you use to celebrate the holiday, there are basic safety precautions you should take. “First and foremost, read the labels," suggests Chief Moore. "Only use fireworks the way as the way they’re intended. You never want to try to relight a dud or one that hasn’t gone off. Make sure you never do that. Save the alcohol until after the show. That’s a big one. Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.” Store your fireworks in a cool, dry place, never point fireworks at others and keep a source of water nearby during show time. And do not bring pets to firework shows. Chief Moore goes on to share, “Pets are really susceptible to loud noises. They spook very easily. They can tend to run off. So, think of your pets this time of year and try to keep them protected.” Follow these tips so your family’s Fourth of July will go off without a hitch. “Fireworks are a great time," says Smith. "It's enjoying for the family. Everybody likes them. Just be safe. Check with your local jurisdictions on what you are and aren’t allowed to do. Be prepared and just enjoy them.” Article from nbc24 News and written by Kaylie Spotts
    Hannah French
  • The Best Questions to Ask when Picking a Mechanic June 28, 2017 8:25 pm
    Car Repair Shouldn’t be Intimidating “Never trust a mechanic who drives new cars. They're either charging too much money for their work, or they can't keep an old car running - maybe both.” - Patricia Briggs, author. Okay, maybe that approach is a bit simplistic when your car breaks down and you need to choose a mechanic. But for many people, taking their car to the shop is an intimidating experience. They aren’t car-repair experts, after all, and they want to be sure they can trust they’re getting a fair deal. (We should note that we’re talking about everyday repair situations here, not repairs resulting from an insurance claim.) Below are questions from Consumer Reports, car blogs and other experts — some are for you, while others are questions any mechanic should be happy to answer in order to educate you and put your mind at ease. If you don’t like the responses, take your car elsewhere. Questions for the Mechanic My car is doing (X). What do you think it could be? First things first: Don’t be afraid to call the shop and ask about anything! When a dashboard indicator lights up, the car starts making a strange noise or it feels like it’s driving differently, a lot of people clam up because they don’t want to sound stupid. That can end up costing you money in the long run, because whatever problem you have could get worse if you wait. Are you certified? Experts say any mechanic you choose should be ASE-certified. (That’s an abbreviation for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.) Is your work guaranteed? Get specifics and compare between shops for the same type of repair. And always find out before you have any work done. Do you specialize in specific makes or models? A shop focused on Japanese cars might not be best for you if your car is European. Can you prioritize these repairs? What needs to be fixed now? Getting a long list of what’s wrong with your car can be daunting - and expensive. So ask if certain repairs can wait. What would you do in my shoes? A trustworthy mechanic can provide guidance beyond simply fixing your car. For example, if you have an old car, they should be able to help you determine whether a particular repair is worth the cost. Questions for You How does the shop look? According to car blog Jalopnik, you should look for shops that are clean and well-lit - and that have different cars rotating through the lot. That last part is important, because if you’re seeing the same cars again and again, or cars that never move, it could be an indication of slow or shoddy work. What do other people say about their experience? Ask friends and family for recommendations. Check online reviews and the Better Business Bureau. You can even ask the shop for references. Do you feel comfortable? Finding a mechanic you can trust isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. It feels great to know your car is in good hands - and it feels even better to know that the person fixing it isn’t taking advantage of you. Article and Image Provided by SafeCo Insurance
    Hannah French
  • The Risks of Telecommuting from Home June 9, 2017 5:20 pm
    With the ever evolving and improving technology, telecommuting from home has been a growing trend over the past two decades.  It is defined as a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel by bus or car to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse or store. Telecommuters will use mobile telecommunications technology such as Wi-Fi equipped laptop, tablet or personal computer, fax machines, landline phones and now smartphones to work from converted bedrooms, closets, basements, coffeehouses and even from backyard pools.  Employees are now even able to teleconference or video conference into training sessions, sales meeting and board meetings through the use of Skype and other Apps offered to employers today.   It’s been 16 years since I have telecommuted on a daily basis from a converted walk-in closet back to my regional office located on the 16th floor of the Sears Tower.  Working from home at all hours of the day or night had its advantages and disadvantages that I still miss to this day. The commute in my pajamas from my bed to my office only took 3 of minutes in the morning, after you factored in the time it took to pour my cup of Joe.       Back then I found myself 30%-40% more productive than when I had to report to an office, due to the lack of distractions and ability to stay focus and on task.  Today according to a Reuters poll, approximately "one in five workers around the globe, particularly employees in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, telecommute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day. Telecommuters often times will maintain a traditional office and usually work from an alternative work site from 1 to 3 days a week.  Telecommuting refers more specifically to work undertaken at a location that reduces commuting time. These locations can be inside the home or at some other remote workplace, which is facilitated through a broadband connection, computer or phone lines or any other electronic media used to interact and communicate. In the 1990s, telecommuting became the subject of pop culture attention and today according to Gallup.com thirty-seven percent of U.S. workers say they have telecommuted, up slightly from 30% lasts decade but four times greater than the 9% found in 1995. Roughly 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time. Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005. Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile. Studies repeatedly show they are not at their desk 50-60% of the time. These progressive companies are able to use telecommuting to reduce costs,  because telecommuting employees do not require an office or cubicles, a space which has to be rented or purchased, provided with lighting and climate control, etc.  Studies have shown that a majority of employees favor the option of telecommuting.   Not only does this increase the moral and job satisfaction of current employees, but it can also be valuable when recruiting new talent. Hiring and retaining the best employees will help you save money on training costs, and more seasoned workers tend to have fewer injuries, contributing to lower workers’ compensation premiums. It’s a fact that by offering the option to telecommute from home attracts talent because it improves their employees quality of life by reducing the traveling time and time stuck in traffic jams.   Telecommuting has made it easier for employees to balance their work responsibilities with family roles (e.g., caring for children or elderly parents). One of the other major advantages that telecommuting offers is that it helps our environment by reducing road congestion and our carbon footprint by reducing automotive emissions. Telecommuting still has some disadvantages, such as being distracted from your family members that shares the same home office space with you.  Working from home may safely insulate you away from the office politics that go on back at the office, but that in itself has its drawbacks.  Working alone is a less social environment due to the isolation, and offers far less social interaction amongst your co-workers.  You are usually  less aware of changes within company and it often times can cause you to be overlooked for a future promotions due to that old adage “out of sight out of mind.”     You are also more prone to excessive work hours which can add additional workplace  stress because often times there isn’t a clock to punch or a set time when the office lights go out.  I often times would sit down to  accomplish a simple task  after putting the kids to bed and then  look up to find myself working way past midnight.    One of the top reasons employers are leery of allowing employees to work from home is the inability to correctly monitor how time is used throughout the work day. Besides the loss caused by unproductive workers, one substantial problem with the lack of supervision is the ease in which an employee can make fraudulent workers’ compensation claims. Yes in general an employee injury or illness is compensable under workers’ compensation laws if it arises out of and in the course of employment, regardless if it did occur while telecommuting back to the office.    Employees typically have the burden of proving that the injury is work-related. “Arising Out Of” refers to what the employee was doing at the time of the injury, and “In The Course Of” refers to when the injury happened. To successfully claim workers’ compensation benefits, the employee must show that he or she was acting in the interest of the employer at the time the injury occurred. When injuries occur in the home instead of on-site, there is usually no witness to verify that it occurred while the employee was performing company duties and not while working on personal tasks around the home or home office. Courts have found that an employer’s lack of control over the conditions of an employee’s home-based work premises is irrelevant. When an employee’s home is also an employee’s work premises, it is often interpreted that the hazards an employee encounters when performing work at home are also hazards of his or her employment. Employers are responsible for providing the same safe work environment for telecommuters as for employees who work on company property. If employees make abusive workers’ compensation claims, policy premiums can increase. In general, telecommuting situations blur the line between what is and is not compensable under workers’ compensation laws.  Workers’ compensation laws vary by state, and I would encourage employers to work with their workers’ compensation carriers as well as their legal counsel to determine strategies to manage workers’ compensation risks for their telecommuters. Employers can implement the following practices that may limit workers’ compensation liability for home-based employees: ·         Create a telecommuting policy that outlines the employer’s expectations for employees who work from home. ·         Limit telecommuting to individuals who are well-suited for working without regular supervision. There are typical job and employee characteristics that make for successful telecommuting arrangements. ·         Establish guidelines for a home office, such as a designated work area, and provide training related to workstation setup and safety measures, including ergonomics. ·         When appropriate and possible, conduct periodic checks of employee home offices to help identify and eliminate work area safety hazards. ·         Set fixed work hours and meal and rest periods for telecommuters. Doing so can help establish whether an injury was “in the course of” employment. Be Safe My Friends! Article by: Keven Moore
    Hannah French
  • Memorial Day : Most Dangerous Time to be on the Road May 29, 2017 4:01 pm
    Long daylight hours and better driving conditions may lull drivers into a false sense of safety during summer months­­­­, according to a new survey conducted by Michelin for National Tire Safety Week (May 28‒June 3). Two in three (67 percent) drivers report feeling safer driving during the summertime, citing better road conditions (83 percent) and nicer weather (81 percent) as reasons. 34.6M drivers will hit the road Memorial Day weekend Despite drivers' self-confidence, Memorial Day commences the most dangerous season of the year on the road, with more auto accidents occurring during summer months than any other time of year, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). More than 34.6 million Americans will hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, the traditional launch of the U.S. summer vacation season, according to AAA. Three-quarters of drivers (74 percent) falsely believe that summer has fewer accidents than other times of the year. Similarly, drivers are three times less likely to be vigilant, (e.g., alert and focused on immediate surroundings) while driving during summer months than during winter. Summer driving mistakes Drivers report other differences in seasonal driving behaviors that suggest reduced vigilance during summer months: Eight in 10 drivers (81 percent) said they were less likely to drive cautiously (e.g., taking extra care with stopping, turning and attention to speed) in the summertime. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they were less likely to pay close attention to other drivers on the road in the summer compared to winter months. Drivers are nearly three times less likely to check the condition of their tires in the summer. Heat is enemy of tires "Drivers tend to think about their tires in the winter, when slippery, icy roads require maximum traction. But heat is the enemy of tires," said Sarah Robinson, driving safety expert at Michelin. "Some of the most severe tire-related episodes are due to under-inflated tires in summer months." All drivers are encouraged to remain vigilant and safe on summer road trips with these summer driving tips: Give your car a checkup: Ahead of summer travel season, conduct a safety check of your vehicle to make sure it is in prime condition. Check oil and fluid levels, windshield wipers, headlights and battery ahead of your trip. Check your tires: Check to ensure your tires have sufficient tread with a simple penny test, and check your tire pressure using the manufacturer's setting found on the driver's door jamb. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel efficiency, wear out prematurely and, most importantly, suffer unnoticed and irreparable damage that compromises their performance and safety. Don't forget to check the air in your spare, too. Practice safe following distance: Always be aware of the cars immediately surrounding you, especially those in front. Give yourself enough room to brake or maneuver in an unexpected situation. Focus fully on the road ahead: While on the road, focus fully on driving. Any activities that could divert your attention should be avoided while at the wheel. This includes things like using your phone, snacking, or reaching into the backseat to attend to a child or pet. Carry an emergency kit: Carry an appropriate emergency kit in your car that includes items such as jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles, first aid kit, water and non-perishable food items. Program your cell phone in advance with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider. Take breaks during long trips: Pull over and take breaks every couple of hours, even if you don't feel sleepy. Stretching your legs and taking a quick moment to "reset" can help avoid zoning out behind the wheel and keep passengers from getting cabin fever. Content provided by Travelers 
