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Off-Campus Living and Renter’s Insurance

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Are your kids heading off to college and their off-campus apartment?  Here’s one more thing for you to think about – renter’s insurance.  While your homeowner’s policy usually covers students living in dormitories, off-campus housing can be a different story.

In yesterday’s post, Hannah Bender with propertycasualty360.com lists the 5 Key Truths About Renter’s Insurance and College Students along with some great tips.

Living in an off-campus apartment is a popular housing option for many college students, as it comes with greater freedom and independence.

At the same time, however, an off-campus apartment that is not affiliated with a college or university can bring new responsibilities. Often, a parent’s homeowners’ insurance policy covers students living in dormitories, but once a student moves off campus it is a whole new ballgame. Renters’ insurance, although not usually required, can be a necessity for college students. Renters’ insurance not only can protect a college student’s belongings -- which often include expensive laptops, televisions and other valuables -- but it can also provide liability protection in the event that someone is injured unintentionally on the property.  Read more... 

If you have questions about your homeowner’s policy covering student’s belongings or if you need a separate renter’s policy for off-campus housing, please call us.  We’re always here to answer your questions.  Contact Us. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us. 

Small Business at Big Risk for Cyber Attacks

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Hackers always seek vulnerable targets and have found a big one in small businesses.  More likely to have weak online security, less likely to use cloud services without encryption technology, and no full-time IT support, small businesses are easy pickings for cyber breaches. 

Symantec, an online security company, publishes an annual Internet Security Threat Report.  The 2014 report highlights include:

  • 91% increase in targeted attacks campaigns in 2013
  • 62% increase in the number of breaches in 2013
  • Over 552 million identities were exposed via breaches in 2013
  • 23 zero-day vulnerabilities discovered
  • 38% of mobile users have experienced mobile cybercrime in past 12 months
  • Spam volume dropped to 66% of all email traffic
  • 1 in 392 emails contain a phishing attacks
  • Web-based attacks are up 23%
  • 1 in 8 legitimate websites have a critical vulnerability

To download a copy of the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report 2014, click here.

Here are 9 cyber security tips for small business owners:

1.      Use the FCC’s Small Biz Cyber Planner to create a cyber security plan

The Small Biz Cyber Planner is valuable for businesses that lack the resources to hire a dedicated staff member to protect themselves from cyber threats. The tool walks users through a series of questions to determine which cyber security strategies should be included in the planning guide, and generates a customized PDF that serves as a cyber-security strategy template.  Get the FCC’s Small Buz Cyber Planner, click here. 

2.      Establish cyber security rules for your employees

Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect personally identifiable information.  Clearly detail the penalties for violating cyber security policies.

3.      Protect against viruses, spyware, and other malicious code
Install, use, and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business. Such software is readily available online from a variety of vendors.

4.      Educate employees about safe social media practices

Depending on what your business does, employees might be introducing competitors to sensitive details about your firm’s internal business. Employees should be taught how to post online in a way that does not reveal any trade secrets to the public or competing businesses. This type of safe social networking can help avoid serious risks to your business.

5.      Manage and assess risk

Ask yourself, “What do we have to protect? And, what would impact our business the most?” Cyber-criminals often use lesser-protected small businesses as a bridge to attack larger firms with which they have a relationship. This can make unprepared small firms a less attractive business partner in the future, blocking potentially lucrative business deals.

6.      Download and install software updates when they are available

All software vendors regularly provide patches and updates to their products to correct security problems and improve functionality. Configure all software to install such updates automatically.

7.      Make backup copies of important business data and information

Regularly backup the data on every computer used in your business. Critical data includes word processing documents, spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly.

8.      Control physical access to computers and network components

Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft, so make sure they are stored and locked up when unattended.

9.      Secure and hide your Wi-Fi network

If you have a Wi-Fi network for your home business make sure it is secure and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, configure your wireless access point or router so that it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID).  In addition, make sure that passwords are required for access. It is also critical to change the administrative password that was on the device when it was first purchased.

The threat of cyber hacking, underscored by the credit card breach at Target, is now so great that US businesses are buying insurance coverage against the expense of being hacked or losing sensitive customer information.  A decade since it was first introduced, cyber insurance has graduated from a splurge to a necessity propelled by a series of high-profile data breaches that have cost companies many millions of dollars. 

