Recent News

Food Safety During the Summer Months

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor picnics, barbeques, and sports.  It is also the perfect time to breed food bugs.  Take a look at some tips from the Food Network to keep both your food and family 

  • Use a thermometer – Don’t just rely on how food looks; make sure it is cooked.
  • Monitor leftovers – Cooked meats and salads should not be left out at room temperature for over two hours.  If weather is hot (90 degrees plus), never leave food out longer than an hour.  Toss any unrefrigerated food if it is passed that time.
  • Don’t reuse marinades.  Be sure to discard used marinade; this will prevent raw meat juices getting on your cooked food.
  • Separate raw and cooked food.  If you are ready to grill meat, use one plate for the raw food and a second clean plate for cooked food.  The same applies to tongs and serving utensils.
  • Wash hands properly – Wet your hands, apply soap, rub your hands together, rinse thoroughly, dry your hands.  
  • Pack a safe picnic – place raw meats and poultry in a separate cooler surrounded by ice. Keep in the air-conditioned part of your car, not your trunk.
  • Defrost meats properly. Leaving raw meat and poultry on the countertop to defrost will only allow dangerous food bugs to grow. Plan ahead and defrost meat 1-2 days in advance in the refrigerator.
  • Wash produce thoroughly. Wash fruit and veggies in cool tap water before eating to eliminate any bacteria. This includes washing produce like melon before you slice or peel it to make sure bacteria isn’t transferred from the knife to your fruit or veggies.
  • Wash reusable grocery storage bags. If use reusable grocery bags, it’s important to wash them regularly. Studies found that harmful bacteria can linger in your totes and hitch a ride with ready-to-eat foods like produce.
  • Decrease your cancer risk. Grilling is popular during the warm weather, but improper cooking techniques can increase your cancer risk. 

Follow these food safety tips and fully enjoy your outside activities.

Preventing Worksite Fatigue

According to a recent survey by the National Safety Council, 32% of reported injuries and near-misses are due to fatigued employees.

If your employees are working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week strongly contribute to incidents and fatigue. Another culprit is assigning workers to the night shift indefinitely and not giving workers adequate number of hours off between shifts. Rotating shifts is a best practice that entails scheduling a worker for the night shift for two weeks and then giving them time off and then scheduling for day shifts for two weeks.  

Employers could also implement the 12-hour rule: making sure employees have 12 hours off between shifts.

Controlling the boredom factor is another best practice. For those employees with monotonous work tasks, consider rotating the tasks that are being performed.  By doing this you cut down on the chances of fatigue.

Look at your worksite practices and see if you can implement changes to cut down on worksite fatigue that leads to injuries and near-miss accidents.

Source:  Business Insurance

Check Your Deck for Summer Safety

Backyard decks are the perfect place to enjoy warm weather with family and friends. However, a poorly maintained or unsafe deck could possibly collapse, causing serious injuries.

In the United States alone there are estimated to be 40 million decks in use that were built 20-plus years ago, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). Building codes, construction methods, and decking materials have changed considerably in those 20 years. Add in the fact that decks are outdoor structures constantly at the mercy of rain, sun, snow, and extreme temperature fluctuations, and it’s easy to see why an annual deck inspection is a smart idea.

Water damage, insect infestation, wood rot, and separation of the house and deck ledger board aren’t always visible to the untrained eye.

The five key areas to check on your deck:

  • Splintering Boards
  • Hand Rails
  • Stairs
  • Support Posts
  • Nails & Screws

Click here to download our infographic on “Check Your Deck”

Ensure that your deck is ready for all your summer activities by performing these checks on your deck.

Source: Property Casualty 360

         

Business Continuity

With Hurricane Season upon us, it makes sense to review your business continuity plan.  To illustrate why you need a comprehensive plan, here is a story from a business owner in Houston regarding their business recovery experience.

Three Brothers Bakery, a 69-year-old business owned by Janice and Robert Jucker, suffered losses of around $1 million after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston last August.  In 2008, the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike forced the couple to close the bakery for nine months.  They lost $1 million after that storm.

Since 2001, the bakery has survived four floods, a hurricane, and a fire.  Calling herself “the Queen of Disasters,” Janice says she has learned a lot over the years about how to protect their business and recover more quickly after each event.  The Juckers received the SBA’s 2018 Phoenix Award for Outstanding Disaster Recovery.

Here are some useful business continuity tips from Janice Jucker:

  • Review your hazard and flood coverage NOW.   If you don’t have flood coverage, which is NOT covered by hazard insurance, contact the National Flood Insurance Program to purchase flood insurance.  There is a 30-day waiting period after you make the first premium payment, so just hope you don’t experience a flood before the policy takes effect.
  • Make sure you have access to your insurance policy information, especially policy numbers. Keep handy phone numbers for both your insurance agent and the claims department.
  • Find a good restoration company—the team who’ll help you clean up the mess so you can focus on the task of reopening your business—and save their number in your cell phone.
  • Maintain an updated list of all your employees’ contact numbers and email addresses.  You’ll want to make sure your team is safe and kept in the loop about the recovery progress.
  • Obtain a line of credit or have enough cash to run your business for at least three months.
  • Move your important business records, personal memorabilia, and anything that’s irreplaceable to an offsite location. Move as much data as you possibly can to the cloud.

In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, the SBA approved more than 132,000 low-interest disaster loans for a total of $6.8 billion.  While the SBA will always be ready to assist businesses, homeowners, and renters after a declared disaster, having a preparedness plan in place will go a long way toward keeping your organization intact while supporting the long-term recovery of your community.  