    Emily Borst
  • Preparing Your Home for Vacation May 25, 2017 7:47 pm
    Vacation is for fun and relaxation. Help save yourself some worry about what could be happening at home by protecting it from theft and damage while you are away. Here is a checklist we have developed to help you have a relaxing and peaceful vacation. Make sure all electrical appliances are turned off. Clean the refrigerator of all perishable foods, and take out the garbage. Lock all windows and doors. Arrange to have the newspaper and mail held until your return, or have them picked up by a trusted neighbor. Arrange to have your lawn mowed (or snow shoveled) while you are away. Ask a neighbor to set out your trash on collection day and then retrieve empty cans and recycling bins the same day. Let a trusted neighbor know you will be away and have them keep an eye on your home. It is a good idea to leave your vacation address and telephone number with a neighbor so you can be reached in case of an emergency. Never leave your house key hidden outside your home. Set timers on interior lights. Make sure to unplug televisions, computers and appliances susceptible to lightning and power surges. Advise your alarm company and local police if you will be gone for an extended period. Store jewelry and valuable items in a safe-deposit box. Arrange for the care of pets. Set the heating system to provide minimum heat of 55 degrees. Content provided by Travelers 
    Hannah French
  • Keeping Your Passengers Safe on the Road May 25, 2017 6:57 pm
    Wearing seat belts has become second nature for many, thanks in part to stricter seat belt laws and safety features in newer automobiles that sound until the driver and passenger seat belts are buckled. But according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), only 74% of passengers in rear seats buckle up, compared to 83% of front seat passengers.1 Seat belts help reduce deaths and serious injuries on the road. Rear-seat passengers are three times more likely to die in a car accident if they are unbuckled.2 As the driver, you can play an important role in the safety of your passengers by reminding them to always buckle their seat belts, no matter where they sit. Seat Belts Important in Other Vehicles, Too You may always make it a habit to buckle your seat belt in your own car, but what about when you are traveling in another vehicle, such as a taxi, limousine, bus or large passenger van? Passengers might think it is unnecessary to buckle up when going for a short ride on a city street, but in a frontal collision at 30 miles per hour, an unbelted person moves forward and hits the windshield (or driver partition in a limo or taxi) at 30 miles per hour―the same velocity and force a person falling from the top of a three-story building would experience when hitting the ground.3 Passenger Safety for Children If you travel with small children, know the latest guidelines for riding in car seats and booster seats. The NHTSA website posts guidelines for infant seats, convertible seats and booster seats, including a guide to car seat types by the child’s age. It is also a good idea to remind caregivers and other relatives of the latest safety recommendations. For example, rear-facing seats are now recommended until age 3.4 Booster seats are recommended up until age 12, and it is recommended that children sit in the rear seat until at least age 12. If you need help installing your car seat, or you want to ensure it is installed properly, many local police and fire departments hold regular car seat inspection days. You also may want to register your car seat with the manufacturer and check for any product recalls to help ensure that your passengers are protected. Wearing seat belts may be the norm for many, but there is a lot more to seat belt safety than just buckling up. Knowing the facts and making sure all your passengers wear their seat belts can keep everyone safe, and perhaps save lives. Sources: 1 National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts Research Notes, May 2009. 2 http://www.ghsa.org/html/media/pressreleases/2015/20151123rearbelts.html 3 U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 9 Myths About Safety Belts for Truck Drivers, May 2007. 4 http://www.safercar.gov/parents/CarSeats/Right-Car-Seat-Age-Size.htm Content provided by Travelers
    Hannah French
  • Memorial Day: Most Dangerous Time to be on the Road May 25, 2017 4:23 pm
    Long daylight hours and better driving conditions may lull drivers into a false sense of safety during summer months, according to a new survey conducted by Michelin for National Tire Safety Week (May 28‒June 3). Two in three (67 percent) drivers report feeling safer driving during the summertime, citing better road conditions (83 percent) and nicer weather (81 percent) as reasons. 34.6M drivers will hit the road Memorial Day weekend Despite drivers' self-confidence, Memorial Day commences the most dangerous season of the year on the road, with more auto accidents occurring during summer months than any other time of year, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). More than 34.6 million Americans will hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, the traditional launch of the U.S. summer vacation season, according to AAA. Three-quarters of drivers (74 percent) falsely believe that summer has fewer accidents than other times of the year. Similarly, drivers are three times less likely to be vigilant, (e.g., alert and focused on immediate surroundings) while driving during summer months than during winter. Summer driving mistakes Drivers report other differences in seasonal driving behaviors that suggest reduced vigilance during summer months: •Eight in 10 drivers (81 percent) said they were less likely to drive cautiously (e.g., taking extra care with stopping, turning and attention to speed) in the summertime. •Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they were less likely to pay close attention to other drivers on the road in the summer compared to winter months. •Drivers are nearly three times less likely to check the condition of their tires in the summer. Heat is enemy of tires "Drivers tend to think about their tires in the winter, when slippery, icy roads require maximum traction. But heat is the enemy of tires," said Sarah Robinson, driving safety expert at Michelin. "Some of the most severe tire-related episodes are due to under-inflated tires in summer months." All drivers are encouraged to remain vigilant and safe on summer road trips with these summer driving tips: •Give your car a checkup: Ahead of summer travel season, conduct a safety check of your vehicle to make sure it is in prime condition. Check oil and fluid levels, windshield wipers, headlights and battery ahead of your trip. •Check your tires: Check to ensure your tires have sufficient tread with a simple penny test, and check your tire pressure using the manufacturer's setting found on the driver's door jamb. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel efficiency, wear out prematurely and, most importantly, suffer unnoticed and irreparable damage that compromises their performance and safety. Don't forget to check the air in your spare, too. •Practice safe following distance: Always be aware of the cars immediately surrounding you, especially those in front. Give yourself enough room to brake or maneuver in an unexpected situation. •Focus fully on the road ahead: While on the road, focus fully on driving. Any activities that could divert your attention should be avoided while at the wheel. This includes things like using your phone, snacking, or reaching into the backseat to attend to a child or pet. •Carry an emergency kit: Carry an appropriate emergency kit in your car that includes items such as jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles, first aid kit, water and non-perishable food items. Program your cell phone in advance with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider. •Take breaks during long trips: Pull over and take breaks every couple of hours, even if you don't feel sleepy. Stretching your legs and taking a quick moment to "reset" can help avoid zoning out behind the wheel and keep passengers from getting cabin fever. Content provided by Property Casualty 360, article written by Jayleen R. Heft
    Hannah French
  • Boating Safety Tips May 25, 2017 4:08 pm
    Every time you take your boat out on the water is a new experience. No matter how many trips you have under your belt, it is best to freshen up on boat safety before each voyage. Be sure you and your passengers follow these safe boating tips and practices to help promote an incident-free return from each outing. Before Setting Out on Your Boat Ensure that your boat is operating properly before heading out onto the water. Follow this pre-departure checklist to help you avoid any potential problems. Share your float plan with a friend or relative. Be sure to include your destination and expected time of return. Check fuel levels and add as necessary. Check your engine. For in-board engines, open the hatch to look for fuel or fluid (oil, coolant, etc.) leakage or excess water in the bilge, or the lowest section inside of a boat. For outboard engines, check the fuel system for leaks or heavy gas odor. Excessive fuel vapors from either engine type can be a sign of a serious problem. Ensure all lights are functioning and in place. Check for any electrical issues such as loose, disconnected or corroded conductors. Test radio/communications devices. Run blowers to evacuate fumes and vapors from the bilge prior to starting your engine. Attach your boat and vehicle keys to a floating bobber. Check the local weather, sea reports and boating forecasts. As the operator of the boat, you have a responsibility to pay attention to the weather and should not head out if adverse conditions are expected. Have an emergency/evacuation plan in place, and go over it with your passengers. Review the vessel’s controls, location of personal flotation devices and location of fire extinguishers with your passengers. What to Take Aboard No matter how careful you, your passengers and fellow boaters may be, accidents can still happen. In the event of an incident, you should always have these items with you while you are out on your boat: Boat certificate and registration. Towing policy paperwork (if you have one). Personal flotation device (PFD) —with protective packaging removed—for each passenger. Charged and functioning fire extinguisher. Fully-stocked boating emergency/survival kit. Staying Safe on the Water Having a good time while out on the water includes getting everyone back to shore safely. Whether you are navigating or just along for the ride, everyone plays a critical role in boating safety. Be sure you and your passengers practice these safe boating behaviors on every outing: Do not exceed the number of passengers safely allowed on your vessel. Make sure all passengers remain in their proper, seated positions on the boat while it is in motion. Children should wear a PFD at all times – this is required by law in some states, so be sure to check local laws, rules and regulations. Adults should consider wearing them as well, and at a minimum, they should be readily available. Shut off the engine while passengers are loading and unloading for recreational activities such as tubing, waterskiing, wakeboarding and swimming. Monitor gauges at the helm (voltage, temperature, fuel) to help promote safe operation and identify any issues as soon as possible. Be aware of your surroundings, like water conditions and other vessels, to help you react to any potential dangers in a timely manner. The primary and backup operator (if you have one) should abstain from consuming any alcoholic beverages prior to or during the outing. Content provided by Travelers 
    Hannah French
  • How to Trailer, Tow, and Launch Your Boat Safely May 25, 2017 3:23 pm
    Before you can begin a season of boating, you must first get your boat to, and into, the water. While towing and trailering are necessary to get your boat to the water, they can be potentially dangerous if the necessary precautions are not taken. Making it a priority to inspect and maintain your trailer, secure your vessel for transport, and then tow and launch it safely is as important as following safe boating practices once you are out on the water. Following are some tips to help ensure your boating adventures start off without a hitch. Towing Capacity and Trailer Compatibility Before you even consider trailering, you must ensure your vehicle is capable of towing your trailer and boat. Your vehicle needs to be properly rated to pull the combined weight of your trailer and boat. