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Summertime Water Safety Checklist – print and save!

June 6, 2016

children in swimming poolSummertime is synonymous with swimming, boating, surfing – just being around and in the water! Unfortunately, every year preventable accidents happen.  According to the CDC, every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.

Here are some simple tips to keep you safe this summer:

  • Supervision: ALL children should be supervised when swimming or playing in orfounders summer safety checklist around water. Don’t assume because they can swim they don’t need an eagle eye watching them.  Drowning occurs quickly and quietly.  The CDC suggests using the “touch supervision” method – keeping children close enough to touch at all times.
  • Buddy up: Never swim alone – you never know when you might get a cramp, get caught in a rip tide if swimming in the ocean, or have a boating mishap.  Choose a spot that has life guards for extra safety.
  • Don the VEST!:  When boating – wear a life vest. Today’s vests are comfortable and
    aren’t the ugly orange awkward ones of days gone by.
  • Learn to Swim.  This may seem like an obvious one – but learning to swim and how to handle emergencies could save your life.  Many local YMCA’s offer lessons! PS – you are never too old to learn how to swim
  • Take a CPR Certification Class:   In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Toys are not life jackets. Don’t use air-filled or foam toys,
    such as “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets.  They will not keep swimmers from drowning – many parents get a little too comfortable and lax because their toddlers have “swimmies” on.
  • Don’t Drink and Play in the Water. Unfortunately this is a major cause of drownings – people tend to get riskier when drinking, don’t follow safety guidelines, and aren’t as watchful of their children when consuming alcohol.
  • Watch for bad weather: Yes, lightening can strike you in a boat. Strong winds can also capsize boats.  Swimming during a lightning storm just isn’t a smart idea – don’t do it!

Do you have a swimming pool at home?  Please take these precautions:

  • Fence & Lock – 24/7.  Many insurance carriers require a 4 sided fence and locked gate – even if they didn’t this is just a smart move.  You don’t want anyone entering your pool without supervision.
  • Swab the Deck.  Tripping and falling on slippery decks happens all the time. Keep it clear of toys, rafts and the like.
  • Gate and water alarms – consider having a gate alarm or even a wave sensitive alarm. If someone enters the pool without permission, you will know it!
  • Approved drain covers.  We often hear of small children getting pulled towards the drains or hair getting caught resulting in serious injury or death.  Using compliant drain covers could save a life!

Have a happy and SAFE summer on the water!  Please share this with friends and family – it could save a life!

Cherie Pare

Cherie Pare

Personal Lines Account Executive

cpare@foundersgrp.com

Protecting Outside workers from Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus

May 23, 2016

insects-820484 (1)OSHA recently released an Interim Guidance report for protecting workers from the Zika Virus.  The virus, once contained to Central & South America, Mexico and parts of the Caribbean and US territories has now reached the U.S. mainland.

Below is a synopsis of the report:

Overview

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes can become infected when they bite an infected person therein is how the virus is rapidly spreading.

Current science-based evidence suggests that approximately 1 out of 5 infected people develop symptoms of Zika virus, usually beginning 2-7 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms, usually mild and lasting 2-7 days include:  fever, rash, joint pain and red or pink eyes.  Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache.  The symptoms are similar to dengue fever.  Zika can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus resulting in serious birth defects.

Control and Prevention for Employees

Outdoor workers are at some of the highest risk for contracting Zika Virus – according to the OSHA report, employers should:

  • Inform workers about their risks of exposure to Zika virus through mosquito bites and train them how to protect themselves. Check the CDC Zika website to find Zika-affected areas.
  • Provide insect repellents and encourage their use according to the EPA guidelines
  • Provide workers with, and encourage them to wear, clothing that covers their hands, arms, legs, and other exposed skin. Consider providing workers with hats with mosquito netting to protect the face and neck.
  • In warm weather, encourage workers to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. This type of clothing protects workers against the sun’s harmful rays and provides a barrier to mosquitoes. Always provide workers with adequate water, rest and shade, and monitor workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness.
  • Get rid of sources of standing water (e.g., tires, buckets, cans, bottles, barrels) whenever possible to reduce or eliminate mosquito breeding areas. Train workers about the importance of eliminating areas where mosquitos can breed at the worksite.
  • If requested by a worker, consider reassigning anyone who indicates she is or may become pregnant, or who is male and has a sexual partner who is or may become pregnant, to indoor tasks to reduce their risk of mosquito bites.

