Distracted Drivers Did What?

Posted on Sun, Apr 12, 2015

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People driving down the road beside you are doing some totally outrageous – and very dangerous things like taking selfies, changing clothes, putting in contact lenses or eye drops, curling eyelashes, and even scratching off lottery tickets.  In an online survey of 1,915 of U.S. drivers over the age of 18 and older by Harris Poll on behalf of Erie Insurance, these activities are simply the tip of the iceberg. 

April is National Distracted Driving Month calling attention to the things we do in a car every day that could have serious consequences. Here are just a few of the statistics:

At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. 

What qualifies as distracted driving?

According to Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at Erie Insurance, “Anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, or their mind off their primary task of driving safely.” For more information on the study,  https://www.erieinsurance.com/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/2015/distracted-driving

Texas had a total of 90,937 crashes statewide in 2012 involved distracted driving such as driver inattention or cell phone use, resulting in 471 deaths and 18,594 serious injuries, according to the Texas Department of Transportation - a 13% increase in distracted driving fatalities in a single year.  And in Houston one death and 791 serious injuries resulted from 4,662 distracted driving crashes. 

So what is everyone doing while they’re driving?

Besides the obvious phone distractions of texting and talking, other distractions people admitted to range from public displays of affection to person grooming to taking selfies.

Wondering about the percentages?

Respondents to the Harris Poll admitted to the following behavior while driving.

Romantic encounter/PDA              15%

Combing/styling hair                       15%

Changing Clothes                             9%

Putting on make-up                          8%

Brushing/flossing teeth                     4%

Taking selfies                                   4%

Other distractions included putting in contact lenses or eye drops, curling lashes, scratching off lottery tickets, and even playing the guitar while driving. 

Texting Stats

Drivers in the South texted the most – 35%

Men are more likely to text – 35% vs women at 28%

Younger drivers text more.  18-34 age range tops the list at 51%

Is Hands-Free the Answer?

According the National Safety Council, 80% of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. But that is just not the case. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer because the brain remains distracted by the conversation. When talking on a cell phone, drivers can miss seeing up to half of what's around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians.​

The National Safety Council goes on to state that “There is no safe way to use a cell phone and drive – even with a hands-free device. Protect the ones you love – including yourself – and pledge to stop using your phone behind the wheel. Calls kill. No one should ever die from such a completely preventable cause.”

Take the Focused Driver Challenge and pledge to drive cell free.  

https://www.nsc.org/forms/distracteddriving_pledge.aspx?utm_medium=(none)&utm_source=(direct)&utm_campaign=pledge  

At Dean & Draper we want you to be safe as you move through your day.  Please consider taking the pledge to drive cell free – for your own sake as well as those who are sharing the road with you. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

Topics: Distracted Driving

Flood Insurance Changes on April 1, 2015 are No Joke

Posted on Mon, Apr 06, 2015

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In 2014 the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA) became law.  FEMA is still working on implementing the changes to the NFIP and flood insurance rates across the country.  What does that mean for homeowners? 

Rate Increases

Before the first Flood Insurance Rate Map (also known as pre-FIRM properties) became effective homes and businesses were likely to qualify for subsidized rates.  With both the Biggert-Walters and HFIAA the subsidies will eventually be eliminated. 

FEMA will gradually phase out subsidies as follows:

  • Subsidized rates for pre-FIRM primary residences in SFHAs will increase by 18% a year until reaching full-risk rates.

  • Pre-FIRM subsidized rates for non-primary residences in SFHAs (and Zone D) will increase by 25% each year until reaching full-risk rates.

  • Pre-FIRM subsidized rates for business properties will increase by 25% each year until reaching full-risk rates, starting as soon as FEMA can distinguish businesses from other properties currently grouped as non-residential. Until then, pre-FIRM non-residential properties, including businesses, will increase by approximately 18%each year.

