Associated Insurance CenterSussex, WI
With the busy holiday travel season upon us and many friends and family to visit, it’s more important than ever to remember safe driving habits. Here are a few simple tips to help keep you focused when behind the wheel:
Know where you’re going. Program your GPS and preview the route before you leave.
Ignore messages while driving. Those text messages, voice mails, and emails can wait. If you need to check them, pull over to a safe spot first.
Enlist the help of passengers. Have someone else in the car help you get something out of your bag, help with directions, keep kids entertained, and find that perfect radio station, so you can focus on driving safely.
Fall home and yard maintenance checklist
- Have a professional furnace tune-up and filter change.
- Clean chimney and fireplace dampers and inspect wood stoves.
- Drain garden hoses and turn off all shut-off valves to hose spigots.
- Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
- Clean gutters, basement window wells, and rake away debris.
- Seal foundation cracks and install storm windows.
- Check for air leaks and caulk around doors and windows.
- Check for proper insulation to reduce, heating bills and prevent ice dams.
- Change carbon monoxide and smoke detector batteries.
- Keep all-purpose fire extinguishers within reach.
Service snow blower and prep lawn equipment for storage
Snowbirds Require More Insurance
HomeZada has launched a home inventory video recognition process using the pattern matching capabilities of machine learning to a set of features within its digital home management platform that enables homeowners to use the mobile app to record and upload videos of each room and the exterior spaces of their property. Pictures and video are a standard way to capture some of the inventory.
The videos are processed through a video recognition AI to detect the inventory items and present the results automatically. The homeowner makes final confirmation of the inventory items and updates their list of items for that space. The new functionality can detect both personal property objects such as furniture, electronics, collectibles, and decorative items in the home as well as fixed asset items such as appliances, fixtures, equipment, and building materials.
The basic Home Inventory program/app is free, but you can pay for more services related to your home.
"Legal Concerns Over Legal Marijuana"
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Virtually everyone has seen "that car" while driving - the one that drifts aimlessly or jerks erratically across the road, or the one that does not move with the flow of traffic, or perhaps the car that proceeds unexpectedly at intersections. In many cases, these scenarios and others can be chalked up to distracted driving. Why do people drive distractedly? Commonly, they feel that it is not a big deal and that they are skilled enough to multi-task safely. Those are false assumptions. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), simply listening to a phone decreases your brain's processing of moving images by 33%. The NSC also estimates that 25% of all vehicle crashes involve cell phone usage.
PHLY wants to help everyone be safer behind the wheel with these three steps:
- Learn the facts
There are three types of distraction: manual (taking your hands off the steering wheel), visual (taking your eyes of the road), and cognitive (not focusing on driving). These types of distraction can lead to inattentive blindness, when a driver fails to see and process their driving environment. Cell phones can cause all three types of distraction. In fact, a study from the University of Utah showed the reaction time of a driver using a cell phone is slower than that of someone legally drunk with a .08 blood alcohol level.
- Take personal responsibility
While cell phones are commonly the focus of distracted driving, PHLY recommends that you examine your driving habits and eliminate all distractions, including eating, grooming, or dealing with non-driving functions, while behind the wheel. PHLY supports the use of phone apps that can reduce or eliminate cell phone distractions. Go here to review a list compiled by Verizon Wireless. Additional apps include Lifesaver App and TrueMotion.
- Advocate for change in your workplace
Regardless of your role, everyone can take steps to positively affect how our organizations address distracted driving. PHLY recommends the following best practices:
- Create and enforce a policy for cell phone use while driving
- Train employees on local cell phone use laws and how they can best handle cell phone distractions while driving
- Use cell phone apps to limit usage while driving
- Apply cell phone use policies whether employees are in their own vehicles or company owned vehicles while driving for business purposes
According to the NSC, vehicle crashes are the number one cause of workplace deaths - more than the number two and number three cause combined. Don't let a distracted drive be the last drive you take.
