Boating Safety Tips for Memorial Day

Memorial Day, for many people, means the start of the summer boating season. It also means a lot of people will be out on the water…many of them novices who may not have a good grounding in boating safety.

Here are some good tips from to help keep you safe on the water:

* Travel only in areas open to your type of boat.
* Carry a Coast Guard approved life vest (PFD) for each person on board.
* Always operate your boat at a safe speed.
* Always have a designated lookout to keep an eye out for other boaters, objects and swimmers.
*Never jump a wake. If crossing a wake, cross at low speeds and keep a close lookout for skiers and towables.
*Comply with all signs and respect barriers. This includes speed limits, no-wake zones and underwater obstructions, etc.
* Make every effort to always go boating with a partner.
* Make certain your trailer is in proper working order and that your lights work and your boat is secure on the trailer before you travel to your destination.
* When trailering your boat, balance your load including items stowed inside your boat.
*Don’t mix boating with alcohol or drugs.

Joplin, MO Tornado Information

Last evening, a massive tornado struck Joplin, MO – leaving at least 89 dead and many residents homeless.  Between 25-30% of the city suffered significant damage, including a local hospital and school.

Officials are urging residents to stay at home if possible, and extensive search and rescue efforts are underway. Joplin officials ask that any first responders or medical professionals who are available join in their efforts.

Here is the info we’ve gathered so far – feel free to add in the comments or on our Facebook Page. We found quite a bit of this info here.

Joplin, MO Facebook Page for up to the minute conversations.

CNN Live Blog of the disaster

Red Cross Safe and Well page:  Check to see if friends and family are safe and well.  If you are a Joplin resident you can list yourself as safe and well on this site.

National Americorp Volunteers are setting up a national hotline for residents to call to check on loved ones. The number is             (417) 659-5464      .

Online map with specific site related information for Joplin, MO tornado.

Other numbers to call — triage centers:

417-623-3254       (joplin memorial hall)

417-624-9320       (mcauley school)

417-347-6656       (freeman hospital)

Integris Baptist Health Center in Miami -             918-542-6611

McCune Brooks Hospital in Carthage             417-358-8121

St. John’s Hospital in Springfield             417-820-2000

Via Christi in Pittsburg             620-231-6100

Barton County hospital in Lamar             417-681-5700

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

This recipe is provided by one of our execs, Mike McCormick. He’s the resident fitness buff in our office, and shared a great recipe for healthy blueberry “muscle” muffins with us.

8 egg whites
1/2 cub oatmeal
1 scoop whey protein vanilla
1 cup blue berries

Add 8 egg whites to bowl
Stir in Oats and protein until mixed well
Add Blueberries and fold in gently
Spoon into greased Muffin Pan ( we prefer canola oil spray)
Bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes

50 Years as a CalCas Customer!

One of the things I’m most proud of as a California Casualty employee is the dedication that we have to serving our customers. It’s part of the culture here – the needs of our customers are at the top of the priority list. That’s why so many of our customers have been with us for a long time. I recently received a copy of a wonderful letter from Jeanne B. – who has been a customer for 50 years. It’s nice to know that our company was able to help her out during a rough time. (paraphrased for brevity and to remove personal info)

Dear California Casualty,

In February of 2011, shortly after my husband’s death, I was driving to a doctor’s appointment in San Francisco when an impatient driver sideswiped my car.

I immediately called California Casualty, and was lucky to have my call answered by Shelly Brown. She handled my claim with kindness and professionalism, recognizing immediately that I was very stressed due to my recent loss. My car was beautifully repaired by one of our recommended body shops and looks like new.

I want to commend Shelly for her prompt action on my behalf, even interceding with Enterprise when they told me there were no rental cars available for less than $27/day. I ended up not having to pay them any money at all.

We have had our house and car insurance with California Casualty for nearly 50 years. Thanks for being there when needed!

I’m proud to be part of a company that does the right thing and takes care of the customers that place their trust in us. Have you experienced great service with your insurance company? If not, why not give us a call and find out what it’s like to have an auto and home insurance company that is dedicated to standing behind you?

Teen Driving Safety

We are in the height of prom season, with high school graduations right around the corner. This means that the chances of teens being involved in serious auto accidents increases significantly.  Our friends at Impact Teen Drivers have been working tirelessly to raise awareness of the dangers that face teens who drive distracted or impaired, and to help shed light on some of these startling statistics, we want to share them here as well:

- Teen driver crashes are the leading cause of death for our nation’s youth
- The Fatality rate for drivers 16-19 is 4 times higher than the national average
- 48% of teens have reported talking on a cell phone while driving

It’s no secret that driving while talking on a cell phone or impaired by drugs or alcohol dramatically increases the risk of injury and death while driving. Please speak with your teens about the dangers involved – especially during this time of year, when the excitement of prom and graduations can lead to them making poor driving decisions.

Cinco de Mayo Recipe

Today is Cinco de Mayo – and if you’ve followed us for very long, you know how much the CalCas staff loves food! Daphne (Customer Service) – shared a great Mexican Red Rice Recipe with us – and we’re passing it along to you!