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine your vehicle’s towing capacities. Ensure the towing hardware of your vehicle matches that of your trailer. Also, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. You must also make sure your trailer is properly registered and inspected, if required. Each state may have different regulations concerning trailers. Consult your local Department of Motor Vehicles for specifics. Trailer Inspection and Maintenance Be sure to adhere to a regular trailer maintenance routine in accordance with manufacturer specifications. You should also inspect your trailer before every trip as trailers, like boats, can be subject to harsh environments, such as salt water when launching the boat. This checklist can help you, and never take your trailer out on the road — with or without your vessel — before addressing any problems you discover. Check the trailer and trailer hardware to ensure both are in good condition. Check the trailer wiring and lights to ensure all lights are working properly. Check the trailer for any severe corrosion. Check tires for dry rot, and be sure they are properly inflated. Make sure you have a properly inflated spare tire. Make sure the wheel bearings are properly lubricated (according to manufacturer specifications), and all wheels spin freely. Check the rollers and/or bunkers. Inspect the winch, cable and lock to make sure they are in good condition and working properly. If the trailer has a braking mechanism, check that it is operating properly. Check the trailer to determine that it is properly attached to the vehicle (according to manufacturer specifications), and confirm that safety chains (to connect the trailer to the vehicle) are in place. Towing, Trailering and Transporting Your Boat Once you have determined that your trailer is in good working condition, you can secure your boat and any gear you will be towing for transport. Before and during transport, remember to: Check that the boat is properly secured and seated on the trailer, as unevenness can cause problems with weight distribution. Check that the outboard engine is properly secured for trailering (according to manufacturer specifications). Confirm that any gear in the boat is stored or attached securely. Never drive the boat onto the trailer when loading it from the water. No one should ride in the boat or on the trailer during transport. Avoid running your engine outside of the water. (Consult your owner’s manual for guidance on flushing or rinsing your engine.) When taking the boat out of the water and loading it on the trailer, be aware and make the necessary adjustments if the boat has taken on water — this can alter the weight distribution and handling of the trailer. (Remember: the towing and weight capacity of your vehicle and trailer often refers to the “dry” weight.) Launching Your Boat from a Trailer After you and your boat have safely reached your destination, do not rush to get out on the water. Being safe on the water starts with a safe launch. Before You Launch, check that: Your boat is properly connected to the trailer. The winch is properly connected to the boat. Drain plugs have been installed. Your vehicle keys and/or mobile devices are secured in a safe, dry place – not in your pockets (i.e., anticipate getting wet while launching). Mooring lines are attached to the boat and readily accessible. During Launch: Observe proper boat ramp etiquette. Have the boat ready to launch before entering the launch ramp. Inspect the ramp before backing down and check to see how far you will have to back the trailer into the water. Back the trailer slowly down the boat launch ramp, until the boat starts to float in the water on its own. Be careful not to back too far into the water, or off the ramp. Also, do not submerge the exhaust of the tow vehicle. Be prepared to handle the vessel once it is launched, either by rope or someone in the vessel. Keep the trailer winch locked until you are ready to float the boat off the trailer. Unwind the winch slowly and carefully. After Launch, remember to: Check the bilges for any leaks. Follow the engine starting procedures. Move away from the ramp as quickly as possible to make room for the next boat being launched. Remember, every boat ramp is different. Taking the time to properly trailer, tow and launch your boat can help you to have a safe start to all of your outings. Remember to follow safe boating practices out on the water, too. Content provided by Travelers
    Hannah French
  • 9 Home Security Tips May 25, 2017 2:56 pm
    Did you know that a burglary happens every 20 seconds in the U.S., according to the FBI?1 Your home is one of your most valuable possessions, along with everything inside. It is a place you want to feel safe and secure from the potential dangers of the outside world. Employing and engaging in some basic best practices around home security is the first step to help create a secure environment for your loved ones and family. Consider these tips to help keep you and your family, and your possessions, safe and secure. Landscape with safety in mind. As you walk around your property, look for areas that could be potential hiding spots for thieves, who prize the privacy they provide. Try and clear away any overgrown areas. Talk with your local police department. Ask your police department to come and inspect your home and property and provide suggestions to increase home security. They can also offer insight on past break-in trends in your area. Know your neighbors. Take the time to meet and engage with people on your street and encourage them to watch out for any suspicious activity when you are not home. Lighting matters. Lighting can set the right ambiance inside your home, but outdoor lighting can be the difference between your home being targeted – or not – by thieves. Motion-sensitive fixtures can help add security and provide light when needed. Also consider using automatic timers or a smart lightbulb that can be controlled remotely to turn lights on and off in various parts of the house to help make it seem like you are home. Avoid advertising that shopping spree. Thieves look for and steal newly-delivered boxes on your front porch, a method called porch pirating, so consider having them delivered elsewhere or requiring a signature for delivery. Thieves may also look at clues provided by your trash or recycling, which may indicate the new computer or flat-screen television inside. Set a safety routine. Make sure you establish a routine where you regularly lock all doors, shut windows and turn on your alarm system every time you leave your home. Avoid leaving spare keys outside, under a planter or under a welcome mat, as thieves know most of the potential hiding places. Manage visibility. Make sure you can see who is at your front door without opening it. Avoid placing valuables where they will be visible from the street, and do not place your home alarm panel in a place where people can see you arming it from the outside. Protect your outdoor valuables. Burglars also target sheds, garages and other outdoor buildings. Secure your grill, lawn mower, bicycles and other outdoor gear. Create a plan for when you are away. Hold your mail, stop your papers and ask a friend or neighbor to remove flyers from your property. Arrange for snow removal and lawn mowing so you do not advertise when you are away from home. Content provided by Travelers  Sources: ¹ https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/resource-pages/crime-clock
    Hannah French
  • How to Pack a Car Safely May 25, 2017 2:56 pm
    As the summer months approach, so too, do thoughts of hitting the road for a family vacation. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nine out of 10 Americans drive to their travel destination.1 If you are among those planning to hit the road, remember that safe driving starts before you even leave the driveway. Securing luggage, maintaining vehicle balance and keeping clear lines of sight from the driver's seat are key elements in packing your car safely for the long drive. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you load up your luggage, coolers and other vacation necessities: Load heavier items such as suitcases first, and toward the center. Lighter items, such as coolers, beach bags and groceries, can be packed on top of and to the sides of the heavier items. Make sure the weight is distributed evenly. Uneven weight can cause instability and increase the chance of the car tipping in the event of an accident. Do not pack things too high—items packed too high may obstruct the driver’s view through the rear-view mirror. Also, items packed too high could shift forward and injure those in the back seat if you should stop suddenly. If you are doing any rooftop or auxiliary cargo loading, make sure all cargo is fully secured. The wind created while driving could exceed 75 mph, which is equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane. Be aware of the height of your cargo so you do not inadvertently drive into a low overhang. If you use a detachable cargo platform on the back of your car, do not forget that it is there when you back up. Check the manufacturer’s instruction sheet to confirm that you do not exceed the load rating of the roof-top or cargo platform. If you tow a trailer, make sure it is in good condition (lights, tires, wheels, etc.), use safety chains and check the trailer periodically during your trip. Pack only what you need since heavy cars can take longer to stop. Learn how to pack your vehicle for safer travels in this video with Travelers Risk Control specialist Chris Hayes—and make your road trip a memorable one, for all the right reasons. Content provided by Travelers Insurance, Image provided by REI
    Hannah French
  • The Risks of Airbnb and Home Sharing May 24, 2017 7:52 pm
    The Risks of Airbnb and Home Sharing Courtesy of Roeding Group Companies Just a few years ago, taking a trip involved contacting travel agencies, booking hotel rooms and making plans far in advance. Today, however, smartphones and the internet have helped create new sharing services that allow homeowners to connect with travelers and rent out their homes, spare bedrooms or other accommodations for a fee. Airbnb, the most popular of these sharing services, offers a convenient platform that can provide homeowners with an extra source of income. However, renting through Airbnb can also expose you to substantial risks and leave you with costly property damage and liability claims. Potential Insurance Gaps Relying strictly on your regular homeowners or renters insurance policy while hosting guests through Airbnb can lead to significant gaps in coverage. These policies are designed to protect you and your family from everyday risks, and not from commercial renting. If a renter uses your home for even a small amount of time, you and your family will be exposed to significantly different risks that weren’t considered when your policy was drafted. As a result, most homeowners and renters policies won’t cover property damage that’s caused by Airbnb guests. If you’re considering renting through Airbnb, your first step should be to contact your insurance broker to review your current homeowners or renters insurance policy. While your homeowners or renters policy may allow you to rent your property to a guest, it’s important to keep in mind that each insurer has its own restrictions and requirements. Some insurers may require advanced notice of any short-term rental, whereas others might insist that you purchase an endorsement to expand your coverage. If you plan to rent out your residence on a regular basis, many insurance companies will consider this commercial use. In many cases, regular Airbnb hosts will need to obtain a commercial insurance policy in order to be properly insured. However, a growing number of insurance companies now offer home-sharing liability insurance policies that can be purchased on a month-to-month basis. Issues with Airbnb’s Provided Protection  Airbnb does offer its hosts two forms of protection through its host guarantee program and host protection insurance. While hosts may be inclined to rely exclusively on these programs to manage their risks, there are significant gaps related to these offerings. Host Guarantee Airbnb backs every one of its bookings with its host guarantee program at no cost, which will reimburse eligible hosts for damages up to $1 million. However, Airbnb readily admits that its host guarantee is not insurance and should not be considered a replacement or stand-in for homeowners or renters policies. Moreover, payments through the host guarantee are subject to a lengthy list of terms, conditions and exclusions. Therefore, hosts should be aware of the following issues related to Airbnb’s host guarantee: ·         Hosts must attempt to resolve any issues with the guests involved prior to receiving any compensation. This also means that a host would have to make a claim on his or her own insurance policy before the host guarantee would apply. ·         Any sum collected from a standard policy or a security deposit would be deducted from the host guarantee. ·         The guarantee will only repair or replace covered property that is damaged during the time frame of an online booking. ·         This guarantee does not cover certain items including, but not limited to, cash, collectibles, jewelry, pets, watercrafts or any damage to property that is not considered a covered accommodation. For more information on specific elements of Airbnb’s host guarantee program, hosts can review its terms and conditions in full on the company’s website. Host Protection Insurance In addition to its host guarantee program, Airbnb offers coverage to its patrons through its host protection insurance. Airbnb indicates that the program provides primary liability coverage for up to $1 million per occurrence in the event of third-party claims of bodily injury or property damage. Despite these claims, hosts should be wary of relying solely on this insurance program for a number of reasons: ·      Intentional acts that aren’t the result of an accident are not covered under this policy. In addition, Airbnb’s home protection insurance does not cover what it refers to as property issues, which can include things like mold, asbestos and bedbugs. ·         Neither Airbnb’s home protection insurance nor its fine print is readily available for review. The policy is also subject to limitations, conditions and exclusions. Together, this means that the specifics of these coverages are vague, and Airbnb hosts may not know exactly what’s protected. ·         The personal property of any guest is generally not covered. Additionally, any theft or damage caused by a guest may not be covered either. With Airbnb’s host protection insurance, it’s best to assume that you aren’t equipped with the proper coverage. For full protection, it is likely that you will need to speak with an insurance professional to better understand the policy adjustments you will need in order to be fully covered. Considerations for Condo Owners and Renters While Airbnb opens its services to condo owners and renters, multi-unit buildings often have restrictive bylaws, homeowner association rules or lease terms that could impact the ability to host guests through Airbnb. In many instances, commercial activities like renting out accommodations—even for short periods of time—are forbidden by lease or condo board policies. In some cases, hosts will need to contact their landlord or condo board before subletting or renting out any accommodations. Failure to do this can result in eviction or other forms of legal action.  Even if you’re allowed to rent out your condo or apartment through Airbnb, doing so can cause tension with neighbors. There’s always the potential that your guests may not be respectful to property in common areas, act inappropriately or noisily, or make other tenants feel uncomfortable. Local Laws and Considerations In response to the rising popularity of Airbnb, many states, cities and towns are moving to regulate short-term property rentals through their municipal codes or zoning regulations. In some cases, home rental services like Airbnb could be prohibited altogether. If you break these local regulations, purposely or otherwise, you could face thousands of dollars in fines. What’s more, Airbnb says alignment with laws and regulations is the responsibility of those renting out accommodations. As a result, you need to review your local laws and regulations before using Airbnb to rent out your accommodations. The Bottom Line While Airbnb offers a unique and potentially profitable service to users, it’s not without its faults. Before you decide to try it for yourself, be sure to consider all of the risks. For more information on sharing services, or to review your homeowners or renters policy, contact us at 859-341-0202 today.