For more information about Zika Virus please visit the CDC’s page on the virus.  Please note these are just broad informational guidelines and are not to be construed as medical advice or guidance. We encourage you to stay abreast of current updates on the Zika Virus via the CDC and OSHA.

bryan_johnson

Bryan Johnson

P&C Operations Manager

bjohnson@foundersgrp.com

Communicating Clearly: Helping Employees Understand and Maximize their Benefits

May 16, 2016

How-is-My-Workers’-Comp-MOD-CalculatedYou’ve built a great benefits package for your employees. Congratulations – the hard work is done! Or is it? Almost as important as the work that goes into the development of a comprehensive benefits package is the way it’s communicated out to employees.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great the benefits are if employees don’t understand and utilize them. Not effectively communicating your benefits is a lost opportunity. Not only have you made a significant investment, but a comprehensive benefits package also make employees more satisfied with their jobs and helps attract top talent.

So how can you make sure your employees are aware of and maximize the benefits you offer?

    1. Tell the Whole Story –Make sure employees understand the “big picture” of the benefits package they receive. If possible, consider providing a comprehensive benefits statement to employees so they understand their total compensation – from salary and medical benefits to retirement plans and stock options, to non-traditional and intangible benefits like flexible work arrangements, tuition reimbursement and community volunteering opportunities. Where possible, assign a total value. Each workplace has a unique benefits story that needs to be personalized.
    2. KISS – Keep it simple, silly! Make sure your mass communications about benefits to employees aren’t overwhelming and that the language is relevant and easy to understand. Chose the highlights and provide links or references where employees can go to get more information or link to a full benefits handbook. Also consider if you need to provide benefits materials in other languages or hard copies to employees without access to technology.
    3. Lead with the WIFM – Always think about benefits from an employee’s viewpoint and think about the “WIFM – “What’s In It For Me?” For example, if you’re offering an incentive for employees to participate in biometric screenings, lead with what they’ll get out of participating.
    4. Make It Accessible – Where possible, utilize technology to communicate benefits information and even make your full benefits information and employee’s compensation statements available via your company’s intranet site, if relevant. At the same time, if you have a workforce that is out in the field without access to technology, consider different tactics and communication vehicles.
    5. Add the Human Touch – There’s nothing more frustrating than having a question that you can’t get an answer to and having nowhere to turn. Make sure you provide an internal contact or hotline that employees can call to get their personalized questions answered. Similarly, consider holding benefits fairs and in-person opportunities for your employees to learn about their benefits.
    6. Follow Up – Create a consistent schedule of communication around benefits so that it’s top of mind and employees are being reminded of what is available to them. Consider timing as well. For example, ensure employees are aware of open enrollment windows and beef up communications educating employees on options leading up to the period.

Communicating your full benefits package to employees not only ensures they are fully utilized but it also demonstrates the investment and value you are placing in your employees, leading to a more engaged, satisfied and productive workforce.

michael_noddin

Michael Noddin

Group Life and Health Manager

mnoddin@foundersgrp.com

Beyond Exercise and Diet: Tips for Improved Men’s Health

May 9, 2016

115HIt’s no secret that regular exercise, eating well, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are the keys to leading a healthy life. However, many men don’t know that a few other simple lifestyle choices can have a big impact on their health and help them avoid some of the most common preventable threats.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the top causes of death among adult men in the United States are heart disease, stroke, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease. While genetics are a factor, lifestyle changes can help to significantly lower men’s risks for these common threats.

Beyond the obvious healthy lifestyle habits outlined above, here are five tips to help minimize health risks:

1)     Wear sunscreen – Use sunscreen every day and don’t skip the hat and sunglasses – always protect yourself from the sun. Also get regular skin screenings and practice early detection.

