Recreation Without Mass Transit – What to Know Before You Yell Bon Voyage

RV towing a boat on the highway

In the age of COVID, family time increasingly means Web searches for boat insurance and RV insurance. It’s no surprise: When embracing the open water (or the road), it’s easy to practice social distancing. When you’re sailing in Tampa Bay, that feeling of being cooped up dissolves. Likewise, operating an RV means taking your hotel room with you wherever you go. For the stir crazy and those seeking greater quality time with loved ones, boats and RVs have proved a worthy means of escape.

Some elements to consider include:

  • Insurance – Make sure you are properly covered before you embark upon this new family adventure. Boats and RVs have unique requirements for insurance. You’ll want to consider the type of vessel (or size of RV), intended use and more. It’s simple to find a comprehensive quote when you consult an advisor who asks all the right questions. You’ll then be able to hit the road or the Gulf with full security.
  • Skill level – Don’t be cavalier about your ability to operate a water vessel or a massive RV. Boater education courses can be found online (a socially distant plus) and RV tips and tricks can as well. Remember that other elements will need to be mastered as well. For RVS: emptying sewage tanks; for boats: docking protocols. There are more elements to consider, of course.
  • Purchasing or renting? Vacationers seem to be heading to the hills of North Carolina in droves – most in rented RVs. This is a smart strategy. If you can handle the winding roads of the Carolinas and your family members are still speaking to one another after the trip, you may want to consider purchasing an RV. However, if the vehicle breaks down, your family members feel confined and constrained, and you do not enjoy the trip, at least that RV is rented. Give it back – and try boating instead.
  • Chartering a boat may become a necessity as boat inventory decreases. The St. Petersburg Boat show is still scheduling for December, for example, but so many vessels have been purchased lately that dealers are waiting for new production boats to arrive.

Embrace life on the open road or water. It’s one silver lining to come out of the age of COVID-19: this time with family that we can nurture with a new hobby. For insurance answers for recreational vehicles or boat insurance, contact the advisors at W3 Insurance.

Have the Most Prepared Pet on the Block

From Collar to Crate to Everything in Between

July is Pet Preparedness Month, so it’s prime time to check the ‘go-bag’ for your furry friend. If the term ‘go-bag’ means the half-eaten container of kibble you keep in the garage, it’s extremely important that you read further. Not having the right materials on hand for your pet could prove disastrous in a time of crisis. Here’s what to set aside to ensure your pet’s comfort and health.

  • Food and water – All right, so you were on the right track with that kibble bag. We’re talking at least a three-day supply. Try not to dig into that emergency stash when the food supply gets low. In case of an emergency, you’ll need to know that it’s there. Otherwise, your dog could end up sharing snack cakes with you in a hurricane shelter, and we all know how sensitive his stomach is. That brings us to the next important task: researching shelters.
  • ‘Pet-friendly’ and ‘shelter’ are not terms that necessarily go together. Don’t chance that a shelter will accept your 100 pound Great Dane. Do a few minutes of research online first. That’s likely all the time it will take to learn whether or not your animal will be accepted into the shelter. If they are, be prepared to show the following:
    • Medical information – Since emergencies don’t tend to be scheduled on the calendar, it’s important to keep your pet’s immunizations current. Put those records in a safe place and be ready to grab them as you head out the door.
    • Identification – Slip that tag that identifies your dog as having been vaccinated against rabies onto his collar. It’s a quick way for people to see that he is not a threat.
  • Even if your dog never leaves your side, stash a leash in the kit. The change of scenery might make him prone to wander. While you’re at it, grab a first aid kit just for Fido.
  • Print out a picture of you with your pet and slip it into the kit. Sure, we know you have 455 similar pictures on your phone – but what if you forget your charger, lose the dog and have no way to identify him other than He’s small and white and snarls at everyone but me? Having a tangible picture is a solid idea.
  • Improve the treat stash. Just like you, your animal is going to feel the stress of a chaotic situation. This is not the time to withhold a good old-fashioned rawhide or hoard the bacon strips.
  • If your pet sleeps in a crate, take it with you. Better yet, take it even if he avoids the thing like the plague. A shelter may require your animal to stay in said crate, even if it’s the last thing he’s hoping to do.