    Hannah French
  • Responding to EPL Claims May 24, 2017 7:29 pm
    Responding to EPL Claims Insight for business owners and risk managers—provided by Roeding Group Companies Any business that has employees is a potential target for an employment practices liability (EPL) lawsuit. These lawsuits can be financially and emotionally draining for your company, even if you’re ultimately found not liable. Avoiding an EPL claim requires management to be proactive by establishing a consistent methodology for employee policies, recordkeeping and dealing with your legal counsel and insurers. Preventive Mediation and Arbitration Businesses can often save thousands of dollars in litigation costs by having a third party hear claims and mediate a resolution. Many times, plaintiffs sue for damages and losses that exceed the amounts they would have settled for during alternate dispute resolution (ADR). Speedy mediation or arbitration can reduce the amount of lost wages an employee requests, limit the amount of time a company spends preparing a case and spare both sides the financial and emotional costs of going to trial. But ADR isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to handling EPL claims. Mediation and arbitration cannot protect a company from discrimination charges brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or any other regulatory branch. Additionally, mediation and arbitration often ends with the company having to pay some kind of award to the claimant, even if the company is not legally at fault. When compared to lawyer and litigation fees, however, these awards are typically much less than the costs of a successful defense in court. Responding to EEOC Charges If a former employee or applicant seeks a discrimination or harassment charge with the EEOC, the commission will issue an administrative charge before the actual lawsuit takes place. The EEOC sends notice of the charge, listing details of the complaint and reasons for its investigation of the company. If the EEOC determines a violation has taken place and the employer decides not to settle, it will litigate the issue and seek recompense for the affected employee, as well as impose changes to the company’s regulations to make it more compliant. If the EEOC does not feel a violation has occurred, it will give notice to the individual who filed the complaint and give him or her 90 days to file a lawsuit on his or her own. When issued, a formal charge typically lists a number of documents that the EEOC requires to begin its investigation. Whether or not it feels the charge has credibility, an employer should respond to the EEOC professionally and quickly, providing as much detail as possible. If an employer can immediately provide sufficient evidence that the claim is unfounded, it may be able to avoid a full EEOC investigation. An immediate dismissal of a claim by the EEOC can greatly reduce the employee’s desire to litigate. First Steps Any company facing an EPL lawsuit should seek advice from legal counsel to properly investigate the incident and gather as many facts as possible. Time is essential for your attorneys and insurers to gather information and formulate a defensive strategy: ·         Obtain witness statements from all employees who were involved in or witnessed the event. ·         Gather company records on the plaintiff and establish a timeline of events. ·         Contact your insurers as soon as the charge is made. Tips for Preventing Successful EPL Claims Use these tips to protect your business from costly EPL claims: ·        Investigate candidates for employment during the hiring process, but guard their private information closely. ·        Require employees to sign an “employment-at-will” policy. ·        Ensure all new and current employees receive proper training, especially safety training, for their roles. ·        Create and enforce a strict zero-tolerance policy regarding discrimination and harassment in the workplace. ·        Immediately investigate all claims of harassment and administer discipline and training as necessary. ·        Make sure your workplace policy provides at least two different methods of reporting harassment. ·        Create an employee handbook and thoroughly document all evaluations, employee complaints and situations that led to termination of employment. Good Record-keeping Paperwork is the most powerful evidence a company can use to bolster its case against an EPL claim. Established company policies, such as an employee handbook and records of employee training, set the standard for all company conduct and can be a major advantage in court. An investigator or jury is less likely to find you guilty if you have records illustrating sound company employment practices. Alternatively, the absence of any documentation could be seen as an effort to cover up or avoid evidence. Keep in mind that any attempt to intentionally misfile or hide company records could be prosecuted as an obstruction of justice. A Claimant May Want to Avoid Litigation If the EEOC or other regulatory body decides there is enough evidence of discrimination to litigate, next steps include informing both parties of the information collected and offering an informal means of resolving the issue. This typically involves mediation by a council managed by the EEOC investigator. An employer may ask for such mediation at any time during the investigation. If you’re able to meet the demands of the EEOC and the employee filing the complaint, this route may be superior to litigation. If you’re certain you’re not at fault or decide the mediation settlement is unfair, you may decide to litigate instead. EPL Insurance No matter how many attempts are made to prevent an employment practice claim from going to court, some cases must eventually be litigated. Once a claim goes to court, it is up to an employer’s attorney, employment records and insurer to protect the company from huge damages. Even if an employer is able to avoid punitive damages, the defense fees alone can cause incredible financial strain. An EPL insurance policy can protect employers from the financial consequences of such litigation. Contact Roeding Group Companies to determine the risk level of your company and how you can build a more secure employment practices policy.
    Hannah French
  • Grilling Safety Tips May 24, 2017 4:37 pm
    You may be the kind of person who fires up the grill all year long at tailgating parties, or maybe you wait for a warm summer day and a backyard full of friends before you put on your apron. Either way, grilling can be one of life’s simple pleasures. Unfortunately, where there is fun there is also the potential for safety issues. For example, did you know that leaving the grill unattended, not cleaning grease or fat build up properly, or placing the grill too close to combustible siding can cause injuries, fires and property damage? Charcoal or Gas? Nearly 9,000 home fires a year involve grills, according to a National Fire Protection Association report. Of all the home fires involving grills, gas-fueled grills accounted for four out of five fires, while 16% involved charcoal or other solid-fueled grills.¹ Gas and charcoal grills each have ardent advocates, who praise the convenience of gas or the flavor of charcoal. Whichever your preferred grilling method, follow these important safety considerations. Gas Grill Safety A leak or break was the leading factor contributing to gas grill-related fires, according to the NFPA report. Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose, which will quickly reveal escaping gas by releasing bubbles. If you smell or otherwise suspect a gas leak, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get a professional to service it before using it again. Call the fire department if the leak does not stop. If you smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill immediately and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill. Never turn on the gas when the lid is closed. The gas may build up inside, and when ignited, the lid could blow off and cause injuries or burns. After cooking, make sure you completely close the valve on your gas grill. Always store gas grills – and propane tanks – outside and away from your house. Charcoal Grill Safety The leading cause of structure fires from use of charcoal grills was leaving or placing an object that could burn too close to the grill, according to the NFPA study. Charcoal grills can continue to remain hot for many hours after the flames extinguish. Avoid placing any burnable objects near the grill or moving the grill while the coals are hot. Keep combustible items that may be blown by the wind away from the grill. Check for rust damage in metal grills, which may make it possible for charcoal to fall through onto surfaces below and cause a fire. Purchase the proper starter fluid. Store out of reach from children and away from heat sources. Do not add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited. Never use any other flammable or combustible liquid to get the fire started. If the fire is too low, rekindle with dry kindling and more charcoal if needed. Avoid adding liquid fuel because it can cause a flash fire. Do not leave the grill unattended. Here are some other important tips to help you keep danger away when you are enjoying food and fun. Choose a safe location for your grill. Keep grills on a level surface more than ten feet away from the house, garage or other structures. Keep children and pets away, as well as overhanging branches. Grills should not be used on a balcony or under an overhang. Avoid placing grills too close to combustible deck rails. Grill outside only. Never use a grill in a garage, vehicle, tent or other enclosed space, even if ventilated, due to risk of harmful carbon monoxide buildup. Keep the grill going on a cold day. During cool weather days, avoid wearing a scarf or other loose clothing that may catch on fire. Consumer Reports recommends shielding the grill from wind, placing it about ten feet from combustible surfaces and materials, and keeping the lid closed to retain as much heat as possible. Allow extra time for pre-heating the grill in colder weather and check temperatures of meat and fish with a meat thermometer to ensure that food is safe to eat. Teach kids to stay safe. Make a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the grill and areas where hot food is prepared or carried. Children under five are especially vulnerable to burns from contact with a hot grill surface. Grill contact accounted for 37% of burns seen at emergency rooms in 2014 involving children under five.² Remember post-grilling safety. Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. If you grill with charcoal and need to dispose of the coals, soak them in water to extinguish them before disposing in a metal container. Otherwise, cover the grill tightly and close the vents, this should extinguish the coals and whatever is left will be ready for next time. Content provided by Travelers 
    Emily Borst
  • 6 Essential Travel Tips May 24, 2017 4:32 pm
    Vacations are for reducing stress, not adding to it. Unfortunately, things can happen to make any vacation a stressful experience, no matter how beautiful the locale or destination. Some things you are not able to control, such as the weather or flight delays. Other things, such as missing documents or stolen credit cards, have the potential to interrupt your fun but do not have to end your vacation if you are prepared. Before you pack your bags and turn on your email out-of-office message, here are six tips to make your vacation one for the books: Make Copies of Your ID and Passport: Make two photocopies of your license or passport in case either is lost or stolen. Bring one copy and store it separately from your original, and leave another with a friend or relative. The U.S. Government also offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad. The program permits enrollment with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which can assist during an emergency such as a lost or stolen passport. Streamline Your Wallet: Lost wallets are the leading cause of identity theft. Only carry the card(s) you plan to use on your trip, and leave your checkbook and the rest of your cards at home. If you decide to bring more than one credit card, consider stashing the extra, along with account information and customer service numbers for the cards you have with you, in a hotel safe or other secure location. Check Out Guides: Before you book that zip-lining, parasailing or river rafting trip, check online for any customer reviews. Seeing what others have to say about the company and the excursion can help you choose a safe and well-run adventure. Travel like a Local: When visiting any location, know your surroundings and plan your route in advance. Be aware of how the locals talk and dress, and consider whether certain actions will make you stand out as a tourist. Check the Weather: Into every life—and vacation—a little rain must fall, so take steps to protect yourself from lightning, hail, thunderstorms and severe weather by monitoring the local weather and packing the appropriate gear. Also, keep tabs on the weather at home to make sure your property is protected. Avoid Oversharing Online: Posting photos or checking in on social media sites advertises your absence from home. Real-time updates can be tempting, but wait until you return safely home before sharing your adventures. Take advantage of your time away to decompress and relax by taking a few steps to help avoid potential problems before you travel. Content provided by Travelers 