If you have questions about Cyber Breach insurance we welcome your call.  Contact Us.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss

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We all experience times when we can’t seem to remember as many details as we used to.  Like the time you got up, headed to another room, and couldn’t remember why you made the trip.  Is it forgetfulness or some other memory loss disorder?  Just maybe it’s your medications.

We have condensed the following information from an article in AARP Magazine by Dr. Armon B. Neel, Jr.  To read the complete article, Click Here.

Here’s a list of medications that can cause some memory loss along with some alternatives. 

1. Antianxiety drugs (Benzodiazepines)

Prescribed for: Anxiety disorders, agitation, delirium and spasms, and to prevent seizures. Because benzodiazepines have a sedative effect, they are sometimes used to treat insomnia and the anxiety that can accompany depression.

Examples: Alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), flurazepam (Dalmane), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), quazepam (Doral), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion).

How they can cause memory loss: Benzodiazepines dampen activity in key parts of the brain, including those involved in the transfer of events from short-term to long-term memory.

Alternatives: Benzodiazepines should be prescribed only rarely in older adults for short periods of time.

Consult your health care professional before stopping or reducing the dosage of any benzodiazepine. Sudden withdrawal can trigger serious side effects, so a health professional should always monitor the process.

2. Cholesterol-lowering drugs (Statins)

Prescribed for:  Treating high cholesterol.

Examples: Atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor).

How they can cause memory loss: Drugs that lower blood levels of cholesterol may impair memory and other mental processes by depleting brain levels of cholesterol as well.  (The brain, in fact, contains a quarter of the body's cholesterol.)

Alternatives:  Ask your doctor or other health care provider about instead taking a combination of sublingual (under-the-tongue) vitamin B12 (1,000 mcg daily), folic acid (800 mcg daily) and vitamin B6 (200 mg daily).

3. Antiseizure drugs

Why they are prescribed: Long used to treat seizures and more recently for nerve pain, bipolar disorder, mood disorders and mania.

Examples: Acetazolamide (Diamox), carbamazepine (Tegretol), ezogabine (Potiga), gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), levetiracetam (Keppra), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), pregabalin (Lyrica), rufinamide (Banzel), topiramate (Topamax), valproic acid (Depakote) and zonisamide (Zonegran).

How they can cause memory loss: By dampening the flow of signals within the central nervous system (CNS). All drugs that depress signaling in the CNS can cause memory loss.

Alternatives: Many patients with seizures do well on phenytoin (Dilantin), which has little if any impact on memory. Many patients with chronic nerve pain find that venlafaxine (Effexor) — which also spares memory — alleviates their pain.

4. Antidepressant drugs (Tricyclic antidepressants)

Why they are prescribed: TCAs are prescribed for depression and, increasingly, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain, smoking cessation and some hormone-mediated disorders, such as severe menstrual cramps and hot flashes.

Examples: Amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil) and trimipramine (Surmontil).

How they can cause memory loss: TCAs are thought to cause memory problems by blocking the action of serotonin and norepinephrine — two of the brain's key chemical messengers.

Alternatives: Talk with your health care provider about whether nondrug therapies might work just as well or better for you than a drug.  Venlafaxine (Effexor) seems to have the fewest adverse side effects in older patients.

5. Narcotic painkillers

Prescribed for: Also called opioid analgesics, these medications are used to relieve moderate to severe chronic pain, such as the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Examples: Fentanyl (Duragesic), hydrocodone (Norco, Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo), morphine (Astramorph, Avinza) and oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet). These drugs come in many different forms, including tablets, solutions for injection, transdermal patches and suppositories.

How they can cause memory loss: These drugs work by stemming the flow of pain signals within the central nervous system and by blunting one's emotional reaction to pain.

Alternatives: In patients under the age of 50 years, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are the frontline therapy for pain. Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about whether tramadol (Ultram), a nonnarcotic painkiller, might be a good choice.

6. Parkinson's drugs (Dopamine agonists)

Why they are prescribed: Used to treat Parkinson's disease, certain pituitary tumors and, increasingly, restless legs syndrome (RLS).

