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National “Create Real Impact” Contest Rewards Teen Safe Driving Messages

Students and schools across the country have won educational grants from the 2019 Spring Create Real Impact Contest, sponsored by Impact Teen Drivers and California Casualty.

A total of $12,000 was awarded for creative efforts to address the dangers of distracted driving aimed at teenagers.

Caden Turner – “Listen Up”

The following students were chosen for $1,500 grand prize educational grants:

  • Ashlee Walkowiak, Franklin, WI, in the writing category for her work titled, “Be Different”
  • Everen Graves, San Diego, CA, in the music category for the song “So Much to Live For”
  • Caden Turner, St. Louis, MO, in the video category for “Listen Up”
  • Lindsey Sanchez, Richmond Hill, GA, in the art category for the poster “Camera Filter”

The schools with the most entries that were each awarded $1,000 are:

  • Village Academy of Film, Pomona, CA
  • University City High School, San Diego, CA
  • South Forsyth High School, Cumming, GA

The contest encourages peer-to-peer messages and creative expression from students. The goal – help stem the tide of distracted and reckless driving, which is the number one killer of young drivers.

Preventing inattentive driving, especially among teens, is one of the top priorities of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and safety groups across the nation.

“The objective of the Create Real Impact Contest is to allow young people to engage, educate and empower their peers with strategies to stop the number one killer of teens – car crashes – particularly those caused by reckless and distracted driving,” said Kelly Browning, Ph.D., Executive Director, Impact Teen Drivers. “The contest meets teens in a space where they are comfortable – online. It is about the solutions to ending distracted driving, #EndDD, #WeHavethePower.”

Students ages 14-22 were invited to offer their artistic solutions to this critical teen driving danger through essays, artwork, videos and music. More than 1,300 submissions were received and winners were determined by a panel of judges and by online voting for prizes ranging from $500 to $1,500.

The winning entries can be viewed at

Impact Teen Drivers has reached more than two million teens since 2007 and the Create Real Impact contest began in 2009. California Casualty is a founding partner of the nonprofit and continues to provide support for the contest. California Casualty representatives will help present checks to the winning schools and awardees.

“The importance of this contest can’t be overstated,” said California Casualty CEO Beau Brown. “While insurance can replace a mangled vehicle, we can’t replace a teenager’s life. In a split second, everything for that family changes forever; it’s a terrible tragedy that no one should endure.”

The 2019 Fall Create Real Impact contest will kickoff in August. Entries will be taken at For more information on how to get schools and students involved, please contact

Questions to Ask Before Boarding Your Pet

Pet BoardingSpring break will be here before you know it and summer is right around the corner.  If your plans include travel and Fido isn’t invited, here are a few things to consider when deciding where and who will care for your four-legged family member while you’re away.

  • Is your pooch up to date on vaccinations? Are vaccinations required for other animals that will be boarded in the same facility?
  • Can you take a tour? Visiting the facility and meeting staff members who will be caring for your dog can help you determine if it’s the right fit, and give you peace of mind while you are away.
  • Are the staff and facility certified? If your dog is injured, you’ll want to know who will provide treatment and if your pet will need to be transported to another location to get care.
  • What will my dog do all day? Some places keep dogs kenneled most of the day while others provide an open area for dogs to play and socialize with other pet guests.
  • Where will my dog sleep? Just like time spent during the day, some facilities require pets each sleep in a separated area and others offer a slumber party environment.
  • Can I bring my own dog food and request a specific feeding schedule?

Whether you use these as a starting point or have your own questions, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable knowing you’ll return to a pet that is tired but happy.

Knowing how important your furry friends are, California Casualty offers pet health insurance from Pets Best, rated in the top tier of pet insurance companies. You can get up to 90 percent reimbursement for X-rays, lab tests, surgeries, even cancer treatment with a Pets Best policy from California Casualty. Best yet, you’ll save five percent  (in most states) if you purchase through California Casualty.

