New Employee Spotlight: Robin D’Angelo

We have amazing employees at California Casualty. The New Employee Spotlight is a series aiming to highlight the talented individuals that are brand new to our team. Please help us give them a warm welcome!

Today we’re spotlighting New Field Marketing Manager, Robin D’Angelo

Let’s get to know Robin!

 

robin d

 

What California Casualty office do you work in?

I work in the Kansas City office.

 

Where are you from?

Born in Knob Noster, Mo – daughter of an Air Force lifer. Moved back & forth from FL to MO when young, with a little jaunt stationed in England. Settled here.

 

What is one interesting fact you want us to know about you?

Hmmm – What happens in KS stays in KS but I have been stuck in an elevator twice and that usually doesn’t happen to anyone even once.

 

If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Street Tacos

 

What do you like to do on the weekends?

Pontooning with friends

Seeing kiddos

Kayaking – my new love!

 

What made you want to start your new career with California Casualty?

The people and the history

 

If you want to learn more about Robin or are interested in a career at California Casualty, connect with her on LinkedIn! Or visit our careers page at https://www.calcas.com/careers

Ways to Lower Your Home Insurance Costs

Ways to Lower Your Home Insurance Costs

The holidays will be here before you know it, and having extra cash on hand is always appreciated. One unexpected place you might find it is with your home insurance.

We’ve compiled some well-known — and lesser-known — ways that you can save money on home insurance. Follow these tips to lower your bills just in time for the holidays.

 

Raise your deductible.

The deductible is the amount that you pay before the insurance company pays a claim. Higher deductibles mean lower payments. According to NerdWallet, you could save 20 percent by raising a $500 deductible to $1,000. If you do increase your deductible, make sure that you can cover the costs of repairs should something happen.

 

Ask about discounts.

You may qualify for insurance discounts for being part of a professional association, such as groups for teachers, nurses or first responders. There are also discounts for being retired, for paying via automatic bank payments, and for paying in full upfront. You may qualify for a new home discount, or a discount if you have updated your utilities (electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling) in an older home. There are discounts for a new roof and an automatic sprinkler system. You can even be rewarded for being a loyal customer.

 

Remove attractive nuisances.

You may be paying extra for high-risk items. These attractive nuisances are potential dangers that could attract kids and cause injuries. Examples include trampolines, swimming pools, and playground equipment. If you are willing to get rid of these items, it may lower your payments.

 

Skip a payment.

Some insurance companies allow you to skip payments around the holidays. At California Casualty, you have the option to skip payments in either November/December or in December/January. (You also have this option to skip in the summer.) Ask your agent for details.

 

Take care of minor repairs.

Your home insurance policy can take care of both major and minor damage from a covered loss. But sometimes it’s easy enough to take care of those minor repairs on your own, out-of-pocket. That way you’ll avoid filing a claim and if you remain claims-free for a period of time, that qualifies for a discount, too.

 

Buy home and auto insurance from the same company.

When you bundle your home and auto insurance, you can often qualify for reduced rates, saving hundreds of dollars.

 

Make your home secure and disaster-resistant.

The better protected your home is, the less chance that there will be a claim. That’s why disaster-proofing and securing your home can save you in insurance premiums. To protect against disasters, consider storm shutter, impact-resistant roofing. Having a fire extinguisher could earn you a discount. For enhanced security, a burglar alarm and deadbolt locks can earn you discounts. While some of these repairs and updates are expensive, they will pay off in the long run. Remember that flood and earthquake insurance are not included in standard homeowner’s coverage. However, you can make home improvements that reduce their cost as well. Importantly, you will need a new home inspection before new rates can take effect, and you may need to pay for it.

 

Check your credit score.

Your credit score indicates your ability to pay your debts. Missing payments, not having a long credit history, and high credit card balances could create an unfavorable credit score. A credit score under 630 could increase your insurance rates, according to NerdWallet. You can get a free credit report once a year from the three credit agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Check your score, and take actions to improve it.

In addition, in some states, you can get your credit-based insurance score, which indicates how likely you are to file an insurance claim. If you are eligible for that report, you can find it at CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) from LexisNexis

 

Review your insurance limits annually.

If your insurance is billed to your mortgage bank, you may not think much about your annual premiums. But it’s a good idea to review your policies annually to make sure you’re not paying for coverage that you no longer need.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

 

Tips for Tailgating Safety

Tips for Tailgating Safety

Football season is finally here!  If you’re anxiously getting ready to start the season with some pre-game festivities, there are a few important safety reminders you should brush up on before kickoff. Here’s how you, your friends and family can all tailgate responsibly.

