Make Halloween Safe for Everyone

pumpkin-995416_1920In the next few days, we will be watching children scramble from house to house in search of the elusive Halloween treat.  However, keeping our kids safe as they are out Halloween night is always a concern.  A little pre-planning can prevent unfortunate accidents that could turn out to be tragic.  Remember, your homeowner’s insurance will cover you in most cases should someone trip and fall on your premises.

Here are some pointers for ensuring your house is a safe place for trick-or-treaters on Oct. 31.

Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For your guests, offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause someone to fall.

Keep candle-lit jack o’lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.

Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely.

Safety tips for kids

Never, ever, go into a house.

Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling

An adult or an older responsible child should always accompany young children. Even older children should go trick-or-treating with an adult, or with friends.  Never go out alone.

Only go to homes with a porch light on.

Plan costumes that are bright and reflective.

Do not eat homemade food.

Examine all candy.  If it has been opened, toss it out.

Use a flashlight.

Apple Insurance Specialists is an Austin-based independent insurance agency offering a wide range of cost effective solutions to individuals, families and businesses.

Sources: http://www.nsc.org/, https://www.aap.org, https://www.cdc.gov

Even Small Businesses Have Big Risks

bigstock-Risk-Management-9064033Many think that operating a small business has little or no risk. The fact is, operating a small business has just about the same risks as any other business.  Employees can still sue you, you can cause injuries to your customers, and your building can burn just like a big business.  General liability risk is very real for small businesses and it is important to have a business insurance program that addresses these issues.

To protect a small business from potential lawsuits, liability insurance is necessary. Policies vary greatly, and they cover different classifications of risks for varying costs.

Commercial General Liability Insurance covers claims from accidents, injuries, or negligence when the business is at fault.  Small businesses may face a wide array of damage charges. Personal injuries, property damage, libel, and slander are just a few examples.

Product Liability Insurance covers legal fees for litigation involving a faulty product.  It also covers any personal or property damage charges caused by the defective product.

Employment Liability Insurance provides protection for an employer against claims made by employees, former employees, or potential employees.  It can cover discrimination (age, sex, race, disability, etc.), wrongful termination of employment, sexual harassment, and other employment-related allegations.

Professional Liability Insurance pays for damages caused by services.  It is also called errors and omissions coverage. This is for companies that market a service instead of a product. For example, professionals in medical clinics must have medical malpractice coverage.

Cyber Liability Insurance covers the risk posed by conducting business over the Internet, over other networks, or using electronic storage technology.  It covers third party losses from hackers, theft, and loss of information including sensitive client or individual personal information.

There are other types of insurance designed for specialty businesses. For example, there are special policies for companies involved only in internet sales.  The nature of the business determines what type of coverage is necessary.

Watch Out For The Kids…. Back To School Safety Tips

bus-1319360_1920Personal Insurance and Safety Update

Summer vacation is over and a new school year has started. We will soon start to see the signs of back to school time, including more school busses on the road, and back to school displays in the stores.  Now is the time to start thinking about keeping your child safe.  This is particularly true for kids going to school for the first time, or going to a new school.

Make sure your children know their home phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult, and how to dial 9-1-1.

Remind your child not to walk, run, or ride his bicycle down railroad tracks. It’s illegal and dangerous.

Teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.

If your children walk to school, complete the walk a few times with them.

Make sure that your teen driver understands and obeys all traffic laws.

Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

Bike riders should always wear a helmet.

Children should always board and exit the bus at designated locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.

Are You Driving In A School Zone?

In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.

Obey school zone speed limits.

Watch for kids crossing the streets.

Never text and drive.

Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians

Follow all laws pertaining to school buses.

Sources; American Red Cross, D.A.R.E. and National Safety Council

Summer Can Be Risky Business For Your Family

freedfcv5Personal Insurance Update

With the summer months approaching, now would be a great time to review your homeowner’s and personal insurance program.  There is a large spike in auto accidents during June through August.  We offer a free review to assess your insurance needs, and we can recommend needed personal insurance coverage like a personal umbrella, cyber liability, and flood insurance.  Summer Risks Are Very Real.

