You’ve seen these people on the news or in your local paper. Maybe you’ve seen them in person at a local park or beach in winter. Maybe you’re even one of them.
Who are they? And why are they jumping into a freezing body of water?
The origin of the polar bear plunge, as these events are often called, isn’t entirely clear. What is clear is that it happens worldwide. Russians and Scandinavians were doing it before it even had a name.
In the U.S., there are events across the country, particularly on New Year’s Day. In Boston, members of the L Street Brownies have been dipping on New Year’s Day since the early 1900s. And the Coney Island Polar Bear Club in New York has been around about as long. But members don’t just swim in the Atlantic Ocean on the first day of the year. They swim every Sunday from November through April.
The largest American plunge is the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, also known as “Plungefest.” The event, which draws more than 10,000 annually and raises money for the Special Olympics, takes place in January, February or even March.
As for why they do it, some say taking a dip in frigid water is rejuvenating. In addition, participants say the plunge increases energy and decreases stress.
Experts in the medical community, however, aren’t completely on board. While healthy people feel discomfort for about 30 seconds, the shock of the cold water is a real risk for others, particularly for those with heart disease or other health issues.
So, if you’re considering taking the plunge, just ask your doctor first. We here at HALO Insurance & benefits Group will applaud you, even if we think you’re just a little bit, well, crazy
You may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but really all of us should be striving for a green holiday! Let’s face it, with all the wrapping paper, cards, décor and packaging, we create a lot of waste while celebrating the season. So we here at HALO Insurance & Benefits Group have a few tips that can help you use the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – to not only help the environment but to save time, energy and money as well.
Remember, It All Starts With Shopping.
Get Creative with Wrapping and Gifting.
Donate the Old.
Say It, Don’t Mail It.
Recycle that Tree.
The Christmas season is about showing our love – not to just family and friends but to nature as well. Here’s to a wonderful and green holiday season from those of us at HALO Insurance & Benefits Group!
Most people have an idea of what’s covered and not covered under their various insurance policies. But at HALO Insurance & Benefits Group, we get a lot of questions about borrowing or loaning a car.
With the Holidays upon us, you might be taking a group of your friends to look at the local light displays, or heading to the family Chrismas party in Uncle Johnny's van, we thought it was a great time to provide a little more information for you when Uncle Johnny hands you the keys to drive tonight.
Generally, insurance coverage follows the vehicle rather than the driver. So in most instances, as long as the owner of the car has insurance, it’s covered even if someone other than the owner is driving it — as long as they have the owner’s permission.
The borrower’s insurance is considered secondary, meaning that in the event of an accident, it could apply if the owner’s insurance is insufficient to fully cover the damage.
It’s important to note that there are some exceptions to what is called “permissive use” coverage. For example, permission must be given by the owner, unless the borrower has a reasonable belief that they are allowed to use the car. However, the borrower cannot give permission to someone else. So, if your teenager allows one of his or her friends to drive your car, your coverage likely won’t apply.
Coverage might also be denied if the borrower operates the vehicle in a negligent or criminal manner. And if the borrower is using your car for business purposes, your personal auto policy likely won’t cover that.
If you have a regular long-term arrangement to either borrow or lend a car, the borrower should probably be added to the owner’s personal auto policy. Those who don’t own a car, but often borrow one, might also consider “named non-owner coverage,” an endorsement that provides bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured motorists coverage and more.
Ultimately, it’s usually safe to loan your friend your car for occasional errands or projects or to get the family home safe after a long night of Holiday cheer. And the same goes for borrowing a car. Just make sure it’s for “normal” use. You’ll want to confirm that the car has coverage and that your insurance, whether you’re the owner or borrower, will apply.
Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions — after all, you don’t want to wait until after an accident to get answers! 314-351-HALO (4256).
Every year during the holidays, people look for ways to give gifts, not just to family and friends but to those less fortunate. It’s the spirit of the season.
Unfortunately, some of the charities out there don’t help people as fully as they claim – or possibly not at all. As if that weren’t enough, bogus organizations take advantage of people’s goodwill by stealing credit card and bank account information, along with identities, from people who think they’re donating to a legitimate cause.
It doesn’t mean you can’t be generous this holiday season. It just means a little extra caution is in order. Here are four tips for making smart and safe holiday donations:
At HALO Insurance & Benefits Group, we can work with you to make sure you've got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 314-351-HALO (4256) or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what's important to you is protected!
A severe, tragic accident can happen to anyone at anytime, and it could be that person's fault. The financial consequences of being liable for a bad accident can be devastating.