If you’ve opted for pet insurance, include a copy of the policy in the kit or have access to it online. And if you’re trying to decide whether or not to opt for pet insurance, take a look here to generate your own quote now:

Click here for a free pet insurance quote

Insurance Coverage for Your RV – Protect that office on wheels

Before we share RV insurance wisdom, here’s a short quiz. How much do you really know about the glorious motor home – and how might the pandemic make this multipurpose marvel attractive to a new throng of remote workers?

A motor home (also referred to as a recreational vehicle) is commonly regarded as:

  1. Your occasional personal office space
  2. Home sweet home
  3. A means of transportation to wherever, whenever – from the beaches of St. Petersburg, Florida to the mountains of Denver, Colorado.
  4. All of the above.

‘D’ is the obvious correct answer. As more and more people embrace the work from home lifestyle, RV ownership is becoming exceptionally attractive. If you’re one of the many looking to hit the road in an office/home hybrid, you’re in luck. The following RV insurance tips will help you secure your investment.

When shopping for RV insurance coverage, take note:

  • Your premium may decrease during off-use. If you know that this will not be your permanent residence, for example, mention that to your insurance professional. Often, you won’t have to pay the same amount of premium if the RV spends months tucked inside its massive garage.
  • Don’t expect your car insurance policy to include RV coverage. Remember: An RV is not a car. It’s much, much more. You’ll need the specialized coverage that reflects this.
  • Look for an Emergency Expense Allowance in the RV policy. Imagine this scenario and you’ll understand why: You’re halfway to Toledo when the RV breaks down and the tow truck arrives. An Emergency Expense Allowance helps with temporary living expenses; plus, it cushions the financial blow of RV transport.
  • Pet owners, it’s meaningful to know that some carriers will help with veterinary bills if your pet is hurt while riding in your RV. If this is important to you, ask your insurance professional if it is part of your coverage.
  • Additional coverage for attachment devices (generators, etc.) will cover those as well.

Know the difference between Actual Cash Value (ACV), Replacement Value and Agreed Value (AV)– because the difference is potentially huge. Let’s say that your RV is totaled.

As a policy, Actual Cash Value is going to pay out in a basic manner, using fair market value. Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle understands the adage ‘It’s worth less as soon as you drive it off the lot.’ That RV will have depreciated in value since you purchased it shiny and new. You’ll receive less of a payout because of that.

Who knew RV insurance would involve so much deliberation? We did. Here at W3 Insurance, we specialize in helping you protect that which you hold dear – from boats to businesses to RVs and beyond. Call us at 727-522-777 and become properly insured before you head out on that marvelous home office on wheels.

Click here to request an RV insurance quote.

Pandemic Pragmatism: Return To Work Advice for Employers

This is a message to employers who look out upon a sea of empty cubicles and yearn for normalcy. We understand the temptation to welcome employees back in droves. Business is not as usual, and we all feel it: no sector is immune to the effects of COVID-19. As we grapple with our ‘new normal,’ it is imperative that employers handle the return of employees to the physical workplace with proverbial ‘kid gloves.’

Here are some safeguards to consider as you reopen your doors to the employee population:

  • Constant vigilance is key. That employee who tested negative yesterday could arrive at the office this morning as a COVID-19-infected individual. Therefore, daily health checks are necessary, and the EEOC has ruled that employers may ask workers whether they are in fact suffering from COVID-similar symptoms. *Compliance with the ADA is still mandatory; any medical information gleaned from such daily checks becomes part of the individual’s confidential medical record.
  • Thanks to human ingenuity, we already have multiple options for these checks, including:
    • COVID-19 and antibody testing – Antibody testing is not, at this moment, FDA approved. It demands a blood draw and can take days to reveal results. A person may test negative for COVID-19 one day and positive the next, making such testing an unlikely option for regular use.
    • Medical screenings conducted by medical personnel – In this scenario, employees stay in their vehicle while a medical professional takes their temperature and administers a brief questionnaire. Anyone with a temperature at or below 100.4 is cleared to enter the building.
    • Non-contact thermometer at building entrance. Not every person infected with COVID-19 has a fever. However, the thermometer check will identify some infected individuals.
    • App use requiring daily report of symptoms, exposure, and temperature – Responses are recorded. If suspected COVID-19 is identified, correct company personnel is notified.
  • Remember that discriminatory practices are not admissible just because a pandemic is at large. However, individuals aged 65 or older may be given more flexibility than compared with your younger employee population. Those within the older age group are at higher risk to suffer complications from COVID-19. Treatment of demographic groups such as pregnant women and those with family responsibilities is discussed at length here.

