Follow These Halloween Safety Tips for an Un-Scary Night

Halloween safety tip tales have long included horror stories of razor-filled caramels and egg-tossing teenagers. As your friendly insurance advisors, we’re sorry to report that the list of potential All Hallows Eve havoc does not end there. Things that go bump in the night can lead to scary claims – and, just to be clear, those ‘things’ are people. Read below as we share how to keep your Halloween as free from risk as possible. We’ll even throw in a few COVID-specific guidelines.

Remember: The scariest thing you can encounter going ‘bump in the night’ October 31 isn’t that horror flick marathon you insist on watching. It’s the ‘L’ word, also known as lawsuit. The travesty of Halloween night should be that your child doesn’t share enough of their chocolate stash, not that you’re calling your insurance advisor at 10pm to check coverage limits.

Therefore, we advise you do the following long before you stock up on bags of candy for all those trick or treaters. Start with these.

Check your potential tripping hazards.

  • There is little more terrifying than realizing that the little goblin or Star Wars character laid out in your yard is screaming in pain. Before Halloween night arrives, walk the routes children will take to arrive at your doorstep. If there are any holes in the lawn or wonky stepping stones, address those.
  • Nix the fog machine if it elicits confusion. If children can’t see their gloved hand in front of their face, the fog is too thick. You’re not setting a mood – you’re setting a hazard.

Say NO to hosting a haunted house in the age of COVID-19

  • We know that this is an especially difficult suggestion to follow. The pandemic has inspired so many potential horror vignettes (people without masks! Less than six feet apart in social situations)! Even if yours is the house that usually invites the neighborhood inside for creative scares, forego it this year. The risk of COVID is just too high.
  • In the future, know that charging admission to your own haunted house could lead to it being viewed as a business – with the accompanying risks. Our advice? -Don’t do it.

Look where you’re placing those pumpkins. And life-size grim reapers. And….you get the idea.

  • That skeleton in the middle of the driveway is destined to scare the pants off some kid, so goal achieved! We applaud your attention to location, really, but said kid could also be seriously hurt in this situation. Move the skeleton to a more well-lit area.
  • While you’re at it, it’s worth noting that a real fire is not to be considered a scare success. Check your electrical outlets. Don’t overload them. And if you select decorations that contain lights, check to ensure they are safe.
  • If a decoration contains a light source, don’t place anything over it. That goes with black paper, towels, etc. Looking for ambience? Consider a colored light bulb. Simply screw it into a normal light outlet and, voila! Instant creepiness. We suggest the lights that give off a rosy glow. Unexpected….and simultaneously foreboding.

Remember that this is Halloween with a pandemic twist.

  • Even if you don’t normally host the scariest haunted house walk-through on the block, this isn’t the time to invite neighbors inside for spiked apple cider. Respect social distance guidelines. Hand out candy yourself, instead of allowing all those little hands to grope around in the bowl for the biggest piece. And follow up the visit with a squirt of hand sanitizer (for the trick or treater and yourself).
  • Organize a bike parade. This really only works if the neighborhood understands what’s going on – otherwise, you and your kids will just get exercise without the candy. A bike parade allows for social distancing and allows everyone to wear those cute costumes they’ve been planning for months. Neighbors stand on driveways and throw candy while people cycle by. It’s really that simple.
  • Set up a table at the end of your own driveway and decorate it. You’ll be able to control how close people interact, keep those sticky hands out of your treat bucket, and still participate in the holiday to the fullest.
  • Stuff a pinata with your household’s favorite candy and let the kids pummel it. There you have a win-win: no undue coronavirus exposure, plus all the candy the kids collect will go in the ‘keep’ pile.

Before the big BOO day, talk with your insurance advisor about your homeowners and umbrella policies. Being prepared this year for Halloween means so much more than just purchasing bags of candy. The same Halloween safety tips apply as always – with some extra COVID precautions thrown in for good measure.

Florida Homeowners Insurance: Tips You Should Know

Thanks to those serious Sunshine State-loving hurricanes, Florida homeowners insurance premium numbers tend to be higher in comparison with the rest of America. Add state-specific legislation regarding property insurance and insurance fraud to the equation to bump the numbers ever higher, and it’s no wonder that Floridians are so eager to learn about coverages and policy discounts. For homeowners who see themselves paying nearly double (sometimes more) than their neighbors in nearby states, it makes sense to learn everything possible about the subject.

