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Commercial Insurance Insurance Insurance Agent News

Website ADA Compliance

  • We recently learned insurance agents are receiving demand letters regarding their websites not being ADA compliant for the blind. The solution is often just a call to your website provider to add an accessibility menu to your landing page (see bottom left hand corner of the www.wiaagroup.org site for example).  If you have a website, please contact your website provider to verify that your website is in ADA compliance. If you are in the market for a new website, please consider our technology partner, ITC, for exclusive pricing for WIAA members (click here for flyer). 
     
  • Please note carriers have either ended or are ending billing leniency for those affected by COVID-19 which means all billing activities including regular bill cycles, late fees, insufficient fund fees, non-pay cancellations and collection activity will resume. Please contact the carrier billing department directly if your insured is still experiencing economic hardship for available options. See below for list of billing hold end dates by carrier and click on carrier names for more detail where available:
  1. Liberty Mutual: July 15, 2020 for CA, June 22, 2020 for OR and June 15, 2020 for most other states
  2. Hartford: June 1, 2020
  3. Safeco: July 15, 2020 for CA, June 22, 2020 for OR and June 15, 2020 for most other states
  4. Travelers: June 15, 2020 (note that Travelers personal auto customers will also see a 15% credit for their June premiums)
  5. Nationwide: June 15, 2020
  6. AmTrust: June 1, 2020
  7. Berkshire Hathaway (BHHC): July 14, 2020 for CA and June 30, 2020 for all other states
  8. Employers: June 15, 2020
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Commercial Auto Insurance News

3 Everyday actions to grow thankfulness

Gratitude is one of those parts of our world that is free to everyone, prized by those recognized to carry it, and yet exceptionally easy to skip over in the daily rush of life.

 

The data has come back pointing to gratitude as a key to reduce burnout, materialism, and increase general happiness.

We, as a culture, are good at critical analysis. This actually functions like a human’s superpower.  This type of critical analysis also prizes efficiency. That is where gratitude often gets squeezed out. There is not much in expressing gratitude that is efficient, but it is good. While it may not be completely efficient, thankfulness can change a life.

Here are three actions that help grow gratitude; in those who use them, and in those who are acted upon.

1.    Handwritten notes:

While there are not many points of efficiency to writing something by hand to be read and discarded, the stickiness of this type of communication is beyond compare. There is a personal touch that comes along with a handwritten note.

If you are like most of us, you are not a huge fan of your handwriting. This doesn’t matter, outside of being readable. Handwritten notes are so rare in our culture that the personal act of reaching out in that format will fundamentally separate you from your competition. It will also make the person’s day who is being thanked.

2.    Daily reminders:

If you write a note on a post-it and stick it to your mirror, or if you keep a thankfulness journal or merely take a weekly walk and designate the time to remember what you have to be thankful for… these consistent reminders can keep the busy-ness of daily life from distracting us from the myriad of reasons we have to say, “thank you.”

There is not a person living in the USA who doesn’t have a leg up on the majority of humans living in our world today. Comparisons confuse us, and a daily or weekly reminder can keep our eyes on the ball.

3.    Small kind actions:

We typically consider this type of action requires money, through “pay it forward” stories, and the like. Genuine small actions of kindness rarely require money. There are a couple pieces that go into turning small kind actions into a habit.

With these two boundaries, you may be surprised at the opportunities daily life will open opportunities to act kindly toward someone. Give it a try; you might like it?!?

  1. Pay attention to others
  2. Take your time
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Insurance Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Games (and cool history)

Thanksgiving Games that will make this wild and crazy holiday a little wackier!

Did you know that the author of the first song recorded by phonograph fought (lobbied) for 36 years before Lincoln declared the November national holiday named “Thanksgiving”?

Move over gravy, it’s time to spice up this Thanksgiving holiday with some fun games and facts sure to make this year the best holiday in memory (or at least different than the last few in memory). In case you’re in a hurry, we’re including a link to this blog in Word and image format, because not every Thanksgiving dinner table has WiFi or cell service. Even though the 1600s witnessed the Pilgrims celebrating Thanksgiving after a drought, their thanksgivings were days of religious fasting (rather than feasting). The 1700s watched George Washington issue the USA’s first Thanksgiving proclamation. John Adams, and James Madison (Washington’s successors) also dedicated thanks days.

