Life insurance can protect family from college debt

Posted by on Jul 20, 2017 in blog

As college graduates take the next step, one thing is often left out of the process – life insurance. Young adults often carry debt with them into the working world, whether from student loans, car loans or credit card debt. If you are a recent graduate, have you considered what could happen if you were no longer around to cover your loan payments? Would your loved ones struggle to make ends meet? Many people do not realize that – depending on their loan agreement – their spouse, cosigner or estate might be responsible for paying off student debt. A 2016 LIMRA study found one in three households would have immediate trouble paying daily living expenses after the death of a primary wage earner. This need tends to be compounded for young adults who are not financially established in life. Most people are not expecting to cover the loan payments and final expenses of a young relative, but tragedies can happen, and life insurance can provide the financial protection to cover these costs while a family grieves. Through the purchase of a term life insurance policy, a young adult could obtain coverage to fit their stage of life. Term life insurance offers a level death benefit for a guaranteed period of time ranging from 10 to 30 years. Furthermore, an applicant can usually obtain the most cost-effective coverage while still young. Term life insurance is an ideal product to protect a new professional’s family from financial distress in the event of an untimely death. And it probably costs less than you think. Term life insurance tends to be the least expensive coverage option for an individual. A 2017 Insurance Barometer Study indicated that four in 10 millennials overestimate the cost of term life insurance by more than five times the actual cost. Even with a tight budget, term life insurance can provide the necessary coverage to protect one’s...

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Don’t let foodborne illness be unwanted guest at your BBQ

Posted by on Jun 29, 2017 in blog

Summer is a great time to enjoy food and drink with family and friends, but summertime outdoor cooking also invites an unwanted guest – the threat of foodborne illness. Whether at a family picnic, a barbecue at a park, sporting event or a group social activity, following some basic food safety rules can help prevent foodborne illness. PLAN AHEAD Ensure that you have adequate cooler space and ice to last for the entire event. Pack plenty of utensils and dishware, and never reuse utensils and dishware that have been in contact with raw meat (such as a marinade), fish or poultry unless they have been thoroughly washed in hot, soapy water. Disposable utensils and plates can be a great a help in preventing food contamination. DON’T CROSS-CONTAMINATE Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry and seafood in a leakproof container or securely wrapped to prevent juices from contaminating prepared/cooked foods or foods eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables. WASH YOUR HANDS AND KEEP THINGS CLEAN If there are no facilities for hand-washing and no source of clean water at the site of your event, bring your own supply of water, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and work surfaces. KEEP COLD FOODS COLD AND HOT FOODS HOT Most bacteria do not grow rapidly at temperatures below 40 F or above 140 F. The temperature range in between is known as the “Danger Zone,” where bacteria can grow rapidly and pose a risk for foodborne illness. After cooking, warm temperatures support the growth of harmful bacteria in food left sitting out. USE A MEAT THERMOMETER You cannot tell if a burger or chicken is cooked by its color alone! Meat thermometers are inexpensive and provide a quick and easy way to check the internal temperature of meats on the grill. When reheating food at your outing, be sure it reaches 165 F. Keep hot foods at 140 F or hotter to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. WATCH OUT FOR LEFTOVERS The USDA recommends that food not be left out of the cooler or off the grill more than two hours (one hour when the outside temperature is above 90°F). If picnic leftovers have been sitting out for more than one hour and could have had many people handling them, when in doubt, throw them out. The more time that food has been sitting at an unsafe temperature, the more likely harmful bacteria has grown. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Cooking for Groups: A Volunteer’s Guide to Food Safety – from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Eating Outdoors, Handling Food Safely and Barbecue Basics: Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness – from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Summertime Safety – from the U.S. Centers...

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Construction a critical time for fire protection

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in blog

Building or remodeling a home or business is an exciting time, filled with many decisions. One consideration that’s easy to overlook is adequate fire protection. During construction or renovation, your home or business is most susceptible to fire. In a recently published report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), during the years 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,440 fires in structures under construction, undergoing major renovation or being demolished. These fires resulted in $310 million in property damage each year. Luckily, some simple and cost-effective solutions can significantly reduce the threat fire poses to your home or business: Theft detection: Once the building is fully enclosed with roof, doors and windows, install and activate a temporary fire and burglar alarm system that reports to a central station. Because smoke detectors are susceptible to false activation from construction dust, heat sensors are better suited for temporary fire detection. If permanent power is not yet available, a temporary power source can be used. Cellular communication to the alarm monitoring station should suffice if an active phone line is not yet available. Tattletale Portable Alarm Systems offers these important features to Cincinnati Insurance policyholders and the public. Contact your local, independent agent for more information. Site security: Because of the increased threat of arson and vandalism while your property is unoccupied, install security fencing and keep it locked on weekends and non-working hours. Motion-activated lighting, video surveillance systems and even security guards are additional options that can significantly reduce the risk of unwanted visitors or trespass. Fire extinguishers: Keep fire extinguishers in highly visible locations throughout the jobsite. Multi-purpose extinguishers (Type ABC) of at least 10 pounds are recommended. No smoking: Smoking should be prohibited, with no-smoking signs posted in visible locations throughout the construction site. Flammable liquids: Store flammable materials such as paints, varnishes and solvents in an approved flammable storage cabinet. In addition, excess combustible building materials such as lumber should be stored outside the building a safe distance from the project. Housekeeping: Because many commonly used construction materials are highly combustible, the jobsite should be broom-swept and cleaned daily and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each work week. Remove all trash from the site daily or weekly. Electrical: According to the NFPA report, “electrical distribution and lighting equipment was involved in 20 percent of the fires in structures undergoing major renovation, including 14 percent involving wiring and related equipment.” This high frequency warrants a closer look at the electrical systems, both of the property and those temporary systems installed by contractors. Remember to discuss these loss-prevention measures with your contractors, including subcontractors, before construction begins. These established protocols can help keep your home...