    Emily Borst
  • Five Tips to Get Connecting on LinkedIn April 18, 2017 5:14 pm
    Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, has ambitious goals for this fast-growing social media outlet: “We want to digitally map the global economy,” he says, “identifying the connections between people, jobs, skills, companies, and professional knowledge” (“The Future of LinkedIn and the Economic Graph”). LinkedIn currently boasts 313,000,000 members (and growing!); 3,000,000 business pages; and over 2 million groups. Not only is LinkedIn the third-largest social media network now (second to Facebook and Twitter) but growing. When it comes to company pages, according to Forbes magazine, company page use jumped from 24% to 57% since 2013, and a whopping 74% of users employ LinkedIn to research people and companies. What will they find when they research your company? ARE YOU TAKING ADVANTAGE OF LINKEDIN? It’s time to build and sustain a thriving and useful community around your products and services! Here are some ways for your business to leverage this outlet to promote your brand and generate sales: Create a Company Page: The first thing your business will need is a company page on LinkedIn. LinkedIn makes creating a company page easy! Through this tutorial, (http://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/company-pages/get-started.html) you can create a page for your business on LinkedIn, build a following, and post company updates. Encourage Employee Profiles: Encourage your employees to create a free profile on LinkedIn—it’s free and easy. Employees can then connect to the company page and share updates and content to drive engagement. Aim for All Star Status: There are five levels of LinkedIn profile strength, with “All Star” being the highest. Profiles that have reached 100% completion or as complete as possible may achieve “All Star” status. When building a personal profile, include work and volunteer experience, schools, skills, etc. A complete profile increases your visibility, and having a profile picture will make you four times more likely to be viewed (but a picture of your dog or baby won’t, so keep it professional). Utilize Keywords: Your profile or company page is your opportunity to own your territory on LinkedIn, but how will people find you? Include relevant keywords and phrases in your company summary that potential customers would use. When in doubt, do searches on your keywords and see what pops up.  Share Valuable Content: The simplified process of generating leads on LinkedIn is to engage an audience and build a network, or a following, by showing your expertise in the marketplace. When sharing updates, drive people to relevant and valuable content. This will demonstrate your business's expertise and innovation, and establish credibility and trust and build community. When should you post? According to Social Media Week, the best times to post on LinkedIn are Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7am and 9am, because the site is often used “right before the workday begins and right after it ends...avoid posting Mondays through Fridays between 1pm and 5pm.” Content shared on social media travels faster than other forms of communication. If you spend just 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, posting an update; commenting and sharing; checking messages and invites; and networking, you are sure to see results for smart, consistent efforts.  “The Future of LinkedIn and the Economic Graph:” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20121210053039-22330283-the-future-of-linkedin-and-the-economic-graph Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2014/05/04/new-research-2014-linkedin-user-trends-and-10-top-surprises/ Social Media Week: http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2014/07/rules-post-social-media-content/ Social Media Examiner: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/make-linkedin-company-page-useful/
    Emily Borst
  • Are You Prepared for a Tornado? April 6, 2017 5:40 pm
    With weather that never seems to stop changing, severe storms can be an unsurprising consequence. However, we often find ourselves ill prepared in the event of a tornado. Tornadoes may seem like something that doesn't happen here, but according to weather.gov, more than 22 tornadoes affected Ohio and Indiana last year. So what can you do when the winds start blowing? With these tips from Grangewire and Safeco, having a plan in place is easy and will make things smoother when the weather is rocky: Know Where to Go: Know the safest place in your house before a storm hits. Stay away from windows and door. If you have a basement, make sure to go there. If not, find a study space (such as a bathroom) and keep away from windows. Make a Kit: Have an emergency preparedness kit ready to go. Keep copies of important documents for your family members as well as batteries, food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and plenty of water. Make sure to bring cellphones, wallets, and medicines with you as well. Help Others: If you have small children, make sure they no what to do in the event of a tornado. If you have pets, make sure to take them with you to safety. If you are Outdoors: Find the lowest spot, such as a ditch, and lie flat on your stomach, covering the back of your head with your hands.  Do not follow the myth of seeking shelter underneath a bridge or overpass because it could collapse on top of you or large debris and winds could come rushing underneath and potentially sweep you up into the tornado itself.  If You Are in a Vehicle: Abandon the vehicle and try to find shelter in a structure or outdoors in a low place where you should lay stomach-down and cover the back of your head with your hands. Most importantly, do not attempt to drive away from the storm unless it’s very obviously far away and moving in the opposite direction.   Think about insurance: Before storm season begins in your neck of the woods, review your insurance coverage with your independent agent. We want you to be safe during any severe weather. Call us with questions or to review your coverage today!
    Emily Borst
  • To Barbecue or not to Barbecue? April 6, 2017 5:16 pm
    According to the Hearth, Patio Barbecue Association (HPBA), 80 percent percent of households own an outdoor barbecue or smoker, and some 60 percent of those owners will use their grills year-round; nearly 97 percent will use their at least once a year. So the question is: “To Barbecue or not to Barbecue.” Spring is here and it signals the beginning of spring and barbecue season for me, so once again I fired up my gas grill. These results are why we grill (Photo Provided) Unfortunately for some grillers it’s not a real barbecue until the fire department shows up and eyebrows and eyelashes have been burnt off. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 18,000 individuals are injured or burned in grill accidents each year. Of those 18,000 accidents, the CPSC estimates that the injuries are caused by out-of-control fires that can lead to significant burns and even fatalities. At least six people died, all from serious burns sustained when they squirted too much or the wrong kind of fuel on grill fires, or when their clothes were torched by barbecue flames. Anytime you work with fire, there’s a chance of getting burned and roughly a third of gas grill injuries come from burns incurred while lighting the grill. Each year an average of 8,800 home fires are caused by grilling, and the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays are the days when t they happen the most, rookies nevertheless I am sure. So to help avoid ruining your backyard barbeque by either becoming injured or burning your home down, here are some helpful tips: Always read the owner’s manual: Before using your grill you need to be aware how to follow specific usage, assembly, and safety procedures. Contact the grill manufacturer if you have questions. Grills are meant for outdoor use only: Never barbecue in your garage, breezeway, covered porch, tent, trailer, tent, house, or any enclosed area because they can easily start a fire or cause carbon monoxide to accumulate which can kill you. Use grills safely away in well-ventilated area. Set up your grill in an open area that is at least 10 feet away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, branches, dry leaves, or brush. Be sure to avoid high traffic areas and always barbecue in a well-ventilated area. Be aware of wind-blown sparks. Keep grill stable. When using a barbecue grill, be sure that all parts of the unit are firmly in place and that the grill is can’t be tipped over. Use long-handled utensils. The longer the handle the barbecue utensils with the less likely you will get burned. Use your nose: If you smell gas and you haven’t yet turned the burners on, you have a leak. Check the major connection points between the gas (propane) tank hose and the regulator and cylinder, and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle. Turn the propane tank on. If there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hose (big enough to see). If there are bubbles, turn off the tank and check connections, then have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby: If you don’t have access to a fire extinguisher you can also use baking soda to control a grease fire or a bucket of sand or a garden hose. Wear safe clothing: Avoid wearing hanging shirt tails, frills, or apron strings that can catch fire, and use flame-retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents. To put out flare-ups, either raise the grid that the food is on, spread the coals out evenly, or adjust the controls to lower the temperature. If you must douse the flames with a light spritz of water, first remove the food from the grill. Consider placing a grill pad or splatter mat beneath your grill: These heat resistant pads are usually made of lightweight composite cement or plastic and will protect your deck or patio from any grease that misses the drip pan. Never leave a grill unattended once lit: Trust me! If you have dirty grill with a lot of residual grease build up, a raging fire can ignite in just a matter of a minute. Keep your grill clean: Routinely give your grill a thorough cleaning, by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. Don’t attempt to move a hot grill: Never attempt to move a hot grill because it is very easy to trip and or drop it and lead to serious burns. Stay away from hot grill: Don’t allow anyone to conduct activities or horseplay near the grill. Keep children and pets safely away as well. Turn grill off correctly: When finished with the barbecue, turn off the service valve first to ensure there’s no propane left in the hose; then turn off the burner control. When using charcoal grills: If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources. When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. Douse with water to make sure. Be Safe My Friends. Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both the Lexington and Northern Kentucky offices. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com.
    Emily Borst
  • Top 6 Insurance Incidents Small Business Owner's Faced in 2016 April 4, 2017 8:07 pm
    According to an article on Property Casulaty 360, Insureon conducted a survey of more than 1,000 small business owners to find out what kind of insurable incidents occurred at their businesses last year. Two thirds of these business reported an insurable event, such as theft. Despite these events, the study found many small businesses are not filling claims. Insureon sights the reason for this as one of four things: The small business does not have insurance or they do not have the right insurance They worry filling a claim will cause their premium to go up They prefer to handle the matter on their own The cost of the incident is less than their deductible Compared to a $20,000 bill for a customer slip-and-fall accident, most business owners would probably rather pay $428 for general liability per year, plus their deductible. We here at Roeding want to make sure you get the best coverage for your business and will be happy to help you find the coverage you need. Here are the Six Most Common Insurable Incidents Small Business Owner's Faced in 2016 and how the Right Insurance can Help: Client complaint or contract dispute: 22.2 percent: Professional liability insurance can cover claims related to client dissatisfaction, including alleged work mistakes, undelivered work or negligence. Employee injury: 10.6 percent: Workers' Compensation can pay for medical bills and partial missed wages when employees are hurt at work. Burglary or theft: 8.8 percent: Commercial property insurance can help pay to replace stolen business property. Fire, storm damage or cracked pipes: 6.6 percent: Property Insurance can also pay to repair property damaged by fire or certain weather events. Customer injury: 2.4 percent: General liability insurance can help cover costs when customers are injured on business property. Product that caused injury or damage: 2.3 percent: The product liability portion of general liability Insurance can pay for legal expenses associated with damage from goods you sell. Looking for the right insurance for your small business? Contact us here at Roeding and we'll be happy to help!