  • All other pre-FIRM subsidized rates will increase by no more than 18% each

New Policy Surcharge

During the development of HFIAA, Congress had to balance rate rollbacks and refunds with positive income by adding a surcharge for all flood insurance policyholders. That means beginning April 1, primary residents will pay an annual surcharge of $25 regardless of flood zone; all other buildings, including secondary homes, businesses, condos and more, will pay an annual surcharge of $250.  And the surcharge will apply annually until there are no more subsidized rates in the program.

According to Bruce Bender, specialist in outreach and risk communication services and a national consultant for FEMA’s FloodSmart marketing campaign and FEMA’s Risk MAP effort, his biggest concern is for policyholders who are not located in high-risk areas and aren’t required to purchase flood insurance, but still opt to purchase a Preferred Risk Policy. For $200,000 in building and $80,000 contents, those customers would pay a premium of $390 to protect a secondary home.

But “this year, that renews at $630,” Bender says. “That’s a 62% increase. So if the bank’s not requiring you to buy flood insurance, are you going to keep it? This surcharge that allows people to keep their pre-FIRM subsidized rates longer is now causing another subsidy of its own and impacts all policyholders.”

Higher Deductable Option

HFIAA also adds a $10,000 deductible option for all residential property owners, including single-family and two-to-four family dwellings and this new deductible amount applies to both building and contents coverage.

That results in a 40% discount,” Bender adds. “If there’s a lender involved, typically the lender will probably have to approve such a high deductible. But you combine that with community rating system discounts, and it could help.”

For more information on the changes in flood insurance

See the article “Brace Your Clients for New Flood Policy Srucharge” in Iamagazine  http://www.iamagazine.com/markets/read/2015/03/30/brace-your-clients-for-new-flood-policy-surcharge#sthash.yt6l6lxq.dpuf

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Manual  https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/103209  

http://www.iamagazine.com/markets/read/2015/03/30/brace-your-clients-for-new-flood-policy-surcharge#sthash.yt6l6lxq.dpuf

“Upcoming NFIP Changes: Are Your Clients Prepared?” by Floodsmart. http://www.iamagazine.com/news/read/2015/03/04/upcoming-nfip-changes-are-your-clients-prepared

We are prepared for your questions about the changes in your flood insurance and welcome you call.  Please take a moment to allow us to clarify the changes and how they could effect your flood insurance.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

Topics: flood insurance

Traveling With Your Laptop – Keeping Your Data Safe

Posted on Mon, Mar 30, 2015

Computer keyboard security concept © Christian Delbert – Fotolia

It’s now officially Spring and everyone is itching to do some traveling.  Whether your travel is for business or pleasure – or both, most of us wouldn’t think of leaving our computers behind.  So we have some tips for safely traveling with your computer along with a few ideas for keeping your computer safe at home or in the office

Travel Tips

Never send your laptop in checked luggage. Carry it on with you, and keep an eye on it at airport security.

Make your laptop bag unique and easily identifiable. Choose a distinctive bag for your laptop or decorate your current bag with distinctive paint or stickers.

Disguise your computer case.  A case designed for computers is a clear signal to thieves that you are carrying a laptop.  Choose a bag that doesn’t look like a computer case.

Use a virtual private network (VPN). Publicly accessible networks, such as those offered in airports, conference centers and hotel rooms, present a particular security risk to laptop users. Hackers can connect to the same networks and eavesdrop on emails or copy passwords as they pass over the network.  The best way to protect your data from interception by other network users is to encrypt it while it is in transit between your computer and your office network, using a VPN.

Use secure email.  Sometimes it can prove difficult to get a VPN connection working, so it's prudent to ensure that any email program, webmail system or cloud based email service that you use is configured to use a secure sockets layer (SSL) or transport layer security (TLS). This ensures that both your username and password, and the contents of your emails, are encrypted as they travel across the internet.

Webmail services like Gmail and cloud based services like Microsoft's Office 365 are configured in this way by default, but email offered by many internet service providers is not.

In the Office

Take your laptop with you. If you step out of a meeting or conference room, take your laptop with you – or it may not be there when you return.

Back up your information regularly and keep the information stored in a safe place.

