Top 10 Business-Friendly States

Posted on Sun, May 17, 2015

Texas (USA) flag waving on the wind © LullaWondering which states are the most business-friendly?  Tax rates, regulations, growth stance, and the quality of life in each state can have a big impact on your business’ success.

In Chief Executive Magazine’s "2015 Best and Worst States for Business” survey completed by 511 U.S. CEOs, states were measured on three categories to achieve their overall ranking:

  • Taxes and regulations
  • Quality of the workforce
  • Living environment (which includes quality of education, cost of living, affordable housing, social amenities and crime rates)

Top 10 List

Here are the 2015 top 10 states for business according to Chief Executive Magazine.

10. South Carolina (No. 5 last year)

South Carolina offers a highly educated workforce, low business regulation, and favorable weather conditions that result in continued growth in its manufacturing sector.

9. Arizona (No. 7 last year)

In addition to low taxes, a quality workforce, reasonable housing costs and favorable weather conditions, Arizona continues to attract and keep big-name businesses such as Wal-Mart, FedEx, Honeywell, JPMorgan Chase and dozens of others.

8. Nevada (No. 8 last year, also)

CEOs are pleased with the business-friendly tax rates, low governmental regulations, highly-educated, quality workforce and reasonable cost of living in Nevada.

7. Louisiana (No. 9 last year)

During 2015, Louisiana showed strong improvement in attracting and retaining technology businesses, while also benefitting from a downstream position in oil and gas. CEOs are pleased with the state's industrial incentives, cheap energy and non-union workforce.

6. Indiana (No. 6 last year, also)

The only Midwest state to make the top 10, the right-to-work state's business growth strategy has been paying off. Indiana boasts 68 company headquarters, including Cummins, Eli Lilly, Brightpoint and Delta Faucet Company.

5. Georgia (No. 10 last year)

Georgia is experiencing business growth. Its low tax and regulatory hurdles, along with a high-quality workforce and a strong living environment recently attracted Mercedes-Benz.

4. Tennessee (No. 3 last year)

Tennessee is becoming a center for automotive industry manufacturing, including a Nissan plant in Knoxville.

3. North Carolina (No. 4 last year)

North Caroline continues to outpace other states in new job growth, and dominates the south in areas such as laptop exports and agriculture. Tobacco is still the state’s leading grown product.

2. Florida (No. 2 last year, also)

This southeast state, which has held its second-place position for four years, has much to offer businesses, including a world-class infrastructure, flexible enterprise zones and tax credits for R&D.

1. Texas (No. 1 last year, also)

Since the recession began in December 2007, 1.2 million net jobs have been created in Texas, while 700,000 net jobs were created in the other 49 states combined. From climate to transportation to cost of living, Texas has proven it can't be beat.  Texas has held the number 1 position in the CEO survey for 11 years.

The Good News is…

In his article for Chief Executive Magazine, Texas: Beyond Black Gold, Dale Buss comments on the Texas economy.

“Even as Texas hung on to its No. 1 ranking for 2015 in the Best States & Worst States list, can the Lone Star State withstand the continued hit from the global surplus of oil because of its diversifying economy—or even outperform its previous benchmarks as the U.S. economy gains steam?”

“…internal players and outside observers alike give Texas good odds of finishing No. 1 again in the 2016 Chief Executive index based largely on four factors: only about 4 percent of the state’s workforce is in the oil and gas industry now, a fraction of a generation ago; other industry pillars keep rising; regions outside the oil patch have made their own prosperity; and the Abbott administration has some strengths of its own.”

At Dean & Draper, we’re dedicated to supporting our business clients with exactly the right insurance coverage for your situation – not too much, not too little.  Now could be a good time to review your policies, discuss your options, and assure that your insurance meets your need.  We welcome your call, 713.527.0444 or 888.266.2680.

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: commercial insurance, Business Insurance, commercial property insurance, Economic Trends in Texas

Memorial Day Driving Projections Highest in 10 Years

Posted on Sun, May 10, 2015

Fotolia_38740401_XS-1Planning to hop in the car this Memorial Day weekend?  You’re not alone.  Americans are planning to hit the road in record numbers.  Before you head out, we have some statistics on the number of travelers projected over Memorial Day along with some tips to stay safe on the road. 

AAA Travel projects 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 4.7 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year and the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years. Kicking off the summer driving season, 33 million travelers will be driving to their destinations. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 21 to Monday, May 25.

