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Tips for a safe and enjoyable holiday season

By Cincinnati Insurance

Tips for a safe and enjoyable holiday season

To start your holiday season, here are some highlights from our blogs with tips for shopping safely – both in the store and online – for keeping your home and property safe and for protecting your family during the holidays.

Holiday shopping: 12 precautions to protect your property

(November 21, 2013)

With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us will be out shopping and enjoying the festivities. In this joyous atmosphere, we also need to be aware of our surroundings and develop a safe routine because unscrupulous individuals may be out to take advantage of our festive mood.

Tips to reduce risk when shopping online

(November 26, 2013)

Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, has become the biggest online retail shopping day of the year. In 2012, Cyber Monday shoppers racked up $1.46 billion in sales, a new online record, according to comScore. Because of the explosive growth each year in online holiday sales, shoppers need to be extremely diligent in making digital purchases. Scammers with fake websites and emails are lurking out there to separate you from your money. Your identity is also at risk.

Choose your card wisely to protect your money

(January 30, 2014)

Many people find it convenient to use credit or debit cards rather than carry cash or write checks for each purchase. Recent headlines concerning account information breaches should be of concern to card users. Important differences between credit cards and debit cards may affect your decision about which to use for your purchases.

‘Tis the season for giving…and insuring

(December 17, 2013)

The holidays provide us with good reasons for presenting special – and often valuable – gifts to our loved ones. In the excitement of surprising someone with a gift that makes a big impression, remember that properly insuring expensive gifts can bring you peace and joy long after the holiday season is over.

A gift of prevention keeps the holidays memorable

(December 10, 2013)

You want your holidays to be memorable, but for the right reasons. Help ensure your holiday is safe and happy by observing these simple – but essential – tips to help safeguard your loved ones and belongings.

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Monitor buildings as cold weather moves in

By Troy Dohmeyer

Monitor buildings as cold weather moves in

Now that winter weather has arrived in northern states and cold temperatures are creeping south, it is time to review and address the emergency plans your business put in place earlier in the fall. Initiate your snow removal contract, if needed. Work with your staff to check building conditions at all locations and monitor temperature.

Automatic sprinkler systems have the potential to cause water damage to a building and its contents if water in the pipes is allowed to freeze. Plus, an impaired or inoperable sprinkler system can increase damage caused by fire.

It is critical that you maintain sufficient temperature and airflow in buildings to prevent freeze-up of sprinkler systems. Some areas often overlooked are:

  • mechanical rooms on an outside wall
  • closets
  • space above a finished ceiling
  • stairways
  • open warehouse areas with large doors
  • vestibules
  • pipe near glass windows, walls and atrium areas

If your piping or other systems freeze, provide extra heat and airflow to safely thaw equipment. Have a qualified sprinkler contractor ensure that your sprinkler system is properly repaired and operational before resuming normal building operations.

  • Never thaw pipe with open flames.
  • Complete snow removal around and in front of sprinkler valves to allow for fire department access.
  • Monitor the temperature of water supply tanks and reservoirs to prevent freezing.
  • Maintain building temperatures above 45 degrees.
  • During lengthy periods of cold weather, check occupied and unoccupied building spaces for structural damage, leaks, openings and sprinkler piping breaks.
  • Properly monitor and maintain adequate building temperatures to prevent freezing.

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Make your gift count: Check out charities

By Don Doyle, Jr.

Make your gift count: Check out charities

Giving to a charity should not be difficult. Unfortunately, it can be. It is estimated that charity fraud exceeds $20 billion each year…yes, BILLION! What can you do to ensure your charitable gift is going to a legitimate charity and being used most effectively? Here are some tips:

  1. Do your homework. There are reputable and independent charity rating organizations you can check to verify the legitimacy of a charity and where your charitable dollars will go, including:

    NOTE: Many legitimate charities – especially local charities – may be too small to be tracked by these services. Read on for additional tips to help your research.