2)    Get Your Z’s – A good night’s sleep is almost as important as what you eat and how much you exercise (and can impact your weight and health dramatically). A long term lack of sleep can lead to increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease and stroke. Try to get on a set schedule and aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Also make sure you’re not eating your last meal after 7 PM and avoid screen time an hour before bed.

3)     Consume Enough Fiber – While it may not be necessary to take a fiber supplement and opinions vary on how many grams of fiber you need each day, eat a fiber rich diet filled with as much whole, unprocessed food as possible. Not only does fiber fill you up and help you not to overeat, but it helps slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. Fiber rich foods include fresh produce, whole grains and legumes.

4)     Manage Stress – Long term stress can break down your immune system, cause sleep
issues and negatively impact your health. Work to reduce the stress in your life or learn how to deal with it. Consider incorporating meditation into your daily routine, as mindfulness can reduce anxiety and stress and help your concentration and sleep.

5)     Drive Responsibly –Motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of death among men as well. Always wear your seat belt, follow speed limit laws and if you’re feeling sleepy or under the influence, don’t drive.

While it may seem like common sense, also make sure that you get routine physical exams and recommended screenings. Don’t avoid your doctor or only visit when you’re sick. Instead, treat your doctor as your ally in maintaining your health and preventing issues and ask about when you should have certain health evaluations, like cancer screenings. Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations if you do have health issues like diabetes or high cholesterol. Also ensure you have adequate health and life insurance to protect not only yourself, but those you love as well.

Understanding and taking action to prevent common health risks can have a big impact on your health, happiness and longevity.

Dennis Dressel

Dennis Dressel

President

DDressel@foundersgrp.com

 

Founders’ Focus on Vitality

May 2, 2016

sign-1176539Here at Founders, we embarked on a workplace wellness program at the start of the year called Humana Vitality.  You know those great Facebook quizzes that ask you questions and tell you your age based on your answers?  Well, it’s kind of like that except it’s based on your lifestyle habits.

All our employees started out at a Bronze level and then had the opportunity to do a wellness assessment that asked questions – from whether we eat a lot of fried food to if we smoke and how often we exercise.  Based on our answers, we were given a Vitality age.  Some of us were disappointed it didn’t match our Facebook quiz scores for how old we act but generally, the higher risk our behaviors are, the higher our vitality age.

Based on each of our assessments, we were given customized goals, which varied from weight loss to diet changes to increasing our exercise.  What’s really great about the program is that we aren’t competing against each other and we don’t see each other’s specific points, just our levels, so it creates a safe environment to focus on getting healthier individually and collectively.

For those of us that need a little extra push (ahem), there are different challenges along the way that we can participate in, such as a diet challenge to learn to eat more lean and avoid processed foods.  For folks that are trying to quit smoking, there’s a program that teaches tips and tricks for smoking cessation.  For each of these challenges and the initial assessment, we’re awarded points that can help us get out of the Bronze level and head toward Silver (5,000 points), Gold (8,000 points) and Platinum (10,000 points).  For all the overachievers, the points are limited to 18,000 each year but it doesn’t stop some of us from continuing to implement walking meetings every chance we get.

It’s also great that our fitness devices link into the program easily, so if we’re able to get a quick power walk in over lunch or log 10,000 steps, it counts as a verified workout that also generates points.   In addition to getting points for the initial assessment – we also get larger point values for going to preventative visits – physicals, eye exams, the dentist – as well as getting our blood work done and being within the target glucose levels, cholesterol numbers, etc.

Our points accumulate in a database throughout the year-long program and we’re able to trade them in for everything from gift cards to a Fitbit and all the way to a bicycle (24,000 points).  Our points reset each year but can stay active for trade ins for up to three years.  While it may seem simple, we truly have to sweat for every point and, ironically, the point levels for things like exercise, steps and diet changes generate smaller points than the doctor visits and blood work, making it challenging to jump from Silver to Gold and Gold to Platinum.