Don’t let unaccompanied strangers wander around your workplace. Offer assistance and escort visitors to their destinations.

Parking garages are common theft locations. Cover your laptop to hide it from view or place it in the trunk.

Good General Stuff

Disable booting from CD or USB.  It's easy to change or remove an account password using a free resetting program or to guess a short one using a "brute force guessing" program.

But running these involves booting the computer from a CD or USB stick, so you can increase security by disabling the ability to boot from one of these devices. This can be done by altering the settings in your laptop's basic input/output system (BIOS) – the built-in software with generic code to control the machine – which can usually be accessed by pressing F1, F4, F10 or Del just after you switch it on.

To ensure that no-one can override these settings, password-protect the BIOS so that no more changes can be made to it without entering the password. This can also be configured in the BIOS settings.

Encrypt your hard drive.  If your laptop is stolen from your car or hotel room there is usually nothing to stop the thief from removing your hard drive and attaching it to another computer. Doing this bypasses any account password protection and allows them to access your data easily.

The best way to prevent access is to encrypt your laptop's hard drives. Encrypted drives can only be accessed after the encryption key is supplied - usually in the form of a PIN, a password or by inserting a USB stick containing the key.

Keep your USB sticks secureIf you carry a USB memory stick to make backups of your work or store other data, it's important to make sure that it is as secure as the data on your laptop.

Avoid automatic log-ins. They may be easier, but if your laptop is ever stolen, your information is all the more vulnerable.

We have compiled our tips for this article from 10 Steps You Can Take to Secure a Laptop, by Paul Rubens at Techradar.pro and 10 Tips to Safeguard Laptop Data from The Hartford. 

We wish you safe and memory-making travels.  We are here to answer your questions, assist you in selecting the insurance that’s right for you, and to smooth the way for filing your claims.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

Topics: Tech Alert, Vacation Safety, Traveling with computers

Live Long and Well - Taking Great Care of Yourself

Posted on Sun, Mar 15, 2015

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Of course, we all want to live long, productive, active, and interesting lives.  We also want to give you good information about getting and staying healthy as a part of our blog postings. 

Our friends at AARP Magazine have been counting the ways to extend our lives.  Here is their list by the numbers.  For more information about this article and AARP Magazine, click here.

9 Health Numbers That Can Extend Your Life

2.7: days you should stay home with the flu

Anything less and you risk infecting coworkers, a study finds. Sixty percent of workers go to the office when they’re sick.

2: hours of TV you can safely watch each day

Too much tube time increases the concentration of triglycerides in your blood and lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol. That can harm your heart.

7+: ideal daily servings of fruits and veggies

That’s more than the five a day you’re used to, but the extra amount can reduce your risk of early death by 42 percent, says a British study.

60 to 100: heartbeats per minute at rest

A gain of just 10 beats per minute over normal increases your risk of dying from heart disease by 10 to 18 percent, a new study finds.

7: hours of sleep per night you need to control weight

In a study of more than 21,000 healthy adults, those who slept five hours or less per night were 50 percent more likely to become obese, compared with those who logged a full night’s rest.

20: most miles you should drive to work — round trip — each day

Longer commutes are associated with higher blood pressure, more worrying and chronic stress, a study on commuting and health finds. (Did we really need a study?)

1,500: maximum amount of sodium, in milligrams, an average adult should consume daily

Three-quarters of the salt in your diet comes from processed foods, so sub in fresh whole foods to lower blood pressure.

1:2: healthiest ratio, waist to height

A bigger waist increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome (a cluster of factors including high blood pressure and cholesterol), which in turn raises the chance of heart disease and stroke.

0: number of cans of sugar-laden soda you can safely drink

Just one 12-ounce can a day raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 18 percent, according to a recent study.

How bad are diet soft drinks?

This stunning information about regular soft drinks immediately drove us to ask the question, “What about diet soft drinks. How bad are they?”  The short answer is really bad.  In the article, 10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda, by Mary Squillace in Health Magazine, Mary delivers information that’s downright scary.  Here is a selection of the reasons to give up diet soda that really got our attention.  For a complete list, click here.

Associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes

Drinking one diet soda a day was associated with a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes in a University of Minnesota study. Metabolic syndrome describes a cluster of conditions (including high blood pressure, elevated glucose levels, raised cholesterol, and large waist circumference) that put people at high risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, Bjork explains.

Ruin your smile over time

Excessive soda drinking could leave you looking like a Breaking Bad extra, according to a case study published in the journal General Dentistry. The research compared the mouths of a cocaine-user, a methamphetamine-user, and a habitual diet-soda drinker, and found the same level of tooth erosion in each of them. The culprit here is citric acid, which weakens and destroys tooth enamel over time.

May be bad for your bones

Women over 60 are already at a greater risk for osteoporosis than men, and Tufts University researchers found that drinking soda, including diet soda, compounds the problem. They discovered that female cola drinkers had nearly 4% lower bone mineral density in their hips than women who didn't drink soda. The research even controlled for the participants' calcium and vitamin D intake. Additionally, a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that cola intake (all kinds, not just diet) was associated with low bone-mineral density in women.

Could hurt your heart

Just one diet soft drink a day could boost your risk of having a vascular event such as stroke, heart attack, or vascular death, according to researchers from the University of Miami and Columbia University. Their study found that diet soda devotees were 43% more likely to have experienced a vascular event than those who drank none. Regular soda drinkers did not appear to have an increased risk of vascular events.

Researchers say more studies need to be conducted before definitive conclusions can be made about diet soda's effects on health.

We want you to stick around

We are very attached to our friends and clients.  We appreciate you and would like to serve your insurance needs for years to come.  Please consider taking some of the steps in this blog to get healthier.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

Topics: Long-Term Care Insurance, health insurance, Health Tips, Health Alert, getting healthy

How to Know if You Need Cyber Liability Insurance

Posted on Sun, Mar 08, 2015

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Seems like cyber breaches are reported in the news almost daily.  Most small to medium sized businesses believe they aren’t a target for those nefarious cybercriminals.  Time to think again.  Small and medium businesses (SMBs) create 64% of the new jobs in the U.S., account for 54% of all U.S. sales, and about half of all private-sector payrolls.  SMBs aren’t just targets — they’re cybercriminals’ top targets. According to the Verizon 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, small and midsize businesses suffered data breaches more often than larger firms.  To download the report, click here.

The even bigger news is that your current insurance is not likely to cover you for cyber breaches.  General and umbrella liability are there to protect you only against claims of property damage and bodily injury. 

How do you know if you need cyber liability insurance?

  • Do you collect credit card information at the point of sale?
  • Do you run a website that processes credit card transactions?
  • Are social security number, other account numbers, home addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers stored in files on your computers?
  • Do you use a third party service in the “cloud” for hosting applications or data?

If your answer is “yes” to any of the above activities, you may be at risk for a cyber attack. 

The high cost of a cyber breach

As revealed in the 2014 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis, sponsored by IBM, the average cost to a company was $3.5 million in US dollars and 15 percent more than what it cost last year. 

In their recent publication of the Ponemon Institute Releases 2014 Cost of Data Breach: Global Analysis and sponsored by IBM, the results report:

“Critical to controlling costs is keeping customers from leaving. The research reveals that reputation and the loss of customer loyalty does the most damage to the bottom line. In the aftermath of a breach, companies find they must spend heavily to regain their brand image and acquire new customers. Our report also shows that certain industries, such as pharmaceutical companies, financial services and healthcare, experience a high customer turnover. In the aftermath of a data breach, these companies need to be especially focused on the concerns of their customers.” 

“An interesting finding is the important role cyber insurance can play in not only managing the risk of a data breach but in improving the security posture of the company. While it has been suggested that having insurance encourages companies to slack off on security, our research suggests the opposite. Those companies with good security practices are more likely to purchase insurance.”  To view the complete report, click here.

What are the key costs of a date breach?