Examples: Apomorphine (Apokyn), pramipexole (Mirapex) and ropinirole (Requip).

How they can cause memory loss: These meds activate signaling pathways for dopamine, a chemical messenger involved in many brain functions, including motivation, the experience of pleasure, fine motor control, learning and memory. As a result, major side effects can include memory loss, confusion, delusions, hallucinations, drowsiness and compulsive behaviors such as overeating and gambling.

Alternatives: If you are being treated for RLS, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether one of your prescription or over-the-counter medications may be the trigger.

7. Hypertension drugs (Beta-blockers)

Prescribed for: Beta-blockers slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure and typically are prescribed for high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. They're also used to treat chest pain (angina), migraines, tremors and, in eyedrop form, certain types of glaucoma.

Examples: Atenolol (Tenormin), carvedilol (Coreg), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol), propranolol (Inderal), sotalol (Betapace), timolol (Timoptic) and some other drugs whose chemical names end with "-olol."

How they can cause memory loss: Beta-blockers are thought to cause memory problems by interfering with ("blocking") the action of key chemical messengers in the brain, including norepinephrine and epinephrine.

Alternatives: For older people, benzothiazepine calcium channel blockers, another type of blood pressure medication, are often safer and more effective than beta-blockers.

8. Sleeping aids (Nonbenzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics)

Prescribed for: Sometimes called the "Z" drugs, these medications are used to treat insomnia and other sleep problems. They also are prescribed for mild anxiety.

Examples: Eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien).

How they can cause memory loss: Although these are molecularly distinct from benzodiazepines (see No. 1 above), they act on many of the same brain pathways and chemical messengers, producing similar side effects and problems with addiction and withdrawal.

Alternatives: There are alternative drug and nondrug treatments for insomnia and anxiety, so talk with your health care professional about options. Before stopping or reducing the dosage of these sleeping aids, be sure to consult your health care professional.

9. Incontinence drugs (Anticholinergics)

Prescribed for: These medications are used to relieve symptoms of overactive bladder.

Examples: Darifenacin (Enablex), oxybutynin (Ditropan XL, Gelnique, Oxytrol), solifenacin (Vesicare), tolterodine (Detrol) and trospium (Sanctura). Another oxybutynin product, Oxytrol for Women, is sold over the counter.

How they can cause memory loss: These drugs block the action of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that mediates all sorts of functions in the body. In the brain, they inhibit activity in the memory and learning centers. The risk of memory loss is heightened when the drugs are taken for more than a short time.

Alternatives:  It's important to make sure that you have been properly diagnosed.  Simple lifestyle changes could be a good alternative, such as cutting back on caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, drinking less before bedtime, and doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles that help control urination.

10. Antihistamines (First-generation)

Prescribed for: These medications are used to relieve or prevent allergy symptoms or those of the common cold. Some antihistamines are also used to prevent motion sickness, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, and to treat anxiety or insomnia.

Examples: Brompheniramine (Dimetane), carbinoxamine (Clistin), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist), diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and hydroxyzine (Vistaril).

How they can cause memory loss: These medications (prescription and over-the-counter) inhibit the action of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that mediates a wide range of functions in the body.

Alternatives: Newer-generation antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) are better tolerated by older patients and do not present the same risks to memory and cognition.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us. 

Nanotechnology in Every Part of Our Daily Lives

© bonninturina - Fotolia.comWe all thought this “nano” thing was interesting and at the same time we couldn’t imagine how to monetize the theory. 

Today nanoparticles are a huge boon to the food industry.  When placed in packaging, nanotechnology extends the shelf life of food.  Detecting e coli and other food born bacteria is the domain of another nanotech particle.  And yes, adding nanoparticles to packaging can make them biodegradable.  And this is on the beginning.

In her article Nano What?: Yes, Nanoparticles Were Probably in Your Breakfast This Morning, Patricia L. Harman with PropertyCasualty360 explores the nanotechnology explosion and the areas where we’re all touched – most of the time without even knowing it – by the infamous nanoparticles. 

Nanotechnology involves every area of daily life, and while there are many benefits to its use, there are unknown dangers as well. Best described as “engineering on a very small scale,” nanotechnology has allowed manufacturers to create products like cell phones, cameras, CDs and DVD players.