That’s why we’ve put together a Florida homeowners insurance primer to help you make the right decisions for you and your family. We realize there are challenges in selecting a policy and assessing risk. That’s why it’s so important to also talk with a Florida-specific insurance advisor who understands where you definitely need coverage, where it’s not supremely necessary, and how to edge those payments lower and lower through strategic methods.

A knowledgeable Florida insurance advisor will reveal the ins-and-outs of homeowners insurance.

Simply put, Florida homeowners insurance is designed to cover sudden and accidental direct physical damage or destruction of the interior or exterior of a private home subject to the insurance policy provisions. But there’s more: it’s not just those walls that are protected by a policy of this sort. The possessions inside are as well – and some third-party liability protection is tucked nicely in there as well. This is a quick answer to the question Why do I need homeowners insurance? A more detailed description of why is shared below.

Did you know Florida homeowners insurance is not required by law?

This purchase is a preventative measure that homeowners take in order to secure what is likely their most costly asset: the home sweet home. But no, it is not required. And that means if disaster occurs, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to have planned for any possible loss – whether partial or total.

Hurricanes aren’t the end-all.

In fact, most homeowners insurance claims don’t stem from mammoth storms. It doesn’t take a natural disaster in order for loss to occur. It goes without saying that a hurricane can completely decimate a property and its contents, but the dramatic scenario of a house being torn from its foundation is much less likely than other issues that can arise on a normal occasion due to what’s known as unforeseen perils. Even without worst-case scenarios, plenty of risk exists. Common events such as water losses can do major damage, for example. Opt to go without Florida homeowners insurance, and those repairs will come straight out of your wallet.

Floridians can’t put their homes in a protective bubble; homeowners insurance is the closest thing to it.

Wind, water, theft, fallen trees that crush the roof and more can prove disastrous to a homeowner. Those losses can be covered under homeowners insurance.

Let’s talk canines. The liability portion of a homeowners insurance policy might include dog bites, as those that do happen commonly occur at the owner’s residence.

Before adopting a dog, check with the insurance carrier to see if they will deny coverage because of the breed. Many insurance companies have an Animal Liability Exclusion, or they limit the amount of liability you can purchase for this type of coverage. This is another solid reason to review your policy with an insurance advisor.
Costs of Florida homeowners insurance policies vary.

Florida homeowners face a common challenge when deciding what type of homeowners insurance to actually select.

A trio of options exist; knowing the aspects of each will help in the decision. Before you head into that appointment to talk with an insurance advisor, know your ACV, replacement cost and extended replacement cost verbiage. That way, you’ll be able to have an in-depth discussion and decide together which is right for you and your family.

  • Actual cash value – A homeowners policy that is ACV will take depreciation into account. Let’s say an ACV policyholder experiences a loss that is covered under their Florida homeowners insurance policy. Since they’ve opted for ACV, which was likely less expensive in premium than the replacement cost option, they will likely not receive the same amount they originally paid for the insured item. Instead, the actual value at the time of the loss will factor into the claim. As anyone who has ever sold a car can tell you, depreciation is not a positive element. But then again, at least with this coverage the insured is protected up to a certain point.
  • Replacement Cost on Contents – You paid that certain amount for that property that was damaged or stolen. In your mind, it was worth that sum and perhaps more, due to sentimental value. The policyholder who opts for replacement cost insurance will be talking to their insurance adjustor about the replacement of covered items with ‘like kind and quality’ without depreciation; unfortunately, sentimental value is not a consideration when adjusting a claim.
  • Ordinance or Law Coverage – Looking for even more coverage? This endorsement will extend the coverage amount 25%-50% above the dwelling coverage limit. Someone who wishes to opt for this likely is looking ahead at possible scenarios: perhaps they live in an especially storm-prone area and know they’d have to incur more expense due to updated ordinances, or they are anticipating laws regulating the construction and repair of damaged homes. Cost varies for this extra assurance, but should a covered claim strike you’ll have peace of mind.

How can you lower your Florida homeowners insurance premiums?

