Employee Spotlight: Nina Ericksen

We have amazing employees at California Casualty. The Employee Spotlight is a new series aiming to highlight those talented individuals that make up our successful company culture and community. From human resource recruiters and learning and development trainers to claims adjusters, marketers, customer support specialists, partner relations, sales representatives, and beyond; each week, we’ll highlight a new team member, so you can get to know us better and see how our employees make us who we are as a company. 

This edition of the Employee Spotlight will feature Field Marketing Manager, Nina Ericksen

Nina has been with us for 9 years and works remotely for our Partner Relations team.

Let’s get to know Nina!

employee spotlight

 

What made you want to work as a Field Marketing Manager for California Casualty?

I had worked as an Account Manager in the financial services field for 20 years. I loved the work but did not like the volatility of the industry. 

California Casualty gave me the work I love in a stable environment.

 

What is your favorite part about your job?

Without a doubt, the relationships with my leadership team is my favorite part of the job. It never feels like work when you are spending time with people who are friends.

I love my job at CalCas because I work with some of the best people I know both inside and outside of the company.  I feel proud of the way we help and support members of the community that are in the business of giving to others every day.

 

What have you learned in your position at California Casualty?

The most useful information I have learned about myself in my position is to never lose hope or allow yourself to be defeated. Just wake up every morning and show up, put one foot in front of the other, and before you know it you have achieved what may not have seemed possible!

 

What are your favorite activities to do outside of the office?

I love spending time in my off-hours with my two granddaughters, aged 6 and 1.  They are the lights of my life. 

I also spend as much time as possible at the beach and taking my dog, Luke, for walks.

 

Anything else you would like the audience to know about you?

Here are some fun facts about myself: 

    • I grew up in Central New York State. 
    • I met my husband while he was cutting my hair.
    • I was in musical theater in High School. 
    • I am deathly allergic to Kiwi. 
    • Old movies, especially film noir, are my jam.

 

If you want to learn more about Nina 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

Black Ice Safety Tips – At Home And On the Road

Black Ice Safety Tips – At Home And On the Road

The same winter wonderland scene that gives us soft snowdrifts outside cozy living rooms can also serve up treacherous blizzards, freezes, and black ice.

Contrary to its name, black ice is actually clear and forms a frozen “glaze” that coats all kinds of surfaces and can cause slips, falls, and car accidents. It’s incredibly dangerous not only because of how slippery it is but also because it’s so hard to spot. Transparent and thin, it can hide in plain sight.

It frequently occurs on roads, sidewalks, porches, pathways, and driveways – in other words, surfaces we frequent to get where we’re going every day. Here are some ways to stay safe at home and on the road when conditions are ripe for black ice.

 

icicles on home

 

At Home

Besides your driveway, you probably have paved walkways or other hard-surfaced paths around your home. These tips will help reduce injury risk when ice is underfoot, and before it forms.     

    • Unblock drains and gutters. This will help melting snow and ice go where you want it to, so it doesn’t freeze on walkways.
    • Keep up with snow shoveling. Make sure to keep up with falling snow so that it doesn’t melt and refreeze into a slipping hazard.
    • Put out a tarp. If freezing temps are on their way, lay out a tarp or cloth where you want to prevent black ice. This can include your car, porch, pathways, and the driveway.
    • Add some grit. You can sprinkle fine gravel, sand, kitty litter, wood ash or coffee grinds on surfaces to reduce slickness. A note of caution that some work better than others and some can leave a mess.
    • Consider a snow-melting mat. If you deal with freezing temps very often, you might want to look into heated driveway mats, which can be effective at preventing black ice formation.
    • During icy conditions
    • Clear out the snow. If snow has fallen, clear it out so the sun can dry the surface rather than melt the snow into ice.
    • Consider a de-icer. Use these with caution though (and probably as a last resort), as some can be harmful to pets, your yard, driveway, and the environment. Try not to over-salt, either, for the same reasons.

 

 

ice on road

 

In the Car

When temps are at or below freezing, avoid driving if you can. But if you have to get on the road, keep these precautions in mind.

