They Eat What? Where? Dining Across the Globe

We tend to think of what we eat in the United States as “normal”. In other parts of the world however, what they dine upon is often based on affordability and availability. Many cultures make use of more animal parts than others and what some may find as exotic others view as disgusting. Here are some strange, interesting and odd foods that some cultures may even view as being delicacies.

Escargot

These land snails are considered a delicacy in France, Portugal, Spain, and yes, even in the United States. Escargot are often prepared with butter, garlic, parsley along with a wine sauce. Specific escargot are considered such a delicacy because they come from the Burgundy region of France.

Kangaroo

It probably shouldn’t be surprising that kangaroo are farmed for their meat in Australia. While common Down Under, kangaroo meat is exported as a delicacy outside of Australia and is best when prepared like beef and served medium to medium rare.

Haggis

This national dish of Scotland consists of the internal organs of sheep cooked inside of the animal’s stomach lining. It is said to have an earthy taste and is frequently served with mashed potatoes. You had me at internal organs.

Alligator

Alligator is a popular meat in the United States, particularly in the Southeast and is actually one of the more controversial foods prepared in the world. The meat from alligator tail is particularly popular.

Balut

This dish, considered a delicacy in the Philippines, frequently makes the lists of most exotic dishes from around the globe. While most eggs consumed are unfertilized, Balut is a fertilized egg that is cooked while still developing. It is described as unappealing to look at and is often referred to as “slimy” in texture. What’s not to love?

Many parents encourage their children to “at least have a taste” when it comes to trying new foods. As we grow older however, many of us lose our own sense of adventure. When was the last time you tried something totally new for dinner? Balut or Haggis may not be on your shopping list but there are a world of dishes from around the globe waiting for you to explore.

Preventing Slip and Falls at Your Business

Business slip and fall accident settlements can range from $20,000 into the millions of dollars. Everyday small and big businesses alike are being sued by customers and delivery people for wet floors, cracked pavement and poor signage that leads to a fall and injury. This not only affects the insurance companies who pay the claims, but increases the costs of liability insurance for businesses to protect themselves. Everyone has a vested interest in minimizing slip and fall accidents and the resulting litigation. Here is how you can better protect your business from becoming the victim of slip and fall litigation.

Demonstrate a Commitment to Safety

How your business demonstrates its diligence about visitor safety can go a long way in defending against a slip and fall lawsuit. This includes written policies about how you handle spills, leaks and other potential hazards. Make sure your organization has clear guidelines on how traffic areas with potential problems should be effectively handled to prevent and mitigate slip and falls.

Have Appropriate Signage

If you have consumer foot traffic, appropriate signage is critical in keeping visitors safe. Have signage that warns about hazardous and work areas. Use pylons and caution tape to warn visitors about potential problems. Make sure you have appropriate signage when it is necessary.

Make Sure Lighting is Adequate

Insufficient lighting is a cause of many slip and fall claims. Replace failed or failing lighting promptly and constantly look for ways to improve lighting where visitors frequent.

Mark Elevation Changes

Whether it is a ramp or a step or stairs, elevation changes need to be clearly marked. Handrails may improve the safety of these areas. The edge of steps should be brightly and clearly marked.

Improve Traction of Potentially Slippery Surfaces

Flooring can become slippery due to moisture, oil, sand and a variety of other substances. Many times, these surfaces can be improved to provide better traction. This can be an investment well-worth making.

In many cases, limiting the risk of slip and fall incidents just takes a fresh view and a walk-thru. Consider that visitors may be older or younger than you, may have limited mobility and may even be sight impaired. Most importantly, you need to respond promptly when you become aware of a potential issue.

Do you have appropriate protection against a liability for your business? Contact our independent agents and let’s conduct a business insurance review. Let’s work together in protecting your visitors, your business and your assets.

Beyond Life Insurance: Other Death Benefits for Which You May Qualify

Many families count on life insurance to help cover the final expenses of a loved one. Life insurance can not only cover funeral expenses, but may help pay any remaining medical and personal debts, and even provide for loved ones left behind. While life insurance frequently covers the lion’s share of these final expenses, there may be other resources to benefit those who remain. Here are some death benefit resources which you may qualify.

Social Security

If you are presently receiving Social Security benefits, a small death benefit ($255) will automatically be issued to your survivor upon your death. When Social Security benefits are not being received, the death must be reported within two years to qualify for the payment. Many funeral directors can assist with this process.

