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Checking Insurance Coverage Before Winter Arrives
As winter arrives each year, insurers across the nation encourage Americans to review their home and auto insurance policies to ensure adequate protection against the season's harshest hazards.
The easiest way to do this is to contact an agent to discuss provisions and ask questions. Some policies cover more than others depending on what was chosen at the time of the policy's activation. These are some important points to remember about winter hazards:
Most policies cover damage to homes after trees or other objects fall on them but do not cover debris removal.
Most policies cover damages from snow accumulation, sleet or ice, wind and blowing snow.
Most auto policies cover a vehicle if the owner attaches a plow for personal driveway snow removal only.
Some policies cover damages from frozen pipes if the policyholder took some steps to prevent them from freezing but the damage happened anyway.
One common occurrence during a bad winter storm is a power outage. If this happens and is caused by a tree falling, the ensuing damages may be covered. Fortunately, home insurance that covers such an incident typically covers replacement costs for perishable foods stored in a refrigerator or freezer if the power is out long enough for that to happen. However, the maximum food compensation amount is not usually very high.
Traveling during this cold season also requires careful thought and preparation. It is helpful to carry an emergency kit with the following items while driving anywhere during winter:
First aid kit
Bag of sand
When a person gets stuck or stranded, each of these items may be useful. Tow ropes and jumper cables are good for car problems, and a shovel can help a person dig out of a snow mound and even back out with the help of the sand. Food, water and a blanket will be helpful until someone comes to rescue a stranded motorist or until it is possible to drive again.
Keep in mind that blowing snow can create a bad hazard. It is necessary to pull over and wait until the storm passes when visibility is too poor to drive so plan accordingly even for the shortest of trips. To learn more about winter safety and insurance, speak with an agent at 314-351-HALO(4256).
The Total Worker Health Concept and How to Implement It
The Total Worker Health team from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health published a workbook that provides guidelines for employees, employers and related professionals for starting safety programs in the workplace.
The workbook also helps readers learn the first steps toward improving the well-being of workers and employers. This workbook gives people the knowledge necessary to pinpoint and address factors that contribute to lost hours of work, health problems, work loads, employee interactions, stress levels and unhealthy environments in the workplace.
Purpose Of The TWH Program
According to NIOSH, the concept of a worker's whole health involves programs, practices, policies and protections that have the same ultimate goal of safety. The main components include illness and injury prevention as well as steps for improving overall well-being. The workbook places a high priority on ensuring a workplace free of hazards. If some hazards cannot be avoided or are part of the job, minimizing them is the top priority. With modern prevention approaches, workers and employers learn the best ways to apply practices in their own situations.
NIOSH also said that these helpful interventions align with the idea that work has a strong influence on a person's overall health. There are five main elements in the workbook that define TWH. They include the following:
Leaders must show their commitment to the safety and health of workers on all levels.
Leaders must ensure that privacy and confidentiality are extended to workers.
Leaders must actively engage workers in the program to ensure its success.
Leaders must use innovative integration of systems to improve workers' well-being.
Leaders must ensure that tasks minimize or remove major safety and health hazards while supporting overall well-being.
In addition to these core values, there is a self-assessment exercise in the workbook. Also, the book includes information about resources for developing plans and measuring success throughout different phases. These plans and tools are easy for each organization to customize based on individual needs.
The workbook incorporates a conceptual model, which shows how to remove or reduce major hazards. It also explores which policies are more effective or less effective. In the years to come, NIOSH plans to collect more feedback from organizations, leaders and workers about the success of this workbook. This is a valuable tool for all workplaces seeking an improved safety plan. To learn more, discuss your concerns with an agent at 314-351-HALO(4256).
10 Tips for Preventing Laptop and Mobile Device Theft
In today's business environment, the theft or loss of even a single laptop computer cell phone or tablet can be devastating - unless you take some common sense measures to mitigate the damage ahead of time.
It's not just the cost of the lost device itself. If there is confidential, proprietary or personally identifiable information on the device - or readily accessible through it - your company could be exposed to substantial liability, fines and penalties. On average, total costs to U.S. companies incurring the theft or loss of a digital device can run to nearly $217 per record in fines, recovery costs, legal fees, customer loss and PR crisis expenditures, according to the Ponemon Institute's 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study.
Here are some tips to help you and your employees prevent mobile device theft.
Don't let strangers "borrow" your phone or computer to look up directions or send an email. There are cases of criminals bolting as soon as they have possession of the device. In other cases, they may surreptitiously install malware or spyware on your device that could compromise your sensitive information.