Here are a few of the risks your family may face this summer:

Watercraft — Remember, your personal watercraft insurance does not cover racing.  In addition, if your boat is over a certain length, you will need a separate boat policy.  Remember to have personal floatation devices for all people in the boat, and do not drink and drive your boat.  Venture beyond the geographic limits in the policy and the insurance may be nullified.

Travel — If you are planning a family vacation, make sure you keep your home safe while gone.  Use timers on lights, cancel the mail and garbage, and do not post vacation pictures on social media while you are gone.

Swimming — Never leave a child unattended around water.  If your child does not know how to swim, make sure they have a floatation device on at all times.

Bug Bites — If you are heading outdoors, be prepared for annoying critters.  Use EPA-registered insect repellents* that contain at least 20% DEET (products include Cutter Backwoods and Off!  Deep Woods) for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs.  Other repellents protect against mosquitoes, but may not be effective against ticks or other bugs.

Barbecuing — Never leave a barbeque unattended.  Do not barbecue inside or in a garage.  If you receive a minor burn, hold the skin under cool running water for up to 15 minutes to reduce swelling or until the pain subsides.

Sunburns — Always use sunscreen, and if your skin is burned, mix one-part whole milk with one-part cool water and gently apply it into the affected areas with a washcloth.

Heat Stress — You may be having fun or working in the sun, but if it is hot, keep hydrated by drink plenty of water.  Wear lightweight clothing and take breaks every hour or so.

Fire pits — Fire pits are becoming increasingly popular for outdoor entertaining.  While some burn wood, others use propane or natural gas.  Keep kids at a safe distance and teach them that fire pits stay hot long after the flames go out.

Remember to always seek medical treatment if the injury warrants it.

Insurance for Game of Thrones Fans

excalibur-618651_1280Season six of the Game of Thornes is well underway. Recently we saw the re-birth of Jon Snow and we are sure there are many more surprises to come.  We were inspired by an article on propertycasualty360 (five types of insurance that could come in handy in Westeros), but we wanted to create our own list.  One coverage not needed in Westeros is retirement insurance, as no one seems to live that long!

Here is some of the insurance coverage that would be helpful in Westeros:

Damage to personal property – In every episode, we noticed a lot of damage to personal property; tables, doors, yard equipment, and even swords are damaged or lost.

Life insurance – O.k. this is somewhat basic, but everyone needs life insurance.  You may live a long life (although not in Westeros) and life insurance should be part of your long-term financial plan.

Boat Insurance – Tyrion Lannister watched the entire fleet go up in flames.  Having the right coverage for your boat is important.

Dishonesty insurance – It seems many of the characters are prone to lying.  Dishonesty insurance might cover some of these mishaps.

Professional liability Many of the Game of Thrones leaders make bad decisions that affect their entire kingdoms.  If current day CEO’s made these kinds of decisions, there would certainly be litigation.  Even the kingdom’s religious leaders are prone to poor decisions that might be covered under a professional liability policy.

Are You A High Risk Driver?

MF 3045443A “high-risk” driver is generally defined by the insurance companies as someone who has a higher risk of having an auto accident. Auto insurance companies often see high-risk drivers as undesirable, as they may end up costing a great deal in claims.

Why you may be defined as a high risk driver?

You have multiple accidents or tickets during a specific period of time.

You have a DUI.

You have a serious violation.

Any accident that results in a fatality.

Driving without a license.

Driving without insurance.

You drive an exotic car.

For whatever reason, your auto insurance has lapsed.

How to get auto insurance if you are considered high risk

You may need non-standard insurance.

SR-22 insurance for specific situations.

Allow your agent to shop auto insurance for you.

Determine what auto insurance discounts you may be eligible for.

Improve your driving skills.

Consider a lower risk car.

Workers’ Compensation Best Practices

business-894846__180As a business owner, you go to great lengths to provide a safe working environment for your employees. But when dealing with humans, accidents can happen and Workers’ Compensation Insurance can help. Workers Compensation Insurance should be an important part of your risk management program.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation insurance is insurance that provides lost income, medical benefits, disability benefits, and rehabilitative services for workers injured on the job or while performing work-related duties.

Why Your Business Needs Workers’ Compensation Insurance

When one of your employees gets hurt on the job or has a work-related illness, only workers’ compensation will cover them. Health insurance benefits will not provide coverage for on the job injuries.

What Is The Best Way To Keep Costs Down?