Time for some good news! Opportunities do exist to lower your premium and still enjoy the benefits of comprehensive coverage. Some of these elements include:

  • Water shutoff devices – How sturdy is your water heater? Has that hose connected to the washer ever been serviced? These questions are important to answer affirmatively because water damage can really be a drain on your finances. The right water shutoff device will not only protect you from that damaging H20, but it can also elicit a premium discount. Inquire as to whether that water shutoff device is approved by your carrier for savings.
  • Multipolicy discounts – Have you opted to keep your insurance coverage through one company? Perhaps it’s time to start. An insurance company may offer you multipolicy discounts, and with that one-stop-shop mentality comes the ease of dealing with one company. Imagine it: One comprehensive renewal, and one advisor who understands customized protection for what matters to you. It’s a win-win scenario. W3 is an independent insurance agency, we shop for insurance solutions tailored for you!
  • Of course, there’s always the tried-and-true higher deductible choice. If you are looking to reduce your premium, consider a higher deductible. An advisor who understands your unique situation can give insight as to whether that’s likely a good fiduciary move.
  • Improve home security – It makes total sense that an insurance carrier might give you a discount for installing a solid security system. If a thief has difficulty making their way into and out of your home, those possessions that you’ve insured are much safer.
  • Wind mitigation credit – How wind-prone is your residence? Consider having an expert inspect your home. If it’s wind-resistant, you’ll get credits – and that means discounts.
  • Straddle that line between overinsured and underinsured. Again, that’s where the knowledgeable insurance advisor is worth his or her weight in gold.

Consider adding umbrella insurance to your homeowners portfolio.

  • While you’re talking with your Florida homeowners insurance advisor, be sure to ask about the mighty umbrella. There are so many true-life stories of people who purchased Florida homeowners insurance with total confidence, only to find out later that they were in fact underinsured. The umbrella covers you like a shield, one more layer of liability protection. It’s so possible to imagine any of the following scenarios occurring. That’s why it’s so important to acquire the right amount of insurance.
  • Falls on your property – Who knows to what extent the medical bills will be for someone who trips over that loose paver in the driveway? You could be paying for hospital stays in perpetuity.
  • Calamitous events – No one can see into the future. That’s why accidents occur, and that’s why it’s important to consider umbrella insurance to fully cover you if they do.
    Add your own here: __________. It only takes a small amount of creativity to imagine the Halloween trick or treater who stumbles on the step and needs medical attention or the teenager who goes to take the car out of the garage for a joyride and forgets the gear is in reverse.

No one wants to go through the claims process, so take measures where you can to improve the hardiness of your home and keep more money in your pocket. As a Florida homeowners insurance shopper, you’re on the right track; you’re definitely ready to search for the right policy now that you’ve read this blog.

Good luck as your protect that which you hold most dear, and contact W3 Insurance when you’re ready to talk about coverage options. Please note that this article provides a general description of coverages. For complete policy information, including exclusions, limitations, terms and conditions, please refer to your insurance policy contract.

We’re here to help you protect and save. As an all-lines agency, we offer advice regarding coverage, discounts and more. Contact W3 Insurance at 727-522-7777 for more in-depth advice regarding Florida homeowners insurance.

‘Tis the Season for Flu Shots: Tips for Employers

Encourage employees to vaccinate with (or without) an onsite event

It’s time to get shot; make sure your employees don’t miss out. We’re talking of course about the flu vaccine, that yearly preventative measure that today is more important than ever. The prospect of contracting both COVID-19 and this year’s flu strain is too potentially dire to imagine. Can you imagine enduring the ‘twindemic’ triggered by a dual diagnosis of COVID and influenza?

All together now: SHUDDER.

As an employer, you can inspire members of your workforce to choose vaccination and thus take a proactive step that can lead to lower absenteeism rates companywide. Like COVID, influenza is not welcome in the workplace. Unlike COVID, there’s something we can do as a society about contracting influenza. That begins and ends with the flu shot.

But how effective really is the flu shot at preventing influenza – and who should make absolutely sure to receive it? Dispelling the below myths will give your employees the confidence they need in order to stick those arms out (literally).