In order to recover from a cyber attack, you’ll need a host of experts such as the people listed below. 

  • Legal support
  • IT security
  • IT repair/restoration
  • Customer notification
  • Credit monitoring for affected individuals
  • Public relations
  • Loss of customers/revenue

Make a plan – before the event

As your SMB grows, more systems are required to manage and mitigate your operations.  Disaster recovery planning in today’s world includes cyber attacks.  The steps listed below are a good beginning.

Incident Response Team.  Include your IT, Human Resources, Public Relations, Legal, and Operations experts.

Investigate.  Determine how widespread the breach is, if the system is secure, which data was compromised, and which customers were impacted.

Notifications.  Contact your cyber insurance carrier and begin reaching out to your customers.

Repair.  Gather your experts – both internal and external.  Determine where and when your system was compromised.  Track the man-hours spent on the recovery along with the overall cost of remediation.  Build an internal and external communications plan. 

Follow-up.  Ensure your data is safe.  Test and then re-test the systems.  Plan and implement customer relations program.

Questions about cyber breach insurance?

Your questions are always encouraged and welcomed.  We are ready to talk with you about your cyber breach insurance needs and concerns.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

Life Insurance as a Tool During Business Liquidation

Posted on Sun, Mar 01, 2015

Sharing experience © pressmaster - Fotolia

Planning for death or disability isn’t on the top of anyone’s To Do List.  In fact, a whole lot of people get caught in a difficult situation just because they don’t like to think about the eventuality much less plan for it.  When the owner of the business is either disabled or dies, liquidating the business may be the only viable alternative. 

A couple of circumstances that could make the liquidation of the business the single viable action are:

  • If the success of the business is completely dependent on the personal skill and experience of the owner. 
  • There is no successor management in the form of a capable family member, a co-owner, a key employee interested in purchasing the business or an outside buyer.

When liquidation of the business at an owner's death or disability is the only viable alternative, the primary objective should be to plan in advance for an orderly liquidation that results in the greatest possible value for the disabled owner or surviving family.  While a properly-drafted will can give an executor the authority and flexibility to manage a planned liquidation, there must be sufficient liquidity in the deceased owner's estate to provide the time needed for a planned liquidation. 

Life insurance can provide the funds that make the difference between a planned liquidation and a financially-disastrous forced liquidation.  Consider the uses to which life insurance can be put in the planned liquidation of a business:

Estate Settlement

Life insurance proceeds can be used to pay estate taxes and other estate settlement costs, allowing the liquidation to proceed on an orderly basis.

Family Income

Using life insurance proceeds to provide the surviving family with a continuing income can avoid a forced liquidation of business assets for this purpose.

Working Capital

If the executor needs additional cash to temporarily operate the business, life insurance can serve as the source of that cash.

Offset Shrinkage

Even a planned liquidation will usually result in some shrinkage in value, as compared to what the business was worth as a going concern. Life insurance can be used to replace the value lost in the liquidation.

For "pennies on the dollar," life insurance provides the cash needed to avoid a forced liquidation will be available exactly when needed -- at the business owner's death.

At Dean & Draper, we want to partner with you in planning for situations just like this one.  We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your needs, situation, and preferences.  As your trusted advisor, we will provide options and solid advice.  For additional information on life insurance, click here.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

Topics: Business Insurance, life insruance, business liquidation

The Economics of a Midlife Crisis

Posted on Sun, Feb 22, 2015

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Just how much does it cost to have a Midlife crisis?  Of course that depends on how large a crisis you’re planning.  We have selected our favorite items from Jerry Kronenberg’s article, Cost of a good midlife crisis: $240,000.  To read the article, click here.

Tattoo: $150 - $250

What do you get for that price?   A baseball sized tattoo.  Normally women choose flowers or simple patterns that start around $100.  This idea is not for the faint of heart or those who have a low tolerance for pain.

