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All James A. Connors Associates Offices are closed today.

Recent News

Cold Weather Playing Havoc

Cold temperatures across the United States have caused consumers havoc both in their homes and in their cars.

Potholes 

Americans spend over $3 billion per year to repair pothole-related damage to their cars.

Extreme cold weather coupled with heavy traffic cause anything from blown tires, dented rims, damaged wheels, dislodged wheel weights, displaced struts, dislocated shock absorbers and damaged exhaust systems are all costly common automotive issues.

So how do you help protect your vehicle?  According to AAA:

–     Make sure your tires have enough tread and are properly inflated.  To check the tread depth, insert a quarter into the tread groove with Washington’s head upside down.  The tread should cover part of Washington’s head.  If it doesn’t, time for new tire.

–     Keep your eye out for potholes and don’t get distracted.  If you need to swerve, make sure to check surrounding traffic to avoid causing a collision.

–     If you can’t avoid the pothole, reduce speed and insure you are not causing an accident with the vehicles behind you.

–     A puddle can disguise a deep pothole, drive carefully through them.

–     If after hitting a pothole, you knock your vehicle out of alignment, have your vehicle checked by a qualified technician.

Pipes

–     A simple way to help prevent outside pipes from freezing, let the cold-water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes.  

–     Keep your thermostat to set the same temperature during day and night.

–     To help pipes within the house from freezing (those that run through cabinets, or exterior walls) is to wrap them in pipe insulation.  

–     Keep your garage door closed.

–     If you plan to be away, set your temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

Keep warm during these winter months.  And, if you do experience a claim, we are here to assist you.

Valentine's Day - Buying Jewelry?

If you are considering buying jewelry for Valentine’s Day, here are five tips from Anne D’Innocenzio of The Associated Press.  

Beware of discounts – do your research.  The median price of a piece of jewelry, excluding engagement rings and wedding bands, is $350.

  1. Know Your Loved One’s Taste – if your special someone likes small earrings, don't buy big hoops.  Be aware of their likes/dislikes.
  2. Do Research and Learn the Lingo – Great resource for checking out gemstones is Bluenile.com. This site defines key terms like what clarity means when talking about diamonds as well as compares prices from 150,000 independently graded diamonds.
  3. Take Precautions Against Fraud – Be cautious if you see discounts of more than 50%.  If buying diamonds, make sure your stone has an accompanying independent grading report from a respected lab, like Gemological Institute of America.  Also, check the return policy to see if you get either a store credit your money back.
  4. Consider Synthetic Diamonds.  Man-made diamonds are about 20% to 40%  less expensive.  Pure Grown Diamonds is the world’s largest distributor and has a directory on its website of stores by Zip Code that offer lab-grown diamonds.
  5. Be Creative – Not interested in spending a lot but still want good quality?  Consider estate sales.  Also, there is a rental jewelry subscription service called Rocksbox.com which allows a member to order three items per month based on the shoppers taste. Another way to reward your Valentine all year long.

Remember, once you have purchased your jewelry, contact the agency to either add it to your jewelry policy or to obtain a jewelry policy.  Make sure you get an appraisal so that it is easy for us to insure.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Super Bowl - Have Fun But Be Careful

If you are celebrating the Super Bowl at a restaurant or sports bar, we’d like you to be safe. Remember to plan ahead for safe transportation if you are planning to drink.  Be careful with your credit card information, as with all the activities, identity theft rings are working to steal your information, and finally, with lots of people in one location, it is important that you know where the exits are.

Enjoy the game and be safe.

Small Business - Regulatory Issues

To keep your business compliant in 2019, here are ten regulatory issues to watch out for:

  • Sexual Harassment Prevention - EEOC is expected to continue heightened enforcement of sexual discrimination claims this year as a results of the #MeToo movement.  
  • Paid Leave - Additional states and cities are expected to join more than 40 states and local jurisdictions that enacted paid leave laws, including sick days as well as paid family leave laws.
  • Federal Support for Retirement Savings -Department of Labor and Treasury propose regulations to ease the burdens small businesses face in offering retirement savings plans, as a result of President Trump’s executive order.  
  • Faster Payments and the GIG Economy -GIG workers might see immediate payments as implementation of technology enables faster payments for all workers gains further transaction this year.
  • Privacy/security -Cyber security continues to be a critical issue.  Employers are encouraged to conduct security and privacy employee training.  Emphasis should be on securing all data as well as implement shredding, if you haven’t already done so.
  • Form W-4 Changes -An updated W-4 form is expected to include extensive changes based on the 2017 tax reform law.  States are also expected to modify their own withholding processes based on the federal changes.
  • State Health Care Reform -States are expected to determine how they will support Affordable Care Health Insurance in response to the removal of the federal individual mandate penalty.  
  • IRS Enforcement of Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) -IRS to mail 226J letters with preliminary calculations for ESR Payments. 
  • Impactful rulemaking from the Department of Labor -Labor Department is releasing its revised overtime regulations.  The agency will update and define regular rate of pay which includes payroll, human resources, and benefits.
  • National Labor Relations Board to set Joint Employer Standard through Rulemaking - Board is ready to release its final rule defining joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act.