 

Tip #1: Handle raw meat with care.

You may be known for your spicy chicken wings or beefy burgers but make sure you know the rules for handling raw meat.

    • Before the tailgate, store meat on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator or in a meat drawer if you have it. Plan to eat or freeze it within 3 to 4 days.
    • On tailgate day, store your meat in leakproof plastic bags or containers, with ice in a cooler.
    • Wash your hands before and after handling raw meat.
    • Wash utensils, cutting boards, and plates that come in contact with raw meat.
    • Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for raw meat and for produce.
    • Don’t use the marinade from your raw meat on cooked meat. If you want to use it, cook it to a boil first.

 

 

Tip #2: Fire up the grill carefully.

Grilling outdoors is a favorite family activity. But injuries from burns or fires can put a real damper on family fun.

    • Have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case. If you don’t need it, someone else might.
    • Enforce a 3-foot “kid-free” zone around the grill. Never leave the grill unattended.

For propane grills:

    • Be careful not to overfill a propane tank.
    • Transport your propane tank safely, so that it is upright and secured in your vehicle.
    • Check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line to make sure there are no leaks. You can do this by making a solution of 50% liquid dish soap and 50% water, and brushing it on the hose connections. If there are leaks, you will see air bubbles when you turn on the propane.

 

For charcoal grills:

    • Never add lighter fluid to an already lit fire on a charcoal grill. That can cause the fire to flare up and even ignite the chemical in the can or cause a chemical smog.
    • While you can use lighter fluid to start a charcoal grill, consider using rolled-up newspaper instead. Or consider a charcoal chimney, which packs the briquettes together for easier lighting.
    • Use plenty of water to douse hot coals after you’re done cooking. Give them a stir to make sure there are no lit embers.
    • Do not put the wet coal and embers in plastic, paper, or wooden containers after use. They could still be hot enough to start a fire. Wait until they are completely cool and put them in a coal-safe container to transport them home.

 

 

Tip #3: More food safety to keep in mind.

A few hours out in the sun could turn a delicious dish into a potentially hazardous one. Protect your family from food poisoning by following guidelines for food safety.

    • When grilling, use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your meat. According to gov, chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F and ground beef to at least 160°F.
    • Nonperishable foods, such as breads, chips, and cookies, can be left out but should be covered for freshness. Condiments like ketchup and mustard are also okay to sit out due to their acid content.
    • Perishable foods that typically are refrigerated should not sit out for longer than 2 hours.
    • When in doubt, toss it out. If you’re unsure if food is safe to eat, don’t take a chance on it. Throw it out.

 

Tip #4: Protect yourself from the sun and heat.

Even on a cloudy fall day, you can get sunburned or experience dehydration. Protect yourself and your family.

    • Wear sunscreen whenever you will be outside for an extended period of time. Reapply every 2 hours.
    • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and a hat to protect your head from UV rays.
    • Find a shaded area near your tailgate to escape the sun and the heat. Or create your own shaded area with a pop-up tent or beach umbrella.
    • Alcohol can dehydrate you. It causes your body to remove fluids. Drink water as much as possible and in addition to the alcohol.
    • Be aware of the signs of dehydration: muscle cramps, fever/chills, dry mouth/skin, fast heartbeat, confusion, drowsiness, irritability, or a dark urine color. Drinking water is usually the best way to rehydrate.

 

 

Tip #5: Appoint a designated driver and drive safely.

Tailgates are all about having a good time, and usually involve alcohol. But drinking impairs driving with sometimes deadly results.

    • Before you even leave, choose your DD — designated driver – the one who will remain sober. If you have a regular group of friends that tailgate together, you can rotate that duty.
    • Better yet, plan to tailgate sober. You can always celebrate after the game, back at home.
    • As you search for the perfect tailgate spot, watch for children and adults darting in front of your car. Do the same when you exit after the game.
    • Despite your best efforts, accidents can still happen. If you are the victim of a parking lot accident, know your car insurance coverage and alert your insurer as soon as possible.
    • If there’s no one who is sober and can drive home, call a cab or ride-share service. It’s far better to get home safely than endanger yourself and others.