Myths surrounding the flu shot include:

  • We don’t know which strain of flu will be most prevalent, so the flu shot likely won’t be that effective. While it’s true that different strains of flu exist and that it’s difficult to state for sure which will be the most dangerous year-to-year, getting the flu shot is a solid idea because, according to the Centers for Disease Control, each vaccine includes immunity against four strains. That’s a decent gamble!
  • I don’t get sick a lot, so I don’t need this shot. This has always been a very loose argument because it only takes one time contracting the flu to change one’s mind forever. The flu can be extremely serious. Thousands – in fact, tens of thousands die of the flu each year. Even in mild cases, it wrecks a person’s week (or even two weeks).
  • My kids get the shot, so I don’t need to. Who is going to take care of said kids if you’re laid up because of the flu? Enough said.
  • My child is too young to get the flu shot. Babies aged 6 months and older can receive the flu shot – and they may be eligible for the nasal vaccine. That means no needles involved!
  • I always get sick from the flu shot. While some people have mild symptoms they attribute to the flu shot, those symptoms are much less serious than those that can potentially occur with the full-blown flu. The virus contained in the flu shot vaccine has been inactivated. Any side effects from the shot should be mild.
  • I hate needles; if I can’t get the nasal vaccine, I won’t do it. For those aged 2-49, the nasal vaccine is often an option. Those who are pregnant should opt for a syringe instead. If a person really can’t stand needles, he or she should talk with a medical professional regarding the positives and negatives of that year’s nasal version.

Now that we’ve dispelled those myths, let’s be clear: there’s an extra reason to make sure everyone eligible receives the flu vaccine this year. A twindemic of COVID/INFLUENZA is threatening our nation. Employers can help in the fight to prevent a ‘twindemic’ outbreak. Make sure your workers understand the benefits of the flu shot and where to receive the vaccination. Used to hosting an annual on-site clinic but forced to skip it this year? Motivate your workforce in ways other than shot proximity. We know this is a very real challenge; about 30% of our clients who host onsite clinics have had to cancel due to an inability to meet on-site minimums.

There’s no cure yet for COVID; it’s time we get creative and inspire those around us to take healthy inoculation initiative. We’re all hoping for an end to COVID. In the meantime, here’s how to motivate your staff to inoculate against the malady we often can prevent: flu.

  • Tell everyone how to get the shot. For free. The flu shot is a preventative service. It’s covered at 100% when the member visits a participating pharmacy or retail location. With social distancing recommendations still in effect in many states, look for more drive-through opportunities.
  • Be transparent regarding where people may not want to receive the shot. Be sure to share the possibility that a primary care physician may possibly charge a copay for an office visit if they choose to go that route. Sharing this information is similar to that of advising those who opt to visit the emergency room for every sniffle to choose a primary visit or walk-in clinic instead. When cost is an issue, information is invaluable.
  • Got a shot? -You get a smoothie! (Hopefully the employee will choose the Vitamin C-rich option over that chocolate brownie peanut butter bomb on the menu). Grocery gift cards make a great reward as well. Consider gifting wellness baskets stocked full of wholesome goodies: oranges, hand sanitizer and tissues are favorites. While you’re at it, print out some flyers about flu shots, telehealth, and EAP. Stuff those in the baskets – people need something to read while they’re eating those orange segments.
  • Post signage – If you do have employees on-site, put informational signage in well-trafficked areas. Download free flyers from the CDC here: https://bit.ly/2H0GNNW.
  • Educate, educate, educate – Influenza and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses. Consider the decision to vaccinate this way: We do not, at the time this blog was written, possess a vaccine or powerfully effective treatment for COVID-19. We do, however, have the flu shot. Not electing to receive the flu shot leaves an individual doubly vulnerable.

Most onsite clinics are already scheduled, so that route may be out of the question for this year. Go ahead and mark your calendar for Summer of 2021 as the pivotal moment you reach out to schedule the next one, however. Hopefully by then we will have an effective vaccine for COVID-19 as well.

We understand that in this current health climate it can be especially overwhelming to guide your employees toward healthy decisions like vaccination. Need assistance motivating employees to receive the flu shot? Not sure where to start? Usually have an onsite clinic but not hosting one due to a remote worker shift? -I’m here for you. Contact me (Trish Blocker) at 727-522-7777.