The number of industries utilizing nanotechnology has grown exponentially. The food industry is a large user of the technology. Placed in packaging, it extends the shelf life of many foods. It can add more flavor, be used to detect e coli and other bacteria in food, and even enhance nutrients. A nano-enhanced barrier protects oxygen-sensitive foods and keeps them from spoiling longer. When incorporated into “green” packaging made of lobster shells and corn, nanotechnology makes it biodegradable. And nanobarcodes can be used in products to trace foodborne outbreaks.

To read Patricia’s complete article, click here. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.  

Long-Term Care Insurance

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Isn’t it interesting that most of us aren’t motivated to make a change or plan for the future until we’re faced with a life altering event – our own or one close to home?  One of those decisions is planning for the care of a loved one or even ourselves when our circumstances require constant supervision or help with our daily basic activities.  Fortunately, Long-Term Care Insurance can provide the means to have the support of in-home caregivers, assisted living, or facility care. 

What is Long-Term Care Insurance?

Long-Term Care Insurance provides funds to help you cover long-term care costs in the same manner Health Insurance provides financial coverage for doctor’s visits and hospital bills.  While the concept is similar, Long-term Care Insurance and Health Insurance are two very different types of insurance.

Health Insurance would likely provide coverage for doctor visits, hospitalization, and maybe even prescription medicines.  When someone’s condition requires constant supervision or long-term care, Health Insurance is not likely to provide coverage for those services.  Health Insurance is also not designed to cover the long-term care expenses for paralysis from an accident or stroke, Alzheimer’s, or the care needed as a natural result of aging.

Long-Term Care Insurance is designed to provide coverage where Health Insurance leaves off.  When constant supervision or assistance with the basic activities of daily living like bathing, eating, toileting, dressing and moving about is necessary Long-Term Care Insurance would provide funds to help cover those care expenses.

Wondering how much care in your area costs? 

The costs of long term care still remain high – nearly 70% of Americans will need long term care as they age.  According to the Glenworth Annual Care Costs 2014 Survey, the average cost of facility care in Texas is $50,735.00 annually.  To review the Glenworth results, click here. 

How Can You Save on Long-Term Care Insurance?

Because you may not collect for decades to come, be sure to buy from a company that has been around for some time and is financially stable. 

  • Find out if long-term care benefits are available through a group policy from your employer. Employers might subsidize the cost, lowering what you must pay.

  • Check whether you can add long-term care benefits as a rider on an existing life insurance or annuity policy. These “combination” arrangements can save because the insurance company gains operational savings that it can pass along to you.

  • Buy a policy with the longest waiting period you can afford. For example, choosing a 90-day period instead of a 30-day period can cut the premium by 30%. However, if you do need long-term care services, you should save some money to pay these costs until the waiting period ends.

  • If both spouses of a married couple are considering buying long-term care policies, look into buying one joint policy for both of you. Such a policy pays when either one needs care and can pay for both, if necessary, up to its benefit limits.

  • If you’re still looking to trim the premium further, consider buying a policy that will pay most, but not all, of the average nursing home costs in your area. For example, if a nursing home room now costs $120 per day, buy a policy that pays $100 per day. However, be sure to buy an inflation-protection provision.

Dean & Draper can assist you with comparing both benefits and costs. As with other types of insurance (and many other purchases), comparison shopping can save you money.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

Doing the Next Right Thing – Health & Safety

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We’re all challenged with getting our “To Do” list completed in a day.  Actually, most of us think a day that sees 75 – 80% completion a really good day.  So when a shortcut presents itself, how tempting is it to head down that path?  Do we always take the time to consider the ramifications of that shortcut?  How taking that course will impact those around us or the outcome of the project? 

Aaron J. Morrow in an EHS Outloud Blog article titled Unselfishly Safe describes how his dad made a good choice and provided a great lession for us all.  

Unselfishly Safe

If it weren’t for diaper rash, I might not be here today.

Not too many people can make that claim, or at least would have the guts to admit it – especially in a national magazine. But it’s true. Diaper rash saved my butt – literally and figuratively.