Veterans Benefits

Veterans and their families may qualify from a variety of benefits upon death ranging from an honorary flag to a burial plot. Funeral directors are often well-versed on these benefits and can assist families in applying. It can be helpful for veterans to keep all military records from their service with their important papers and documents.

Civic Groups and Service Clubs

Some service clubs and service groups provide death benefits to their members. It is well-worth exploring the benefits of any club or group of which a loved one may have been a member. There also may be benefits available from employers, fraternal groups and other organizations a person may have been a part of.

If you are unsure if the life insurance you presently have is adequate, contact us for a no cost life insurance review. Our independent agents can review any and all policies you presently have, and help you determine if they are sufficient. Your needs and the needs of your family will change as your life progresses. Make sure your life insurance is keeping pace. Remember, life insurance is at its least expensive when you are young and healthy so don’t wait. Contact us today.

Having the Insurance “Talk” with Your Newly Driving Teen

If you have a tween or teen, odds are there have been discussions in your home about the birds and bees, storks and/or cabbage patches. Some of us get at least some sense of relief when our kids will say “Yeah, Mom, I already know about that stuff” or “Dad, they discussed that in health class”. We know it’s awkward but it is important.

As your teen approaches driving age, there is another discussion that is important to have. It is regarding having that insurance “talk” with your new driver. What should be involved in this driving discussion with your teen?

The importance of responsibility.

Growing up is like climbing a ladder. A ladder isn’t, of and by itself, dangerous, but it can be. Driving is like those first few steps climbing on the ladder. To be able to climb higher these initial steps need to be done safely and responsibly. There may be other people in the car. There are other drivers on the road. A car must be kept under control. A young driver can not only hurt themselves but others as well.

The ramifications of failing in those responsibilities.

Driving is not a video game that can be re-set. There are real life ramifications. When there’s a problem, someone could be injured or even worse. Vehicles or properties can be damaged. Insurance rates can be quickly impacted. Your new driver should understand the financial impact a teenage driver already has on insurance rates for a family. Should an accident or even a speeding citation occur in these early years, the negative financial impact can be dramatic. They should know this and understand that driving, is in fact, a privilege. If they make a mistake, it could impact their ability to drive. If they make an error in judgement on these first few steps in climbing the ladder to adulthood, it won’t necessarily stop them from climbing again, but it could seriously impact their timeline. They need to know and understand this.

Adding a new driver to the family can both be a blessing an a curse. Talk to your teen about responsibilities when driving and yes, even the realities of expensive teen driver insurance rates. It can be a good way to get them more sure-footed on that ladder to adulthood.

Are you adding a new driver? Let us compare car insurance rates to find you the best value. Contact our independent insurance agents today.

Weighing Desire For Gain vs Fear of Loss

The desire for gain can be a very powerful force in human nature. It can motivate us to go to college for years, save up for a house and even exercise daily. It can even cause us to take shortcuts, sometimes, when it comes to getting what we want. Using credit cards for example. This is where fear of loss can be helpful. It can help balance our desire for gain by keeping us from paying 18-20% interest on those credit cards or buying a more expensive car than we should.

The desire for gain and fear of loss are tug-of-war like forces that, hopefully, keep us on the path to good, solid decision making. Insurance is a good example of that. It may not always be easy making life insurance, car insurance and homeowners’ insurance payments but a healthy fear of loss makes it important to protect the things, and people, of value in our lives. If we decide, for example, that getting a jet-ski is more important than life insurance to protect our family, that decision may not prove to be the best.

It is terrific to be motivated by a desire for gain. We all want a better life with more creature comforts, nice vacations and an enjoyable retirement. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of building a solid foundation for your financial future and protecting it with loss prevention products like life, car and home insurance.

That being said, it is still important to shop for value in these products, and that’s where our independent insurance agents play a key role. They don’t just represent a single brand, but have access to multiple insurance companies. This ability to “shop and compare” for their client’s gives them a clear edge when it comes to building an efficient, affordable, insurance plan.

Let us help you manage life’s perils while helping you achieve your financial goals. We can help you make better decisions while getting the best value for your insurance dollars. Contact us and get started on building your solid financial future.

Five Movies Some Big Stars Must Regret

Even the biggest stars had to get their start somewhere. Before they shine brightly on the big screen, many have left behind a resume of less than stellar, and in some cases, even embarrassing efforts. Here are five cringe-worthy films that have featured today’s biggest movie stars.