    • Check the tires. Tires are the only part of your car that touches the road. The less tread, the less traction. If they’re getting worn, replace them asap. Better yet, get winter tires.
    • Know your brakes. Standard brakes perform differently from anti-lock, or ABS, brakes, so make sure you know what kind you have and how they behave in snowy, icy, and other hazardous road conditions.
    • Do a winter safety check. Make sure your vehicle is prepped for winter safety (and stranding as a worst-case scenario!) – follow our tips here.
    • Double-check your car kit. All it takes is one small patch of black ice to cause a slide that lands you immobile on the roadside. Check that your emergency winter car kit contains everything you need.
    • Warm-up your car. Let your car warm up before getting on the road. When you feel the heat coming through the vents, it’s sufficiently warmed and ready to go.
    • Improve your visibility. Make sure you set out with 100% visibility. If your windshield is foggy inside or iced over on the outside, use our tips here to get it cleaned off and clear.
    • Take your time. Give yourself extra time to get where you’re going and be sure to drive much slower than you normally would – this will give you and other drivers more time to react if you need to.
    • Slow down and increase following distance. Give yourself and other drivers more room than normal – and never tailgate.
    • Know what to do in a skid. If your car goes into a skid, do not hit the accelerator or the brakes. Instead, steer gently in the direction of the skid, making sure not to jerk the steering wheel. Get the full step-by-step info here.

Your best bet against injuries caused by black ice is to use an abundance of caution, make prevention a habit and develop a “sixth sense” for spotting this wintertime danger. Stay safe out there!

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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.

5 Tips for Driving Safe in Holiday Traffic

5 Tips for Driving Safe in Holiday Traffic

The holidays are HERE, and unfortunately so is the holiday traffic. As millions hit the road to travel near and far this holiday season roadways will quickly become overly congested, traffic delays more frequent, and holiday road rage will start to set in for many drivers.

If you are like the thousands of Americans that are choosing to hit the road instead of fly this seaons, follow our holiday traffic safety tips below.

 

holiday travel

 

1.Plan Head

Before you hit the road make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and ready for the trip. Plan out your route ahead of time, and if it’s possible, avoid driving through areas you know will be jammed with holiday traffic. Before you head out it’s also a good idea to check the forecast and plan ahead for inclement weather. Don’t forget to pack your emergency car kit!

 

 

holiday travel

 

2. Practice Defensive Driving

The more traffic, the higher the chance for an accident. It’s important not only to drive safely, but also to keep an eye on other drivers. In holiday traffic jams always expect the unexpected, watch for drivers cutting you off, slamming on their breaks, speeding up and slowing down, etc. Be prepared for anything, and always stay attentive behind the wheel.

 

 

holiday travel

 

3. Avoid Distractions

Distracted driving causes thousands of fatal traffic accidents every single year. Add in holiday traffic and distracted driving becomes even more dangerous and deadly. We know it can be hard to avoid common distractions like your phone, especially when you are driving long distances by yourself, but it’s important for your safety that you keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel at all times.

 

 

holiday travel

 

4. Keep Your Cool

If someone makes a decision that makes you angry when you are driving, try not to let it affect you. This may be hard, but getting angry doesn’t solve anything. Road rage is a form of distracted drive because you cannot think clearly. If you start to feel yourself becoming angry or anxious try listening to music, taking deep breaths, and remember there is nothing you can do about other driver’s decisions or to make traffic move quicker- so stay calm.

 

 

holiday travel

 

5. Watch for Animals

Deer move with cold fronts. This means as the temperature continues to drop and as we get closer to the end of the year, the likelihood of seeing or hitting a deer increases. Hitting a deer, or any other animal, can total your vehicle, hinder your plans, and even cause serious injury (or death). Stay alert and watch for animals, especially if you choose to travel in rural areas at night.

 

If you plan on making multiple stops or staying at any hotels during your trip, be sure to follow our Traveling Safely During the Pandemic guide.

Safe travels and Happy Holidays! 🙂

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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.

Windshield Defrosting Hacks – Dos and Don’ts

Windshield Defrosting Hacks – Dos and Don’ts

What’s makes a hectic, rushed morning even worse? Coming outside to find your windshield frosted over.

Get on the road quickly and safely by using one or more of these defrosting hacks. We’ve also included “don’ts” for each one to help you get precious morning minutes back and prevent damage to your windshield.

 

Remove the Bulk of Ice

DO use a soft brush or ice scraper to remove caked ice on your windshield. Choose a scraper made of plastic.

DON’T use a metal scraper, key or spatula. Metal items or those not specifically made for windshields may scratch, cut or damage the glass.

 

Do a Slow Warm

DO start your car and turn on the defroster. Depending on how cold it is, defrosting may take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. This will melt any remaining ice and also defog the inside of the glass. You can also turn the heater onto its highest setting to absorb excess moisture from the cab.

DON’T use other heat sources such as a hairdryer or portable heater. Rushing the heating process can easily crack glass as it goes from cold to hot quickly. Your defroster is calibrated for safe heating.

 

Turn on the A/C

DO turn on your air conditioning. Even though this seems counterintuitive, the A/C function will help dry the air, which is especially helpful when it’s rainy outside. And yes, you can use your heater and A/C at the same time.