The Revocable Living Trust
The Revocable Living Trust is still considered to be a superior centerpiece for estate planning, despite the very high threshold recently set for Federal Estate Taxes during the years 2018-2025. Always keep in mind that nearly a third of the States also have estate tax thresholds that are well below the Federal level or impose some form of inheritance tax. If a client is domiciled (or owns property!) in one of those jurisdictions, Revocable Living Trust centered estate planning should be part of the discussion. Despite those circumstances, however, savvy estate planning professionals in every jurisdiction understand that there are a myriad of non-tax reasons for utilizing the Revocable Living Trust when properly planning for the preservation, protection, and distribution of a client's assets, as well as safeguarding their offspring and heirs.
For anyone with an estate over the small estate limits in their jurisdiction, the idea of avoiding probate alone is reason enough to consider a Trust. If you’ve ever been through the probate of an estate, or been witness to it, you’ll immediately understand how just the cost, time and publicity of probate could be a “deal breaker” for someone.
If there are children in your family, there are any number of considerations that could immediately point the client in the direction of a Trust. Most people don’t like the idea of an 18 year old son or daughter having unfettered access to their parents’ assets. Perhaps they’d like to plan for an orderly distribution of assets over time to ensure for a college education, the purchase of a first home, the ability to get a business off the ground. What if one or more beneficiaries, perhaps young adults (or even older ones for that matter) has issues that could adversely affect their finances? – disability or special needs, money management issues, problematic marriage, substance abuse, business or creditor problems, legal problems, spendthrift nature, overall bad judgement… you get the idea.
Certainly, one of the greatest attributes of Trust centered estate planning is in the area of protection and control should you, the client(s), ever become disabled or incapacitated your/themselves. One would certainly want to have the mechanisms in place for the proper guardianship and conservatorship of their personal and business affairs rather than rely on the court to protect you and your privacy during such a period
NOT ALL THIEVES ARE STUPID
1. LONG - TERM PARKING
Some people leave their car in the long-term parking at San Jose airport while away, and as luck would have it, someone broke into the car. Using the information on the car's registration which they found in the glove compartment, they jumped the ignition and drove the car to the people's home in Pebble Beach and robbed it. So I guess if we are going to leave the car in long-term parking, we should NOT leave the registration/insurance cards in it, nor your remote garage door opener. This gives us something to think about with all our new electronic technology of today.
Another had their car broken into while they were at a football game. Their car was parked on the green grass area, which was adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted to football fans. Things stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard. When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen. The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house. They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game, they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house. It would appear that they had brought a truck to empty the house of its contents. Something to consider if you have a GPS - don't put your home address in it. Put a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so you can still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know where you live if your GPS were stolen.
3. CELL PHONES:
I never thought of this! This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on her cell phone after her handbag was stolen. Her handbag, which contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet, etc., was stolen. Twenty minutes later when she called her hubby, from a pay phone telling him what had happened, hubby says, "I received your “text” asking about our Pin number and I've replied a little while ago." When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn. The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text “hubby" in the contact list and got hold of the pin number. Within 20 minutes, he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.
Moral lesson here:
a. Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list. Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mom, etc.
b. And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back.
c. Also, when you're being ‘texted’ by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from them. If you don't reach them, be very careful about going places to meet "family and friends" who text you. Best not to do so until you confirm. Wrong “texting” can get you quickly into a butt load of trouble.
4. PURSE IN THE GROCERY CART THEFT:
A lady went grocery-shopping at a local mall and left her purse sitting in the children's seat of the cart, while she reached something off a shelf. Her wallet was stolen, and she reported it to the store personnel. After returning home, she received a phone call from the Mall Security to say that they had her wallet and that although there was no money in it, it did still hold her personal cards and papers. She immediately hopped in the car and went to pick up her wallet, only to be told by Mall Security that they had not called her. By the time she returned home again, her house had been broken into and burglarized. The thieves knew that by calling and saying they were Mall Security, they could lure her out of her house long enough for them to burglarize it.