Return to work symbolizes a return to normal, and that is what we as a society yearn for during this age of uncertainty. Still, don’t rush the Welcome Back celebration. Work with your HR department to outline clear and concise policies that protect the health of everyone in the organization. For assistance, contact W3 Benefits and Wellness Strategist Trish Blocker at tblocker@w3ins.com or 727-522-7777 x173.

Hurricane Preparation in the Time of COVID-19

Not to be outdone by the COVID-19 pandemic, the hurricane season of 2020 is forecasted to be a doozy. The season begins June 1, and early prediction models warn of 16 potential storms featuring tropical-strength winds. Among these, eight have the potential for U.S. landfall. It’s always important to prepare for hurricane season. How will COVID-19 make this one different?

Hint: extra face masks are advised, but that’s just the beginning. Read below as we examine some of the extra precautions you and your family should take in order to ensure you are safe from both storm and pandemic this hurricane season.

Proper hurricane prep in the time of COVID-19 looks like this:

  • An updated emergency preparedness kit. FEMA recommends hand sanitizer, two cloth face coverings for each person, soap, disinfecting wipes and other disinfecting agents. Add those to the standard hurricane kit suggestions shared here.
  • Your regularly advised shelter may be deemed too close-for-comfort, so check the evacuation plan your city has released long before that cone of uncertainty shows up on the radar. If you do end up at a shelter, maintain 6 feet of space between others.
  • Does your family know the emergency plan? If not, it’s time to share it. You can make your household’s hurricane plan here and avoid last-minute ‘What should we do…where should we go?’ decisions. Find a template here.
  • If you choose to opt for storm coverage, do it now. It’s too late to opt for coverage once the hurricane forms over the Atlantic. At that moment, you’ll want to know that you have all the safeguards in place to keep you and your family safe, COVID-19 or not. Consider that insurance coverage is just one more vital piece of your hurricane preparedness plan.

Contact the advisors at W3 Insurance for guidance regarding storm coverage. You’ll receive advice regarding the different types of coverage you can consider, and information about what happens if a named storm does head your way. For both homeowners and boat owners, this coverage is a blessing in a time of peril.

So how does hurricane preparation during the time of COVID-19 really vary from years before? Mainly, it’s important to practice social distancing guidelines and sanitize as much as possible. This year, showing up at a shelter does not earn you a proverbial ‘gold star’ for hurricane preparedness. Today, as never before, we must all look to further measures to keep us healthy.

Wellness in the Time of COVID-19

Much of the workforce is still tapping away on those home laptops. Kids are trying to learn calculus or sight words or American Revolution facts right alongside their parents. The threat of exposure to the pandemic looms like a mystery cloud of despair. In this time of uncertainty, close quarters and overall life disruption, what’s a company to do?

It’s time to call in the Employer Assistance Program.

Employers, an EAP can be one of your closest allies right now. Here’s how to make yours a visible tool to your employee population – a tool that they actually use for good.

  • First, remind your workers that the EAP actually exists. It’s quite possible they’ve never used it before. It’s designed to help employees with stressors both large and small, and it’s confidential. Remind employees that the company will not be able to access personal information through it. This is confidential assistance.
  • Share general examples with employees regarding how the EAP can help. For example, consider the following scenario: An employee was wondering whether or not he was drinking too much. He was feeling especially anxious about his ability to perform his work at a high level while at home. Seeking expert advice on the matter, he reached out through the EAP and was able to secure a therapy appointment.
  • Another scenario might look like this: For the past few weeks, nothing seems to make this employee happy. He’s worrying all the time, and it’s difficult for him to complete his work because his heart is just not in the task. As a matter of fact, nothing is really making him smile anymore.

Individuals with situations that mimic the examples above would be referred to a therapist who would address their issues specifically. Note: Most EAPs are not going to take an individual through long-term counseling. But for the scores of people feeling ‘not quite themselves’ in this time of Coronavirus, an EAP can provide exactly what they need in order to put themselves on a sturdier road toward mental health.

For more information regarding EAP help in the time of COVID-19, take a look at the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association resources specifically aimed at EAPs: https://bit.ly/2yKAqdG.