A California driver ran a red light at 50 to 70 mph in a 25 mph zone. He collided with a taxicab carrying two passengers, got out of his car and fled. One jury gave him a three-year prison sentence and $271,000 fine for fleeing the scene of an accident. Another one awarded his victims more than $2.7 million in damages. While an appellate court returned the case to a trial court because of mistakes made in admitting evidence, the final judgment was likely more than $2 million.
The news was even worse for a Florida driver. His car collided with a motorcycle at an intersection, killing the bike's driver. A jury ordered him to pay the driver's estate $8 million. He had purchased only $100,000 of insurance.
Three homeowners on Long Island, New York hosted a party that spilled over from one day to the next afternoon. At some point, a 29 year-old woman became severely intoxicated and drowned in the swimming pool. Her mother sued the homeowners and party guests for wrongful death and other counts, seeking $40 million in damages.
In each of these cases, a personal umbrella policy would have helped the people being sued. It picks up where an auto or homeowners insurance policy leaves off and provides extra protection.
Every insurance policy states in its information pages the maximum amount that the insurance company will pay for a loss. These amounts are called "limits" of insurance; insurance buyers usually have several choices for limits, up to the most the company will offer.
In the cases of both auto and home policies, if the amount of the loss is greater than the amount of insurance, the policyholder is responsible for paying the rest. The driver whose car killed the motorcyclist owed $8 million, $7.9 million more than he had in insurance.
An umbrella takes over when the insurance in auto and home policies is used up. Usually, the insurance company will require the home and auto policies (the "underlying" policies) to have limits at a certain level or higher. This reduces the likelihood that the umbrella will have to cover a claim. Once the underlying policies have paid out their full limits for a loss, the umbrella takes over, paying up to its own limit.
The higher the umbrella limits, the more protection the policyholder has, and the additional cost to increase the limits gets smaller the higher they go. For example, the cost of going from $1 million to $2 million is a fraction of the cost for $1 million; the cost of going from $1 million to $5 million may be about the same as for the first $1 million.
Large amounts of liability insurance are affordable and can save a family from financial ruin. Every family should consider buying as much liability insurance as it can afford.
People who use public connections may be compromised by hackers but there are several safeguards available to keep from becoming a victim. The recent availability of free Wi-Fi has been a great benefit for businesses and consumers alike, and there are free connections in almost any hotel, restaurant or coffee shop. Since no authentication is required to establish a connection, hackers have an easier time stealing data. Hackers position themselves between a person with an unsecured device and the connection point, which means that the phone's information is sent to the hacker instead of the hotspot. Emails, search requests and credit card information may be sent. With this information, a hacker may be able to access some of the person's information easily.
Many hackers also use unsecured connections to send out malware. For those who allow file sharing, it is easy to be infected. Some hackers can target the connection point, which creates a popup window while the computer is connecting. It offers a free upgrade for a certain type of program that most people use, and clicking on the fake offer automatically installs the malware. As public Wi-Fi becomes more common, expect to see hackers step up their game too. Security issues increase but this does not mean that people should not use any free connections. It is simply a reminder of the available safeguards and the importance of using them.
Always use a VPN. A virtual private network serves as a buffer between the Wi-Fi connection and the mobile device or computer. Any transmitted data is then encrypted and becomes too much work for the hacker to attempt to figure out. Use a trusted and reputable VPN provider. While some providers charge a fee of around $10 or more for monthly service, some are free.
Use SSL connections. Although most people are not as prone to use a VPN, they can easily add encryption to communications by enabling the "always use HTTPS" feature on a computer or mobile device. This ensures a secure connection to sites, and it is vital for any site where financial credentials are entered.
Turn off automatic Wi-Fi when it is not in use. When a phone is not connected to Wi-Fi, an automatic search will still transmit some data while looking for available networks. To stay safe, disable Wi-Fi after finishing.
Turn off sharing capabilities. Access the control panel on a device to do this. Allowing sharing will give people who have the ability to use it access to information and data on the device.
Issues may still arise even with the best safeguards in place. Taking the abovementioned precautions will help reduce the likelihood or frequency of security breaches. Be vigilant. Learn more about staying safe online in public places.
What alarms and sensors do you need in your home? The answer is different for everyone. But, whatever your situation, today’s technology has you covered with options including online monitoring and more. Here are some common alarms, including two everyone needs to have, and three many people should at least consider:
Think fast – your tax return from 2012, where is it? How about your grandmother’s diamond watch? Is it in a secure place?
Having a home safe means that not only are important documents and valuables protected from fire and theft, but that you also know exactly where they are when you need them. But, is a home safe or a safe-deposit box – or both – right for you? Let’s take a look at the advantages, disadvantages and uses of each.
Whichever you choose, it’s sure to beat that shoe box you’re using now to store important documents. However, neither is a substitute for having your valuables properly insured. Give us a call today to talk about your personal property coverage! 314-351-HALO (4256).