Provide training for hazardous work, especially for new or inexperienced workers.

Enforce safety rules and practices.

Enforce drug and alcohol rules.

Require safety equipment to be worn at all times.

Keep work areas clean.

Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry around machinery.

Where required, you must wear protective equipment such as goggles, safety glasses, masks, gloves, hair nets, etc. appropriate to the task.

Safety equipment such as restraints, pull backs, and two-hand devices are designed for your protection. Be sure such equipment is adjusted for you.

Do not ever remove machine safety guards.

Develop a system for reporting unsafe practices.

Have monthly safety meetings that review safety issues and related topics.

Create accident investigation procedures that focus on prevention and change.

 

 

Take Control of Your Home Fire Safety

Simple ways to reduce your chances of having a fire

According to the National Fire Safety Prevention Association (NFPA), over 2,700 people die, and 12,000 people are injured each year as a result of home fires. Home fires cause over $6,000.000 each year in damage. The top causes of these accidental fires can be tied to cooking, heating systems, electrical, and smoking.

Homeowner’s insurance and fires

Most homeowner’s insurance will cover damage or losses due to a fire. One exception is if it is determined that you set the fire intentionally.  We hope you never have a fire, or have to deal with the stress that comes afterwards.

Home fire safety prevention tips

Never leave candles unattended. Always place candles in an enclosed holder and place at least one foot away from anything that can burn.

Keep cooking areas clear of combustibles.

Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly andchange the batteries at least once a year.

Never leave food cooking unattended on the stove.

Keep portable and space heaters at least three feet from anything that may burn.

If you have halogen lights, make sure they are away from flammable drapes and low ceiling areas.

Learn how to use your fire extinguisher.

Get a home insurance check up to make sure you have the best possible combination of coverage, price, and service.

Inspect the attic and crawl spaces for wiring which may have been damaged by pests or insects.

Never use extension cords for air conditioners. An overheated cord is like an out-of-control electric heater.

 

Five Critical Lessons Concerning Commercial Umbrella Insurance

Commercial Umbrella Insurance

Almost every business large or small needs some level of added protection afforded by a commercial umbrella insurance policy. A commercial umbrella policy provides a layer of coverage over and above a primary business and auto policy.  There are at least five important lessons, or facts, to be aware of when considering commercial umbrella insurance.

An umbrella policy can, but may not always, provide the same coverage as the primary policy.   If you have a “following form excess policy” you can be guaranteed that the excess policy will provide the same coverage as the primary policy.

Most umbrella policies require at least $1 million dollars of primary or underlying limit.

Umbrella pricing is usually a predetermined rate based on the underlying premium, but can include the judgment of the underwriter.

If the primary policy has additional insured’s, they will carry over into the umbrella policy.

Umbrella policies may have exclusions not found in the primary policy; for example, pollution, workers’ compensation, and product recall.  If you have a true following form excess policy, your exclusions will be the same as in the primary policy.

Our Commercial Excess Liability, or Umbrella, insurance policy gives your business an added layer of liability protection over and above your commercial policies. For example, if you have $1 million in general liability coverage and a covered claim is settled for $1.5 million, your business’s umbrella liability insurance policy would pick up the additional $500,000 amount.

How To Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs

workers-659885_1920Workers’ Compensation Defined

Workers’ Compensation is coverage purchased by the employer that provides insurance if employees are injured while on the job. Most states require that employers purchase the insurance on behalf of their employees.

Workers’ compensation costs can make up a large portion of business operating costs. It is beneficial for employers to find methods of reducing both the direct and indirect costs associated with workers’ compensation.

Workers’ Compensation Cost Reduction Methods

Using an independent agent who can help you market your workers’ compensation program is a good way to keep premiums competitive.

Selecting the right carrier. Not all insurance companies are created equal. Does the carrier have experienced loss control and claims professionals? Low rates can mean the insurer does not have quality support; and if the claim goes bad due to lack of supervision, you will end up paying more in the long run.

Does your company have an up to date safety and return to work program? This is critical in the management of the injury and post-accident process. Getting injured workers back to work as soon as medically possible is very important and can reduce indemnity costs.

Provide ongoing staff training. Keeping all employees informed and part of the process will make them feel invested in the long term benefits of your safety program.

The small amount of money you spend on these items will have a positive impact on your overall costs.