Insuring your love in all of its stages

Think of your life as a series of stages: youth, adulthood, parenthood, maturity. Each stage has its own loves, its own rewards – and its own reasons to purchase life insurance.

As you reach different stages of life and your needs change, consider how different life insurance products can help.

YOUTH

It may not be obvious to most people, but childhood is actually a great time to get life insurance, when health is not normally an issue and costs are lower. A parent or grandparent can purchase life insurance for a child or grandchild that offers three important advantages: it’s inexpensive; it provides protection for the unexpected; and certain types of life insurance could help protect your child’s or grandchild’s insurability. Term or permanent life insurance may be appropriate, depending on the situation. Your independent life insurance agent can provide more information about the available options.

YOUNG ADULTHOOD

Young adults often struggle to manage debt from student loans while trying to get a start in their careers. Whether single or married, life insurance should still be a priority to protect the future. As with the youth stage, most young adults are in better health than they will be later in life – a major insurability factor. And, even if they don’t have children, young adults may have others who depend on their income: aging parents, younger or disabled siblings, business partners or close friends. Purchasing term insurance as a young adult is an inexpensive way to plan for the future. Talk to your local agent about designing your insurance needs to plan for the road ahead.

PARENTHOOD

This is the stage when a large number of people decide to buy life insurance. When children depend on you, a permanent life insurance plan can ease your mind. If you already purchased term life insurance, this may be a time to convert it to permanent coverage. Some parents also find it useful to supplement a permanent life insurance plan with term insurance during their children’s preschool or college years. Consider a low-cost option of adding a children’s rider on your policy to protect the little ones as well. Ask your local agent to help you identify your options.

MATURITY

The children are on their own. You’re winding down your business, looking to pass it on to a relative or a trusted employee. You’ve earned your retirement. Life insurance can help you achieve your goals of financial security as you mature. Your local agent can assist in a permanent life insurance policy to safeguard your future.

Whatever your stage of life, whoever you love, whatever your plans – a well-designed life insurance program can help secure your future.

Coverages described here are in the most general terms and are subject to actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact your Ayres Group Agent.

Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Winter driving brings inherent risks. But you can put the odds in your favor with proper preparation, car maintenance, and driving techniques.

Keeping up with car maintenance year-round is important, but it carries added significance in the winter when being stranded can be inconvenient due to travel plans, as well as being downright unpleasant waiting at the side of the road. As always, try to time your routine maintenance ahead of long-distance travel. Putting off service today can turn into an expensive problem down the road.

To be prepared for challenges winter driving poses, keep these tips in mind:

Maintain a full tank of gas. Keeping a half tank or more of gas limits the moisture that can condensate in the tank, and it means you are well positioned to tough out an expected traffic jam or survive being stuck in the snow.

Care for your tires. As winter driving safety is impacted by traction, it is key to make sure your tires are in top shape. Check tire pressure monthly, topping off as necessary. (Cold winter temperatures can lower tire pressure.) Inspect your tires for tread depth, an important factor in wet and snow traction. The tread should be at least 1/8 an inch, easily gauged by using a quarter and measuring from the coin’s edge to Washington’s head. Look for uneven tread wear, which typically indicates poor wheel alignment or worn suspension components. If you do invest in new tires, be sure to have your vehicle’s alignment and suspension checked before having the tires mounted to avoid premature wear.

Accelerate slowly to reduce wheel spin. If starting from a standstill on slick snow or ice, start in second gear if you have a manual transmission or gear-selectable automatic so the vehicle is less likely to spin the tires.

Reduce your speed and drive smoothly. In slippery conditions, tires lose their grip more easily, affecting all aspects of your driving: braking, turning, and accelerating. Keeping the speeds down will give you more time to react to slippage or a possible collision, and it will lessen the damage should things go wrong.

Allow longer braking distances. Plan on starting your braking sooner than you normally would in dry conditions to give yourself extra room, and use more gentle pressure on the brake pedal.

Don’t lock your wheels when braking. Locked wheels can make the vehicle slide or skid. If you have an older vehicle without an antilock braking system (ABS), you may need to gently apply the brakes repeatedly in a pulsing motion to avoid having them lock up the wheels. If your vehicle has ABS, simply depress the brake pedal firmly and hold it down. The shuddering sounds and pedal feeling is expected (don’t lift off the brake); the system is doing its job.

Perform one action at a time when accelerating, braking, and turning. Asking a vehicle to do two things at once–such as braking and turning, or accelerating and turning—can reduce your control. When taking a turn on a slippery surface, for instance, reduce speed sufficiently, and slowly apply the brakes while the vehicle is still going straight.

Avoid sudden actions when cornering. A sudden maneuver—such as hard braking, a quick turn of the steering wheel, sudden acceleration, or shifting a manual transmission—can upset a vehicle’s dynamics when it’s taking a turn. Rapidly transferring the weight from one end or corner to another can throw a car off balance. In slick conditions, this can cause it to more easily go out of control.