But we are still stepping up to the challenge.  In fact, we’ve been collectively tracking everyone’s steps at Founders since we started the program and, as of mid-April, we have enough steps to walk to Las Vegas!  And while they may call it Sin City in part because of the decadent fried foods and lavish lifestyle, if we make it there, you can bet we’ll be sure to order our egg white omelets and green juice.

It’s not just about losing weight and trading points for gift cards, this wellness program is about being healthy and learning simple and easy ways to stay on track with diet and exercise. If you have the opportunity to set up or be part of a wellness challenge or program – we highly suggest you do it – and it’s actually FUN!

 

lisa_cianciolo

Lisa Cianciolo

Accounting Manager

lcianciolo@foundersgrp.com

 

Are you ready to buy a second home?

April 25, 2016

Founders buying a 2nd home updated 3.10 HD.png

Buying a new home? Read this first!

April 18, 2016

Enthusiastic-Family-with-Home-For-Sale-000082576699_DoubleWith interest rates still relatively low, it’s still the perfect time to buy your first home…or even your tenth!  At Founders Insurance Agency, we work with many homebuyers and have heard just a few, well let’s say “horror stories”.  Many of which could have been avoided with these simple tips:

Try it before you buy it – at least the area. Is the area within walking or driving distance of stores or places such as Church, schools, your business, a park, the library, places that are important to you? If you’re unsure, you should consider booking a room at a local hotel, B&B or a spot from VRBO or Airbnb for the weekend to see whether you (and your family) would be happy living in that region. Visiting a place as a tourist is very different than becoming a full-time resident. Diane Saatchi, a senior vice president at the real estate firm The Corcoran Group, says that no home is perfect, but many homeowners become frustrated with shortcomings that they could have averted.

The costs – Purchasing a home can be costly. Expenses include maintenance, taxes, utilities, upgrades, and insurance. There may be an uptick in traveling expenses, too. If this is going to be an additional home, you’ll be there only part of the year but the costs remain. Older homes may require additional expenses for renovations that include wiring, plumbing, and environmental inspection.

Look under every floor board – Well almost. You should hire an inspector to check the house over first. Older homes often have hidden issues such as knob & tube wiring, mold, structural issues, older corroding pipes. Environmental hazards may also come into the picture. Older homes may have asbestos or lead paint – things you absolutely need to know if you are doing any type of renovation or if you plan on renting the house out to others.

Making a checklist – Buying a home can be an emotional investment. Each family member likely has his or her ‘wish’ items; must-haves and nice-to-haves that tend to be overlooked in the scramble of reviewing houses. We suggest that you print your checklist and take photographs so you can cross your items off your list. Be ready to compromise – it’s rare to find a home that has everything in your price range. Remember – colors can always be changed fairly inexpensively but that 3rd bathroom is a bit more costly!

Lawyer up – A house is one of the largest investments in your life. The buyers’ contract comes with covenants, principles, and rules that you’ll want to understand in order to protect your property. Read the forms and contracts before you sign them and have your lawyer, mortgage broker and real estate agent clarify obtuse terms. Make sure you agree with all statements. Don’t be afraid to negotiate terms with sales offices, money lenders and builders. It’s all part of the game.

Protect it! – Work with an independent insurance agent who understands your personal finances. All homeowners’ insurance policies are different. Be smart and sit down with someone who can guide you on what you should and shouldn’t have as far as personal insurance.

**Founders Tip: Many things can affect your homeowner’s insurance rates: Age AND condition of your home, wiring, plumbing, furnace and roof. Some issues will cause standard insurance carriers to deny you forcing you to get a policy from an Excess Carrier – where fees and rates are often much higher. The list is long but here are the biggest offenders: Overall bad condition of the home including safety hazards, trampolines, underground oil tanks, pools with no fencing, roofs over 25 years old, knob & tube wiring and some dog breeds.

Once you’ve picked out your dream home, give us a call at Founders – we will do a free, no-obligation insurance inspection for you. Let’s identify red flags before your closing date!

Linda Robertson new pic

Linda Robertson

Platinum Accounts Executive

lrobertson@foundersgrp.com

 

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