Highlights from 2015 Memorial Day Travel Forecast:

  • The 2015 Memorial Day forecast is expected to mark the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years, since 2005.
  • Most drivers will likely pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years. Today’s national average price of gas is $2.66, $1.00 less than the average price on Memorial Day last year.
  • The 4.7 percent increase over Memorial Day 2014 is the highest forecast growth rate for any of the holidays tracked by AAA since Independence Day 2012.
  • More than 88 percent of travelers (33 million) will travel by automobile, an increase of 5.3 percent over last Memorial Day.
  • Holiday air travel is expected to increase 2.5 percent to 2.6 million leisure travelers.
  • Travel by other modes of transportation including cruises, trains and buses, is expected to decrease 3.6 percent this Memorial Day, to 1.64 million.
  • Travelers will encounter higher lodging costs this year, while airfares are down slightly compared to Memorial Day 2014.

For more information on the AAA Travel Report, click here.

Before You Go: Vehicle Safety Checklist

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following check list for your car before you leave your driveway.  To view the complete list, click here.

  • Tires – air pressure, tread wear, and spare
  • Belts and Hoses – condition and fittings
  • Wiper Blades – wear and tear on both sides
  • Cooling System – coolant levels and servicing
  • Fluid Levels – oil, brake, transmission, power steering, coolant, and windshield washer fluids
  • Lights – headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, interior lights, and trailer lights
  • Air Conditioning – check performance before traveling

On the Road

Avoid fatigue so you can stay focused.  Allow for frequent breaks.  Stop for food, pull over at a rest stop and stretch, stay overnight in a motel, and sharing the driving are all good strategies.

Avoid Bad Driver Behavior

Distracted Driving

Nearly 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction.  Anything that pulls your attention away from driving is a distraction – cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, and using in-vehicle technologies and electronic devices.

Buckle Up, Every Trip, Every Time

Everybody in the car should wear a seat belt every trip.  Make a rule – the car doesn’t move until everyone is buckled up.

Drunk Driving

Every 51 minutes and 32 times a day, someone in the United States dies in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash.  Don’t drink and drive.  Choose a designate driver before going out.

Emergency Roadside Kit

Just in case your well-maintained car breaks down, here are some items for your emergency kit.

  • Cell phone & charger
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares and a white flag
  • Jumper cables
  • Jack (with ground mat) for changing a tire
  • Work gloves and a change of clothes
  • Basic repair tools and duct tape
  • Water and paper towels for cleaning up
  • Nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines
  • Extra windshield washer fluid

We hope that you have a great getaway this Memorial Day weekend.  As always, we welcome your insurance questions and encourage you to call or contact us on our website.

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, Vacation Safety, Driving Safely

Dean & Draper Receives PURE’S Paragon Designation

Posted on Tue, May 05, 2015

Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange Welcomes Dean & Draper, Top Producer, to Elite Group

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Houston, Texas – 4/30/15 – Dean & Draper, the Houston-based independent insurance brokerage that specializes in meeting the risk management needs of high net worth individuals and families, has earned the prestigious “Paragon” designation for 2015 from Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE).

PURE-appointed brokers are among the most highly qualified and respected professionals in their field. This year, fewer than 8% of PURE appointed brokers earned the Paragon designation. These brokers not only share and help execute PURE’s commitment to creating an exceptional service experience, but also have made exemplary contributions to the growth and underwriting quality of the PURE membership.

“Agents and brokers like Dean & Draper are the tangible embodiment of the definition of paragon: a model to be emulated,” said Mark Galante, Chief Marketing Officer of the PURE Group of Insurance Companies. “We are fortunate to collaborate closely with such great firms in the development and servicing of PURE’s extraordinary membership.”

“I am pleased that the service delivered by our team, coupled with our specialization of the high net worth insurance, have yielded the results that warrant this special designation,” said Kyle Dean, President & CEO.  “Dean & Draper is proud to be Paragon and further inspired to be the best for our clients every day”.

About Dean & Draper Insurance Agency LP

Founded in 1980, Dean & Draper caters to an international roster of clients from six offices, including its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Through a network of more than 200 diverse insurers, the independent company offers the most competitive, comprehensive policies for personal and commercial insurance needs. This National Top 100 agency in Property & Casualty and Top 50 agency in personal policies underwrites in excess of $150 million in annual auto, home, health and corporate premiums.

About PURE

Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE) is a policyholder-owned insurer dedicated to creating an exceptional experience for responsible high net worth individuals and families. PURE provides best-in-class, customizable coverage throughout most of the U.S for high-value homes, automobiles, jewelry, art, personal liability, watercraft and flood.  Inspired by some of the finest policyholder-owned companies in the world, PURE emphasizes alignment of interests and transparency. PURE’s low cost of capital, careful member selection, and proactive risk management all contribute to highly competitive rates. As a member of The PURE Group, PURE is rated A- “Excellent” for Financial Strength by A.M. 