How Thanksgiving came to be a national holiday:

  • In 1827, Sarah Josepha Hale started her quest for an official Thanksgiving holiday. It wasn’t until three years later that she would write the nursery rhyme (based on a true story), “Mary had a little Lamb”. Being a woman with no right to vote did not stop this powerhouse of tenacity from making her voice heard. Lacking email, social media, and telephones – it was paper and pen. Letters written to politicians of all types from the governor’s mansion to senator offices, and all the way up the street to the President of the United States.
  • In 1863, Lincoln scheduled the last Thursday of November a national holiday. Yes, you’re right. It’s currently the fourth Thursday, but that is because in 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week. The Great Depression was at the end, and an extra week of Christmas shopping could only help to build the economy. As with most political changes, it was given a nickname – “Franksgiving”. By 1941, the president signed a bill compromising for the fourth Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving. Now you know how we got here – let’s get to the games.

Thanksgiving games to start before eating:

  1. Gratitude Jar” upon arrival, set out a jar or bowl (or container of some type) with a pen and paper next to it. Through the day, anyone can write their note and leave it for later. At the end of the dinner, have each one read. Enjoy being thankful together.
  2. Schedule to Volunteer together. The timing of this one is rather important. If you wait until during or after the feasting, all that nervous energy (which will inspire people to sign up to volunteer together before the dinner) will probably be gone once our tummies are full. If you all agree on a scheduled volunteer together event – promise each other you won’t cancel it when you’re all sleepy after dinner. Look for opportunities to give.

Thanksgiving Games to play at the table:

  1. I’m thankful for this small thing” Certain days are easier than others to recognize the small stuff and tell yourself that you’re thankful for it. As the food’s being passed, take turns completing the statement, “I’m thankful for this small thing….”
  2. Count-up your blessings. The first person to start points out one (1) thing that they are thankful for. The person next to them points out two (2) points of gratitude, and 3 and 4 and so on. The fewer rules on how to come up with the next number – the better. What am I grateful for right now? People and things and events and experiences are good to remember together.
  3. Diamond Award – We are often most grateful for those things which came through a struggle. Look back at past struggles and trials which have turned into diamonds through pressure. Mention challenges which have helped you.

Thanksgiving Games to play just before turkey coma:

  1. Silent appreciation” We all know the time between turkey and sleeping to football. When you’re still awake, find someone on social media or email or text, and tell them that you are thankful for them. It’s not hokey, because it’s Thanksgiving – that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Thanksgiving Games to play while you’re eating cold turkey that night:

  1. Thank your network” There are people we all work with each day and there is often not a reason to thank them, because they’re just doing their job. Even business is based on relationships, and an unsolicited kind word on one day can stop a confrontation in the future. Tell them that you appreciate them.

Whether you play any of our games, or not – we want to thank our clients for allowing us the chance to serve you. Of course, we would not be in business without our clients, but it is knowing we are helping care for you for which we are grateful.

Yes, “Mary had a little Lamb” was the first words recorded by phonograph. Although that “phonograph” was a tinfoil sheet wrapped on a cylinder that Thomas Edison figured out while working on improvements to the telephone and telegraph – when you can’t think of anything to say, it’s usually a nursery rhyme that comes to mind. Since nursery rhyme’s intent are often missed by the first few verses we all remember, here’s the entire “Mary had a little Lamb” verse to kickstart thinking of the people we can say thanks to.

Mary had a little Lamb

(it’s more fun if you sing it)

Mary had a little lamb,
whose fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day
which was against the rules.
It made the children laugh and play,
to see a lamb at school.
And so the teacher turned it out,
but still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about,
till Mary did appear.
“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
the eager children cry.
“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.”
the teacher did reply

Happy Thanksgiving from Insurance Town & Country.

Thank you!

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Insurance News Personal

Stay away from self-imposed exile

Stay out of self-imposed exile (debt)

Whether we have a little money or a lot — it is the commodity of our time. One of the great trials of handling money is it that it is a science which can be learned, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you have had past (or present) troubles with saving money and handling debt, here is a quick and simple guide to get you started.

Money uses Math — the addition and subtraction kind of math.

help with debt-self imposed exileBe encouraged — you have the skills! There is nothing about budgeting that is too complex… it just takes time and will power (and usually a written plan). Budgeting uses the same calculation as dieting, because it’s all about how much you take in and how much you give out. If we want to lose weight we have to burn more calories than we take in. If we want to have more money left over the day before we get our paycheck, then we will need to spend less than we make. Even though it is simple — it’s not always easy. This is where our will power comes in to play, but that’s a whole different blog post :-).

To ease the planning part of this, here is a simple guide to help get us started.