When I was just a few months old, my dad (who was 22 at the time), happened to be watching me when a friend asked him if he wanted to go to the bookstore. My dad was – and still is – addicted to reading and collecting books, so this was like asking a kid if he wanted to go to Disneyland on a school day.

He regretfully declined. I can imagine him looking at me and lamenting, “My book collection will never make library status because of you.” I’m just kidding about that last part.

According to the story, I was a little cranky (a rash will do that to a baby), but more importantly, my dad feared the wrath of my mom if he’d chosen to take their firstborn to the bookstore instead of taking care of her poor baby at home (a wife will do that to a husband).

A short while later, my dad received a phone call reporting that this good friend had been in a very serious car accident and was lucky to be alive. This friend was a bigger guy, and as a result of his size and the steering wheel, was blocked from going completely through the front windshield. This was 1978 and there were no air bags.

My dad’s friend suffered injuries to his head and face and bruises to his upper body. My dad would have been holding me in the passenger seat (the California laws weren’t as strict as they are now), and buckling your seatbelt wasn’t required by law. So you probably can imagine what might have happened to us if we’d been in that car.

This story got me thinking about the choices that we face while performing our daily tasks, and the ramifications that those choices have.

When it comes to being safe at work, we often forget that it’s not just about what we want or what’s best for us or even our company. We forget that there are a lot of people in this world – family, friends, colleagues, roommates – who depend on us, and at the end of the day, these people need us to continue to be part of their lives.

We’ve become an incredibly entitled society. We’re bombarded with marketing messages telling us that anything standing between our desires and us is bad. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of working hard, striving to be successful and taking care of No. 1. However, when I see this attitude toward safety in the workplace, it’s very worrisome.

Selfish Acts, Unsafe Acts

W.H. Heinrich, who is considered to be a pioneer of industrial safety in America, developed a theory we’ve come to know as “Heinrich’s Law,” which estimates that 88 percent of accidents and incidents are caused by unsafe acts. Most safety professionals are familiar with this theory. Whether you agree or disagree with Heinrich, I challenge you to look at the accidents in your experience and think about whether this theory has some truth to it.

During accident/incident/near-miss investigations, if you look at the contributing factors (human factors more specifically), you’ll notice that these events typically fall into one of these categories:

  • Unsafe acts – These can be divided into two categories: errors (individuals’ mental and/or physical actions that fail to achieve their intended outcome) and violations (willful disregard for rules and regulations).

  • Preconditions for unsafe acts – Individuals fail to prepare physically and/or mentally for duty (lack of rest, alcohol consumption, self-medicating, poor dietary practices, off-the-job overexertion, bad habits).

  • Unsafe supervision – Failure to administer proper training and/or lack of professional guidance (risk without benefit, no risk assessment, improper work tempo, poor crew pairing).

  • Organizational influences – Failure of resource management, organizational climate and operational processes (structure, policies, culture).

When I look at an accident and consider each of these categories, I can point to all of them and name selfish choices or decisions that were made by someone that resulted in failure to some degree.

The obvious ones are taking shortcuts (UA), choosing to work impaired (PUA), not preparing crews correctly and pushing production (US), and failing to own safety at the highest level (OI). If you’ve ever sat with family members in the emergency room nervously waiting to see if their dad will ever be able to walk again, you know exactly how “me” choices affect more than the injured individual.

So the million-dollar question is: What do we do?

Maybe it’s as simple as putting aside selfish desires and looking at the bigger picture. Maybe as safety professionals, we take a look at our own work habits and get more involved with our co-workers on a “human” level, instead of focusing on all the reports, meetings and audits that we have to complete.

I wish I had the right answer. But I do think this unselfish approach to safety needs to spark some conversations.

When the opportunity or invitation presents itself to gain a little bit more, go a little bit faster, reach a little bit further or take that quick shortcut, we probably should stop for a minute and consider the effects that this decision might have on our loved ones and the others around us.

I’m glad my dad did.

Aaron Morrow

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients. Contact Us.  

Rental Car Insruance Coverage

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You’re on vacation – ready to get the rental car and hit the road.  And then there’s that pesky question about purchasing supplemental insurance.  Does your standard auto policy cover rental cars, too?  What about your credit card – don’t they provide insurance for rental cars?  The “to buy or not to buy” question could stop you cold.  Why not ask a few questions before you get to the rental counter?