DON’T turn on the air recirculation button. Winter air is typically dry, so you’ll want to pull in fresh outside air when defrosting to replace the more humid air inside the vehicle.

 

Use Water

DO pour cold to lukewarm water on the windshield to help the defrost process along. You can also do this to any frozen-over door handles.

DON’T pour hot water onto a frosty or icy windshield. Just as with other heat sources, this can crack the glass.

 

Use a De-Icing Solution

DO use a DIY or store-bought spray to de-ice your windshield if you’d rather not scrape. If making your own, mix two parts rubbing (or isopropyl) alcohol with one part water in a spray bottle and spray over the ice. You can keep this solution in your car, as alcohol won’t freeze until about -128 deg F.

DON’T use hot water in the solution.

 

Frosted windshields are one of winter’s annoying inconveniences, but unfortunately aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. To make sure they don’t ruin your day, use the tips above and remember to not rush them or take shortcuts – taking a couple of extra minutes will keep you and your windshield safe.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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.

Road Trip Safety During the Pandemic

Road Trip Safety During the Pandemic

Whether you’re making the trek to visit relatives for the holidays or finally taking that delayed summer getaway, you may be getting ready to hit the open road again.

Of course, a road trip during a pandemic is quite different from our carefree road trips of the past. But with some prep work, some new safety habits, and a go-with-it attitude, you can still make your trip memorable and safe.

 

covid travel

Service and Prep Your Vehicle

You want to be comfortable and safe on your trip, so put your mind at ease by giving your car a little love before heading out.

    • Get it serviced. Schedule your car for a full service and inspection, which may include oil change, fluids check and top-off, tire check, brakes, etc.
    • Double-check the emergency kit. Add, update, and replace items as needed. Use our handy essentials emergency kit article as your guide. Make sure it includes a first aid kit.
    • Add Covid-specific supplies. Throw in extra masks, sanitizing wipes and gel (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol), and disposable gloves into your kit.
    • Pack for comfort. Knowing you’ll be spending hours on the road, pack music, tablets, blankets, comfy shoes, and flip-flops, as well as jackets and easy-to-throw on layers. Sunglasses, stick-on sunshades, and sunscreen will help protect against all those UV rays (though not as hot in autumn, the rays can still do damage).   
    • Limit shopping along the way. Bring along things from home that you know are not contaminated, such as snacks, bottled water, medicine, phone chargers, and trash bags.

 

covid travel saftey

Plan It Out & Prep Ahead of Time

A lot has changed in the last several months, which means you’ll need to do a little more legwork ahead of your trip.

    • Map out your route. Even if you’ve made this trip before, there may be unexpected closures along the way. Use a mapping app to get ahead of any problem areas.
    • Check states and counties for Covid-19 case counts. Avoid traveling through areas with high breakouts or infection rates.
    • Check travel restrictions for your destination and locations along the way. Some states and cities are requiring travelers from other areas to quarantine for 14 days upon entry (or are outright barring visitors).
    • Before setting out, download one or two payment apps such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay to limit the number of germy PIN pads you have to touch.
    • Have a plan in case you or a family member gets sick. This virus is wily, and sometimes sickness happens despite all your best prevention efforts. So have a contingency plan ready to go.

 

covid travel safety

Have a Plan for Dining & Restaurants

Restaurants can be especially risky as hotspots for coronavirus transmission. Reduce yours and your family’s risk with these tips.

    • Bring your own stash of non-perishable food in case of restaurant closures or limited dining options.
    • Utilize drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curbside pick-up options if you want to reduce your exposure. Pack a family-sized picnic set (and blanket) ahead of time so you’ll have utensils and plates at the ready. Scout out parks or lakes where you and your family can eat.
    • If a restaurant offers outdoor seating, choose that over sitting indoors. Bring coats and lap blankets if it’s chilly.
    • If dining indoors, choose restaurants that maintain social distancing between tables indoors. Wear your mask as much as possible.

 

covid travel safety

Know Your Game Plan for Hotels & Lodging

Because hotels are high-traffic areas, it’s important to take extra safety steps before, during, and after your stay.   

    • Research hotels and reserve in advance.
    • Call ahead and ask about their policies on cleaning and disinfecting, as well as contactless check-in and check-out.
    • Whatever the hotel’s stated cleaning policies, make sure you swipe high-touch areas in your room with disinfectant wipes: doorknobs and handles, bathroom fixtures and counters, light fixtures, TV buttons, and remote control, and any surface where you might put bags, computers, purses, etc.
    • Ask the front desk to forgo housekeeping services, as it limits the number of people in your room.
    • Minimize use of high-traffic areas such as lounge areas, dining areas, saunas, fitness centers, and salons.