BUDGET EQUATION:
Income minus expense = money you are supposed to manage (and management includes more than spending)how to for growing money tree

  1. Know how much money you give out each month. Whether your goal is a trip next summer, or just that you’re tired of having to make your decisions based on how much money you have available at that moment. It is vital to know how much you’re spending. It is one thing to lower your debt, but knowing how much money you have going out (expenses) every month must be controlled, or debt will continue to sneak up on you. You can’t ever make more than you’re capable of spending.
  2. Know how much money you make each month… exactly. We realize this sounds silly, because — how can anyone go to work every day and not know what they’re making. The reality is that most of us don’t track what is on our paychecks. We are typically so happy to see money in the account that we don’t take the two minutes per paycheck to look at the stub and make sure the amount is accurate. Know how much you put in your bank and what frequency it is delivered.

Even though there are a number of other tools that help with budgets and tracking money, the above info is what goes into a budget. This is as simple as what you make (income) minus what you spend (expenses), and the remainder is what you have to give and save and spend.

**if you are finding that you have less money than you need after doing this “money earned & money spent” equation — that is when you need to bring your expenses inline with your income. Sometimes budgets aren’t fun to do, because we want to pretend that we should live like we are richer than we actually are*** (sorry)debt free prison escape

 

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Auto Insurance Commercial Auto Insurance Insurance News

If you can see 5 cars — 1 of them probably doesn’t have insurance (statistically speaking)

Here’s the scenario; You were in a car accident, and it’s not your fault! (that felt more like a commercial?!?) — the other person wasn’t able to pay their bills the last couple months and doesn’t have any insurance. Often it’s not only the uninsured individual who can cause risk, but also the under-insured individual. If someone has the bare minimum insurance and your accident has more than the bare minimum of costs — this is not the situation any of us want.

Unless you live in Virginia, it’s illegal to drive a car without insurance. Every state has their own laws. From Maine’s 4.5% to Florida’s 26.7%, our country’s uninsured motorists are present (and should be accounted for). Colorado’s uninsured motorists are not in the top or bottom few, but that placed Colorado’s drivers in the mid-percentages of risk.

uninsured under-insured driverIn this article we want to give a shout out to New Mexico for dropping from 29.8% in 2006 to 20.8% in 2015; well done. We’re all better if we can play by the same rules. There are some stand-outs, but the rates for uninsured motorists in most states increased between 2010 and 2015.

Elizabeth A. Sprinkel (senior vice president of the IRC) stated, “While some states saw significant drops in their uninsured motorists rates, overall, the rate is increasing nationwide”, and “This can mean added risk for all motorists.”

Nearly one in eight U.S. motorists is driving around uninsured and putting insured drivers at greater risk in the event of an auto accident”, according to a study. In 2003, uninsured motorists percentage peaked at 14.9%. By 2010, we dipped to 12.3% after seven years of going down. This bounce in 2015 that found 13 percent of all U.S. motorists were uninsured is not what many hoped to see.

The president, personal lines, at The Hanover said, “The results of the survey sound an alarm. Uninsured motorists represent a significant risk to insured drivers.” According to Halsey, the average cost of an uninsured motorist claim is about $20,000 (and that doesn’t include physical damage to the vehicle).

We at Insurance Town & Country would hope all of our community’s drivers discuss uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage with their independent agents. It’s not a bad idea.

A good rule of thumb is to have equal uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage as bodily injury coverage, according to the insurer.

 

 

_______

- The research was directed by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) and co-sponsored by The Hanover Insurance Group.

- The IRC study, Uninsured Motorists, 2017 Edition, examined data collected from 14 insurers representing approximately 60 percent of the private passenger auto insurance market in 2015.

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News

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks and the Fourth: 9 Tips For Safe Celebrations

Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival Firework Show

I love a good professional fireworks show. I’ve watched the 4th of July Fireworks from the FDR highway in NYC. I’ve witnessed the pyrotechnics for what used to be the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival from high up in a building on Woodward Ave.

But I’ll admit—I’m not a huge fan of consumer fireworks. It’s probably because my only experience with them resulted in me having to jump out of the way of a firework that fell right in my direction. That pretty much scared me from using anything more than sparklers.

I’m really lucky that I wasn’t injured that day, because as U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) statistics show hundreds of people are injured every year by fireworks. The CPSC has put together a pretty great infographic on the subject.

Some key statistics:

  • On average, 200 people go to the Emergency Room per day for fireworks-related injuries in the month surrounding the 4th of July (June 17–July 17).
  • Hands and fingers are the most injured body parts, followed by the head, face, ears and eyes.
  • 40% of the injuries happen to adults ages 25–44, 45% happen to people under age 24.
  • 68% of those injured were male.