And another IMPORTANT point here on shopping carts. All know there are those little seat strap belts for kids who ride in the cart with Mom. Often there are no kids with her, so plunk, in the seat part goes Mom’s purse all by itself .. just leaving the seat straps to hang there. BY All MEANS .. use that strap as a lock in device for your purse. Once a thief passes by, in just a split second he can grab your purse and if Mom fails to see it happen while her back is turned, its gone bye-bye in a flash. That way if a thief should grab it while locked in place, it is not coming out without much noise and struggle to alert her.
Why You Need Employment Practices Liability Insurance:
Charges against employers for discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation and wage-and-hour violations are at all-time highs. Layoffs, downsizing, salary freezes and reductions in benefits can be used by past and present employees as evidence of “tangible adverse employment actions” to file charges of discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination against employers.
Sexual Harassment and Wrongful Termination: After reporting to the owner multiple incidents of repeated sexual harassment by the General Manager that ranged from comments about her appearance to pressure to date, a female employee who handled the auto dealership’s financing department alleged the GM began a systematic campaign to force her to resign. The employee settled for $150,000. Defense costs of $75,000 brought the total claim to $255.000.
Contact us at [email protected]
Creating A Home Inventory List
A service of Associated Insurance Center of Sussex and the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin
Homeowners and renters alike benefit from keeping an up-to-date list of their property’s inventory. Insureds should create and then periodically update such a list to protect themselves in the event of a loss. Having an updated inventory list is essential to ensuring that you carry a sufficient amount of homeowners’ or renters’ insurance coverage. It can also make a difference in how efficiently your claim is processed in the event of a loss.
One factor that varies widely by policy is how much of what an insured currently owns will be reimbursed. If you aren’t sure what your policy covers, contact your insurance agent. Additionally, the property of college students living outside their parents’ home in off-campus housing is often not covered on a homeowners’ policy, so consumers should consult with their agents about whether they need renters’ insurance to cover their collegiate children’s belongings.
Some essential items to include in a home inventory are electronics, like computers, laptops, tablets, e-readers, smartphones, and televisions; clothing and accessories; housewares and other home appliances, including kitchen appliances and sporting and other hobby-related equipment; and other valuables (jewelry, art work, collectibles, etc.), some of which may require an addition (known as a “rider” or “floater”) to a standard policy. A home inventory list is also a good way to keep a record of important documents, including birth certificates, passports, social security cards, etc. Keep track of account numbers and any other information you may need in the event of an emergency.
Many technology-based resources now exist to ease the burden of this vital task. Thanks to smartphones, it’s easier than ever to narrate a video and/or take still photos of the interior of your home to accompany your inventory list. Once the list has been created, it should be updated regularly, and updating it should take less time than creating it did. Here are a few of the resources that exist to help you create a home inventory of your own:
National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)’s app – This free smartphone app is available for Android and iPhone devices and enables consumers to make lists of their valuables, update said lists, and provide easy access to lists after a disaster. Using the app, consumers can store photographs/videos, descriptions, bar codes, and serial numbers of their valuables, and all the information can be organized by room. For people who don’t use smartphones, the NAIC also offers a downloadable checklist that can be used to create a home inventory list. Both can be found at http://home.insureuonline.org.
Insurance Information Institute’s (III) Inventory app – This free smartphone app is available for Android and iPhone devices and enables consumers to add rooms, items, and photos or videos. It also synchronizes with Web-based software and can therefore be used anywhere via smartphone or computer. For people who don’t use smartphones, the III also offers a printable list, which is sorted by room and is a good way to start thinking about what needs to be inventoried, whether you use this list alone or in conjunction with one of the many available home inventory apps. The printable list can be found at http://www.knowyourstuff.org.