    Emily Borst
  • Fishing Safety March 21, 2017 8:15 pm
    Create great fishing memories for your children No matter what season is winding down, the next season is just another reason to spend on the water in the boat with rod in hand. One of the best ways to enjoy boating and fishing is to share the fun with others - especially your kids or grandkids. While expert anglers tend to know the ropes of both boating and fishing, there are still many mishaps that can occur if the excursion is not well-planned and strategically executed. This is especially crucial when you have little ones along for the ride. The next time you’re gearing up with your offspring to go after the ‘big one,’ make sure that it’s as enjoyable as you anticipate by considering the following guidelines. Only if weather permits. Check the weather forecast in detail, using your favorite app, before you head out onto the water. In many climates, weather can change quickly and drastically, ushering in unexpected storms that could scare your children and put you all in harm’s way Dress yourself - and your little ones - for the adventure. Though it may seem obvious, it can get slippery out on the boat or the dock! Ensure stable footing for all by making sure you and your kids are wearing shoes that grip boat floors and slick rocks and docks. Make safety a game. It’s important to be equipped with everything you need for safety and protection - from flashlights and sunscreen to plenty of water and life preservers - but you can also make it fun for the kids. For example, make them the keepers of the radio or the person who makes sure everyone is wearing a hat or sunglasses for protection from the sun. Be hyper-vigilant about dangerous items. The sport of fishing is accompanied by some sharp items - hooks and knives to name just two. Make sure you have these items in a locked tackle box to ensure no one accidentally gets hurt. Follow boating rules. Make sure your boat is in good standing by adhering to all the laws of the lough. To find these, research the body of water you’re going to be fishing on before you head out. At Roeding, we hope your fall family fishing outings become lifetime memories! Contact Us! At Roeding Insurance, we can work with you to make sure you've got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable.We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what's important to you is protected! Content provided by Safeco Insurance
    Emily Borst
  • Spring Home Maintenance March 21, 2017 8:05 pm
    Spring Maintenance for Your Home When springtime rolls around, almost everyone thinks of cleaning. That’s fine (we probably all need to do a little more of that, after all), but there’s something even more important to keep in mind: home maintenance. So, when it’s time to set your clocks ahead for daylight-saving time and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, give your home a checkup, too. Here are some suggestions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development: Interior and appliances Check the basement and/or crawlspace for any signs of standing water or dripping. Pull your dryer out and clean the exhaust hose and vent (lint found here is a common cause of house fires). Vacuum refrigerator/freezer coils for efficiency. Clean exhaust fan outlets and screens. Check all air filters and replace, if necessary. Roof, siding, windows Check for damage to your roof and have a professional inspection, if necessary. Go into the attic. If there is visible moisture or discoloration, your roof might be leaking. Examine the paint on your siding and trim. If it is peeling, you might need new paint to protect against the effects of weather. Check for leaks around window and door sills. Improving your seals can lower your energy bills. Yard and exterior Check for signs of rodents and other pests. Clean debris from gutters and downspouts, and make sure they are draining away from the home. Trim overhanging tree branches and shrubs. Remember, winter weather can cause significant damage that is easy to spot, but it often results in wear and tear that homeowners can miss if they aren’t looking closely. It’s well worth it to spend a little time on home maintenance this spring, so that wear and tear doesn’t turn into something more serious. Content Provided by Safeco
    Emily Borst
  • Your First Spring Garden March 21, 2017 7:57 pm
    How to Create Your First Garden This Spring From genetically modified crops to the environmental and health effects of pesticides, more and more residents are questioning whether they should grow what they eat. Wherever you stand on the issues surrounding today’s food supply, however, there are several good reasons to start your own garden: You’ll know exactly where your food was grown, and what went into growing it.  You and your family can enjoy great-tasting vegetables — better than store-bought, some believe. Many people find gardening provides both physical and mental benefits and gives them an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Finally, there’s that sense of satisfaction that comes with eating food that you have grown yourself! Clearly there are plenty of benefits to gardening. But, how do you get started? Here are some important tips from the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service, which, like similar services around the country, provides helpful community resources on agriculture and other topics. Pick the Right Site “Choosing a garden site is as important as selecting the vegetables to grow in it,” according to the OSU Extension website. “All vegetables need sunlight and fertile, well-drained soil, and they will contract fewer diseases if the site has good ventilation.” Here’s what to consider before marking your garden plot: Sunlight. Look for a shade-free site. Vegetables need a minimum of six hours of sunshine a day. Soil. How is the natural vegetation? If weeds and grass are healthy on the site, the soil will probably be good for vegetables, too. Surroundings. The roots of trees and large shrubs can suck nutrients away from your vegetables. Proximity. Make it easy on yourself, with water access nearby. Otherwise, you might be less enthusiastic about caring for your garden. Choose What to Plant Check with a local gardening organization or search the Web for what vegetables are best for your specific situation and climate. Here are three factors to keep in mind when you’re getting ready to plant, according to the OSU extension: Season. Plant your seeds at the right time to avoid damage from temperatures that are too hot or too cold. Follow the instructions on the seed packet. Depth. If you plant your seeds too shallow, they can wash away or dry out, but if they’re too deep, they might not come up at all.  Spacing. Each plant needs its share of sunlight, nutrients and water. Don’t make them fight for it! Putting seeds too close together usually results in smaller vegetables, too. Water Wisely The best way to water is by monitoring your garden, rather than simply adhering to a set schedule. Follow guidelines for your specific plants, and avoid these common problems, as noted by the OSU Extension website: Frequent, shallow watering. This can promote root development in surface layers of the soil, making plants very susceptible to stress and damage. Overwatering. Yes, you can “drown” plants; too much water can leave little to no oxygen in the soil.  Postponing watering. Check your plants regularly. If they appear to need water, don’t wait. For more specific advice on gardening, check with the local university extension program. And, don’t worry; you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy homegrown food. You just need to be willing to put in a little time and effort — and get your hands dirty! Content Provided by Safeco
    Emily Borst
  • Boat Pre-Season Checklist March 21, 2017 7:45 pm
    Get started early to get your boat ready for summer If you love the water, few things are better than boating season.  Summer just wouldn’t be summer without spending those long, hot days on the lake, cooling off with a lazy dip in the water, dropping a line in hopes of catching a “big one,” or having an action-packed day of water-skiing and tubing. Boating is not without its share of pre-summer preparation.  If you’re not on the ball early, it’s easy to find yourself midway through July still on dry land. At Roeding, we want to ensure you’re first in line at the boat launch at the first sign of the season change, so here are a few tips for being ahead of the game. Tune it up. It’s always a good idea to have your boat winterized at the end of each season, but whether you did or didn’t get it done last year, make sure to get a full tune-up before you hit the lake this summer.   Charge it. Make sure your battery is fully charged. Clear it out. If there’s a chance any bit of gas from last season is still in your tank, fill it up with fresh gas as well as a stabilizer; this will prevent buildup in the gas lines and injection system. Give it a test. Before you get the boat all the way into the water and off the trailer, lower your motor into the water and make sure it will turn over. Plug it up. Ensure your drain plug is in and the bilge pump is functioning properly. Double- and triple-check. The last thing you want is to be turned away at the ramp for not having an updated registration or missing your ski flag or life vests.  Double check that your documents are updated and that your boat is fully stocked with everything you need. We at Roeding Insurance wish you a fun-filled and safe boating season! Content Provided by Safeco
    Emily Borst
  • Leak Tips March 21, 2017 7:40 pm
    When Water Goes Where It Shouldn’t Even a small leak can become a major problem, so knowing what you’re covered for and how to prevent water damage are equally important.  The below tips should help uncover any potential water problems down the road and keep your property dry.  Check appliance hoses.  Standard hoses are not as durable as they used to be.  Replace rubber hoses with steel-braided hoses. This is a low cost fix that can save thousands in water damage. Broken tiles in the shower can allow water to leak into the walls or on the floor. Replace cracked tiles and re-grout when needed. Run dishwasher and washing machine only when you are home.  If a leak occurs, you can turn the appliance off right away.  When on vacation, turn off the main water supply to your house. Keep storm drains near your house clear of leaves. Install a gutter guard.  This can prevent a rooftop disaster caused by drain clogs, and also prevents flooding by water that isn’t carried away from the house. Install a water pressure gauge.  An inexpensive gauge can prevent damage caused by water pressure that’s too high.  Pressure should be between 60 and 80 PSI.   Content provided by Safeco
    Emily Borst
  • Understanding Rising Auto Rates March 14, 2017 5:42 pm
    2015 and 2016 were difficult years for many auto insurance companies.  A huge rise in accidents and payouts, along with more drivers hitting the road than ever before, equates to unprecedented increase in automobile claims. The number of claims paid in 2015 was so high that 14 of the 20 largest insurers saw their loss ratio (amount they paid toward claims out of each dollar of premiums) increase from 2014. Rank Largest Auto Insurance Companies Combined Loss Ratio  1 State Farm 112% 2 GEICO 98% 3 Allstate  101% 4 Progressive  94% 5 USAA 103% 6 Farmers  109% 7 Liberty Mutual  104% 8 Nationwide  110% 9 American Family Insurance  106% 10 Travelers  97% https://www.valuepenguin.com/2016/05/auto-insurance-rate-hikes-likely-2016-2017 Average cost of Car Insurance: Kentucky $125 $1,503 Ohio $77 $926 https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-cost-of-insurance So, what factors go into auto rates? The driving records of all drivers - Drivers with several driving violations may cost your company much higher premiums, or may prevent you from getting the insurance you need. The value of your car, truck, van, taxi or limo - The more expensive your auto, the more it costs to fix, the more you pay in insurance. The structure of your policy - If you buy a homeowners policy or commercial policies separately, you will typically pay more than if you insure your commercial vehicles together under one insurance company. Driving location and distance - How far you, your family members and/or your employees drive impacts your personal and commercial auto insurance costs. The more miles you drive the higher your risk of being involved in an accident. How to reduce cost: Remove Collision and Other Than Collision – For older vehicles, 10 years or more, it often makes sense to remove collision and other than collision coverage.   You are more likely not to fix or even pay out of pocket to fix older vehicles Consider Higher Deductibles – Higher deductibles can save you between 15%-25% in some cases.  Then set aside a portion of these funds to cover your cost in the event of a claim. Evaluate insurance costs before you buy – Year, Make, Mode have an impact on rates.  If you’ve narrowed down your search to one or two cars, ask your insurance agent to run a few rates on both vehicles, rates could impact your decision. Hire the right employee - Hiring qualified, skilled, claims-free drivers will help you lower your rates and reduce your risks Bundle - You can typically reduce the cost of your premiums by bundling them together for a multi-policy discount. Insurance companies also often provide bulk discounts depending on the size of your fleet. Auto insurance rates will continue to increase over the next 2-3 years.  A good understanding of what insurance companies look for are how to reduce your costs and can help you make good economic decisions in the future.  If you have any questions about your auto premiums, please consult with one of our insurance professionals.