Surprised? I’m guessing you’re probably not. The numbers fell mostly where I thought they would. These numbers really illustrate how important it is for people of all ages to treat fireworks with respect. Read all of the warnings and use common sense.

On average, 200 people go to the Emergency Room per day for fireworks-related injuries in the month surrounding the 4th of July

That includes:

  • Think twice about using fireworks if you currently live in an area experiencing very dry weather and elevated fire risks.
  • Follow all laws! If fireworks are illegal in your area, don’t use them.
  • Never allow young children to play with fireworks. Young children can very easily suffer burns from sparklers, which burn at 2,000 degrees.
  • Have an adult closely supervise any older children using fireworks.
  • Be careful when lighting the fuse. Don’t place any part of your body over the firework. Light only one firework at a time and back up to a safe distance immediately.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have malfunctioned. Soak them and throw them away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks stop burning, douse it with plenty of water before discarding it.

Your safety is important to us. Enjoy the Holiday safely!

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News

Steps to starting a small business successfully

The 11 Steps to Start your Small Business!

A woman holding an open sign

Starting a small business can seem overwhelming at first, but if you are reading this article, chances are you are brave enough to consider it or already have. Since small business make up 99.7 percent of the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it seems like you aren’t the first and won’t be the last. But, if you have that entrepreneurial hunger, what you probably want to be is the best.

Whether you want to start a business with five employees or 300, the fundamental and basic steps are essentially the same. The SBA lays out the 10 steps to starting a business that might just be the beginning of a beautiful relationship between you and your dream.

  1. Write a business plan
  2. Get business assistance and training
  3. Choose a business location (We found a great list from CNN naming the 10 most entrepreneurial states in the US)
  4. Finance your business
  5. Determine the legal structure of your business
  6. Register a business name “doing business as”
  7. Get a tax identification number
  8. Register for state and local taxes
  9. Obtain business licenses and permits
  10. Understand employer responsibilities

Whether you’re starting a flower shop or an auto body repair shop, having the right insurance for your business and following these simple and fundamental steps is bound to set you up for success.

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Insurance

Boat Launching Tips for Summer

Boat Launching Tips

Pickup truck at the end of water-a boat ramp with boat in water

When you trailer your boat to a lake, there’s only one thing between you and the water—a boat ramp! I know you’re eager to go, but be patient—you need to practice the art of boat launching first.

Some people make boat launching look easy. But it’s a touchy, tricky business, especially for new boaters. If you’ve struggled in the past, don’t give up in frustration. Practice makes progress! And with a little more experience, you’ll soon be the Captain Jack Sparrow of the boat launch.

Here are eight tips for getting your boat back to its natural habitat!

  1. Practice, practice, practice.
    With experience comes confidence. Instead of getting this experience at a crowded boat ramp with an overabundance of impatient, opinionated spectators, consider going to an empty parking lot—you can practice by backing the trailer into a parking space.
  2. Nonverbal communication is key.
    Sometimes the sounds of engines, stereos and other noises drown out verbal directions from your co-captain. Avoid this frustration by agreeing on a few common hand signals for “stop,” “left,” “right,” “start over” and “perfect.”
  3. Slow and steady’s the way to go. 
    Take a deep breath and disregard the pressure to move fast. This will only lead to mistakes. Take it slow—there isn’t a time limit—and control the majority of vehicle movement with your brake pedal.
  4. More brake, less gas.
    Backing down a ramp requires only a little gas. Instead, focus on using your brakes and checking your mirrors. For optimum maneuverability, make adjustments with your brake applied—hold the brake, turn the wheel to where you want it and then release.
  5. Consider 8–4 instead of 10–2.
    Backing up with your hands in the traditional 10–2 position is OK, but many prefer switching to 8–4 instead. With hands at the bottom of the wheel, you push in the direction that the trailer moves, which can feel more natural.
  6. Get used to different trailer sizes.
    Recognize that not all trailers and boats behave the same when being towed. Generally, a longer boat trailer is easier to back up and harder in forward turns; a shorter boat trailer is the opposite.
  7. Try correcting a jackknife before restarting.
    While holding the brakes, turn your steering wheel all the way in the opposite direction of the jackknife. Then pull forward slowly—if effective, your tow vehicle and trailer will realign.
  8. Don’t forget the guide poles. 
    Placing guide poles on your trailer will increase visibility, making it easier to maneuver. Try using them and see if they give you the confidence of a boat-launching pro!

Now that you’ve brushed up on boat launching, jump into another refresher with our blog about boat trailering.