Topics: company news

Hurricane Season – Quiet or Not?

Posted on Sun, May 03, 2015

 

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According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th every year. Some years are worse in terms of damage than others -- 2005 remains the busiest season for the Atlantic region on record with 28 named storms -- but every summer brings the potential for significant weather events between the Caribbean and eastern Canada.

The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season may be one of the least active in decades, according to an initial forecast issued Thursday by Colorado State University. To view the forecast and check out their FAQs, http://www.weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/hurricane-season-outlook-atlantic-2015-el-nino

 

The early outlook released April 9 calls for seven named storms, including three hurricanes, one of which is predicted to attain major hurricane status (Category 3 or stronger on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). This is well below the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
The outlook, headed by Dr. Phil Klotzbach in consultation with long-time hurricane expert Dr. William Gray, is based on a combination of 29 years of statistical predictors, combined with analog seasons exhibiting similar features of sea-level pressure and sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.

We aren't in the thick of hurricane season yet, but it is never too early for homeowners and business owners in the potential path of these storms to prepare for the worst, and that includes a thorough annual review of their insurance coverage.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) has assembled the following checklist for property owners in hurricane regions. For more information on the I.I.I. check list, http://www.iii.org/article/hurricane-season-insurance-checklist

 

Is your policy limit enough to rebuild your home in the event of a loss?

The I.I.I. recommends the following homeowners coverages as add-ons to help protect customers against the costs of rebuilding a total loss:

Extended Replacement Cost Policy – pays an additional 20% or more above the policy limits.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost Policy – pays the full amount to rebuild your home whatever the ultimate cost.

Inflation Guard – automatically adjusts the coverage limits to reflect changes in construction costs. 

Ordinance or Law Coverage – pays a specified amount for rebuilding to new building codes, should your community adopt stricter codes.

Do you know the value of everything you own?

I.I.I. writes: "Most insurers provide coverage for personal possessions—approximately 50 to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. Is this enough? The best way to determine what you actually need is to conduct a home inventory—a detailed list of your belongings and their estimated value."

The group also suggests that customers check what type of insurance they have in place for their belongings, whether it is replacement cost coverage or actual cash value coverage.

Does your policy provide enough Additional Living Expenses coverage?

This coverage will provide for basic living expenses in the event that an insured's home is rendered uninhabitable by an insured disaster, including hotel costs, food costs and other expenses.

According to I.I.I.:

"ALE coverage is generally equal to 20 percent of the amount of insurance coverage that you have on the structure of your house; however, most insurers offer the option of higher coverage limits. 

Many policies provide ALE reimbursements only for a specific amount of time; make sure you’re comfortable with the time limits in your policy."

What is the percentage of the hurricane/windstorm deductible stated in your policy?

"Insurers in every coastal state from Maine to Texas include separate deductibles for hurricanes and/or windstorms in their homeowners policies," the I.I.I. writes. "Unlike the standard 'dollar deductible' on an auto or home policy, a hurricane or windstorm deductible is usually expressed as a percentage. It is clearly stated on the Declarations (front) page of your homeowners policy."

These deductibles range from 1% to 5% percent of a home's insured value, and only apply in the event of a specific type of natural disaster (a hurricane for a hurricane deductible and high wind for a windstorm deductible).

Speaking of flood insurance, do you have it?

According to I.I.I., 90% of all natural disasters include flooding, and hurricanes are most certainly on this list. As a result, a separate flood insurance policy is important for anyone who lives either in hurricane country or otherwise on a flood plain.

Have questions about your insurance coverage?

Need some help sorting out your current insurance coverage and additional insurance?  We’re always here for you. Please contact us with your questions.    http://deandraper.web5.hubspot.com/contact/#.VUbA0_bQNdg

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, flood insurance, property insurance, Disaster Recovery

Top 10 Sates for the Most Costly Homeowners Insurance Rates

Posted on Sun, Apr 26, 2015

© Ken Hurst – Fotolia

One of the important aspects of home ownership is insurance.  Since we all want to protect our investment in our homes and are purchasers of homeowners insurance, don’t you wonder occasionally how does Texas rank in the grand scheme of housing insurance rates?  In her recent article, The 10 States with the Highest Homeowners Insurance Rates, Jayleen R. Heft with Property Casualty 360 provides the list. 

As we enter the busy home-buying season, you may be wondering which states have the highest homeowners insurance rates. Many factors impact home insurance premiums including real estate values, building and construction costs, vulnerability to catastrophes, as well as levels of economic growth and urbanization. 