 

Hosting a party instead of tailgating? No worries. Check out our hosting safety guide here.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

 

Divorced Parents Disaster Prep

Divorced Parents Disaster Prep

When the power goes out and the cell towers go down, do you have a plan? Do your kids and your ex know what that plan is?

Since disaster doesn’t just strike on alternate weekends, it’s important that you take into account both households when you’re a divorced parent. In honor of September, National Preparedness Month, we’ve compiled a list of everything you need to develop a customized plan in the event of a disaster.

 

Set aside past feelings and connect with your ex.

You fought over who got the widescreen TV; how are you possibly going to agree on where to go and what to do in a crisis? It’s time to set aside your differences and put your children, and safety, first. You will need to communicate during a disaster, and reaching out to prepare for one is a logical first step. Navigate your situation however it is most effective and set up that important first meeting or call to discuss the plan.

 

Consider your blended/mixed family’s specific needs.

The ages of your children will determine how much assistance they will need, and how much responsibility they may bear. If family members have medical needs, disabilities, or even special dietary restrictions, that has to be taken into account. Pets also need to be accommodated. List each member of your family—human and animal—and any specific needs they may have.

 

Determine the responsible party.

Children who are in school or daycare will need to be picked up in the event of a disaster. Pets may need to be secured or transported. Designate a responsible party to pick up children and one who will manage pets. It doesn’t have to be you or your ex, but it’s best to choose a trusted individual known to your family. Make sure that the individual is on the approved pick-up list at school or daycare, and has signed up for alerts. Also, make sure that your child knows who is allowed to pick him/her up.

 

Create an emergency communications plan.

The power may go out; the cell towers may be down. You may not have access to important information during a disaster. That’s why it’s important to create an In Case of Emergency (ICE) card.

    • List contact information for each member of both families, caregivers, and any other individuals involved in the disaster plan. This includes work phone, home phone, and cell phone numbers.
    • Choose an out-of-state contact to call in the event that your state’s phones and resources are down. That person can act as a main point of contact if you can’t reach each other.
    • Starting at about age 5, children can learn a phone number. Teach your child one parent’s cell phone number. Try it as a song to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
    • Make sure your older children know your cell phone numbers, and don’t just press “mom” or “dad” on their phones.
    • If cell phone service is down, advise your children to follow the guidance of trusted adults such as teachers, school administrators, and caregivers. Reassure them that you will be with them as soon as possible.
    • Consider a prepaid phone card for use in an emergency.

 

Choose an emergency meeting place.

Depending upon the emergency, your home may not be the safest place to take shelter. If that is the case, you will want to choose a place in your neighborhood to meet. The local park, the school, the library, or your place of worship are all familiar and trusted options. If you are able to meet at home, make that the first choice—but be sure to determine whose home it is.

 

Pack a grab-and-go bag or emergency kit.

If you have to leave suddenly, there’s little time to pack. Having a grab-and-go bag or an emergency kit helps make sure you have everything you need. Pack a bag for every member of your family, including your pets. Include supplies for 3 days: a change of clothes, food, water, medications, hand sanitizer, blankets, etc. You will want a bag at each household, as you don’t know where the children will be when disaster strikes. Also, since children grow, and needs change, make sure you check your emergency kits every three months and update them as needed.

 

The type of disaster matters.

Severe weather is not the same as an earthquake or a fire. Have a plan for the different types of disasters that may affect your area. For example:

    • In a hurricane, tornado, or high-wind storm, stay inside your home. Choose a small, interior room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet, on the first level.
    • In a fire or evacuation, you may need to leave your home suddenly. If you need to meet, choose a spot in your neighborhood such as a playground, a big tree, or distinctive mailbox.
    • In the event of an emergency, make sure the lines of communication are open between you and your ex. Have a plan in place to notify that the children are safe.

 

Practice, practice, practice.

Make an ICE card with the basics of the plan (including contacts) that can be kept in each adult’s wallet. Include a copy in your school-age child’s backpack. Then, schedule some time to practice the plan with your children. Practice different kinds of emergencies with each parent.

 

There’s an app for that.

There also are apps that you can use to prepare for an emergency. FEMA offers interactive checklists and emergency safety tips. The Red Cross provides apps specific to hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes. Plus, the government has some great resources for disaster planning, including games kids can play to get ready.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

How to Save on a Rental Car

How to Save on a Rental Car

Thinking about renting a car for your next getaway? Much like insurance, rental car contracts can seem complicated, if you don’t know what to look for. Understanding what you need and what you don’t will help you save on your rental—and use that extra savings for vacation fun.