As a Dean & Draper customer, we invite you to call us if you want to review the coverage of your auto policy.  We’re happy to talk with you about your coverage and answer your questions.  Contact Us.

In a recent article from PropertyCasualty365 , “8 Facts About Credit Cards and Car Rental Insurance”, Laura Mazzuca Toops provides some great tips and information.

It's summertime, and peak season for vacationers and car rentals. Even though most standard auto insurance policies cover rental cars, roughly 20% of consumers always purchase supplemental coverage when renting a car, and 20% do occasionally,  according to a study by Progressive. Why? A study by the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners finds that 62% of consumers don't think their personal auto insurance automatically covers rentals, and 24% aren't sure whether their credit cards provide any coverage.

Most credit card companies offer some sort of free rental car collision coverage, along with other perks. But what exactly does it cover? A recent report by CardHub examines each major card network’s rental car insurance policy and explains what type of rental car insurance coverage consumers automatically receive through their credit cards, how they can take advantage of it, which credit cards offer the best insurance coverage, and whether any other forms of supplemental insurance are needed.”


If you are considering purchasing a new auto policy or are shopping for a different provider, please give us a call.  Contact Us.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.


Protect Your Skin and Look Younger


© umberto leporini - Fotolia.comMost of us blame genetics for wrinkling and aging skin.  The reality is that most of us make wrinkles worse with our habits and thoughtless actions.

The major culprits in aging skin are sun exposure and smoking – we’re all aware of those causes.  Tanning beds or repeated unprotected time in the sun prematurely ages skin.  A heavy tobacco habit ages not just the face but also the skin all over your body.  That sucking action required to smoke and the squinting through the smoke adds insult to injury.  Not to mention the cancer risk.

While Americans spend billions on products to combat the aging process, some of the best ideas don’t cost a penny.

Counting on Car Windows for Sunscreen

Yes, the car windows block ultraviolet B light.  The skin aging ultraviolet A light slides right through.  If you drive with your hands on the top of the steering wheel, you probably have already noticed the tan or dark spots popping out.  Before you take off, take a moment to put sunscreen or lotion with an SPF of at least 15 on your hands, neck, and arms.  If you don’t like the smell or greasy feel of sunscreens, several hand lotion manufacturers are now adding SPF to their regular products.  Be sure to read the labels.

Squinting and Straws

Without those sunglasses, you’re bound to squint in bright sunlight and add to those pesky wrinkles.  You’ll want UV protection on the lenses and a large frame to protect your eyes.  Have a couple of pairs – one to carry with you and the other to leave in the car. 

Any repetitive facial movement can cause wrinkles – like sucking on a straw.  If you pucker up when you drink from a straw, you might want to consider another method for consuming liquids.  Yes, of course, the straw keeps your teeth from coming in contact with liquids that could stain them.  The choice is yours.

Catching Some Sleep

Just when you thought it was safe to get a little sleep…  If you sleep on your side with one side of your face buried in the pillow, you could be adding wrinkles.  "The constant pressure on one side of the face for several hours every night can cause wrinkles to be permanently ingrained on the face," says dermatologist Emmy Graber, director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Center.  Sleeping on your back is best for escaping sleep wrinkles.  Add a pillow under your knees to make it easier to relax.

Here It Is Again - Exercise

No surprise, exercise also helps keep skin looking younger and can reverse some skin aging effects according to a recent study by McMaster University in Ontario.  Read the study...

With just 30 minutes of exercise twice a week, the study of sedentary older adults found that skin composition was significantly improved.  After age 40 have visibly younger skin, similar to someone in their 20s and 30s.

You Are What You Eat

Eating your vegetables, olive oil, legumes, and fish can improves both your health and skin.   The American Academy of Dermatology recent research suggests that a diet high in sugar and refined carbs makes skin look older.  Drinking too much alcohol dehydrates and damages skin as well.  Avoid large amounts of meat and dairy products to keep you skin looking great.