Associated Insurance Center of Sussex is a member of the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin and can be contacted at [email protected]
Your personal information is everywhere.
Your personal information is everywhere. No one can guarantee you will never be a victim of identity theft, but you can reduce your risk. By managing your personal information wisely, being aware of threats and educating yourself, you can help guard against identity theft.
Here are nine simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of your information being stolen and misused.
- Guard your Social Security number.Do not carry your Social Security card with you; store it in a secure place. Avoid using your Social Security number. Release it only when necessary, such as on tax forms, employment records and banking. When a business asks to use your Social Security number, ask if another identifier is acceptable. Don’t have your number printed on your checks and don’t supply it to merchants that want to write it on your checks. Finally, check your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement each year to ensure no one is using your number for employment.
- Protect your mail from theft.Mail outgoing bills from post office collection boxes rather than an unsecured mailbox. Don’t leave outgoing mail for your postal carrier to pick up. Pay attention to billing cycles and keep track of incoming mail, particularly tax forms, pay stubs, credit card bills and bank statements. If you don’t receive these statements on time, call to find out when the statements were mailed. Pick up new checks at the bank rather than having them sent to your home. Consider a locked mailbox to thwart mail thieves, and always have the post office hold your mail when you are away.
- Destroy documents before disposal.Tear, or better yet, shred your charge and ATM receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements. Also, destroy expired credits cards and convenience checks or credit offers you get in the mail. If you don’t want mailed credit offers, contact the three major credit reporting agencies to “Opt Out” from pre-approved credit offers by calling (888) 5 OptOut (1-888-567-8688).
- Shop online with caution. Only use a credit card when shopping on the web, not a debit card. And, designate a single, distinct credit card with a low limit for online shopping. Use a secure browser that complies with industry security standards before you provide any credit information over the internet. To determine if a site is safe, look for the “lock” symbols in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. Look for the words “Secure Sockets Layer” or the acronym “SSL” in the merchant’s privacy statement. Never send payment information via e-mail.
- Practice Safe Computing.Update your virus protection software regularly. Download and install security patches for your operating system or browser. Use a firewall, since high-speed Internet connections leave your computer connected to the Internet 24 hours a day. The firewall will help prevent persons from accessing your computer and accessing personal information. Before you dispose of a computer, use a “wipe” utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive and make files with personal information unrecoverable. Never store personal information on a laptop computer which is more easily stolen.
- Pick your PINs carefully.Do not use any part of your Social Security number for any Personal Identification Number (PIN). Also, don’t use anything a thief could easily deduce, such as birth dates, pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, address, telephone number or consecutive numbers. Memorize all your PINs, and do not write them down anywhere. Finally, shield the PIN pad when you are entering the number in a retail establishment or at an ATM to prevent others from seeing it.
- Secure important documents.Keep all documents with personal or account information under lock and key in your home. Don’t leave them unsecured and accessible to visitors. Always keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work, preferably a locked drawer. Carry only the cards you need.
- Record your credit and bank account information. Make a list of, or photocopy, all of your credit and debit cards, including the account number, expiration date, credit limit and the telephone numbers of customer service and fraud departments. Safeguard these lists; if one of your cards is stolen, you can contact card issuers and banks faster with the right information. Make a similar list for your bank accounts. Do not carry these lists with you. Keep them in a secure location.
- Don’t take that call.Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or online unless you’ve initiated the contact. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of mortgage companies, banks, credit card companies, Internet Service Providers and even government agencies to get you to reveal your personal information. Request a call back telephone number for any telephone contacts requesting information from you. Never use the provided link in an email requesting information. Go directly to the company’s website.
Give the appearance someone is home.
Install electric timers on lights, arrange to have the lawn mowed or driveway shoveled, and have mail held.
Pull the plug. Consider disconnecting computer equipment, televisions, appliances, and other electronics to protect from power surges and save electricity.