We only get limited time with our pets, why not make sure you get the most of that time, contact our Agency Services team at 1.877.652.2638 or email

If your pet travels with you, don’t forget California Casualty automatically includes free Pet Injury Coverage as part of your auto insurance policy. Get a free coverage comparison today and discover why educators, firefighters, police officers and nurses trust California Casualty for their auto and home or renters insurance needs.

Beat the Urge to Use Your Smartphone Behind the Wheel

While we worry about our teens texting while behind the wheel, what kind of example are we setting?  Nearly one-third of drivers of all ages admit to texting, talking or checking a map app while on the road.  With Americans spending an average of an hour a day on the road, that’s too many opportunities for a serious crash.

Technology can give us the boost we need to stay on task, avoiding texting while driving. There are a variety of apps to reduce your temptation to use a smartphone while behind the wheel. Most of us already use apps for workouts, calorie counting, music and banking – why not add one for safer driving?

Five Apps to Stop Phone Use While Driving:

  1. AT&T DriveMode, a free app for iOS and Android that silences incoming calls, restricts texting, and sends alerts when the app is turned off
  2. DriveSafe Mode, an app available for iOS and Android that prevents texting and emailing while driving and sends notifications when the phone is in use or when the driver shuts off the app
  3. Cell Control, a subscription service that allows businesses or families to block sending or receiving texts while driving and sends an alert if it is deactivated
  4. On My Way Realtime GPS (available at iOS app store), a free app that allows others to track where you are in real time without the need to send a text or make a call while driving, and lets them know when you arrive at your destination
  5. LifeSaver, a subscription service for both Android and iOS that blocks phone use, monitors driving behaviors, sends alerts when the driver arrives safely and allows them to earn points while using the app

Your phone may already have a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. Search within your phone settings to activate it.

Some other tips to help drivers concentrate on the road and not on technology include:

  • Mapping out the route before getting into the car
  • Creating music lists at home to play on the ride
  • Making calls to friends, work or relatives before the drive and after you arrive at your destination


Learn more about distracted driving and efforts to prevent it here.


10 Must Do’s to Protect Yourself on Cyber Monday

This is the season of joy, shopping, and unfortunately cyber thievery. While millions of Americans will be looking online for Cyber Monday bargains, crooks will be trying to steal their money, personal information and identity. Identity fraud reached a new high in 2017, with criminals stealing $16 billion from almost 16 million consumers. It’s estimated that a person’s identity is stolen every three seconds.

So how do you avoid the “bad Santa’s” lurking on the internet? To help keep this the most wonderful time of year, we’ve assembled these 10 tips from the Better Business Bureau and our identity theft prevention partner, CyberScout, to add to your holiday list:

  1. Only shop on secure sites – look for “https” in the URL and a locked padlock symbol and avoid doing so on public WiFi
  2. Install the latest security software to block the crooks
  3. Never give personal information, especially social security numbers or passwords
  4. Use a credit card, not a debit card, for payment (you might consider purchasing a prepaid gift card to use for online shopping)
  5. Click out of suspicious links immediately (AVG has a free LinkScanner that checks sites legitimacy for you)
  6. Beware of Santa scammers who promise to send a letter to your child; often they are collecting personal data for ID theft
  7. Don’t buy used electronics; many are preloaded with malware that can steal personal information and passwords
  8. Avoid downloading online coupons sent to your email or from websites you are not sure of
  9. Use unique passwords for every site
  10. Don’t buy that cute puppy via the Internet – scammers use the holidays to take money for puppies that don’t exist, often using the ruse to get banking and personal information

The quicker you catch a possible breach, the better. Credit experts like CyberScout advise consumers to check their credit card and bank statements weekly, request a receipt for any purchase you make and run a free credit check annually.

California Casualty wants to make sure your identity stays safe from online Grinches; every auto and home/renters insurance policy comes with Free ID theft protection and resolution services from CyberScout. Make sure to protect your property and identity this holiday, call a California Casualty advisor today at 1.800.800.9410, or visit

Sources for this article:


This article furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.800.800.9410 or


7 Steps to Take After Hitting a Deer

Fall is a glorious time to take a drive and enjoy the changing colors. Be careful, it’s also a dangerous time for wildlife.