Disaster preparedness resources:

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety—Tips on how to create your own business continuity plan, how to rebuild stronger, and an interactive disaster hazard map

Ready.Gov—Preparedness tips for risks including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, cyber-attacks, and active shooters

Start today to draft a business continuity plan to ensure you are prepared should a major catastrophe strike.

 

 

Source: SBA Administrator

Small Business Optimism Nears 45-Year High

In May, Small Business Optimism rose to 107.8 - the second highest level in the 45-year survey history according to JobCreators.  Income increases hit a 45-year high with a net 35 percent reporting raises for their employees, while positive sales trends are at the highest since 1995.  Business expansion plans are also the most robust in survey history. 

 If business expansion is in your future, give us a call to discuss the affects these changes not only have on your business, but what effect they may have on your insurance coverages.

Thinking of buying a motorcycle?

You will need to consider obtaining coverage for your motorcycle.  While you can easily add it to your personal auto policy, there might be a better way to provide protection due to numerous gaps in coverage since auto policies were not designed with motorcycles in mind.

Consider a specialized motorcycle insurance policy.  Here is why:

Personal Auto Policies provide physical damage which covers the auto, but not personal property 

Specific motorcycle policies are written to motorcycle-specific terms which eliminate confusion as to what is covered when a claim occurs.

Motorcycles are bound by the same coverages as your personal auto policy.  If a motorcycle owner wants, as an example, higher medical payments, he/she would be restricted if they have chosen to use their auto policy instead of a dedicated motorcycle policy.

Specific motorcycle policies can offer discounts only available on motorcycle insurance.  This can be as much as 10%.

Give us a call when you are getting ready to insure your motorcycle, and we will explore the best option(s) for your new wheels.

Source:  IRMI

Thinking of adding a 4-legged member to your family - Breeds that are not Family-Friendly

24 dog breeds have been identified by experts that should not be around children or young families.  These breeds can also cause your homeowner's insurance to skyrocket or cause a cancellation.

  • Skye Terrier
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Dalmatian
  • Dachshund (Standard Smooth)
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Pekingese
  • Shih Tzu
  • Japanese Chin
  • French Bulldog
  • Greyhound
  • The English Toy Spaniel
  • Afghan Hound
  • Chow Chow
  • Affenpinscher
  • Siberian Husky
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Weimaraner
  • Saint Bernard
  • Bullmastiff
  • Rottweiler
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Chihuahua
  • Akita

So before bringing a new four-legged member to your family, give us a call to discuss.

Ways to Maintain Your Home & Prevent Losses

Here are a few maintenance tips you might want to add to your Honey-Do list:

  • Caulking - helps to prevent mold and water damage
  • Dryer - Lint Traps and Exhaust Ducts - prevents dryer fires 
  • Inspect & Repair Roof
  • Test & clean the sump pump and pit - helps safeguard against basement and crawl space flooding
  • Inspect & clean chimneys yearly
  • Clean & maintain gutters and downspouts which can cause damage to your foundation
  • Check for termites yearly
  • Regularly maintain pipes & plumbing - burst pipes can send water throughout your home
  • Inspect your deck 

Performing these maintenance tips can help you mitigate the risks to your home which can result is thousands of dollars of damage.

Source:  Property Casualty 360

Keep Safe During This Memorial Day Weekend

Lots going on this weekend; most likely you will have a barbeque and take a dip in the pool.  Here are a few things to consider this Memorial Day weekend to keep you and your family safe:

  • Pool Safety - Keep an eye on swimmers, especially younger children; never drink alcohol while swimming or supervising swimmers. 
  • Use Sun Screen - Don't forget to break out umbrellas to provide shade.  Remember, you still are exposed to the sun's rays so don't forget to wear a hat and sunglasses and apply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Grill Safety - Make sure your grill is clean.  Dirty grills cause many injuries.  Don't wear loose clothing and keep items, except the food, away from the flame.  After grilling, make sure the coals are out or the propone is turned off.
  • Drink Responsibly - If you are driving, don't drink and drive.  Keep your cellphone out of reach. Elect a designated driver or hitch a ride with another attendee.
  • Use Caution with Fireworks - Know your local laws regarding fireworks.  After lighting fireworks, keep a safe distance.  Don't hold fireworks in your hand after they are lit, and don't light them  in a container of any kind.  Only responsible adults should use fireworks, no teenagers.

Review these tips and enjoy and safe holiday weekend.

Source:  UPMC Health Beat

Mobile Device Threats

According to Michael Ogden in his recent article in PropertyCasualty 360, there are five mobile device threats and how to prevent them. 

Top threats:

  • Phishing Attacks - use deceptive sites or software programs that masquerade as legitimate ones to steal vital user information (user login credentials and credit card numbers)
  • Malware Infections - can steal data and eat up computing resources from mobile devises.  They can trigger users into taking actions that further compromise mobile devices.
  • Advanced Persistent Threats - are coordinated network attacks hackers use to gain access to an organization's network and data.
  • Untested Mobile Apps - beware of downloading apps from a third-party source instead of downloading from regulated app stores.
  • Outdated Operating Systems - leaves your mobile devise vulnerable to malware and other security threats.

How to avoid these threats according to Comodo Threat Research Labs:

  • Avoiding connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, such as public Wi-Fi hotspots;
  • Downloading apps from trusted sources, such as the Google Play Store and iOS App store, and not from unreliable third-party sources;
  • Being wary of unsolicited calls or messages; and
  • Mitigating mobile device attacks from penetrating the corporate environment, which provides the controls needed to secure, manage and monitor all the employe­e-owned mobile devices that access critical business data.

Keep these tips in mind to help you maintain your mobile device.