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Stay safe in and around the pool

Posted by on Jun 16, 2017 in blog

A dip in the pool is a great way to enjoy the sun and get some exercise, but pools are not without hazards. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to be safe in and around the water. Here is a sampling of our blogs about pool safety. Everybody in the pool! Safely According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an average of 390 drowning deaths occur annually among children age 15 and younger, and emergency rooms treat 5,200 pool and spa submersion injuries involving children in that age group. Don’t let your family become a statistic. Follow all safety precautions in and around the pool.   Safety comes first when the pool is open Television and movies often show drowning as a dramatic event with victims thrashing and calling for help or lifeguards springing into action for the save. While these instances can occur, drownings often are silent and difficult to see. They can occur in shallow water or even after a person has left the pool.   FOR MORE INFORMATION General pool safety: CPSC’s Pool Safely website or Safe Kids Worldwide Drowning prevention, especially among teens: National Safety Council Pool clarity, filtration: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Federal standards for pool accessibility: U.S. Department of Justice ADA Requirements   Whether you own a pool at home or operate a pool for a health club or community organization, remember to consult with your local Shafer Insurance agent to make sure your insurance policy includes coverage’s to protect you as a pool owner....

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Boating safety: All hands on deck

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in blog

Each time you set out on the lakes and waterways with your boat, take time to review some basic safety tips. First, make sure everyone who drives your boat knows the basic rules about right of way, speed limits, ski restrictions and equipment condition. Improve operating skills by completing a course. Contact the department of natural resources in your state to find boating classes, or contact the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron. For information about vessel safety and other boating resources, visit the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Resource Center Keep in mind: Half of all personal watercraft accidents involve operators with less than 20 hours of experience. Thirty-five percent involve riders under age 21. Follow all U.S. Coast Guard regulations for life jackets and safety equipment. Keep enough air pressure in trailer tires. Low pressure at high speeds causes accidents. Be sure your drain plugs are installed. Many boaters have launched the craft from a trailer with the drains open. Periodically recheck the motor bracket clamps for firmness. A safety chain secured to the boat can keep the motor from falling entirely into the water. Open the hatch or operate the blower before starting an inboard engine. Gasoline fumes are dangerous. Guard against theft; don’t leave your boat, motor or equipment unattended. Take equipment not permanently attached or locked away with you when leaving the boat. Keep firefighting and lifesaving equipment in good condition. This equipment should be readily available. The first few seconds are the most important. Use an electric engraver to label your equipment. Before leaving your boat, be certain stoves, lights or lanterns and switches are turned off and cigarettes extinguished. And remember—no smoking while fueling. Lock your boat onto its trailer and secure the trailer to a fixed object when it is not attached to a vehicle. Tow skiers in open areas away from congested areas, narrow or winding channels or near docks, buoys or floats. Use a wide angle rearview mirror and a second person to act as a lookout when towing a skier. Stop the motor before taking a skier on board. And before you set out, check with us today to make sure you have the property and liability insurance protection you...

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Take a trip … and put it all behind you

Posted by on Apr 25, 2017 in blog

Every year millions of motorists by choice or necessity engage in a widely-practiced highway pastime: towing a trailer behind their car or pickup truck. I’m one of them. Growing up in Northern Wisconsin, I had hundreds of opportunities to tow trailers, boats, travel trailers and anything else you can think of, and over the years I’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to assist the occasional tower. Although towing a trailer isn’t “rocket science,” you should realize there’s more involved than when you’re driving a vehicle with nothing hooked behind. Here are some trailer-towing safety tips: BEFORE YOU GO Before you hook up the trailer, inspect the trailer, hitch and safety chains for excessive wear. Ensure the electrical hookups work for the trailer wiring and brakes. Check tire air, oil, fuel and coolant levels — you should do this before any trip, whether or not you’re towing a trailer. Make certain the vehicle and trailer lights operate. PROPER TRAILER LOADING Load the trailer with heavier items toward the front for proper weight distribution. About 60 percent of the cargo weight should be in the trailer’s front half. This properly places about 10 percent of the loaded trailer weight on the tow-vehicle hitch. PRACTICE DRIVING…ESPECIALLY BACKING If you’re not a trailer-towing rock star, take time to practice before beginning your trip. When backing up, place one hand on your vehicle’s steering wheel at the six o’clock position. To move the trailer’s rear end to the right, turn the steering wheel to the right; to the left, turn left. In more complex towing situations, such as boat launching, use low-range gears for extra power and control. TURNING SUGGESTIONS Allow more room to the inside on right turns since the trailer wheels track to the inside turn path more than will the vehicle wheels. PASSING When passing a slower motorist or changing lanes, signal well in advance and move gradually into the next lane. After passing, allow the trailer or RV extra room before returning to the driving lane. Avoid passing on steep grades, up or down. STOPPING Driving while towing a trailer requires a greater distance to stop. A good rule of thumb: Allow one vehicle and trailer length between you and the vehicle you’re following for each 10 mph of speed. Eliminate panic stops by shifting to a lower gear and pumping brakes lightly to reduce vehicle speed. CLEARANCE Be aware of the height of the trailer you’re towing. It may be taller than the vehicle you’re accustomed to driving. Pay attention to posted height restrictions, especially on side roads, city streets and parking lots. You wouldn’t want to exit the drive-through with more than just your meal. Better to...

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