Beware bridges and overpasses. These can freeze before the roads.

Be ready to correct for a slide. Should the rear end of the vehicle begin to slide during a turn, gently let off on the accelerator and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. This will help straighten it out. Electronic stability control will also help keep control in a slide situation. But remember, safety systems may bend the laws of physics, but they can’t overcome stupid. If you’re turning and the vehicle keeps moving straight ahead, you may be tempted to turn even more. However, it is better to slow down and turn back straight for moment until you can regain traction and then make your turn.

Don’t let four- or all-wheel-drive give you a false sense of security. 4WD and AWD systems only provide extra traction when accelerating. They provide no advantage when braking or cornering. Everyone has four-wheel brakes…

Be extra wary of other motorists. They may not be driving as cautiously as you, so leave extra space, avoid distractions, and be predictable, signaling clearly ahead of any turns or lane changes. If you feel you’re being ‘pushed’ by someone wanting to go faster, pull over and let them go.

Don’t pass snow plows. The road is likely more treacherous in front of the trucks, and the added speed needed to complete the pass can risk sliding. Instead, hang back and let the trucks do their job. Don’t follow too close, as there is a high risk of windshield-threatening pebbles being thrown up from sanding machines.

What to Do If You’re Stuck

Try to shovel a path out. With the front wheels straight, rock the car by shifting between drive and reverse and applying light throttle. Shift directions the moment the wheels start spinning. Spread sand in your tracks. Once freed, keep going until you reach firm footing.

If the car isn’t moving, don’t spin the wheels; they’ll just dig deeper into the snow. You may need to jack up the car to put a traction aid under the drive wheels, but make sure the jack is on firm ground. You can use sand, cat litter, twigs, weeds, planks, even your car’s floor mats or trunk liner. Make sure others stand clear before you apply power.

Finding an insurance program you can bank on

Whether you operate a bank, savings and loan, credit union, household finance or mortgage company, you need to protect your organization’s own assets to ensure that you remain open for business. Your clients depend on you for services such as mortgages and other loans, night depositories, checking and savings accounts and ATMs.

A financial company’s assets go beyond traditional assets such as buildings and contents. Your insurance coverage should be tailored to include unique exposures you may have, such as:

  • Broad coverage for damage to special property such as bulletproof glass, night depositories, vaults and ATMs
  • Protection for your interest in a mortgaged property in the event it is damaged or destroyed and the borrower’s coverage is inadequate or has lapsed
  • Coverage for dwellings and other properties acquired in foreclosure, assuring that coverage is adequate despite the possibility of the property being vacant
  • Your interest in other collateral property such as autos, RVs and boats that are damaged or destroyed where there is an error or omission in procuring or maintaining physical damage coverage on those items
  • Both liability and physical damage protection for autos that are repossessed

Ask your Ayres Group insurance agent to place your policy with a carrier that provides broad coverage for common exposures of financial companies. Your assets should be as safe and secure as your clients’.

Coverages described here are in the most general terms and are subject to actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact your Ayres Group agent.

Study says voice-to-text no safer than regular texting

So much for all those systems that allow you to convert your voice to text messages. Reuters reports that a new study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M has found the technology to be no safer to use while driving than employing a traditional handheld device. The study found that drivers took around twice as long to react to situations on the road as they did while they weren’t texting and that eye contact with the road decreased as well.

The study used 43 participants who were tasked with driving around a test course, first without any electronic devices and then with a voice-to-text system. Interestingly enough, using the speech-to-text device actually took longer than simply typing out a message on a phone. Despite this fact, the drivers said they felt safer while using the hands-free option. Researchers said that this response could lead drivers to attempt to text even when it isn’t safe to do so.

Innocent employers go to court every day

Misunderstandings can lead to disastrous consequences for your company, but there are things employers can do to protect your business. Imagine these scenarios:

  • A manager terminates an employee based on negative performance evaluations. The terminated employee sues the employer for pregnancy discrimination, alleging she was fired based on her pregnancy and leave of absence.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sues a manufacturing company for race and gender discrimination in their hiring procedures. The EEOC alleges Asian applicants were turned down for all positions except administrative ones.
  • A former employee alleges that after he informed his employer of the need for a kidney transplant, he was terminated.

Even if the employers in these examples were completely innocent and the allegations are unfounded, they may nonetheless incur significant defense costs. What would your company do if these claims were filed against it? Would your company have the resources to pay for litigation costs that may take months or even years to resolve?

HOW DOES INSURANCE FIT IN?

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) protects your company against the financial consequences of employment-related lawsuits and from allegations that an employee’s rights were violated. Lawsuits can result in defense costs and possible state or federal fines and penalties if your company is found liable. Complaints and charges could be brought by past, present or prospective employees.