Plastic Surgery:  $12,469

Men usually go for the Botox before graduating to the face and brow lifts.  Women tend to go big or go home with the full face or brow lift.  Don't expect your health insurance to pick up the tab, because health plans cover only medically necessary treatment, not cosmetic surgery except for things like breast-reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy.

Personal Trainer: $6,240

Naturally you want a body that matches the wrinkle free face, so add that trainer.  Typically a trainer charges about $60 an hour.  With four sessions a week in the ramp up phase of your training, that’s $240 per week for an estimated 6 months to get in good shape.  If you want to  go all the way to buff, add another 6 months.

Red Corvette Convertible: $73,211 plus $1,974 for insurance

In a midlife crisis, of course you’ll ditch that boring minivan for that sexy sports red car – is there any other color – with a Bose 10-speaker stereo and a 455-hoursepower engine with a drive out price of $73,211 according to Edmunds.com .

An Affair: $2,664

According to a survey conducted by VoucherCloud, philandering Americans sped about $2,664 for a 6 month affair including $972 for dinners and drinks, $738 for hotel rooms, $414 for things like movie tickets, $324 for gifts, $216 for miscellaneous. 

A Divorce:  $50,000 (lawyer/filing fees only)

Philandering can get you in loads of trouble, so you may want to have a good lawyer handy.  The cost of a divorce depends on how complex and acrimonious your case is. 

Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp: $9,500

Maybe a fantasy is more in line with your vision.  Common offerings include flying planes, driving race cars, taking classes with celebrity athletes or entertainers.  At the Gene Simmons Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Calgary, Alberta the musically inclined get hotel accommodations plus the Headliner and Recording Packages that allow you to cut a record and do live performances with Kiss frontman Gene Simmons for $9,000.  Of course, you’ll want the Paparazzi Package with a photographer to capture every moment for an additional $500. 

Life Insurance: $6,800

Your affair and your rock-star lifestyle probably won't do much for your longevity, so you'll definitely need some good life insurance.  With the divorce you’ll probably have a new place to live, so you’ll need property or renter’s insurance.  Not to mention the red corvette. 

At Dean & Draper, we’re here to provide the information you need to make good decisions about your insurance.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

Topics: homeowners insurance, Aging Well, auto insurance, casualty insurance, Midlife Crisis

Too Much Clutter?

Posted on Mon, Feb 16, 2015

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Hoarding.  It’s one of those words that makes each of us shiver.  Maybe you have even wondered if you have hoarding tendencies.  Exactly when does “saving” cross the line into “hoarding?”

"The definition of hoarding is that it interferes with your life or makes part of your house unusable," said Jessie Sholl, author of "Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding."

If you're telling yourself, "It's a collection," you're probably wrong. Sholl said collectors take pride in their possessions, keeping them organized and proudly displayed, which immediately identifies those who amass twist ties and pens as hoarders rather than collectors.  And if you think your particular collecting tendencies are unique, you're probably wrong about that, too.

In her recent article, 5 Things You Should Stop Hoarding in 2015, Tammy Kennon lists 5 things we should simply let go of in 2015.  Read more...   

Newspapers and Magazines

Who doesn't have a newspaper or magazine that's more than two months old? Anybody?  Apparently paper is number one on the hoarding hit parade.  The big trap is thinking that you will find time to actually read those magazines.  Not.  If you stockpile magazines, why not share the wealth?  Waiting rooms across your city are great places for your slightly used periodicals.  At the very least put those piles of papers in the recycle bin.

Bags

In case you haven’t noticed, bags when left to their own devices, will multiply faster than rabbits.  Keep a handful of bags and recycle the rest.  Remembering to take the reusable bags inside when you’re shopping will stop the flow of bags into your house.

Hotel Shampoo and Conditioner

Those little bottles fall into a major category we use to justify hoarding: It seems wasteful to throw them away.  If you simply can’t leave them behind, donating to shelters is a great way to put them to good use.

Office Supplies

Sticky notes, paper clips, staplers, binders, pens – all useful items.  The real question is just how many do you really need?  If you have more than a year’s supply consider donating the rest to a non-profit. 

