Is your child old enough to swim alone?

By John Fisher

Is your child old enough to swim alone?

“Last one in is a rotten egg!”

Do kids still say this? I remember the unbridled enthusiasm we had as kids whenever it was hot and a swimming pool, pond or lake was within our reach. Jump in – think later. That’s what kids do.

But as responsible parents, guardians, friends and neighbors, we recognize that if childhood enthusiasm is allowed to go unchecked, bad things can happen. These bad things can include diving injuries, slips and falls on pool decks, suction entrapment in pool drains, electrical shocks, near-drownings and drownings.

According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. Drowning is responsible for more deaths of children ages 1-4 than any other accidental cause of death, and most drownings occur in home swimming pools. Males comprise 80 percent of those who die from drowning, and drowning is second only to motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-14.

Because youth plays such a role in drowning frequency, parents must face the difficult question: “When is my child old enough to be allowed to swim without adult supervision?”

The answer depends on many factors. How strong a swimmer is your child? How emotionally and intellectually mature? How much of a “dare-devil” is he or she? For example, is your child likely to try dangerous stunts to show off to friends? Will there be a “buddy” available to summon a responsible adult, if needed?

Professionally managed local municipal and club pools where lifeguards are on duty have varying rules on this point. Some allow children as young as 8 years old to be left unattended; others don’t allow children to be dropped off alone until they are at least 13 years old.

When you are deciding whether your child is old enough to be left unattended in your backyard pool, please remember that there likely will be no lifeguard in your absence. Adjust the minimum responsible ages upward accordingly. As the parent or guardian, you must evaluate the right time to trust your child to behave responsibly enough to be left alone at a swimming pool.

Even the best and strongest swimmers can get into trouble from time to time. Accidents can happen even when you are careful. For that reason, it is a good idea that no one – children and adults alike, but …read more

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Outdoor gatherings:Making memories, not regrets

By Cincinnati Insurance

Outdoor gatherings: Making memories, not regrets

Everyone wants to be outdoors this time of year. Block parties, family reunions and other functions are often stationed outside. As host, your concerns need to extend beyond hoping for cooperative weather and stocking snacks.

In general, any time you serve alcohol, host a pool party or provide equipment for entertainment, there is an element of potential liability on your part for any injury, and your insurance may not provide coverage.

If you own a backyard pool, you may be liable if someone is injured. Consider who uses your pool. Are children supervised? Do you limit the number of swimmers in the pool at one time? Are there slides or diving boards that could increase the risk of injury? Many insurance companies do not issue policies on properties with these types of pool equipment.

Other child-oriented activities pose hazards as well. There were several reports this year of injuries to children after bounce houses went airborne. While that is not likely to happen, other bounce house injuries are common. Children can knock into each other and cause injury. Whether you purchase or rent inflatables, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for setup and storage, and take common-sense precautions to prevent injury.

Trampolines pose an even bigger risk, and some carriers exclude trampolines from coverage or charge extra premium. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that in 2012 there were 94,900 hospital emergency room-treated injuries associated with trampolines. The agency also noted 22 deaths in the 10-year period between 2000 and 2009.

As part of its underwriting process, your insurance company may request documentation that safety measures are in place for bounce houses and trampolines.

When you serve alcohol, be especially careful. Slower response times and reduced clarity in judgment make routine games such as lawn darts, horseshoes or football more dangerous. Also, be aware that you may be held liable if a guest drives home from a party intoxicated and injures or kills someone, or damages someone’s property, on the way. Ask your insurance agent whether your potential liability would be covered by your homeowner policy. Coverage for liability arising out of serving alcohol to guests is referred to as host liquor liability and is not covered by all insurance companies.

Location is another concern. If you rent a shelter, be sure to ask your agent if your homeowner’s liability insurance extends property damage coverage to the rented location.

Most picnics and parties go …read more

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Preparing your home for vacation

By Cincinnati Insurance

Preparing your home for vacation

There is still time for a summer getaway, and many families will try to squeeze in one more trip before school starts for the fall. But keep in mind that thieves target homes temporarily unoccupied while the owners are enjoying their vacation. Today’s thieves quickly identify such easy targets.

While home burglaries cost consumers billions of dollars each year, these invasions of their private homes also traumatize thousands of families.

Before you leave for vacation, take every possible step to see that your home does not appear to be unoccupied:

  • Lock all doors and windows – This sounds basic but is too often overlooked. Be sure to lock the garage door and disconnect your garage door opener.
  • Keep up driveway activity – Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway.
  • Be sure mail and newspaper deliveries are handled – You can stop deliveries or have a neighbor collect them for you.
  • Do not announce your absence on your voice mail – Thieves sometimes call to see if a house is empty.
  • Be cautious about social media, too – Don’t discuss your plans online.
  • Keep up the outside appearance of your home – If you take an extended trip, arrange to have grass cut or snow shoveled.
  • Use automatic timers – Set up timers to turn lights off and on.
  • Notify the police of your absence – The police will usually do occasional drive-bys to check your home.

While none of these suggestions can guarantee the safety of your home, they are proven deterrents against home burglaries. While you play, keep thieves away!

The post Preparing your home for vacation appeared first on The Cincinnati Insurance Companies blog.

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When neighboring buildings are vacant: Don’t feed the fire

By Chris Beckman

Between 2003 and 2006, U.S. fire departments responded to about 31,000 structure fires in vacant buildings annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association, with an average of 50 deaths, 141 injuries and $642 million in direct property damage reported per year. In addition, approximately 20 firefighters died annually in those years while fighting structure fires.