    Emily Borst
  • Updates to OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule: Reporting Fatalities and Severe Injuries March 14, 2017 5:25 pm
    OSHA’s updated record keeping rule expands the list of severe injuries that all employers must report to OSHA. Establishments located in states under Federal OSHA jurisdiction must begin to comply with the new requirements on January 1, 2015. Establishments located in states that operate their own safety and health programs should check with their state plan for the implementation date of the new requirements. What am I required to report under the new rule? All work-related fatalities All work-related inpatient hospitalizations of one or more employees All work-related amputations All work-related losses of an eye Who is covered under the new rule? All employers under OSHA jurisdiction must report all work-related fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye to OSHA, even employers who are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records due to company size or industry. An amputation is defined as the traumatic loss of a limb or other external body part. Amputations include a part, such as a limb or appendage that has been severed, cut off, amputated (either completely or partially); fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; and amputations of body parts that have since been reattached. How soon must I report a fatality or severe injury or illness? Employers must report work-related fatalities within 8 hours of finding out about them. Employers only have to report fatalities that occurred within 30 days of a work-related incident. For any inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss employers must report the incident within 24 hours of learning about it. Employers only have to report an inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye that occurs within 24 hours of a work-related incident. How do I report an event to OSHA? Employers have three options for reporting the event: By telephone to the nearest OSHA Area Office during normal business hours. If it occurs in Indiana call (317) 232-2693 If it occurred in Kentucky call (502) 564-3070 If it occurred in Ohio call (513) 841-4132 By telephone to the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1‑800-321-OSHA (6742). OSHA is developing a new means of reporting events electronically which will be available soon at http://www.osha.gov. What information do I need to report? For any fatality that occurs within 30 days of a work-related incident, employers must report the event within 8 hours of finding out about it. For any inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss that occurs within 24 hours of a work-related incident, employers must report the event within 24 hours of learning about it. Employers reporting a fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye to OSHA must report the following information: Establishment name Location of the work-related incident Time of the work-related incident Type of reportable event (i.e., fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye) Number of employees who suffered the event Names of the employees who suffered the event Contact person and his or her phone number Brief description of the work-related incident Employers do not have to report an event if it: Resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway. Employers must report the event if it happened in a construction work zone. Occurred on a commercial or public transportation system (airplane, subway, bus, ferry, streetcar, light rail, train). Occurred more than 30 days after the work-related incident in the case of a fatality or more than 24 hours after the work-related incident in the case of an inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye. Employers do not have to report an inpatient hospitalization if it was for diagnostic testing or observation only. An inpatient hospitalization is defined as a formal admission to the inpatient service of a hospital or clinic for care or treatment. Employers do have to report an inpatient hospitalization due to a heart attack if the heart attack resulted from a work-related incident.
    Emily Borst
  • Claims Manager Gloria Davis's Coverage Corner: Worker's Compensation March 14, 2017 5:17 pm
    Once again the Coverage Corner will focus on Workers Compensation. We have covered many specifics of the Workers Compensation including why it was formed, benefits due the injured worker and return to work. This article will be dedicated to the experience modifier and the effect it has on employers. If your company has been in business for 5 years or pays more than $1,000 in workers compensation you are probably already aware of the experience modifier. It can be a blessing or a curse.  An experience modifier is typically developed by the National Counsel on Compensation, which is an organization that is owned by insurance company. The purpose of this company is to develop rates for all classifications of payroll. Each company’s labor group is classified by type of work they do to address the specific amount of risk they are in of being injured. For example, a clerical person (8810) is less likely to be injured than a millwright (3724) therefore the rate per 100 dollars of payroll will be significantly higher for the 3724 rate verses the 8810 rate. Another factor that is taken into consideration is the state of which the worker is located. It is possible that a rate in Kentucky would be higher than that of Indiana. Many things go into to determining the rates such geographies, cost of medical treatment, accessibility of treatment, labor rates of the area to name a few. These rates are used by insurance company as a base rate to develop what is called the “Standard Premium”. From there credits and debits are added depending upon the insurance companies desire to write the risk which is typically determined by that insurance companies historical profit margins. This would work if all companies followed a standard safety practice and all employers brought injured employees back to work but we all know that this is not true.  To address the difference in employers and how they handle these things, the NCCI develops an experience modifier for each employer that meets the above state criteria.  The modifier compares the individual company’s experience to that of others in the same industry.  This is done via payroll that is multiplied by a “loss rate” to develop an expected loss (based on industry historical losses) and then compared to the losses the company has actually had.  The formula has ballast factors to prevent the skewing of numbers from single large losses and uses multiple years of data to avoid just looking at a single bad or good year.  To further try to stabilize the formula, it includes a primary loss (first 16,500 in KY – varies by state) and excess losses (losses that exceed 16,500) which eliminates being penalized more for large losses than small losses.  There are certainly other items that go into the formula but rest assured that the NCCI is in the business of trying to level the field for all employers when needed.  The NCCI utilizes 3 years of history to develop the experience modifier excluding the current year as it is not matured as far as losses or payroll.  Insurance companies secure estimated payrolls from companies to issue policies but the experience modifier considers audited payroll which requires some time difference.  So for a 7-1-2017 effective experience modifier, the 2016-17 policy year losses would be excluded and 7/1/2015/16, 7/1/2014/15, and 7/1/2013/14 would be included.  Each renewal year would exclude the oldest year and add the new policy term in. If you are a company that does not fit in the criteria above ($1,000 premium or 5 years in business) your modifier is assumed to be 1.00 which results in no premium credit or debit.  The desired goal for an employer should be to achieve the lowest modifier which in turn would reduce the amount of workers compensation premium paid and increase profit margins.  A simple example of this is if an employers expected loss is 10,000 and a company has only 5,000 in actual losses it would appear that they operate 50% safer than their competitors.  They could pay 50% less than one of their competitors thus allowing that company an advantage in the bidding process.  This is a real opportunity for employers to shine amongst their competitors!
    Emily Borst
  • March Madness March 2, 2017 7:02 pm
    March is the time of spring weather, Saint Patrick’s Day, and March Madness. This beloved sports tradition is something many households in America hold dear to their hearts. Rivalries from light-hearted to high stakes are at the forefront of many people’s minds during this tournament time. You may be wondering where this beloved tradition came from. According to history.com, March madness began in 1939 with the first ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It was originally called “The Final Hour” but has grown exponentially in size and popularity since then. For the first 12 years of the tournament, only eight teams were invited to play. That number grew until a 65-team tournament was unveiled in 2001. After a “play-in” game between the 64th and 65th seeds, the tournament breaks into four regions of 16 teams. The actual term “March Madness” came from an essay written to commemorate the 1939 game. Henry V. Porter’s term struck such a chord with the newspapers, that the term has thus forth been used to describe the annual tournament (isha.org). Today, both men’s and women’s teams participated in the “March Madness” and these tournaments have become a staple of the college basketball season. With the excitement of the game and the thrill of betting with your friends and family, it’s no wonder this tournament has gathered such fervent followers. We here hope you enjoy the March Madness season and that your bracket is the best! What are your favorite March Madness memories?
    Emily Borst
  • Saint Paddy's Day Safety Tips March 2, 2017 6:42 pm
    With St. Patrick's Day approaching, many of us are planning to celebrate with a party or night on the town. These parties can be fun traditions and a wonderful way to celebrate with your family and friends. We want your Saint Patrick's Day to be filled with happy memories, so we have compiled a list of safety tips to keep in mind as you celebrate this festive day.  Drinking: If you plan to have a little more than one glass of champagne, make sure you are safe and know your limits while drinking. Nothing is worse than waking up on the next day with an upset stomach and a horrible headache. Watching yourself is especially applicable if you are at a professional party or at one where you might not know too many people. If you worry you might go pass your limit, be sure to bring a trusted friend along to look out for you. Don’t leave your drink unattended either, especially if you are at a public part. Driving: However you celebrate this Saint Patrick's Day, don’t drink and drive! Should you be intoxicated, have a designated friend take you home or call for a taxi or an Uber. Do not accept rides from strangers at the party. If you are at a friend’s home, ask to stay the night should you feel unable to drive. If you doubt your ability at all, do not drive! Public Events: Be especially safe and conscientious should you attend a public Saint Patrick's Day party! Bring friends along with you and make sure you all stay accountable for each other through the night. Don’t bring valuable possessions to a party that might have a large attendance. Try not to be out alone, especially at night too. We here at Roeding wish you a safe and blessed Saint Patrick's Day! Remember to be smart and to help others who may need it while you’re out!
    Emily Borst
  • Are You Protected in a Flood? February 28, 2017 8:18 pm
    With rainy days happening more frequently, you might be worried about what to do in the event of a flood. Here at Roeding, we want you informed and safe should flood waters rise. We want you to be educated about all of the risks you may face – before a loss occurs – so you can determine what insurance coverage is appropriate. Spring is a prime season for flooding, so now is a good time to review your options. Because very few companies offer flood insurance, the U.S. government created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968. Available to homeowners, renters and business owners, this insurance often is required to obtain a mortgage in areas at high risk of flooding. But you might want to look into a policy just for peace of mind. According to the NFIP, nearly 25% of the program’s claims occur in moderate- to low-risk areas. Check out the questions and answers below to help determine if flood insurance is right for you. Is flood insurance available in my area? To participate in the NFIP, a community must adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance with rules regarding construction in certain flood-prone areas. In exchange, the government makes flood insurance available within that community. We’re happy to help you find out if you’re eligible for flood insurance. Just give us a call at Roeding. You can also visit http://www.fema.gov/fema/csb.shtm.   What does it cover? The NFIP provides coverage for both the structure and its contents. Coverage for contents is optional in some cases, so you may want to give us a call to discuss other coverage for your personal property. Keep in mind that you typically can’t purchase flood insurance and have it take effect the next day. There is usually a 30-day waiting period. (Exceptions to this rule apply, however, particularly when the insurance is required by a lender and is purchased during the process of securing a mortgage.) If you think you need flood insurance, don’t wait to buy a policy! What doesn’t it cover? Generally, government-issued flood insurance will not cover the following: Buildings entirely over water or principally below ground, gas and liquid storage tanks, animals, aircraft, wharves, piers, bulkheads, growing crops, shrubbery, land, roads, machinery or equipment in the open and most motor vehicles. How much does it cost? As with all insurance policies, the cost of flood insurance varies depending on your situation. If your home or business is in a high-risk area, such as a “special flood hazard area,” your premium naturally will be higher than those in low- or moderate-risk zones. Premiums are based on how old the building is, how many floors it has, the location of its contents, your deductible and more. Renters insurance is typically less expensive, as renters generally insure their belongings and not the building. Where can I find more information? As always, we are happy to help you determine your insurance needs. Give us a call or check The NFIP website, at http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program, has plenty of answers as well.  Content Provided by Safeco
    Emily Borst
  • Threat of Cyber Attacks Still at the Forefront of Business's Minds February 23, 2017 8:46 pm
    According to a study of 79 counties, the threat of cyber attacks is still ranked among the top ten worries for business around the world. The study comes as governments and businesses seek to strengthen resilience to cyber attacks. Companies on both sides of the Atlantic are also grappling with political uncertainty over changes to commerce policies, from taxes to trade tariffs, being planned in the U.S. and the U.K., Tim Ross write in his article for Bloomberg. One way to combat these cyber attack fears is with cyber liability insurance. It’s a common thought that cyber liability insurance is only for big companies, but, in fact, even small-to medium-sized businesses are susceptible to cyber-siege. You may want to consider making cyber protection arrangements for your business, no matter the size. Hackers can gain access to your customers’ names, contact information, and personal information. Small-to medium-sized businesses are just as at risk as large firms and organizations. Additionally, did you know that even if you do not host data yourself, you can still be held legally responsible if information is hijacked by a cyber attacker? You can protect yourself, however, from cyber-siege, and it’s more affordable than you might think. Premiums can be as low as $2000 a year, and cyber liability insurance can cover more than you might think. Although cyber liability can be more complicated and is a newer form of coverage available now, it is well worth the investment to protect yourself, your business, and the clients you care about.