As we find out more about these watches, we will provide you with additional information and what you have to do to protect your small business owner.

Source: Property/Casualty 360

Corporations Top Concerns

According to a recent survey conducted by Allianz in their annual Risk Barometer, the top perils to corporations are cyber incidents along with business interruption events.  In addition, workforce skill shortages and legislative/regulatory changes rank as key concerns.

Business interruption, via a cyber incident, is the biggest cause of economic loss.  

To protect your business, cyber liability and business interruption insurance should be required products in your business insurance portfolio.

Five Homeowner's Resolutions for 2019

To assist you in protecting your home in 2019, here are five tips to help prevent a claim.

  • Know where your shut-off value is.  Make sure that everyone in the household knows where it is and how to shut it off.
  • Check your washer/dryer.  Worn hoses and built up lint filters are key factors to water and fire damage. Replace worn hoses, and clean out your lint filter not only in the machine but also at the venting outside.
  • Go green. Plant trees to help cool your home in the summer and provide a buffer in the winter.
  • Consider umbrella insurance.  Reinforce your safety net by adding an extra layer of protection for your home, auto and other primary liability coverages with a personal umbrella policy.
  • Cut down on hoarding.  One of the chief causes of fires is accumulated newspapers, clothing and other flammable items.  Take the time to clean out the clutter from your closets, basement, and attic.

Start 2019 by implementing these tips and add another layer of protection to your home.

Source: Property Casualty 360

Prepare Your Business for 2019

It is a fact that 25% of small businesses never reopen after a catastrophe.  Here is a simple checklist to start 2019 with a good disaster-prep program:

  • Purchase Appropriate Insurance Coverage – property, business interruption, and liability insurance.
  • Back up your data daily.  Use online services such as Carbonite that keeps your essential files secure in an offsite location.
  • Invest in safety equipment – First aid kits, defibrillators, flashlights and other equipment to keep your employees safe until help arrives.
  • Practice safety drills – Knowing what to do in an emergency can save lives.
  • Make a plan and circulate it – Escape routes, phone trees, contact numbers, special preparation for disabled employees and an agreed-upon meeting place for all employees.

Start 2019 with safety as a number one priority for your business and your employees.

New Year's Safety Tips

With New Year’s Eve approaching, here are a few things to consider as you get ready to party: 

  • Plan a ride in advance – whether it be public transportation, ridesharing service, or carpool.
  • Car thefts are the second most active holiday for theft.  Be sure your car is locked and don’t leave it overnight.
  • Plan for your guests’ safety – hire a driver to provide people a way home, arrange ridesharing, or a designated driver.
  • Be careful if using fireworks or firearms.
  • Make a plan for your kids – set a reasonable curfew, encourage them to stay in one location rather than hopping from party to party.
  • Protect your pets from the sounds of fireworks by playing music, using an Adaptil calming collar, ear plugs, medication, or by bringing an outside dog inside to a quiet room.

Follow these tips for a safe evening.  Happy New Year!

Holiday Safety Tips #3: Last Minute Shopping

Here are some safety tips to follow when you are shopping at the holidays:

  • Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
  • Dress casually and comfortably. 
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry. 
  • Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. 
  • Always carry your Driver License or Identification Card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use. 
  • Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings. 
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. 
  • Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible. 
  • Keep cash in your front pocket. 
  • Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused. 
  • Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home. 
  • Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit. 
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps. 
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, "con-artists" may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

Follow these tips for a safe shopping experience.

Holiday Safety Tips #2: Hazardous Toys

If you are giving toys this season, here are ten toys that WATCH (World Against Toys Causing Harm) suggest you avoid:

  • Nella Princess Knight Pillow Pets– battery acid leakage and not for use in a crib
  • NERF – Vortex VTX  Praxis Blaster– causes eyes or face damage , choking hazard
  • Black Panther Slash Claw – choking hazard, eye and facial injuries
  • Power Rangers  Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade –  blunt force and eye injuries
  • Cabbage Patch Kids Dance Time Doll – chocking injuries
  • Zoo Jamz Xylophone – potential for ingestion and choking injuries
  • Nici Wonderland Doll – Miniclara, the Ballerina – chocking injuries 
  • Stomp Rocket Ultra Rocket – eye, face and other impact injuries
  • Cutting Fruit – puncture and blunt force injuries
  • Chien A Promener Pull Along Dog – entanglement and strangulation injuries.

So be careful to read for the appropriate age group and potential warnings.

 Source: WATCH – World Against Toys Causing Harm