Clothing

Let's guess … your closet is packed, maybe with multiple wardrobes in various sizes?  Cleaning out all of your closets could feel daunting, so how about starting with just one?  When you see how wonderfully organized that first closet is, you have great inspiration to do the next one.  Donating clothes that you haven’t worn in a year could put the garment in the hands of someone who really needs it for that job interview.

Our blog is intended to provide useful, interesting information.  If you have ideas or suggestions for blog topics, please comment below.  We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  

Topics: homeowners insurance, Spring Cleaning, Personal Safety, personal wellness, decluttering, restoring calm and peace

Tech Alert - Anthem Cyber Attack

Posted on Sun, Feb 08, 2015

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The news is full of the massive cyber attack on Anthem and the stunning theft of 80 million customer records.  Anthem is one of the nation's largest insurance companies and includes several major Blue Cross and Blue Shield brands.  The information stolen from the insurance giant includes names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, e-mail addresses and employment information, including income data.

“That's a treasure trove of information,” said Tom Gorup, security operations center manager for Rook Security.  It's enough to commit identity theft, or bypass security questions to lock you out of existing accounts.  And the risk isn't short term, like when a credit card number is stolen. "Just because the attacker stole the data today doesn't mean they'll sell it tomorrow," he said. "They could sit on this information for years."

The impact of this cyber attack is far reaching.  According to an NBC News Report, Anthem Breach: What Should I Do Now?, the victims of insurance company Anthem's breach will have to remain vigilant against fraud for the rest of their lives. To see the full NBC report, click here.    

What to do if you're a customer

If you have Anthem insurance, there's not much you can do but sit tight for now.  In the next few weeks, Anthem will inform you by mail if your information was compromised. All impacted Anthem customers will receive some form of identity fraud protection, the company said.

You might want to consider changing your Anthem password, just to be safe. If you are concerned that your Anthem e-mail and password combination could have also been used to login to another service, you should change those passwords as well.

Monitor your existing accounts

“The first thing you want to watch out for is someone using this info to trick a call center into letting them take over or transfer money out of your existing accounts,” said Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner Inc.  Watch for any unauthorized activity or transfers on your current financial accounts, including 401k and brokerage accounts.

Sign up for credit alerts and identity theft protection

Anthem has pledged to offer free credit monitoring and identity protection services to all affected customers. These services will keep an eye on your reports for known indicators of identity theft and send you alerts, look for changes of address, and alert you when someone else tries to use your identity. "All impacted members will receive notice via mail which will advise them of the protections being offered to them as well as any next steps," said Darrel Ng, a spokesman for Anthem, Inc.

File your taxes early

It only takes two pieces of information for a crook to snag your tax refund by filing your taxes early and claiming it for themselves, and the data in the breach contained both, said Paige Hanson, Educational Programs Manager for LifeLock, an identity theft monitoring service. File as early as you can to avoid any problems.

Sign up for fraud alerts

A fraud alert cautions lenders and other to take special care to ensure your identity before issuing new credit. It won't necessarily stop a fraudster but it will raise a red flag to take extra steps, including potentially contacting you directly.

Contact each of the three major credit bureaus--Experian, Transunion and Equifax--and ask that a fraud alert be placed on your file. That will stay on your report for 90 days. By then, you should have a credit monitoring service in place, either one provided by Anthem, or another that you sign up for on your own.   For information from the Federal Trade Commission on how to place a fraud alert, click here.

Stay vigilant

No one knows when or where or if the stolen identities will be used so affected consumers will simply have to stay mindful... forever. "Your Social Security number is not going to change," said Gorup. "This is going to stick with you for life." One tip to avoid fallout from bad guys using the stolen personal information is to never use personally identifiable information as answers to your "secret questions" on your online accounts, said Dwayne Melancon, CTO of Tripwire, a security software company.

"Make up your own questions and answers, or use answers that are fictitious but memorable to you to prevent criminals from guessing their way into your online accounts, "said Melancon.

