Start the New Year off right with these Healthy Habits!

Bring in the New Year with these top wellness resolutions:
• Control your portions.
• Be active.
• Lower sodium consumption.
• Increase antioxidants.
• Quit smoking.
• Take care of your teeth.
• Wear sunscreen all year long.
• Strength train
• Expect good things from yourself.
(Source: Reader’s Digest)

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What To Do After an Auto Accident

Though we can only hope that something as unfortunate as an auto accident never happens to our clients, the odds of actually being involved in an incident such as this is relatively high. We have compiled a check list of helpful tips and information needed so you are well prepared.

Stop and Do NOT leave the scene!

  • Call the police immediately to report any accident, which results in personal injury or vehicle damage.
  • Notify the police as to any medical assistance that may be needed or any vehicle that is not functional to drive.
  • Warn other motorists by turning on your emergency flashers, setting up flares, or reflective devices 50 feet behind your vehicle.
  • Do not accept responsibility or otherwise discuss the accident with anyone except police authorities and your independent insurance agent or insurance carrier. Do not accept any monetary settlement at the accident scene.

Exchange information with the other driver

  • Write down the other party’s – driver license number, license plate number, and state. Also, get the insurance company name and policy number, make, model, and description of the vehicle. Lastly, record the name, address, and telephone number of the other driver.
  • Write down the name and address of all passengers, injured persons, or anyone with property damage.
  • Get the names and contact information of at least two witnesses if possible. This is very important when the fault of an accident is questionable.

Diagram the accident before leaving the scene

  • Note the time of day, weather, and condition of roadway (wet, icy, dry).
  • Show position of all vehicles before and after the accident-plus location of signs, streets, and medians.
  • Note any apparent damage to not only your vehicle, but all vehicles involved in the accident.
  • Write down any further details you feel are important.

To get a courtesy brochure copy of this information to keep in your vehicle, please email your full name and address to: erickson@sjeinsurance.com with the subject line: AFTER AN ACCIDENT BROCHURE

For more information, please feel free to contact your agent!

Dealing with Road Rage and Agressive Drivers on the Road

Dealing with Road Rage and Agressive Drivers on the Road

Picture It: You’re driving along one crisp fall morning on your day off of work. Suddenly, another motorist zips by on your left, almost clips your front bumper and flies back into your lane. You jump in your seat, stomp on the breaks and swerve to avoid a collision.

Does this seem familiar? Aggressive drivers can try even the most patient person. Your first reaction might be to yell out the window at the obnoxious driver or even speed up to “teach them a lesson.” It can be difficult not to lose your cool when other drivers don’t observe the rules of the road, but if you don’t, you end up being just as aggressive as the driver who aggravated you.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the most obvious form of road rage is aggressive and excessive speeding. It’s important to keep control when dealing with an aggressive driver and not retaliate in order to prevent further ado. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that aggressive driving is a factor in two thirds of all traffic fatalities.

With that in mind, here are six tips to help you keep your cool when dealing with aggressive drivers so you don’t become one yourself:

1.Make yourself comfortable before you get on the road – Uncomfortable temperatures and even poor sitting posture can fuel irritation. Make sure your seat is in the correct position before leaving your driveway and keep the temperature comfortable. That way, if you do encounter something frustrating on the road, your mood won’t be further affected by discomfort.
2.Breathe deeply if you feel yourself getting frustrated – Take a few deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Remember that you don’t know why the other person was driving aggressively. They could have an emergency and, even if that isn’t the case, its best to just let it go.
3.Keep your hands firmly on the wheel – This will keep you from accidentally instigating further aggression. Even a seemingly reasonable reactive gesture, like throwing one hand up in exasperation, can cause further issues with an aggressive driver. If your driving instigated the aggression (as in you made a mistake that angered another driver), use an open palm gesture to show your acknowledgement of the offensive deed or do nothing at all to avoid misunderstanding.
4.Let it all out, safely – If you feel a rant coming on or an insurmountable urge to voice your feelings, roll the windows up and let it out when the other driver can’t see you. Pull over and vent your anger verbally to yourself instead of physically driving aggressively.
5.Leave earlier rather than later – Waiting in long lines of traffic where multitudes of drivers are all trying to get to the same place can make tensions run high. To avoid running behind and risking aggressive driving, give yourself ample time to reach your destination.
6.Stay in your vehicle – No matter what. Situations can escalate quickly when two angry drivers decide to approach each other. Turn on some soothing music to help you relax and think happy thoughts.

To be fair, aggressive driving is not the only thing that can anger other drivers: overly defensive driving can as well.