Don't use computer carrying cases that look too much like computer carrying cases. These attract the attention of thieves. Ideally, your carrying case will not attract attention to itself.
Use device tracking services. Many laptop manufacturers include optional tracing services. Alternatively, you can install or attach an external tracking device to your computer. It may not prevent theft, but you may be able to quickly recover the computer, or force the criminal to get rid of it prematurely, limiting the damage they cause. Computrace's LoJack for Laptops, one popular solution, takes advantage of GPS technology and will give you a precise location of a missing device for just $29 per year.
Maintain situational awareness. Don't flaunt your brand new mobile device using it prominently and visibly in public out on the street. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 55 percent of all larcenies in New York City involve smartphone theft, as did 46 percent of all robberies. In San Francisco, 59 percent of robberies involve smartphones.
Install an irremovable tag, such as a STOP Security Plate. These make these computers very difficult for criminals to resell or pawn and may help deter theft. The STOP Security Plate, impossible to remove, also instructs anyone who finds your computer to call their 1-800 number to report your computer or device stolen. Once they do, the vendor will call you with instructions on how to recover your device.
Going through an airport security checkpoint? Don't put your laptop on the conveyor belt until you are very next in line. Otherwise your laptop may make it through security before you do - and be vulnerable to theft on the other side of the checkpoint.
Cable your laptop. Several vendors make a lightweight but very strong cable that you can use to secure your laptop to your wrist, your briefcase, or even temporarily to a table you are working on in public - making it nearly impossible for thieves to run away with your computer. Most thieves, seeing the cable, will move on to an easier target. You can get a basic cable and computer locking kit on Amazon for less than $13.00 as of this writing.
Traveling? Store the laptop in your hotel room safe, if possible. If there is no safe and you can't bring your laptop with you, lock your suitcase and store it there.
Never ask a stranger to 'watch your computer' for a moment in public. Always pack your computer back up to go use the restroom, get another drink, or anything else.
Never leave your laptop in the car. Your car insurance may cover the cost of a stolen laptop (minus a deductible). It does not cover the cost of lost productivity or data loss mitigation.
Top Ways to Cut Prescription Costs
As a new presidential administration starts, one of the top concerns for Americans is the cost of prescription medications. With drug costs on the rise and more insurance plans dropping certain medications from their list of covered drugs, families everywhere are trying to come up with the money to pay for their needed medications. These are some helpful ways to save on prescription costs.
Ask For Generic
Most pharmacies carry a generic version of some drugs. Certain medications that are patented or specialty drugs may not have generic versions. Generic drugs can cost much less. For example, one name-brand drug that costs over $50 in cash costs less than $10 as a generic. Also, some drugs have equivalents that are not the same substance but are similar and yield the same effect. For example, people who are prescribed Xarelto to treat blood clots but cannot afford it can ask for Warfarin, which is only a fraction of the cost and is similar.
Some pharmacies have much higher prices than others. This can also be true of generics. One pharmacy may charge $4 for a generic prescription, and another may charge $12 for the same substance. Also, there are tools for both saving money and comparing prices. GoodRx is a site that offers discounts to different pharmacies as well as a list of comparative prices.
Order By Mail
Certain online pharmacies offer lower prices when people sign up for regular monthly shipments. This saves gas and a trip to the pharmacy. Look for free shipping discounts as well. Most online pharmacies accept discount cards. This is the perfect solution for people who take monthly maintenance drugs.
Many pharmacies charge a certain amount per pill. When the costs are broken down, the cost of a pill that is 50 milligrams may be only slightly less than a pill of the same substance that is 100 milligrams. By asking the doctor for a higher dose, patients may save money. Some doctors will do this for certain non-narcotic medications. Pill cutters are easy to find and are usually less than $10.
Review Insurance Coverage
Most insurers provide a list of covered drugs. If a drug is not covered, look for an equivalent. During open enrollment, pay attention to which plans cover a certain drug. If a current plan is dropping one or more important drugs, compare prices and specifications of another plan that does offer it. Switching plans can be a much better deal if the medication would otherwise be too expensive. Compare the cost of paying for it upfront versus any premium difference to see if the switch is worth it.
Another good way to save on some specialty medications is to check with the manufacturer. Some manufacturers offer special hardship programs that give patients the drugs they need for free or for a lower cost. Ask physicians for samples or coupons for free trials as well. Pharmaceutical reps often leave these items with doctors, and many will provide them if they are available. To learn more about ways to save, call your insurance agent.