These statistics do not include losses to adjacent properties. The spread of fire to neighboring businesses and communities is a greater threat in urban areas where structures are closer together. Many vacant properties are not insured at all or don’t have policy payment limits high enough to cover the full replacement cost after a total loss.

Vacant buildings can also attract vandalism and other criminal activity to a neighborhood. Arson in particular is a concern.

You can take several steps to reduce the chances of a vacant building fire affecting your property:

  • Keep the area between buildings free of brush, garbage and debris. This reduces the amount of fuel available for a fire and reduces the likelihood of spread to adjacent properties.
  • Check vacant building ordinances in your area. Cities may require property owners to immediately secure and register vacant buildings or to place a sign on the property showing that it is vacant and providing contact information of the building owner.
  • Watch for and report suspicious activity in and around the vacant building. This includes monitoring window coverings and doors or an unusual amount of foot traffic around the building. Vacant dwellings can serve as a haven for criminals and vagrants.
  • Install security cameras and lighting between buildings to make it less attractive to those looking for a dark and secluded area to conduct criminal activity.

Idle facilities and adjacent properties require the same considerations given to facilities in full operation. Take precautions to reduce exposures to theft, vandalism and fire, and work with your local fire department to ensure it is informed of the exposures present.

The post When neighboring buildings are vacant:
Don’t feed the fire
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Finding the right care facility for your loved one

By Steve Fogle

Finding the right care facility for your loved one

There really is no place like home. But the time may come when you need the assistance of a nursing home for your loved one. Whether you are looking for short-term rehabilitation or long-term care, choosing a nursing home or care facility can be a difficult and emotional task. You need to be able to trust that your family member will receive the same loving care that you would provide at home.

Here are some practical tips that can give you the confidence that you are choosing the right facility:

  • Research the facility. There are websites that provide you with a history of inspections for a given nursing home facility. A search tool at allows you to compare facilities. The site uses a star rating based on health inspections and staffing. The more stars, the more favorable the rating. Other, nongovernment sites offer comparative tools and family comments.
  • Check for severe violations. Look for clarification and corrective actions on violations involving abandonment, elopement, bed sores, falsification of medical records and medication errors. Since nursing homes are highly regulated, even the smallest infractions are noted, and some items listed may not be important to you.
  • Pay attention to the rate of staff turnover. A high staff turnover can indicate that things just aren’t right at the facility. Why are so many employees leaving? Look for signs that the staff and patients have a relationship. Is there a feeling of familiarity to their interactions?
  • When you tour a facility, note the ambience. Are residents able to move freely, within reason, around the facility? Do residence rooms have personal effects? Are community rooms such as the library or activity rooms wheelchair friendly? Warm and inviting libraries, activity rooms and residence rooms with personal effects help to avoid an institutional feel.
  • Listen to your first impressions. Your gut feelings may be more accurate than you think. If your first impression was poor or something just doesn’t feel right, take note. Notice how the staff interacts with the residents. Trust your instincts. If you don’t like what you see, move on to the next facility.

The transition into a nursing home can be difficult even in the best facilities. Knowing what to look for can help give you the peace of mind that you are making the best choice.

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De-risk your startup business

By Mark Kuntz

De-risk your startup business

You’re ready to start your own business, and you’re taking steps to make it a reality. There are so many decisions to make: determining your vision, identifying your customer base, creating a marketing plan. Another important decision you may not think about at first is purchasing the right insurance to protect your new venture.

Your independent insurance agent can help you identify your company’s risk exposures and tailor an insurance program for your needs. Here are some things to consider:


Valuing your assets is a good place to start. In case of a loss, you have to replace what is damaged. Think about the most likely ways your building or business personal property can be damaged. Fire is a logical place to start, but other causes of loss to think about are windstorm, flood, water damage and theft. Is there anything inherent to your operation that could be the cause of a loss? Are you responsible for other people’s personal property in your care? How much cash do you keep on hand?

Next, determine when your business personal property is off your premises:

  • Are raw materials or finished inventory shipped to you?
  • Do you send products to your customers?

If you do suffer a loss, how long will you be out of business or at least have your business operating at partial capacity? How will you pay the bills? How will you provide your product or services to maintain your customers? Insuring the flow of your income is equally as important as replacing your tangible assets.

General Liability

Commercial general liability insurance covers claims for injury to others and damage to property of others arising out of your business operations, whether the injury or damage occurs on your premises or at your job site. You can be covered for injury or damage caused by goods you’ve sold; for work you’ve performed; for offenses arising out of advertising of your goods and services; and for false arrest, slander and wrongful eviction of others.


Commercial property policies do not cover two significant exposures that could jeopardize your business’s financial solvency:

  • Any loss to your money or securities, which include currency, bank notes, checks, registered checks, stocks, bonds and credit card receipts. These are not covered if they are destroyed, stolen, corrupted or lost.
  • Dishonest acts of your employees or anyone else to whom you entrust your personal property. This includes theft, burglary, robbery or someone taking your property under false pretense.

Commercial crime …read more

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Have a happy Independence Day weekend

By Cincinnati Insurance

Fourth of July celebration

To help you celebrate safely, here are highlights from our blogs with tips for safe food handling, outdoor entertaining, boating and swimming. Enjoy the Fourth of July the safe way (June 27, 2013) The Fourth of July has become a day full of family, friends and celebrating the land of the free. Whether you are hosting a gathering or are a guest, make sure everyone’s safety is your No. …read more

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Check coverage before loss of power, utilities

By Cincinnati Insurance


Many of us can still remember the effects of Hurricane Ike in September 2008, when the storm caused damage across 11 states. Widespread winds with gusts to hurricane force caused one of the largest power outages in the history of the Midwest, with close to 4 million customers losing power. Of course, widespread power outages can occur at any time. …read more

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