 

First, let’s take a look at the basics of a rental car contract.

Age: You must be 25 or older to rent a car in the U.S. You can still rent a car if you are aged 21-24, but you will pay an extra fee. Similarly, you may need to pay a surcharge if you are age 70 and above. 

Additional drivers: You may pay a fee for each driver beyond the main driver. However, rental car companies often will let spouses drive for no additional fee.

Classification of car: The daily or weekly rate depends on the type of car that you choose. Choices range from economy, the least expensive, to luxury, and more. Here’s a quick rundown of the basic sizes:

    • Economy generally describes a small sedan with 2-4 doors and seating for 4.
    • Compact is a slightly larger sedan with 4 doors and seating for up to 5.
    • Intermediate/mid-size/standard are 4-door sedans that are more spacious than compacts. They seat up to 5.
    • Full-size/premium cars seat 5 comfortably and have ample room for luggage.

You can also rent luxury cars, convertibles, SUVs, mini-vans, vans, and trucks. Keep in mind that the rate quoted for the car you choose is only the base rate. The actual price you pay may be more because it will include fees and surcharges.

Fees and Surcharges: You might expect to pay state and local taxes. But did you know you also may pay a surcharge to pick up/drop off your car at the airport? There’s a charge if you don’t return the car with the same level of gas. There also are charges for insurance, to protect against damage to the vehicle.

Insurance: Before you purchase rental car insurance, make sure your auto policy doesn’t already cover rental cars. Many policies do. If you’re renting a car out of the country, double-check that your auto policy covers you. For example, when traveling in Mexico, you will need a special Mexico policy.

    • Collision Damage or Loss Damage Waiver – Optional in many states, this type of coverage pays for the rental car if it is damaged or stolen. There usually is a deductible, for which you’re responsible. If your auto policy covers collision damage, make sure that it also covers “loss of use.” For a rental company, getting a car repaired in the shop means it loses the income it could be getting from renting the car. The rental company can charge you the daily rental rate for each day the vehicle is out of service. 
    • Personal Accident Insurance – This optional policy covers you, the driver, in the event of an accident, including ambulance transportation and medical bills.
    • Supplemental/Additional Liability Insurance – This optional policy covers the other driver and passengers whom you may injure in an accident. It also covers any property damage. You likely have liability on your own auto policy. Check to make sure the liability limit is enough. You can purchase supplemental liability insurance with the rental car company or get an umbrella policy from your current insurer.
    • Personal Effects Coverage – This optional policy covers your possessions if they are damaged, lost, or stolen, something your homeowner or renter’s policy may already cover.

Mileage: Some rental contracts come with unlimited mileage. Others require that you pay for mileage beyond a certain daily limit. For example, if the daily limit is 150 miles, and you drive 160 miles, you will owe 10 additional miles at the rate charged by the company.

Now let’s see how you can save some money.

You have a lot of choices in renting a car. That gives you some control over how much you spend. Here are some ways you can keep the bill more reasonable.

1. Choose a slightly smaller vehicle. Not only will this save on the daily rate, but the car will also most likely get better fuel economy and require less gas to fill it up.

2. Book your rental car through your airline. Airlines have arrangements for discounts with rental car companies. That’s why bundling rental cars with flights and hotels can save money.

3. Book through your credit card. Credit cards can include a collision damage waiver. Just make sure you also are covered via your auto policy, as credit cards are usually tapped after your auto policy.

4. Take advantage of membership and group discounts. You may qualify for a discount if you are a member of AAA. There also are sometimes alumni or university discounts. If you rent frequently, you can get discounts via a rental car loyalty program.

5. Shop around. You might find a locally-owned rental company with a better rate. You also can find good rates on travel websites such as Kayak. If you’re using a lesser-known company, do your research with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they’re legitimate. 

6. Check alternate rental locations. It may be cheaper to pick up in town than at the airport.

7. Check your own auto policy coverages so you choose only the coverages you need. Check with your insurer on other potential savings. For example, California Casualty will waive your physical damage deductible if you rent a car while on vacation.

8. Return the car on time. Be aware of the 24-hour time clock. You can be charged for extra hours or even an extra day depending on how late you are.

Renting a car can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. For more questions on rental car insurance or ways you can save on your own insurance policy, call a California Casualty agent today at 1.866.704.8614 or visit our website www.calcas.com.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

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