Our Best Advice

Who knew just a few years ago that cyber crime would be a threat to millions of people around the world?  What can we do as individuals to protect our personal information? 

Change your passwords regularly – at least every 6 months.  Forget about the kid’s birthdays and dog’s name.  Make your password unique.  For some ideas on creating a great password that you can actually remember, Google “How to create a unique password.” 

Check your accounts – all of them.  Look for any unusual activity and report it.

Be careful who you give your Social Security number to.  While you can get a new credit card, your Social Security number is yours for life.

We want to support you and welcome your questions about your insurance coverage. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

Topics: Tech Alert, health insurance, cyber breaches, Anthem Breach

Get Fit Right at Your Desk - Stay Healthy & Reduce Stress

Posted on Sun, Feb 01, 2015

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Today is February 1st.  Just four short weeks ago you made your New Year’s Resolutions.  How is it going with your resolutions to exercise more and reduce stress?  We thought that right about now would be a good time to offer you some alternatives to hitting the gym. 

In her article “Deskercise! 33 Smart Ways to Exercise at Work,” Emily Milam offers creative ideas to both work and exercise at the same time.  We’ve selected the 6 exercises we could easily imagine doing at our desks.  For all of the 33 exercises and the complete article, click here. 

The Silent Seat Squeeze: Believe it or not, some exercises can be kept under wraps, and this isometric glutes exercise is one of them. To start toning, simply squeeze the buttocks, hold for 5-10 seconds, and release. Repeat until the agenda wraps up or the glutes tire. The results will be uplifting in more ways than one.

The Seated Leg Raiser: When pay raises are nowhere to be seen, consider the leg raise. (Bonus: they’re hardly noticeable underneath the desk!) While seated, straighten one or both legs and hold in place for five or more seconds. Then lower the leg(s) back to the ground without letting the feet touch the floor. Repeat (alternating legs if raising them separately) for 15 reps. Underwhelmed? Loop a purse or briefcase strap over the ankle for added weight, or for more of an abs workout, add a crunch.

The Stapler Curl: Trusty staplers are always guarded closely, especially the red ones. Seated or standing, take the stapler in one hand with the palm facing upwards. Starting at the thighs, bend the elbow and curl the arm up towards the chest, just like a regular dumbbell biceps curl. Pause momentarily and then lower the stapler back down. Continue for 12-15 reps, then switch. Don’t have a weighty stapler? Try using a filled water bottle or a heavy change purse (the vending machine can wait!).

The Nape Shaper: It’s time to tone that neck! For the first isometric neck strengthening trick, put your head in your hands as if exasperated by the workday (you may already be in this position), and press your palms into your forehead as if trying to push the head backward. Resist the motion by engaging the neck muscles. Next, clasp the hands behind the back of the head and try to push the head backward, resisting the motion with your hands. Hold each exercise for 5 seconds. Slowly release, rest, and repeat 5 times each.

The Desk Chair Swivel: Lucky enough to have a fun swivel chair? Use its twirl to your advantage with this oblique abs fix. Sitting upright and with the feet hovering over the floor, hold the edge of your desk with your fingers and thumb. Next, use the core to swivel the chair from side to side. Swish back and forth for 15 rounds.

The Fab Abs Squeeze: Another silent exercise, this one can be covertly executed when walking down the hall or seated during a call. Simply take a deep breath and tighten the abdominal muscles, bringing them in towards the spine as you exhale. Stay squeezed for 5-10 seconds and release. Repeat for 12-15 reps.

The “Crunch Time” Crunch: The deadlines are looming, as are hopes for a six-pack by summer. While most jobs don’t condone in-office boozing, you can get the other six-pack with some seated isometric crunches. With both elbows on the thighs, try to curl the chest in towards the legs while resisting the movement with the arms. Hold for 10 seconds, release, and repeat times 10.

We really like our customers and want to keep you healthy and happy.  Hopefully these ideas for exercising while you work will inspire you to move more, build muscles, and reduce stress.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact us.

Topics: Health Tips, personal wellness, Staying Fit, Desk Exercise