    1. Give to groups you know. You remember the sage advice of your parents when you were young, “Don’t talk to strangers.” That same advice applies to your charitable giving – don’t give to strangers. When you know the charity you are giving to, you can have confidence in the organization and its cause.
    2. Review the charity’s expenses. This is a difficult one, but as a guide, efficient charitable organizations will spend less than 35 percent of their donations on expenses (such as fundraising and payroll for their staff).
    3. Give your time. Volunteer! One of the best ways to know how your money will be used by an organization is to donate your time. You will find out how well managed the organization is and have a direct understanding of the impact on the desired cause.
    4. Protect your privacy. Do not give personal information or credit card information over the phone, by email or to door-to-door solicitors. Request the information be sent to you so you can verify the recipient’s reputation.
    5. Be aware of signs of a scam:
      • High pressure sales tactics that press you for immediate donations
      • Refusal to provide proof that your contribution is tax deductible
      • Lack of details on the mission of the charity
      • A name of the charity that sounds like a well-known charity, but is spelled slightly differently
      • Offer of prize entries in exchange for your donation
    6. Do not give cash! While there are a few well-known, reputable, charities that collect via kettles around the holiday season, it is …read more

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    Housekeeping tips to prevent dryer fires

    By Diane Roller

    Housekeeping tips to prevent dryer fires

    Could you live without your clothes dryer? For many people, the clothes dryer is indispensable, but an improperly installed appliance could easily catch on fire.

    According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fire departments respond to roughly 2,900 clothes dryer fires each year, with an estimated $35 million in property damage. The leading cause of these fires was the failure to properly clean the dryers (34 percent), followed by dust, fiber and lint (28 percent) and clothing (27 percent.)

    Try these easy tips to keep your dryer in good shape:

    • Have your clothes dryer professionally installed
    • Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry
    • Clean lint out of the vent pipe every six months
    • Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct
    • Inspect the venting system behind your dryer for restrictions, and make sure the outdoor vent flap opens when the dryer is operating
    • Keep the area around the dryer free of items that can burn
    • Don’t overload the dryer
    • Don’t dry items made of foam, rubber or plastic
    • Have a professional inspect gas dryers annually to assure that supply lines and connections are intact and free of leaks

    A clothes dryer that is not working properly has an increased risk of catching fire. Signs your dryer might need service:

    • Clothes are taking longer than one cycle to dry
    • Clothes come out hotter than usual
    • There is no visible lint on the lint trap
    • Dryer repeatedly stops during a cycle
    • The top of the dryer is hot to the touch while running

    More information is available from:

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    Keep planning for your future: Buy life insurance as a young adult

    By Nathan Otto

    With the struggle to manage burdensome student loans, balance the cost of mortgages and meet the endless barrage of other living expenses, why should life insurance be a priority for us as young adults?

    The answer is simple: it provides invaluable protection for our family’s financial future. We spend so much of our time and energy working to provide the best life for our loved ones, it is critical that we have a plan in place to protect those efforts in our absence.

    Many of us are healthy and productive, advancing in our careers, buying homes and starting families.

    I can use my own life as an example. We are a single-income household. Life insurance is not optional for us because the death benefit it provides would replace my income in addition to covering my final expenses. Without that benefit, my wife would be unable to afford health care, burdened with our collective student debt and unable to maintain a normal quality of life.

    In our situation, her financial future is secured with a combination of affordable term insurance to replace my income. It is supplemented with a smaller, guaranteed policy that will be in place for my entire life to take care of my final expenses.

    So why should we purchase life insurance young when we aren’t likely to need it? Because buying it as young adults guarantees coverage that later in life may be unobtainable. If we are able to get it in the future, the cost will rise dramatically as we age. Very few people are healthier in their golden years than they were in their 20s and 30s. Simply put, it’s just good planning.

    Each of us has life insurance needs. With the help of a knowledgeable adviser, those needs can be met with the proper amount and type of coverage. A simple process can quickly identify what should be protected, and how best to do so.

    I challenge you to look closely at the things of value in your life and consider if they would be sustained in the event of your passing. Most of us don’t have the coverage we need, but fortunately as young adults, now is the easiest and most cost effective time to get it.