For answers regarding your specific EAP and further advice regarding how to communicate the benefits of it to your organization, call your W3 advisor. And remember this one silver lining throughout this time of uncertainty: Thanks to the EAP, people can continue to access the help they need.

Home Business Coverage – Who Needs It?

From Etsy store owner to multi-level marketing mavens and every aspiration in between, plenty of business owners choose the home front as their business address. It’s conceivable that the coronavirus pandemic’s ‘stay at home’ directive has spurred a new wave of stay-at-home inspiration. After all, plenty of people are finding ways to work from home. How does this class of businesspeople protect themselves and the organizations they cherish?

Do home business moguls need to take insurance along for the ride as they build an empire?

The answer is likely ‘yes.’ Just because an office is a kitchen table and the commute involves a grueling six steps from the bedroom, that doesn’t mean that it’s time to neglect insurance coverage. Coverage is available for a wide variety of home-based businesses; opting for it is often a good idea. Here’s why.

  • The overbooked photographer scenario – Let’s say you’re a photographer who overbooks (gasp) a wedding. First, congratulations on being so popular. Secondly, be prepared for the possibility that you could be sued. The angry bride or groom-to-be who booked with you originally could sue you for the cost of a replacement photographer.
  • The home-based business accident – Do customers visit your home for business purposes? If so, it’s imperative to purchase insurance. Imagine the shock of the in-home piano teacher whose student tripped on a slick floor and broke his ankle, or the computer repairman who fell as he carried his overheated laptop up the driveway and needed multiple surgeries to repair a fractured hip. Guess who foots the bill for these medical snafus? -Hint: It’s often not the injured person.
  • Annihilated inventory – Are you a maker? A baker, crafter, or an all-around-artsy person? Do you store your products in the home? Don’t expect your homeowners policy to cover that collection that took you months to amass. Make sure that you have the correct coverage in place so that if something happens, you’re able to replace and rebuild. Business income coverage will go a step further by compensating a portion of lost income as a result of a covered accident.

So who is actually eligible to elect coverage? Crafters, jewelry makers, cosmetic/beauty sales consultants (Rodan + Fields, Monat, doTERRA), teachers/tutors, disc jockeys, bakers and photographers are some of the more common eligible professions. But even those that are commonly not eligible may find coverage through a commercial or professional lines form.

That’s why it’s so important to cultivate a relationship with an insurance provider who gives good advice regarding your personal and business coverage needs. And that’s where W3 Insurance shines. As an all-lines agency, W3 serves as your comprehensive coverage source. Contact an advisor today. Describe your business and its liability. A W3 advisor will advise you regarding coverage type and scope, so you can get back to what’s really important: focusing on your home business dreams.

Your One-Stop W3 Covid-19 Resource Center

Need answers? Find them here.

As we continue to deal with the ramifications of COVID-19 on our lives and livelihoods, W3 is staying vigilant. We are continually striving to answer the question: What does this pandemic mean for businesses? The answers vary day-to-day; therefore, we have developed a one-stop W3 COVID-19 Resource Center to provide regular updates and issue sound advice.

W3 Coronavirus Resource Center

Within this Resource Center, you’ll find timely information regarding:

  • Insurance coverage – How will your policies be affected? Can premiums be deferred or delayed?
  • Human Resources and Compliance – HR professionals: How will you keep your office in compliance with federal regulations surrounding COVID-19? For those non-essential businesses facing a newly remote workforce, how should you navigate this ‘new world’ of employment?
  • Financial and Tax Legislation – Interested to know the latest financial and tax legislation news? -We’ve done the research for you.
  • Employee Benefits – How does COVID-19 affect employee benefits?
  • Health & Safety – Are OSHA concerns different for remote employees? How can an organization strive to keep the workforce as healthy as possible in the midst of a pandemic?
  • Reasons to Smile – It’s not all ‘doom and gloom’ out there, friends and colleagues. In this time of social distancing, businesses are providing grocery cards to employees, sending heart-warming messages and encouraging everyone to slow down and smell the proverbial roses. Here, you’ll read real-life examples of employers doing what they can to give their employees a reason to smile.

Visit w3ins.com/covid-19 and view our extensive information library. And remember: We consider ourselves your ‘partner in protection.’ This pivot of providing information related to COVID-19 is just one more way we offer you ‘Raving Fan’ service.