Allegations could include:

  • Wrongful termination of employment
  • Wrongful failure to employ or promote
  • Failure to create and provide workplace employment procedures
  • Violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
  • Wrongful retaliation
  • Breach of oral or written employment contracts

Top-trending employment practice claims also include:

  • Pregnancy discrimination
  • Illegal background checks
  • Health-related employment discrimination
  • LGBT gender identity discrimination
WAYS TO REDUCE RISK

Take action to mitigate the risk in employment decisions:

  • Discuss employment practices liability insurance with your attorney, risk manager and local independent insurance agent.
  • Minimize the risk of lawsuits by educating your managers and employees.
  • Create employment procedures that extend from pre-employment all the way to termination and beyond.
  • Maintain accurate and thorough documentation regarding any employment action that occurs, including steps your organization takes to prevent and solve disputes.
  • Develop an employee handbook detailing company policies for discipline, termination and prevention of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
  • Ask interview questions that are nondiscriminatory when recruiting and selecting talent.

Employee-related complaints, charges and allegations could seriously damage the reputation and bottom-line results of your company or organization. Take action. Seek advice from your attorney and your risk management team, including your Ayres Group Agent.

Courtesy: Cincinnati Insurance

A checklist for safe snowmobiling

Whether it’s to enjoy the thrill of the ride or the beauty of nature, to go places unreachable by other means or just to spend time with family and friends, millions of people enjoy the outdoors on snowmobiles.

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), representing the four North American snowmobile makers, reports 1.3 million registered snowmobiles in the United States. Snowmobile-related activities account for $26 billion in economic activity annually, including accessories, supplies, gasoline and tourism. While some use their machines for work, about 80 percent use them for leisure activities.

Snowmobiles are generally registered and regulated by individual states, and no central system compiles reports on snowmobile accidents, injuries or fatalities. Of those tracked by several states, most are the result of collisions with trees or other fixed objects with excessive speed or alcohol impairment as the most common contributing factors.

ISMA promotes safe snowmobiling through its Safe Rider program, and cites dozens of ways to protect yourself and those around you.

SAFETY TIPS

  • Ensure your snowmobile is in proper mechanical operating condition before going on a ride. Check gas, oil, belt condition and carbides under the skis before each ride.
  • Dress for the conditions! Layering clothing, including a windproof outer layer, is the best way to stay warm on cold days. Fingers and toes typically get cold first, so be sure to wear warm gloves (mitts with liners are best) and insulated boots.
  • Wear a safety-certified helmet in the right size. You should have a clear face shield on the helmet or a pair of goggles to protect your eyes from the sun and wind.
  • Avoid riding alone, especially at night. If you do, make sure you tell others the route you will be taking so they will know where to look if you are overdue.
  • Stay on the marked route when riding trails on private property. Hidden objects, such as fences, tree stumps and stretched wire, may be concealed by snow.
  • Slow down! Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Drivers should proceed at a pace that allows ample reaction time for any situation.
  • Stay RIGHT when riding on trails, especially on corners or when cresting hills to avoid colliding with other snowmobiles coming from the opposite direction.
  • Carry a first-aid kit. At a minimum, it should include a flashlight, knife, duct tape, compass, map, tow rope and waterproof matches.
  • Carry a fully-charged cell phone; it can be a terrific asset if trouble arises, but keep in mind that cell phones have limited service range in remote areas.
  • Use caution when crossing roads — come to a complete stop, make sure no traffic is approaching from either direction, then cross at a right angle to traffic.
  • Don’t drink and ride! Drinking alcohol before snowmobiling or during your ride slows your reactions, impairs your judgment and is a leading contributor to snowmobiling deaths.
  • Stay next to the markers if a trail crosses waterways. Ice conditions are never guaranteed, as rapidly changing weather and moving water affect the thickness and strength of ice.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. See your local Ayres Group Agent agent for insurance coverage and advice.

Courtesy: Cincinnati Insurance

Now that you have the keys — what does that mean?

All your hard work paid off and now you finally have your driver’s license. Hours in the car with Dad gripping his seat and days spent in driver’s ed were worth it because the keys are now in your hands. I remember the feelings of freedom, independence and excitement when I received my license. But with the look in my dad’s eyes as he handed the keys to me, I knew driving came with added responsibility.Here are things to keep in mind to make sure your driving experience is safe and fun.

STAY SAFE ON THE ROAD

Your choices when driving may affect yourself and others.