    Emily Borst
  • Spring Cleaning Tips February 14, 2017 9:13 pm
    Of course, because spring is a time for new beginnings, cleaning and organization around the house are very popular this time of year. If you’re ready to tackle that monumental chore, read on for some helpful information. (And if you’re so tidy and organized throughout the year that spring cleaning isn’t a big chore for you, well, keep that to yourself! Unless you want your friends and neighbors to be jealous, that is.) Take it one room at a time. Deciding to clean or organize your entire home can quickly get overwhelming. If you focus on just one area or room, then move to another only when you’re finished, you’ll likely work more efficiently. Follow the six-month rule. Generally, if you haven’t used something in six months (with the exception of seasonal items), it’s a good idea to consider throwing it away or donating it. Don’t forget the kitchen. Just like other rooms, your kitchen likely has things that haven’t been used in some time — and this includes food in the refrigerator or freezer. Give those appliances a thorough cleaning and get rid of anything you won’t be eating. Set yourself up for success. Paper clutter is something we all could probably cut back on pretty easily. Setting up a few recycling bins throughout the house gives you a convenient alternative to just setting that old magazine or paperwork down somewhere and watching the pile grow. Make some money! Of course, the spring cleaning garage sale is a tradition for many homeowners, and can be a great way to bring in some extra income. Talk about a win-win situation — you get rid of stuff you don’t need, and someone pays you for it! Stay safe. When you’re cleaning or maintaining your home, be mindful of the physical risks involved. Lift with your leg muscles, not your back. Avoid prolonged repetitive motions. Use ladders, lawnmowers and other dangerous tools with caution. Content Provided by Safeco
    Emily Borst
  • Spring Break Travel Smarts February 14, 2017 9:00 pm
    Whether you’re planning a trip to a local attraction this spring, or headed all the way across the country, you want your vacation to be relaxing. It’s a getaway from work, not to mention your day-to-day life. So we’ve got some tips - from packing smart to protecting yourself from pickpockets - to make your trip the best it can be. Before you go Even if you’re only headed across the state, a packing list is a must. How many times have you left home and arrived at your destination, only to find that you forgot your most comfortable walking shoes? Or your swimsuit? Put everything on this list, even if you think you would never forget it. A toothbrush is easy to replace when you get there - your prescription medication isn’t. Be sure that you have printed itineraries for everyone in your party, and make color copies of important ID documents as well. Keep the copies in your bag, separate from your passport and other IDs. It’s also a great idea for each person to have a list of emergency numbers, either for them to call or for someone else providing assistance. Of course, packing light can make travel a lot more enjoyable. Who wants to lug 100 pounds of luggage through the airport? Not us. Here are some ideas to help you lighten the load: Do laundry at your destination. Nobody wants to do laundry on vacation, but if you’re willing to sacrifice a little time, you can pack far fewer items of clothing. If you won’t have access to facilities, you can wash clothes in the hotel sink and hang them up to dry. Easy on the shoes. If you can, pack only one or two pairs of shoes. It’s best to wear the heavier pair during travel if possible, and pack the lighter one. Ditch the books. Consider using an e-reader instead of packing actual books - that way you can carry hundreds of books on your trip! If you don’t own or want an e-reader, you can buy books once you reach your destination. Thrift shops are great places to find inexpensive books. If flying, don’t check your bag. This will not only force you to take smaller pieces of luggage, but with most airlines charging checked-baggage fees, it will save you money! It saves you the hassle of baggage claim, too. When you’re there Once you arrive at your destination, it’s time to relax! But don’t let your guard down completely. After all, tourists often are targets for those looking to separate you from your money. We’re talking mainly about thieves, but don’t forget, you also lose money when you spend more than needed. Here are some ways to protect your wallet from criminals and other money traps: Don’t carry much cash. Most places accept credit cards, and those that don’t often have ATMs on site. If you carry a wallet, keep it in your front pocket. For a purse, hang it across your body. Both will make it more difficult for a thief. You could also consider carrying a money belt, which is a good way to conceal cash and cards. Staying at a hotel? Check to see if they have “resort fees.” More and more hotels are charging these, which often provide things that used to be included in your room rate (such as access to the fitness center). Some will waive it if you complain — and it can be worth complaining because the fee can be $10 – $25 each day. Eating out too much? If your hotel room has a refrigerator, you can easily purchase and store sandwich ingredients for a cheap lunch or dinner. Many people find it more economical to rent a condominium or house for their vacation and cook most of their own meals. The money saved on restaurants can make up for any cost difference between a condo and hotel. Think about travel insurance. Yes, this costs money up front. But if you have a long and expensive vacation planned, travel insurance can end up saving you a lot of money if something goes wrong and you need to come home early or even cancel your entire trip. Depending on the coverage you purchase, you could receive reimbursement for additional airfare, hotel charges and more. Finally, remember that you’re on vacation to relax and escape everyday life. So when you get there, get out there! Meet some locals, do some things off the beaten path. In fact, the locals usually have the best recommendations. And you just might make some new friends, too! Content Provided by Safeco
    Emily Borst
  • Rainy Weather? We've Got You Covered February 7, 2017 9:11 pm
    Storm season is nearly here, and we’ve been having rough weather. While thunderstorms can be relaxing in the comfort of your own home, they can be treacherous when driving or when you spend the whole storm worried for your home’s exterior. Here at Roeding, we want you to be safe and secure during inclement weather so we’ve put together some tips for ways to stay safe out in the rain and ways to check your home when the storm is done. When Driving: Stay visible. Turn on your headlights so you can see — and be seen — more easily. Be patient. Give yourself more time to get where you’re going, and give people more room. Increase your following distance two to three times. Expect slippery conditions. Rain often combines with oil and grease buildup to create slick roadways. Not to mention you can hydroplane — meaning your tires are riding on water instead of pavement — at speeds of as little as 35 mph. If it happens, slow down, gently apply your brakes and keep steering straight ahead. Never drive in flooded areas. In a flood, it won’t take much water to sweep you away, believe it or not — just 12 inches for a smaller car or 24 inches for almost any vehicle, according to the National Weather Service, which advises, “turn around, don’t drown.” Get – or stay – off the road. When conditions are really bad, pull over and take a break. Or, if you can, just stay home. You’ll probably be happier to stay out of the weather, anyway! And you’re certainly likely to be safer. After the Storm: Check Your roof: If you see holes, split seams or missing shingles on your roof or if you notice leaking inside or out, it’s a good idea to have a qualified inspector come assess the situation. Check Your Exterior: Siding, brick and stucco are all vulnerable to storm damage. You’ll want to look for cracking, chipping or dings and dents in siding, and for holes in stucco. Look closely and at different times of the day. Some homeowners don’t notice damage until it’s too late to file a claim, and different lighting can reveal damage you didn’t see before. Check  Driveways and Walkways: Cracking and splitting can create safety hazards, as well as reduce the lifespan of the concrete. Check your  Trees: According to the National Storm Damage Center, fallen trees and limbs cause more than $1 billion in damage annually. Check roofs, vehicles, fences and machinery for fallen limbs that may have caused damage or could pose a risk. Clean up what you safely can and rely on a reputable tree removal service to handle the rest. Depending on the circumstances, your homeowners insurance policy may help with tree removal and damage repair costs – if you experience a covered loss, that is. A few more helpful tips before the weather sets in: Keep trees well maintained and trimmed. Also notify neighbors if you see any overhanging branches on any of theirs. Know your insurance. Take a look at your policy so you know what’s covered, what your limits and deductibles are, etc. This will prevent any surprises during the claims process. Take pictures. Photographs can help you show the cause and extent of any storm damage that occurs. Of course, if you’ve suffered through a major storm, don’t hesitate to call us at Roeding for help with an insurance claim or with finding a professional property inspector. Content Provided by Safeco
    Emily Borst
  • Claim's Manager Gloria Davis's Coverage Corner: Worker's Compensation February 7, 2017 6:16 pm
    We are continuing our focus on Workers Compensation.  Prior articles have included when and why it was formed, specific benefits included under the statute, and now we will discus return to work. When employees are unable to work, there are many side affects that some may fail to recognize.  The employee can suffer from depression from being unable to pull their share in the family setting, lack of social activities, physical limitations, and more.  Let’s look at these a bit more in depth.  How does a husband or a father feel if he is unable to pull his share of the family commitments?  The spouse has additional burden to carry which can cause strife in one’s marriage, disrespect from children and other family members.  The individual is probably sitting at home alone as his friends are all at work.  This can truly cause a person to withdrawal and become even more depressed.  Bringing a person back to work in a modified position can prevent this.  It is truly the best way for both employer and employee as it will significantly reduce the overall cost of the claim.  From an employer’s prospective, there is some truth to the fact that the employer will probably not get 100% from the employee.  Co-workers can become disgruntled as they feel that the employee is not pulling his weight.  Supervisors can feel challenged as production can be affected.  Not bringing the employee back to work can be very costly.  First, the experience may cause potential insurers not to want to provide coverage to the employer.  In addition, the cost of that claim will be included in the experience modifier for 3 years thus increasing the premium that the employer pays.  So what’s the employer to do?  We recommend that you consider all of these factors prior to making a decision.  Remember that you can not make the decision on a per employee basis for fear of being held for discrimination.  Some employers resort to using Non-Profit organizations to facilitate return to work.  In KY the program returns the employee to a task that meets their restrictions with lifting, standing and the like.  The employer pays the wages (that are tax deductible) of the individual for a period of time that allows the employee to return to pre-injury status.  This avoids the employee becoming depressed, allow the employer to do something go for the community and also reduces the overall cost of the workers compensation claim.  We have seen this method work for multiple employers.  Please keep this in mind and ask if this will work for you.  A Workers Compensation claim can affect the employer’s premium for 3 years?  What can be done to minimize this premium affect?  We will discuss this in the next edition of Coverage Corner.  
    Gloria Davis