According to a January 2015 study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average homeowners insurance premium across the United States in 2012 (the most recent complete annual data available) was $1,034. That was up 5.7% from 2011, when the increase nationwide was 7.6%. 

In general, real estate values and construction costs tend to be higher in areas with higher populations. Because the amount of home insurance needed is based on the value of the home, premiums are often higher in more heavily populated places. Vacation and retirement areas, as well as areas experiencing rapid economic growth, also tend to have relatively higher real estate values.

Exposure to catastrophe impacts homeowner insurance rates

The degree of exposure to catastrophe also affects the cost of insurance to homeowners. Brush and forest fires, tornadoes, high winds, hail, freezing rain, snow storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, riots and even terrorist attacks are all types of catastrophes that can occur in the U.S. Since the late 1980s, catastrophes have been occurring with greater frequency and severity, and, in the last decade, have become an even greater consideration in the pricing of home insurance, according to the NAIC report.

Take a look at the 10 states with the highest average annual homeowners' insurance premiums on the following pages.

10. New York - Average homeowners annual premium: $1,158

9. Connecticut - Average homeowners annual premium: $1,160

8. Kansas - Average homeowners annual premium: $1,213

7. Rhode Island - Average homeowners annual premium: $1,233

6. Alabama - Average homeowners annual premium: $1,248

5. Mississippi - Average homeowners annual premium: $1,314

4. Oklahoma - Average homeowners annual premium: $1,501

3. Texas - Average homeowners annual premium: $1,551

2. Louisiana - Average homeowners annual premium: $1,742

1. Florida - Average homeowners annual premium: $2,084

Download the NAIC Report

The NAIC report includes national and state-specific premium and exposure information for non-commercial dwelling fire insurance and for homeowners insurance package policies. It also contains data descriptions and a discussion about the way certain economic, demographic and natural phenomena impact the price of homeowners insurance.  For a free download of the report click on the link.  http://www.naic.org/prod_serv_statistical.htm#dwelling

Questions About Saving Money?

When you have questions about homeowners insurance, we welcome your call.  Some of the questions our customers ask are:

What are the types of policies available?

How do I know which policy is right for my circumstances and situation?

Will combining auto and home insurance save money?

How do I compare the rates and coverage?

Dean & Draper is a great source for the answers to your questions.  And we’re only a phone call away.

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.  http://deandraper.web5.hubspot.com/contact/#.VT2HAfZ0xdg

 

Topics: homeowners insurance

Facts and Fiction about Long Term Health Care

Posted on Sun, Apr 19, 2015

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It’s time to demystify Long Term Health Care.  Unlike traditional health insurance, long term health care is designed to cover long-term services and supports, including personal and custodial care in a variety of settings such as your home, a community organization, or other facility.

Long-term health care policies reimburse policyholders a daily amount (up to a pre-selected limit) for services to assist them with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or eating.  You can select a range of care options and benefits that allow you to get the services you need, where you need them.

Facts and Fiction

“Medicare and my Medicare supplement policy will cover it.”

In fact, Medicare and “Medigap” insurance were never intended to pay for ongoing, long-term care.  Only about 12% of nursing home costs are paid by Medicare, for short-term skilled nursing home care following hospitalization. (Source: Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance, AHIP, 2013Medicare and most health insurance plans, including Medicare supplement policies, do not pay for long-term custodial care. (Source: 2015 Medicare & You, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

“It won’t happen to me.”

At least 70% of people over 65 will need long term care services and support at some point in their lives. (Source:2015 Medicare & You, Centers for Medicare & Medicade Services)

About 68% of nursing home residents and 72% of assisted living residents are women. (Source: Long-Term Care Services in the United States: 2013 Overview, National Center for Health Statistics)

“I can afford it.” 

As a national average, a year in a nursing home is currectly estimated to cost about $87,000.  In some areas, it can easily cost over $100,000!  (Source: Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey, March 2014)

The average length of a nursing home stay is 835 days. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nursing Home Care FastStats, last updated May 2014)

The national average cost of a one bedroom in an assisted living facility in the U.S. was $42,000 per year in 2014. (Source: Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey, March 2014)

Home health care is less expensive, but it still adds up. In 2014, the national average hourly rate for licensed home health aides was $20. Bringing an aide into your home for 20 hours a week can easily cost over $1,600 each month, or almost $20,000 a year. (Source: Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey, March 2014)

“If I can’t afford it, I’ll go on Medicaid.”

Medicaid, or welfare assistance, has many “strings” attached and is only available to people who meet federal poverty guidelines.

Questions about Long Term Health Care?

At Dean & Draper we welcome your questions about Long Term Healthcare and have an array of policies and prices to fit your needs and budget. 

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, Aging Well, Aging in place

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