Adjust the temperature in your home. There's no need to pay to cool or heat your home if nobody's there to enjoy it. In warmer climates, raise the air conditioning temperature. In colder climates, protect pipes from freezing by reducing the temperature no lower than 55 degrees.
IP Insurance- one of the 8 things to consider before a Merger & Acquisition
Intellectual Property (IP) rights play a big part to both buyers and sellers of innovative companies. IP-specific insurance acts as an important risk transfer tool in most Merger & Acquisition (M&A) transactions and can play a major role in transferring the risk from both the seller and the purchaser to an insurance carrier established to accept such risk. A transferable IP-specific insurance policy can eliminate the need to escrow all or a portion of the purchase price to cover IP infringement risks.
Defense Insurance: Mitigates the purchaser's concern over the target company being sued for infringement after the sale.
Enforcement Insurance: Precludes purchaser's concern that the target company could have its IP rights "ripped off" by a competitor.
Interestingly, a recent article in Moneycontrol lists reviewing insurance policies, specifically IP insurance, as one of the 8 important aspects of a successful M&A deal
In today's litigious society, businesses are more likely to be sued by an employee than experience a fire in the workplace. Employers continue to face an increasing number of employment-related claims and financial damages for questionable conduct including discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation, sexual harassment and breach of employment contract.
About 25 percent of employment matter cases result in a judgment of $500,000 or more. These types of specific employment claims fall outside the general scope of liability insurance policies, leaving companies and employers exposed to a number of financial risks.
Partner with Associated Insurance Center of Sussex and one of its many fine insurers to protect your business against financial damages resulting from wrongful employment-related claims.
Call our office to discuss how we and our markets can help you deal with imminent long-term care, funding or buying insurance or structuring alternatives to protect your accumulated assets.
Contractors are already receiving bid letting dates as 2017 gets underway. Bid dates spur action for contractors and contacting them in the weeks prior to major bid lettings can increase receptiveness and response time regarding bonds.
Contact us for bonding solutions whether your contractors need larger bond lines, have previously been declined for bonding, or are trying to obtain a bond for the first time.
We represent many fine Surety/Bond companies, ranging from conservative to more lenient to the financials of the contractor.
Call or email for more information: 262-246-6868
Site Pollution Liability
An electric transformer company recently spilled hazardous chemicals during operations at a facility site resulting in a settlement. Multiple parties involved in the spill were required to fund and perform a $5.5 million cleanup of the site and neighboring areas.
In 2015, companies paid $7 billion in actions and equipment to clean up contaminated sites and control pollution. Extensive environmental laws and regulations can impact just about any kind of business regardless of size or industry sector.
Pollution cleanups and fines often fall outside the scope of a general liability policy. Associated Insurance Center of Sussex has markets that can provide Site Pollution Coverage for spills, leaks and other exposures that occur on owned or operated sites.
Gaps in Coverage - Cyber Liability
Traditional insurance policies have significant gaps in coverage for digital exposures and are often issued with broad exclusions. What’s a business to do? Cyber Liability coverage is an excellent start.
The Cyber & Privacy Liability experts at Philadelphia Insurance, Travelers and via a general agency we deal with, are adept at designing large-scale cyber products for public entities and regional or national business franchises within a broad spectrum of industries, including professional services (legal, IT), public entities (municipalities, counties), medical (hospitals, private practice), education (school districts, colleges, private schools), hospitality (hotels, restaurants), data process controls, high-traffic websites and blogs, and social networking/dating sites.
Available coverages include Privacy Liability, Professional Liability, Network Security Liability, Media/Website Liability, Notification Expense, Regulatory Proceedings, Brand Protection/PR, Business Interruption, Damage to Systems, Electronic Theft and Cyber Extortion.
Cyber Liability coverage is available in first and third party options. Many policies are modular and can be tailored to fit customers’ needs. Contact Jim Stein to find out more, see how much/little it costs and to get this important coverage.