May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month


An estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in the course of their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – every hour.  The month of May has been designated Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month to raise aware about this most common form of cancer in the U.S. 

To increase an individual’s chances of spotting skin cancer early, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends learning the ABCDE rule:

  • A is for Asymmetry:  One half of the mole does not match the other half.
  • B is for Border irregularity:  The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
  • C is for Color:  Color varies from one area to another.
  • D is for Diameter:  While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
  • E is for Evolving:  A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.


The top 5 reasons to promptly report a claim

Your insurance policy is merely a promise until you have a claim, but many people hesitate to report a claim to their insurer. Here are five reasons why you should promptly report a claim if you have an incident.

      Coverage is contingent on prompt reporting. Your policy defines specified conditions and requirements for coverage, and one of them is usually your duty to report a loss just as soon as practical after the loss occurs.
      Early investigation is vital in determining liability and damages. Obtaining key evidence, scope of damages and interviewing all parties while information is clear assures your claim is accurately assessed and given every consideration.
      Prompt reporting is vital when subrogation is needed to pursue a claim against the responsible party. Subrogation enables an insurance company, after paying a loss to its insured, to recover the amount of the loss from another who is legally liable for it. Prompt claim reporting makes it easier to determine facts, obtain expert reports and collect evidence early on, leading to a higher likelihood that the not-at-fault policyholder can recover the deductible. It also helps keep claim costs – and therefore insurance costs – low.
      By reporting your claim early, immediate remediation can prevent further damage. This ultimately lowers claim costs and helps keep premiums low.
      The insurance company has an opportunity on claims involving injury or damage to people other than the policyholder (third parties) to negotiate an early economical settlement. Late reporting could allow key evidence to be lost or destroyed, leading to a not-so-positive outcome for all parties involved. (The Ohio Insurance Institute’s glossary defines third-party coverage and first-party coverage.)

Let the insurance professionals do the work for you. You are paying a premium and deserve to have a complete policy review, inspection and investigation to determine if you have coverage.

When in doubt, ask your agent or insurance company for advice on whether to submit a claim. Always report it promptly (even as a “record only”) so you adhere to your policy conditions and duties.

Holiday shopping: important precautions to protect your property

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.

Some things to keep in mind when you are out:

  • Never leave valuable items in clear view in your vehicle  ̶  thieves target your car for items they see; put your valuables in the trunk
  • Always lock your vehicle when you park
  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Park in an area with heavy foot traffic, not in an isolated spot
  • When stopping for fuel, always lock your vehicle if you leave it
  • When pumping gas, lock the doors on the other side of the car to prevent thieves from grabbing your purse or other valuables while your attention is diverted
  • Never leave your keys in your car or the ignition  ̶  your car key ring usually has your house keys on it, and this could prove dangerous and costly
  • When you are out at malls, parking areas and ATMs, be aware of your surroundings:

    • Always make sure your valuables are secured.
    • If you carry a purse or satchel, make it safe from people taking it from you; don’t leave your purse in the seat of a shopping cart

    If you do become a victim:

    • Immediately notify police and provide them with as much information as you can concerning the property taken
    • Immediately, while the information is fresh in your mind, note a description of the responsible individual and his or her vehicle, license plate number or other identifying information
    • Make note of the direction the thief fled, and pass that information to the authorities

    Enjoy the holiday season, protecting your family and fun by taking good precautions.

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.

Keep planning for your future:

Buy life insurance as a young adult

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.

Your personal umbrella policy:

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.

Winter emergency plans for business or home

Fall has just begun, but winter storms are inevitable in many parts of the country.

As we close out National Preparedness Month, it’s a good time to put a winter emergency plan in place to help your business and family cope and communicate when the storms hit.





  • Ensure that an emergency power supply is readily available and in service. Test your generator each month and verify it functions appropriately.
  • Maintain adequate fuel supply for building heat and emergency generators. Make certain that fuel is properly stabilized and protected from moisture intrusion.
  • Establish a severe winter weather team with written procedures to monitor conditions and alert management and maintenance personnel.
  • List emergency phone numbers in your emergency plan, and post the list at all telephones. Ensure that all employees have these emergency phone numbers at home, on their mobile phones or somewhere off-site and that they are updated whenever the numbers change.
  • Provide battery-operated and weather-alert radios in constantly staffed locations to monitor weather reports.
  • Use weather applications on your smartphone to keep informed of severe weather events.
  • Update your emergency plan to reflect changes in operations, facilities or personnel.
  • Provide adequate emergency and first-aid supplies.

FOR YOUR FAMILY (as recommended on

  • Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
    • Sand to improve traction.
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Sufficient heating fuel, taking all necessary safety precautions for storage. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning heating equipment.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • A NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the National Weather Service for all hazards. You may also sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services.
  • Free smartphone apps, such as those available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross, provide information about finding shelters, providing first aid and seeking assistance for recovery.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with unfrozen drinking water.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a complete guide to Extreme Cold.

Storing your car, boat or bike for the winter

As the weather changes in many parts of the country, we reluctantly look at putting away our summer toys:  that ragtop, pontoon boat or Harley-Davidson, for example. In addition to protecting them against harsh elements, there can be an insurance advantage. Ask your agent if your insurance company offers a credit for a reduction in coverage for items stored for an extended period of time and not in use, and find out whether you should follow up in the spring. Each insurance company has its own rules.


In Northern states – those mainly above the Mason-Dixon Line – you may be able to put your vehicle in storage and reduce coverage to other-than-collision (sometimes called comprehensive) coverage only. This typically requires a change to the policy to remove coverage. However, most carriers also require that you notify them when you want coverage added back to the policy in the spring. Some agents give you a token – such as car air fresheners to hang on the rear-view mirror – as a reminder to reinstate full coverage when you get that car rolling again.

Some carriers build this feature into the pricing on policies for exhibition auto vehicles – vehicles that clearly will not be driven in the winter. Check with your agent to see if this policy provision/endorsement applies to you.


As the temperatures start getting colder, experienced boaters prepare their watercraft to withstand harsh elements by storing them in a garage or shrink-wrapping the boat. Your watercraft policy may have an automatic layup period put in place at the time of issuance or renewal, providing months of reduced coverage at the insured’s choosing. During those months, coverage is limited to physical damage as outlined in the policy, and the annual premium reflects this layup period.

If you have the layup period in place, there is no need to call your agent unless you decide to take the boat out before the specified end date of the layup period. Ask your agent for details.


If you aren’t riding your bike in the cold winter months, you may be able  to specify a period of time your motorcycle will be in storage, saving you premium dollars. If you have several motorcycles, find out whether a premium savings applies to all motorcycles or only one.

Some companies have a “sunny day clause” in place just for the motorcycle layup period. If there is an abnormally warm day during the normal layup period and you decide to take the bike out for a one-time spin, liability coverage is provided. This depends on the ride being a one-time event and not driving it all the way to, say, Florida. Check with your insurance agent to see if this type of coverage is provided on your policy.