Have You Considered Adding A Water Shut-Off Device To Your Water Damage Action Plan?

Picture this. You’ve just arrived home, and as you pull into the driveway, you see water seeping out the garage. You open the door and discover the painful truth: a plumbing leak has occurred, and water is everywhere. Cue the panic questions:

Do you have insurance coverage? How much coverage do you have for water damage losses? Don’t let the above scenario happen.

Thanks to leak detectors and water shutoff devices, protecting your property from water damage losses has become much easier. From leaky pipes to water heater malfunctions and everything in between, these water damage culprits that lead to property insurance claims are preventable.

Avoid costly repairs and potential insurance claims by installing a preventative device. Some devices could even lead to a policy discount with some insurance companies. Take some time to research and discover more about the various types of leak detectors and water shutoff devices. An initial investment can save you time, money, and aggravation in the long run.

Check out what one of our clients recently told us about their experience with a water shut-off device:

“I wanted to report firsthand about water shutoff devices you recently mentioned. Like you my insurance carrier here in Cincinnati the Cincinnati insurance Co. recommended the installation of a water flow control device. They mentioned four different brands. I researched them and chose Flo by Moen.

When I purchased it online they had a special deal with a plumber for the installation cost of $150 I booked it several weeks out it was installed without a hitch. It was then connected to AC power and Wi-Fi and is now providing daily reports on water usage and every night it performs a system check for leaks.

If I leave the home for any extended period of time I put it in away mode so that it is much more sensitive to shutting off the water supply in the event of what is deemed to be a leak. So for the total cost including installation of about $550 I’m also saving $200 per year on my homeowners policy here.”

It is important for you to review the policy limits for water damage coverage within your insurance contract. If you have questions, contact W3 at 727-522-7777. A great place to begin is a water damage action plan. Find advice regarding crafting one here: https://w3ins.com/category/homeowners.

W3 Insurance Named to Business Insurance’s Annual Best Places to Work in Insurance List

Award Showcases W3’s Consistent Workplace Success

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – For the fifth time, W3 Insurance has been named to the Best Places to Work in Insurance list. The honor demonstrates that Business Insurance recognizes W3 Insurance as a workplace where employees feel they can thrive and collectively help the organization to grow and prosper.

“We maintain an employee experience (EX) focus,” says W3 Insurance Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Hammond. “Our ‘Raving Fans’ culture starts internally, with our employees.”

The vetting process to identify leading agents, brokers, providers and insurance companies in the insurance industry included a two-part questionnaire from Best Companies Group. Employees completed a confidential employee survey regarding engagement and satisfaction; employers were directed to answer questions explaining company policies, practices and demographics.

Best Places to Work in Insurance is an annual sponsored content feature presented by the Custom Publishing unit of Business Insurance and Best Companies Group. As to what makes W3 a consistent honoree, an employee response from 2019 explains it all:

We have a culture of Integrity, Accountability, Success, and Passion. We’re a team and we love what we do…Our employees participate in internal committees that foster relationship building activities within the W3 family. Our employees also create fundraising and volunteer opportunities and activities to support the Tampa Bay Area to improve the overall quality of life for those in need around us.

 About W3 Insurance

Founded in 1925, Wallace Welch & Willingham Inc (W3 Insurance) is an independent insurance agency with a rich history of providing quality service and unwavering commitment to clients and community. The agency represents an extensive list of “A rated” insurance companies and offers insurance products to fit the specific needs of businesses and individuals. For more information, call (727) 522-7777 or visit www.w3ins.com.

About Business Insurance

Business Insurance is the authoritative news and information source for executives concerned about risk and the impact on their business. With information for risk managers, insurers, brokers and other providers of insurance products and services, Business Insurance delivers in-depth analysis on new and emerging risks, case studies of successful programs, market intelligence on trends, and guidance on how to capitalize on opportunities and overcome challenges.

In addition to a monthly print magazine, Business Insurance provides essential news via its website, BusinessInsurance.com; daily and weekly e-newsletters; and breaking news via email news alerts. To subscribe, please contact Business Insurance at info@businessinsurance.com.

Best Companies Group works with partners to establish “Best Places to Work,” “Best Companies,” and “Best Employers” programs on a national, state-wide and regional basis.