Mexican Red Rice
(takes a little time to make, but, oh, so yummy!)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup long-grain rice (not parboiled or converted)
1/2 pound (about 12 medium) ripe cherry tomatoes, pureed in food processor
2 tablespoons chopped jalapenos or you can use green chiles (depends on your heat preference!)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in rice, then add pureed tomatoes, jalapenos or chiles, chicken stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Serves 4 – Hope you enjoy!

Teacher Appreciation Stories

This week is teacher appreciation week – and we had a little contest yesterday on our Facebook page where we asked folks to share a story about a teacher that has touched their lives in some way. We got so many great responses, I wanted to share them here as well!

Anna – I have so many teachers that I’d love to mention, but the one that sticks out for me is Ms Huckabee in Flour Bluff HS in Corpus Christi TX. I wasn’t that good of a student, but she saw something in me and encouraged me (a C student at best!) to join the academic Octathlon in 10th grade. I did, and did very good in competition. I went on to do Academic Decathlon when I was in 11th and 12th grade and did really well there too (1st in my division at state in 11th grade). I would have never gone into it if she hadn’t encouraged me. It improved my self esteem and made me the woman I am today (I went on to become a nurse).

Lauren – Best teacher in the world…. Margaret Chapman! She was my first grade teacher AND my Grandma! Taught me the love of reading.

Stacey – My kindergarten teacher, Miss Hinkle, was the best teacher I ever had. She showed me the love of reading and that all things are possible :) when she saw how I was taking and loving learning all things new, she began a communication book ( journal) only between her and I. She would ask me things about my day, what I had learned and wanted to learn and all about my weekends. I was only 5 at the time but I think about her often and am now 41!!! I still have the book too :)

Fuvie – My husband, a teacher of LD and PE for 32 years is retiring this year due to SB5 and teacher retirement reforms. There was not a day he didnt get up looking forward to going to work. He has enjoyed every minute of his job for 32 years and will miss each and everyone of the 500+ students he sees on daily basis. I admire him for the love and devotion he has given over the years. He will miss it dearly.

Janie – I would like to thank a very special teacher I had in college. My mother. She is one of the most amazing educators that has ever taught me. She strives to make learning a hands on experience. All her students remember her and always say what a wonderful instructor she was.

Becky – I am a teacher and work with incredible teachers throughout my building and district….Id have to say the best teachers are the ones in my building and on my 2nd grade team!

Janine – I am a teacher in a very small school and we all have to work together as a team to do the best for our students and to get the best from our students. I have a lanyard hanging in my room that says TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More, and in a small school this is so true. Way to go LBE:-)

David – My Mom was a 4th grade teacher for over 30 years, she is the most caring and inspiring person I know. Now I am grown living and working in the same community I grew up in and I am constantly meeting people that recognize my last name and say how my Mom was their favorite teacher growing up. This is her first year of retirement!!! I love you Mom!

Corinne – I’m a teacher who works mainly with students from other countries. In my mind the best teachers are those who take the time to get to know the students. They make the effort to activate schema of all students, those born and raised in refugee camps as well as the US born and raised. Teachers teach students not information and the better a teacher knows a student the more success they will both have!!

Flood Insurance is Crucial

This has been a difficult spring in terms of natural disasters – from devastating tornadoes to a large number of hail storms. Currently, we’re watching towns in the south being submerged under water, and rivers in flood stages that haven’t been seen in recent history.

Our hearts go out these families, and you can rest assured that we are doing everything we can to help our customers who have been affected by all of these disasters. For many, seeing the flooding (and with hurricane season bearing down on us) begs the question – “Am I covered if this happens to me?” This press release just came across my desk, and hopefully it will answer some of those questions.

CHICAGO—With hurricane season starting on June 1st, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urges homeowners, business owners and renters who do not currently have flood insurance to buy it right away.

“Many insurance consumers do not realize that their standard homeowners policy does not cover flooding, and that flood insurance must be purchased separately,” said Don Griffin, PCI’s vice president, personal lines. “Flood insurance is sold through agents who sell policies on behalf of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you have only a standard homeowners policy and suffer flooding from a hurricane, the flood damage will not be covered under that policy, so it is crucial to have flood insurance. Because NFIP policies don’t take effect for 30 days, the sooner people can buy flood insurance, the better.”

While having flood insurance in place is important in coastal areas, recent heavy rains have brought flooding to much of the nation’s heartland as well. Unfortunately, according to the NFIP, more than 50 percent of properties in high-risk areas remain unprotected by flood insurance, and in the northeast and Midwest, coverage rates are significantly lower. Even in coastal areas that live under constant threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, many homeowners or renters do not have this crucial coverage.

According to the NFIP, floods are the number-one natural disaster in the United States, and 75 percent of all federally declared disasters over the past five years have involved flooding. There is a 26 percent chance that a home will suffer flooding over the course of a 30-year mortgage, and U.S. flood losses have averaged $2.4 billion per year over the last decade.

“In any part of the country where flooding is a possibility, property owners and renters should absolutely make sure to protect themselves and their belongings by purchasing flood insurance,” Griffin said.

Individuals who currently have homeowners or renters insurance should talk to their agents to see if their insurers sell flood policies. They can also locate agents who sell flood policies through the agent locator on the NFIP website.