No Tugging or Pulling

The skin around your eyes is thin and delicate, which makes it more prone to wrinkles. And although not scientifically proved, says dermatologist Emmy Graber, director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Center, being gentle with the fragile dermis around our eyes may help reduce that crinkly look. Avoid pulling, tugging or stretching. Choose makeup products that go on and come off easily. "Similarly, contact wearers should be cautious not to tug too hard on the eyelid skin when putting in contacts," she says.

Over Washing and Under Moisturizing

Save the deodorant soap for your body parts say the dermatologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center.  Deodorant soap can dry your face.  Using lukewarm water, baby your face – no excessive scrubbing and pulling on your delicate skin.  Pat dry and follow with a moisturizer – it feels good, plumps skin cells, and gives you a smoother look.  Choose a daytime moisturizer with an SPF.

At Dean & Draper we hope that you will find these tips, ideas, and information useful.   

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

Houston Tops Road Rage Survey

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Houston has the dubious honor of having the least courteous drivers in the country followed by Atlanta; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; and Boston.  In their 2014 In the Driver’s Seat Road Rage Survey, AutoVantage – a roadside assistance provider - measured behavior, observation, and attitudes related to road rage in America’s largest cities.  Houston moved up from 8th discourteous city in the 2009 AutoVantage survey to the top position in 2014.   

Who is the most courteous?  For the second time, Portland tops the list.  The friendly driver list continues with Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Charlotte.  Which cities became more courteous compared to the 2009 survey?  Minneapolis – up 15 spots, Dallas – up 11 spots, Detroit – up 9 spots, and New York City – up 9 spots. 

Survey respondents also observed safer driving habits in their fellow commuters with reductions in speeding, running red lights, tailgating, changing lanes without signaling, and slamming on the brakes.  Giving up distractions was also observed with one notable exception – observations of texting while driving increased 9% since 2009. 

While drivers are giving up distractions and being less aggressive, respondents were more likely to lose their cool in reaction to other drivers.  In comparison to the 2009 survey, horn honking increased 12%, cursing another driver increased 8%, obscene gestures are up 3%, and arm or fist waving went up 4%.

To view the AutoVantage survey click here.

Defusing Your Own Road Rage

We all have felt some irritation if not rage while on the road.  In fact, every one of us has a pet peeve about other driver’s habits.  Here are some tips to make your next drive more pleasant and calm.

Don’t do unto others.  Having a hand gesturing, pantomiming altercation at 60 miles an hour on a crowded freeway is never a good idea.  Hum a few bars of Let It Go and move on. 

Stay out of the way.  Give aggressive drivers plenty of room to get around you.  Let them do what they want at all times.  You don’t know the offending driver’s circumstances – an emergency, they’re lost, have a medical issue, or are managing depression. 

Yield.  Most drivers in Texas consider a Yield sign a suggestion.  Remember your real objective is to get to your destination safely and yield anyway – even if the right of way is yours by law, custom, or common sense. 

Be aware of your surroundings. Drivers do a whole lot more than driving.  We’ve all seen our fellow drivers texting, talking on the phone, applying lipstick, and even reading while rolling down the road.  And yes, multitasking is distracted driving.  Distracted drivers cause more accidents than drunk drivers.  Be aware and anticipate the actions of the drivers around you.  For more information on Distracted Driving,click here to see the Dean and Draper blog Distracted Driving - More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving.     

Look at your own driving behavior.  Most of us think we’re great drivers and all of the other people out there are dangerous.  Maybe it’s time for all of us to slow down, obey the traffic laws, and wear our seat belts – always.

Get your beauty sleep.  More than 56,000 crashes annually are caused by drowsy drivers according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.  Young people ages 16 to 29, especially males, are most at risk.  So are shift workers whose sleep is disrupted face the same risks.  Stay alert, it could save your life.

Find your Zen place.  Be a supportive driver as opposed to an aggressive driver.  Facilitate what that aggressive driver wants to do instead of thwarting them.  Their need could actually be much greater than yours at that moment.

We hope that you find the information in this blog interesting and the tips useful.  As always, we want to contribute to your health, wellbeing, and safety.  If you have questions about your auto insurance, we welcome your call, 713.527.0444 or toll free 888.266.2680.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us. 

Boost Your Brain Power


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We’ve all done it – walked into a room only to forget the purpose of the trip.  Or someone asks you for information and your answer is “How soon do you have to know?”  We’ve all wished for increased brain power – no matter what our age. 