  1. Volunteers

Before Tom Hanks was Forrest Gump he was Lawrence Bourne III, a rich New Englander who owes $28,000 to bookies. When his wealthy father fails to bail him out, he hatches a plan to escape to Thailand, meeting Peace Corp volunteer John Candy along the way. This movie starts bad and gets worse. Hanks begins the film with a deep Boston area accent, which comes and goes throughout the film. The movie does deliver a few laughs but it is hard to believe Hanks (or Candy) was particularly proud of this film. You’ll need to watch Cast Away or The Money Pit just to wash your eyes out.

  1. Catwoman

Halle Berry has made no secret about her regrets in taking her role as the iconic Catwoman. In fact, after she won a Razzie Award in 2005 as Worst Actress for her role, she made a point of thanking Warner Brothers for “…putting me in this x#%@$ god-awful movie.” Meeowww.

  1. John Q

Denzel Washington has perhaps swung and missed more than any other movie star of our time. “Heart Condition” from 1990, “Virtuosity” from 1990, “Fallen” and “Safe House” are just a few.  However, his 2002 contribution, John Q, has been called “a cartoon version of Dog Day Afternoon.” Ouch. There are times when you almost expect Denzel to look into the camera and say “I can’t believe I’m about to say this.”

  1. Jack Frost

Michael Keaton seems to be a lightning rod when it comes to the movies he chooses. The consensus is the poorest of his choices seems to be “Jack Frost”. Even if you can get past the muppet-like snowman and unintentionally funny lines there is little redeeming about this film. It may be a family film but it might have your eight-year-old asking if they can watch “Pacific Heights” instead.

  1. The Beach

Perhaps any film Leonardo DiCaprio would have starred in following the success of the Titanic would not meet expectations. One just has to keep in mind that he was still only 24 years old at the time this movie was made in 2000. The film features a mad Scotsman by the name of Daffy Duck who tells DiCaprio and his friends about The Beach. Yep, Daffy Duck.

There’s a saying that buttered popcorn makes any movie better. It may take a bucket or two for these five.

Exceptions to the Rule: Calamities Business Insurance May Not Cover

Recent events across the country and the world have created lively discussions about business insurance and what may or what may not be covered. Much of this discussion is centered around Business Interruption Insurance.

It can be helpful to understand that virtually every form of insurance has exclusions, limitations, or will require a separate policy or additional rider on the main policy to cover certain circumstances. With homeowners’ insurance, for example, damage from flooding is not covered under the basic policy but must be secured separately. Likewise, backyard trampolines will likely not be covered by homeowners’ insurance and may even invalidate a homeowners’ insurance policy. There are other examples as well both in consumer and business insurance.

Business interruption insurance generally covers financial losses due to physical damage to a business or its inventory by a covered calamity like a fire or storm damage. In some cases, financial losses sustained from a loss of business due to a virus like COVID-19 would be exempt from coverage.

On the other hand, if a business has sustained damage due to rioting and is forced to close their doors because of the civil unrest, income losses under a business interruption policy may be covered. Not only would a business be covered under the vandalism provisions of a policy but because there were physical losses, business interruption coverage would also likely be in effect.

Some businesses may have been taken aback by the lack of coverage under some circumstances. It reinforces the importance of an occasional business insurance policy review. Businesses should carefully weigh the benefits of Business Interruption Insurance and understand its limitations. They should, at the very least, understand what is and isn’t covered under a policy and address any gaps they may be uneasy with ahead of time.

If it has been longer than you can remember since your business has had an insurance review, we invite you to contact one of our independent agents. They will discuss your specific risks, concerns and potential solutions. They will then go in search of a policy that suits your needs at a price that you can feel comfortable with. Contact us today.

Situations When Term Life Insurance May Be the Best Solution

When exploring your options for life insurance, you will be faced with selecting permanent insurance or term insurance. Generally speaking, permanent life insurance, sometimes referred to as whole life, is coverage that remains in place as long as policy premiums are kept up to date. On the other hand, term insurance is temporary in nature, covering the life of the insured for a specific period of time or term.

What are the situations when a term life insurance policy may be the best solution?

When Purchasing a Home

Term insurance is a superb way to ensure your home will be paid off in the event of death. The insurance term generally should coincide with the length of the mortgage. If you have a 30 year mortgage for example, a 30-year term life insurance policy would provide protection while there is still a loan on the property. You can select a decreasing term option, that would provide coverage that decreases as the loan is paid down.