Let’s all take care of each other. Hopefully, the W3 COVID-19 Resource Center will make doing that easier.

Put Down the Snack Cakes – National Nutrition Month

Welcome to National Nutrition Month! Grab an apple, take a crunch, and read onward as we share healthy workplace outreach strategies. No, you can’t snatch Twinkies from desktops or institute a “no fries” rule in the employee manual. However, by sharing reputable dietary information and committing to fostering a healthier workplace environment, you can make a real dent in that employee pizza habit.

First, remember that you are not the Food Police. A healthy diet should contain a variety of foods from different sources; that means those diets composed of one or two items are not advisable. Who remembers the grapefruit diet (shudder)? Healthy eating is not just a bandwagon – it’s a lifestyle that allows for plenty of choice.

Plenty of medical evidence exists to prove that a healthy, well-rounded diet leads to better health outcomes. You can tell people that – but it won’t matter if they haven’t eaten since yesterday and there’s a box of donuts beckoning in the breakroom. You can get your employees to ‘buy in’ to the nutrition data without causing a run on the last cruller. Here are a few ways to nudge your employee population toward healthier choices.

  • Just say ‘no’ to the following: donuts, cronuts, croissants, muffins….you get the picture. But no one wants healthy birthday cake! We agree – so choose your battles. Healthy birthday cakes can be a real bummer. Instead of providing one for every birthday, why not celebrate employees monthly with a communal cake? And replace those donuts with ingredients for serve-yourself yogurt parfaits. Low fat yogurt, granola, fresh fruit and chia seeds make for a healthy, filling breakfast.
  • Look at your catering menu. When you order food for meetings, are you offering gluten-free and vegetarian options? The classic ‘sub sandwich ring’ is likely not going to be the number one choice. Remember that adage ‘An army runs on its stomach’ and take it to heart. Your employees and clients may be satiated by the double chocolate cookies you purchased for dessert – or they may be so drowsy that they fall asleep. We dare you to take this moment to ask for the sale.
  • Now for an examination of the vending machine. Can you replace those sugary, preservative-filled candy bars with high quality dark chocolate options? Are there baked options for the chips that everyone seems to be crunching at 4pm? Is there room in the company budget to simply stock a bowl with fresh fruit and invite employees to eat it free of charge? It doesn’t take huge gestures to nudge an employee population to make better nutritional choices.

Workplaces that go above and beyond the everyday nutritional hacks may opt to invite an organization like Weight Watchers to host meetings at the office. They may hire a nutritionist to do a lunch and learn presentation – complete with a healthy gratis menu. Whatever you decide, know that a healthier workplace is possible. For more tips, put down the snack cakes and contact W3 Wellness Coordinator Trish Blocker at 727-522-7777 ext. 173 or tblocker@w3ins.com.

Find more information here: https://www.eatright.org/

W3 Insurance Welcomes Employee Benefits Advisor to Team

Conor J. Fitzgerald Joins our St. Petersburg Office

Conor J. Fitzgerald Joins our St. Petersburg Office

Wallace Welch & Willingham (W3 Insurance) has hired Conor J. Fitzgerald  as an employee benefits advisor. Fitzgerald comes to W3 from Bouchard Insurance, where he was responsible for employee benefits and business insurance production. He looks forward to helping W3 clients achieve their financial and organizational goals through innovative and consultative strategies.

“Conor should make a great addition to our team of benefits professionals,” says W3 Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Hammond. “He has proven experience in customer service, sales and benefits.”

Fitzgerald’s civic participation fits in well with the W3 spirit of giving back. An active community member, he volunteers in various capacities, including shifts with organizations such as Metropolitan Ministries, Tampa Bay Frogman Swim and Sal’s Soldiers – The Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis.

Founded in 1925, Wallace Welch & Willingham (W3 insurance) is an independent insurance agency with a rich history of providing quality service and unwavering commitment to its clients and community. The agency represents an extensive list of “A rated” insurance companies in order to provide the best coverage at the most affordable rates available.  Wallace Welch & Willingham has insurance products to fit the specific needs of both businesses and individuals, offering commercial, homeowners, auto, boat and life insurance, as well as employee benefits coverage. For more information, call (727) 522-7777 or visit www.w3ins.com.