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    Buy life insurance as a young adult
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    Your personal umbrella policy: Increased policy limits…and more

    By Bill Taylor

    Accidents involving common, everyday activities may result in a worst-case scenario. Being held legally liable for injury to another person or damage to their property could exhaust your home or personal auto policy liability limits, and cause financial ruin to your family. A personal umbrella policy works hand in hand with your existing underlying insurance, adding a layer of liability limits to protect you in today’s litigious society.

    A personal umbrella liability policy offers vital coverage benefits, and for a relatively inexpensive premium compared to the amount of coverage purchased. Talk to your local independent agent to find out how a personal umbrella allows you to obtain:

    • protection for claims for losses not covered by an underlying policy
    • worldwide coverage
    • rental car, special events and liquor liability coverage
    • coverage for libel, slander, defamation or invasion of privacy
    • coverage for loss of earnings while settling a claim

    Review your insurance plan regularly, and seek your agent’s coverage recommendation.

    An umbrella liability policy may be especially appropriate when you have certain exposures:

    • Is there a potential hazard in your backyard? Swimming pools, trampolines and other meant-to-be-fun gear can cause serious injuries.
    • Do you own a pet? When left unattended or without adequate safety controls, some pets become scared and aggressive. You could be held liable if your pet bites a neighbor or passer-by.
    • Are there any young drivers in the family? Inexperienced drivers are at higher risk of being involved in auto accidents.
    • Do you own a boat? Lawsuits can result from all sorts of water-related accidents, such as skiers being towed from your boat or from another boat. Improper and unsafe personal watercraft use accounts for most watercraft liability accidents.
    • Do you have adequate auto insurance liability limits? Most standard auto policies insure you, your resident family members and those who use your car with permission. The possibility of a serious loss – and the need for umbrella coverage – is there.

    These are just a few situations where you could be held responsible for claims for loss that exceed the liability limits provided by your personal auto or homeowner policy. A personal umbrella liability policy protects your financial assets and can make the difference in your ability to meet your responsibility to reimburse others for their injury or damage.

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    Increased policy limits…and more
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    Employers prepare for new OSHA reporting rule

    By Steve Metzger

    Employers prepare for new OSHA reporting rule

    Beginning January 1, 2015, employers will have new requirements for reporting workplace fatalities and serious injuries to the federal government. A new Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule also revises how records are kept and updates the list of employers partially exempt from recordkeeping requirements. Even an employer partially exempt from recordkeeping must still adhere to the new reporting requirements.

    REPORTING CHANGES

    Fatalities: Under the revised OSHA rule, employers will be required to notify the agency of work-related fatalities within eight hours.

    Injuries: Within 24 hours of learning of the event, employers also must report any work-related:

    • in-patient hospitalizations
    • amputations
    • loss of an eye

    Previous OSHA regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting an amputation, loss of an eye, or a single hospitalization was not required.

    This action continues a trend over the last 20 years of OSHA regulations becoming more focused on the loss trends we in the insurance industry see. Timely reporting of workers’ compensation claims is always encouraged by the insurance industry. Better reporting and recordkeeping helps OSHA, the insurance industry and policyholders better identify risks and focus on loss prevention techniques that improve safety for workers. Delays in reporting increase the ultimate cost of workers’ compensation claims.

    RECORDKEEPING CHANGES

    The list of low-hazard industries that are partially exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records was expanded to 82 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Included are: some retail operations, health-related offices, insurance carriers, dentists and schools. Companies with 10 or fewer employees are still exempt. Here is the complete list of exempted codes.

    Even though some businesses are partially exempt, The Cincinnati Insurance Company is encouraging its business policyholders to maintain an internal log to allow benchmarking with results of similar businesses and identify trends in their own business.

    In addition, 25 new NAICS code industries are being required to keep records, including: auto dealers, building material dealers, museums and amusement operations. Here is the complete list of newly added codes.

    RESOURCES FOR YOU

    For more information about the new rule, visit OSHA’s website. The complete news release announcing the change is also available on the site.

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