When Getting Married or Starting a Family

Getting married or starting a family increases responsibility dramatically, especially for the next 20 years. Since term insurance is more affordable than permanent insurance, it can frequently be purchased in larger amounts. This will cover the time until a child reaches adulthood, even potentially covering college expenses.

To Cover a New Car Loan

A new car or truck today can easily cost $30,000, $40,000 or more. Term insurance can be acquired that will cover the balance for the duration of that car loan. You may be surprised at how affordable $30,000 worth of term life insurance can be for a period of five or six years.

When Starting or Investing in a Business

Term life insurance is a perfect choice to protect your investment when starting or buying a business. The proceeds can help keep the business going or at least cover any debts the company may have. Life insurance plays a critical role in many business situations to protect ownership interests and term insurance is an affordable option.

To learn more about your life insurance options and how term insurance in particular may be your best choice, contact one of our independent agents. They have access to a wide array of companies to find the best fit for you. Contact us today to get your no-cost, no-obligation life insurance quote today.

When It May Be Best NOT to File an Automobile Insurance Claim

Your neighbor Bob may tell you one thing. Cousin Jeff may tell you another. It seems everybody has an opinion. When should you file an insurance claim with your automobile insurance company and when should you just try to take care of the consequences on your own?

The discussion usually centers around the potential rate increases you could see in your automobile insurance if you file a claim. There’s much more to consider, however. So, when should you file a claim and when may it be best to NOT file an automobile insurance claim?

You put a small dent in a car owned by someone else.

It can be tempting to settle this type of claim privately. The problem is you don’t know who you may be dealing with and they may request more funds in the future. You should file a claim in this situation.

You cause an accident that involves injuries.

When injuries are involved in an incident you caused, it is critical you contact your insurance company. This could eventually involve significant medical bills and you want the support of your insurer.

You cause significant damage to another vehicle.

Because there may be more damage than initially thought, you should always let your insurance company know if you cause an accident with serious damage.

You cause serious accidental damage to your own car.

You may want consider whether or not to make a claim under this circumstance based on your deductible and on the possibility your rates could go up upon renewal. Of course, if you just have liability coverage, there will be no need to file a claim.

You cause minor damage to your own car.

If you only have liability coverage or if damage is less than your deductible amount, there is no need to file a claim with your insurance company. Even if damage is slightly more than your deductible, you may be better off handling the situation on your own.

In reality, there are few circumstances when you will not want to notify your insurance company of an incident. This is particularly true if injuries are involved.

Do you have sufficient automobile insurance for your situation? We can help. Contact our independent insurance agents and get a no-obligation insurance review and quote. You may just find improved coverage at a more affordable price. Get more for your money when you contact us for your automobile insurance needs.

Is Your Dog Taking a Bite Out of Your Homeowners’ Insurance Premiums?

Dogs can be an expensive addition to the family. There’s the food, toys, grooming supplies, bedding, bowls and vet visits. Add in the costs of leashes, treats and even fencing and your furry friend can be quite the investment. But is it possible that your dog is also costing you higher homeowners’ insurance premiums?

Because a homeowners’ insurance company can at least be held partially responsible should a dog injure someone, some insurance companies have either chosen to deny coverage to or add a surcharge for homeowners who have what some consider to be aggressive breeds. Among breeds some consider aggressive are Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies and some other breeds considered to be wolf/dog hybrids. In fact, just two states forbid insurance companies from dropping or canceling homeowners’ insurance policies because homeowners have a certain breed of dog. These states are Michigan and Pennsylvania.

So how big of a bite may your dog take out of your homeowners’ insurance premium? It is likely pretty modest, perhaps 2 or 3% of your total premium. The key is making sure your insurance company knows you have a dog and the type of breed it is. This ensures you will be adequately covered just in case Fido gets himself into trouble. Keeping dog ownership from your homeowners insurance company is never a good idea and may really come back to bite you.

Whether you have a dog or not, you certainly don’t want to overpay for your homeowners’ insurance. Our independent insurance agents have access to a variety of insurance companies. Our agents know which companies may and may not charge excessively if you have a dog. This allows them to “shop” on your behalf for sufficient coverage at a price you can be comfortable with. Before you make a decision on Fido, let us see what we can do. Contact us today for a homeowners insurance review and quote to make sure you are getting the most for your money!