  • Never use alcohol or drugs when you know you will be getting behind the wheel of a car.
  • Make sure every passenger in your car is using a seatbelt. Follow any restrictions your state may have on the number of passengers allowed depending on the driver’s age.
  • Be aware of other drivers around you, and drive defensively by anticipating the actions of other drivers.
  • Concentrate on your driving and keep distractions to a minimum. Turn the radio down, don’t use your phone while driving and never text and drive.
  • Learn what to do in an event of an accident or breakdown. Know who to call and what resources you need. Program emergency numbers and contacts into your phone.
  • Keep your registration and proof of insurance information in the car.

BEING SAFE SAVES MONEY

Driving responsibly increases your safety and the safety of other motorists. Follow these guidelines to keep your insurance premiums as low as possible:

  • Obey all traffic laws. Getting a ticket may increase the amount of your insurance payments.
  • Avoid situations that may lead to accidents. Involvement in just one accident could increase your cost of insurance.
  • Consider choosing higher physical damage coverage deductibles.
  • Drive a standard vehicle. Sports cars and high-performance vehicles may be cool, but those vehicles mean higher insurance costs.

CREATE A WRITTEN AGREEMENT WITH YOUR PARENTS

All the above tips may seem like common sense, but they are important to remember and to be reminded of often. One way to have a great driving experience is to create a written agreement with your parents and establish rules. A written agreement can help keep you and your parents on the same page.

  • How many passengers are permitted in your car?
  • Can you listen to the radio?
  • Do you need to be home by a certain time?
  • You can download a sample contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Getting your driver’s license is exciting! But to keep the keys and be a responsible driver, develop good driving habits that will stay with you forever. Have fun and stay safe!

 

Need insurance for a new driver?, contact your local Ayres Group Agent

 

Courtesy: Cincinnati Insurance

Health care facilities: Finding the right place

There may come a time to suggest that a relative or other loved one consider moving  into housing for seniors, such as an independent retirement facility, assisted living or a nursing home. These difficult conversations can come when a family is in crisis or stressed due to the loved one’s condition. In a perfect world, we would have those conversations early, long before the crisis point. But for a variety of reasons, that often is not the case.

It’s best to do some homework to find the right place for your loved one. First, know the differences in the types of facilities available and the services they offer. While some states use different terminology, most facilities are of three types:

  • Nursing homes provide skilled nursing care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Assisted living facilities offer assistance with some activities of daily living (ADLs), such as grooming, bathing, meal preparation and taking medications.
  • Independent retirement homes are senior living apartments, condominiums or cottages, often with an alert system to let a main desk know if there is a problem in the resident’s home.

Typically, states inspect and license nursing homes and assisted living facilities. When doing your homework, ask for a copy of the state inspection. Any reputable facility should be glad to share this.

A good resource for researching nursing homes is Medicare’s website. It has a nursing home locator and uses a star rating system to give an idea of the quality of a facility.

No one specific website helps in finding assisted living or independent retirement facilities. One place to start is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging, which offers an Eldercare Locator to connect you to services in your community. The AOA’s Administration on Community Living offers a checklist of things to look for in an assisted living facility.

Once you have identified some facilities, a tour is an absolute must. On the tour, take note of the general cleanliness of the facility. Also, meet the staff and get a sense for the general “vibe.” Is the staff helpful and engaged? Are there activities to stimulate thought and expression?

Although moving  into an elder care facility can be a difficult decision for the individual, and a stressful time for a family, taking advantage of  the many resources available to help in doing the research may aid in finding that right “fit.”

For insurance advice for seniors or for any stage of life, contact your local Ayres Group Agent

 

Courtesy of The Cincinnati Insurance Company

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa reviews his insurance policies

Santa is a busy man this time of year, making toys and preparing his sleigh for the big day. Like many business owners, he relies on his local Ayres Group Agent. Santa has the policies he needs to cover his workshop, employees and their products. Do you?

Read Santa’s insurance list, then contact your local Ayres Group Agent to help you check yours.

 

santa-small-infographic

Courtesy of The Cincinnati Insurance Company

Don’t fall victim to a crime this holiday season

The busy holiday season provides numerous chances for crimes of opportunity.

From robberies to identity theft, criminals are looking for ways to steal your gifts, credit card information, cars and anything else they can take easily.

Safety starts at home

Burglaries increase by 11% during the holidays, and property stolen from vehicles increases 17%.

And there are some risky behaviors that can increase the chances of a robbery claim. More than 50% of Americans say they have left a door unlocked for a friend or family member and 52% have left a key hidden somewhere. This also means easy access for would-be burglars.

Frequently, Christmas trees are near doors or windows, providing burglars with a clear view of the presents under the tree. Consider storing gifts out of sight and putting them under the tree Christmas Eve to make them less enticing to thieves. Use timers for lights throughout the house to make the home appear occupied and help keep robbers away. Make sure doors and windows are locked before leaving or going to bed.

Related: Christmas tree fires: A deadly hazard you can prevent

While you’re spreading some holiday cheer this season, don’t forget to take these precautions to avoid becoming an unintended victim.