Sid Kirchheimer’s recent article in AARP Magazine offers some tips on affordable ways to power up your brain. Be sure to click on the links to quizzes and additional information throughout the article. 

1. Lift weights

Any exerecise is good for mind and body , but weight lifting and resistance training may offer special benefits, according to at least a couple of studies on women.

In one study of 65- to 75-year olds with normal cognitive function, women who exercised for an hour once or twice a week, using dumbbells, weight machines and other calisthenic exercises significantly improved their long-term mental focus and decision-making. The control group — which did not see the same brain benefits — did "balance and toning exercises" including stretching, range-of-motion.

Another study, of 70- to 80-year olds with mild cognitive impairment, showed cognitive improvement among women who did either resistance training or aerobic exercises. Men weren't included in that study, but other research involving both genders finds that strength training helps preserve or improve memory.

2. Laugh

No joke: Humor is healthy. A hearty laugh provides short but similar benefits of aerobic exercise for improved heart (and brain) health and immunity. Other benefits: Laughter elevates the production of neurotransmitters linked to improved memory and alertness while decreasing stress hormones that can cloud thinking. And when listening to jokes, as you wrestle to understand the punch line, areas of the brain that are vital to learning, creativity and decision-making activate, much as they do when working out "brainteaser" crossword puzzles and Sudoku.

3. Take a nap

In addition to improved daytime alertness, good sleep — night after night — helps keep memory and learning well-tuned. But even with Rip Van Winkle-like nocturnal habits (and certainly without), consider a regular afternoon nap for about 90 minutes. It costs nothing but time — and the payback, according to studies, could be significant. Compared to non-nappers, those who partake in daytime zzz's display measurable improvements in tests gauging decision-making, problem-solving, creativity and even tasks like recalling directions.

4. Meditate

Studies find that daily meditation can strengthen connections between brain cells, increase growth in the part of the brain that controls memory and language, and may even bolster the ability to process information and make decisions more quickly. There are various forms of meditation, but most involve spending 15–60 minutes — best if done at least once a day — of focused attention on a word, object, sound or even your own breathing. Classes help, but for cost (and other) consciousness, consider free "how-to" videos and help available online.

5. Rate your plate

Brain-boosting foods don't have to be expensive. Grains like oatmeal, brown rice, barley and quinoa supply energy to the brain, which may boost learning. Nuts and seeds — including low-cost peanuts, sunflower seeds and flax — are loaded with vitamin E, which helps combat cognitive decline as you age.

Blueberries, cherries, raspberries and red grapes contain antioxidants to feed brain areas responsible for memory and learning (apples, bananas and oranges are also good). Spinach, tomatoes, onions and asparagus are vegetable standouts. And while salmon remains supreme, less expensive fish — also rich in omega-3 fatty acids — include tuna, sardines, anchovies and mullet.

6. Step lively

Elliptical, schmilliptical. Just walking briskly — no equipment necessary — cuts your lifetime risk of Alzheimer's disease by half. So does most anything else (including money-saving DIY gardening and housecleaning) that gets your heart pumping for at least 150 minutes per week, ideally for 30 minutes or longer per session. Why? Boosting heart rate improves blood flow to areas of the brain involved with memory, learning and decision-making. Hint: Studies find a walk in the park boosts energy, focus and well-being more than indoor exercise.

7. Socialize

Take a free class at the local library. Volunteer. Make use of Facebook. Or just hang out with friends. Any of these no-cost activities reduces the risk of dementia and slows or prevents cognitive decline. Theory: Social engagement means mental engagement — talking or just being around others requires focus and attention to details (while combating loneliness, itself a risk for dementia), and some research suggests even brief but regular social engagement bolsters memory, self-awareness and the ability to not be easily distracted.

8. Brush and floss

For just pennies a day, good oral hygiene can help prevent gingivitis and gum disease. Most people know that inflammation in your mouth has been linked to heart disease; what's less well-known is that gingivitis has also been linked to several cognitive problems, including declines in memory and verbal and math skills. More serious gum disease boosts the risk of memory problems as much as threefold (plus factors into stroke, diabetes and heart disease).

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us. 



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