 

covid travel safety

Must-Do’s for the Entire Trip

Make a habit of the following, and safety will soon become second nature.

    • Follow the basics at all times: Frequent handwashing, mask-wearing in indoor public spaces (and outdoors where you can’t socially distance), and 6 feet distance between you and others outside your household.
    • Limit the number of stops along your route.
    • Use contactless payments wherever possible.
    • Be cautious when touching fuel pumps – diligently use hand sanitizer after every use or use disposable gloves.
    • Use hand sanitizer every time you enter your vehicle (same goes for family members), which will keep your vehicle’s interior clean.
    • Wipe down your car’s interior every day – preferably multiple times. Especially germy surfaces include door handles, steering wheel, gear knob, stereo and temperature control dials, cup holders, and seatbelts.
    • Have your whole family make a habit of wiping down their phones multiple times a day – phones may well be our most-touched item.

While road trips in 2020 may be nothing like those of the past, yours can still be something you and your family look back on with fondness, good feels, and probably some laughs as well.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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.

5 Tips for Safe Night Driving

5 Tips for Safe Night Driving

When daylight savings ends and our days become shorter, motorists will find themselves driving more often at dusk and in the dark.

As we turn our clocks back, it’s important to keep in mind that night driving is more dangerous than daytime driving – mostly due to reduced visibility and difficulty judging speed and distance. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, while we do only one-quarter of our driving at night, it’s when 50 percent of traffic fatalities occur.

Here are five ways you can stay safer on the roads at night.

 

1. Be Headlight Savvy

Proper headlight usage and maintenance will go a long way toward safe night driving. Remember the general rule of turning headlines on before sunset, and keeping them on for an hour after sunrise, which will help other drivers see you. Also:

    • Aim headlights correctly (ask your dealer or mechanic/repair shop to double-check them next time you’re in).
    • Make sure they’re clean.
    • Regularly test your high beams, low beams, running lights, turn signals, and brake lights.
    • On rural roads or other dark areas, use high beams. Dim them when you’re within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle.

 

 

2. Slow Down and Give Room

Due to reduced visibility, drivers at night often need more time to both see other cars, pedestrians, and obstacles, and also to react safely. Give yourself the advantage by slowing down a bit and also giving yourself some extra room on the road.

    • Increase your following distance from other vehicles.
    • Allow more time for your journey.
    • Be a(n extra) defensive driver, as others may be intoxicated or driving erratically.
    • Watch out for pedestrians and wildlife. For the latter – collisions with deer are most common at dusk or at night, usually October through January (see our 30-second video on what to do if you hit a deer).

 

 

3. Give Your Car’s Interior a Once-Over

A little extra attention inside your vehicle can greatly affect how you see and react to things outside your car.

    • Clean the windshield – inside and out – removing all streaks, smudges, and fogginess.
    • Clean the other windows as well to reduce glare and condensation.
    • Use your car’s defroster or heater to prevent your windshield from fogging up.
    • Dim your dashboard lights so controls are still visible but not distracting.
    • Use visors to shield the glare of outdoor street lighting.
    • Avoid using cabin lights as much as possible when driving at night.

 

4. Stay Alert

Two big risks on nighttime roads are drunk driving and drowsy driving. Always remember and stay alert for other drivers who may be impaired due to alcohol, fatigue, or distraction. For yourself, never drive intoxicated and use the tips below to keep yourself alert.

    • Take breaks if you need to – get out and do jumping jacks, shake out your limbs, stretch, take some deep breaths.
    • If you’re on a long trip, try these things to stay awake: coffee or caffeinated drinks, windows rolled down for fresh air, talking, or singing to yourself.

 

 

5. Be Kind to Your Eyes

You can take steps, both in the moment while night driving, and in the longer term to take care of your eyes so they can take care of you on the road.

    • Make sure you get your eyes checked regularly, which will alert you to any vision changes. If you wear prescription lenses, you may need a different prescription at night.
    • Make sure your glasses are anti-reflective.
    • Never wear dark or tinted lenses for night driving.
    • To protect your eyes from drying out, aim your car’s vents away from your eyes.
    • Keep your eyes moist by blinking regularly, especially if you wear contact lenses.
    • Don’t look directly at oncoming headlights; instead, look at the road marker to your right until the car passes.

 

Finally, avoid two-lane highways at night if possible, as they’re especially dangerous. This and the other tips above will help you stay stress-free and safer during nighttime driving.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty. We specialize in 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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