Whatever you do, don’t give in to aggressive driving to punish the one who did it to you. Combat aggressive driving with defensive driving and by taking steps to stay calm in the face of road rage. Next time someone late to work tailgates you in the left hand lane, or worse, cuts you off, breathe deeply, mutter under your breath, turn on the radio and stay focused on following the rules of the road.

Top 5 Tips for Improving Web Security

In some cases all it takes to give a hacker or information thief access to your network and your data is one click. The results can be fatal, unless you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and ultimately, your business.

How to protect your business from digital disaster in 5 important ways:

1. Use Web Protection – Find a product or service that will screen URLs for malicious content as they are requested from your network. Make sure that updates are applied quickly to the service and ask how the product determines what to allow or block.

2. Don’t give information online that you’d hesitate to give in person – You wouldn’t give your bank password to a stranger on the street. Think of a website in the same way. Ask yourself why the site needs your Social Security number or is asking for your mother’s maiden name.

3. Use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) every time it’s available – SSL encrypts information sent from your browser to a server. Most services use a SSL enabled page to ask for your login information, or to complete a financial transaction online. Popular services such as Facebook and Google also offer options to turn on SSL whenever you use their service.

4. If you’re tempted to click on a news story or post from a friend that seems out of the ordinary, DONT – Scammers use current events and tragedies to encourage people to click on links that lead to malware. Use caution when searching for breaking news, as scammers have also poisoned search results to send people to infected sites.

5. Make sure you update your browser regularly – Many browsers now feature automatic updates, and these can address security flaws in your browser of choice. Use this feature and make sure to periodically check your browser to make sure it’s staying up to date.

There is no silver bullet that will eliminate all risks associated with using email and the web, but these simple steps will make you a more difficult target for hackers and scammers alike.

From the Desk of Kim Brewer: Ever feel confused by your health care plan?

Ever feel confused by your health care plan?
What’s a copay? A deductible? An out of pocket maximum? How does my plan work if I have to go to the Dr.?

Here are some simple ways to understand how it works and get some peace of mind!

Preventive care: Yearly checkups, preventive tests and other things that keep you healthy!

Copay (Copayment): When you see a Dr., most plans have you pay a certain amount to the Dr. for the visit; it is a fixed dollar amount paid to your Dr. This amount generally does not go toward your deductible or out of pocket maximum.

Deductible: You pay this amount for covered services each calendar benefit year before the plan pays their portion. Covered services that would apply to the deductible may include labs, x-rays, surgeon and hospital fees.

Coinsurance: Once you’ve met your deductible, the carrier will start paying a portion of claims. The health care bills that remain are shared between you and the carrier, this is called coinsurance. The carrier generally pays between 50% and 100% of the bill.

Out of pocket maximum: Every plan has an out of pocket maximum. The amount you pay in deductible and coinsurance are typically what make up your out of pocket maximum. Once you meet your out of pocket maximum the plan pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year. With some plans, however, Dr. visits and prescriptions are required even after the out of pocket maximum is met, be sure to check your specific plan requirements.

QUESTIONS??? Give me a call and I am happy to explain further! In general, the lower your deductible, copay and/or coinsurance, the more your premium. Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about the right plan for you!

Kim Brewer, Steven J. Erickson Insurance (619) 337-9980

From the Desk of Kim Brewer: On Health Insurance Reform!

From the Desk of Kim Brewer: On Health Insurance Reform!

A common question when getting yourself and your family covered is do I have to buy health insurance?

If you don’t have health insurance, you should.  Health insurance is an important way to make sure we have access to medical care when we need it.  Starting in January 2014, most people will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty if they don’t.  Coverage can include employer-provided insurance, coverage you buy on your own, Medicare or Medi-Cal.

The penalty phases in over three years and becomes increasingly severe.  In 2014, the penalty will be 1 percent of annual income or $95, whichever is greater. By 2016, the penalty will be 2.5% of income or $695. This means that if you do not have coverage in 2014, you will be required to pay a penalty when you file your taxes at the end of the year.

The open enrollment period is expected to start this fall and continue until March 31, 2014. You must purchase health insurance during the open enrollment period to obtain coverage in 2014. If you have a life changing event such as the loss of a job, death of a spouse or birth of a child, you would be eligible for a special enrollment within 60 days of the event.  If you do not enroll in the open enrollment period you will not be eligible to purchase individual health insurance until the next open enrollment period begins in October 2014.

We can help you navigate this system and be sure that you and your family are covered!  Stay tuned for more details.  In the meantime, if you have specific questions please give me a call!