Accidents with deer and elk spike across the United States from October through December, with November the top month for deer-car crashes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates more than 1.5 million deer collisions take place every year in the U.S., causing over $1 billion in vehicle damage. The danger increases when your travel in rural areas where deer roam; just look at the scattered bumpers, grills and lights on the sides of the roadways.

The top ten states for deer-auto crashes in 2017 were:

  1. West Virginia
  2. Montana
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Iowa
  5. Wisconsin
  6. South Dakota
  7. Minnesota
  8. Wyoming
  9. Michigan
  10. North Dakota

To reduce the risk of hitting deer or other wildlife:

  • Don’t drive distracted
  • Slow down
  • Use high beams at night when there is no oncoming traffic
  • Stay alert at dusk and dawn when deer tend to be most active
  • Pay attention to wildlife warning signs
  • Honk your horn to scare any deer off the road
  • Break firmly and don’t swerve (many serious crashes occur when drivers lose control of their vehicle trying to avoid a deer)

If you hit a deer, take these 7 steps:

  • Attempt to move your vehicle to the side of the road
  • Use your hazard lights
  • Call local law enforcement or the state patrol (especially if there are injuries, your car is not drivable or the animal remains in the road)
  • Don’t approach or attempt to move an injured animal (it can hurt you)
  • Take photos of the crash, the damage to your vehicle, and the roadway where it occurred
  • Fill out an accident report (some areas allow you to do it online)
  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible

A Safe Halloween is a Happy Halloween

The crunch of the fallen leaves beneath your feet and the chill of the autumn air are exciting reminders that Halloween is almost here. Super heroes, princesses, ghosts and pirates will soon be roaming the streets in search of their favorite sugary treats.

As you spend time planning, decorating and carving pumpkins, remember that a safe Halloween is a happy Halloween. Whether you’re headed out with the trick-or-treaters or manning the door to pass out candy at home, here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

For trick-or-treating with children:

  1. Make sure all swords, play knives, or similar costume accessories are soft, short, and flexible
  2. Never let children trick-or-treat alone. Make sure they walk in groups with a trusted adult
  3. Map out a safe route with your kids so you know where they will be
  4. Set a designated time for them to return home or check in with you
  5. If you are trick-or-treating with children, make sure you have enough other adults with you to keep a headcount as you go
  6. Fasten reflective tapes to costumes and bags to help drivers see trick-or-treaters – the brighter the costumes, the better
  7. Attach your child’s name, address, and phone number somewhere inside their costume
  8. Look both ways before crossing the street
  9. If possible, cross at a crosswalk or a corner. If traveling with a group of trick-or-treaters, have them link hands when crossing
  10. Try to walk on sidewalks as much as possible. If you have to walk along the edge of the road, stay as far to the edge as possible and walk facing traffic
  11. Carry a flashlight with you—and give one to each child–to help you and others see
  12. Encourage kids to walk from house to house, never run
  13. Check to make sure kids are wearing well-fitted masks (or better yet- face paint!), costumes and shoes to avoid tripping or blocking your vision
  14. Check over treats before letting kids start eating them- check to make sure they are still commercially wrapped and not tampered with and that they do not present a choking hazard
  15. Always test make-up in a small area first to check for allergies before applying it to large areas like the face. Be sure to remove all makeup before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation
  16. Remind kids:
    • Enter homes only if you are with a trusted adult
    • Only visit well-lit homes
    • Never accept rides from strangers
    • Never walk near lit candles or luminaries

To prepare your home for trick-or-treaters:

  1. Make sure the outside areas of your home, especially the walking area and stairs, are well-lit and free of obstacles
  2. Be sure to turn on all your exterior lights
  3. Keep candle-lit jack-o-lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended. Use battery-operated candles in any outdoor or child-accessible decorations
  4. eep pets away from the door so they don’t scare—or get scared by—trick-or-treaters
  5. Report any suspicious or criminal activity to your local police department or sheriff’s office
  6. Make sure you do not pass out candy that is a choking hazard to younger children

Have a Spooky, Scary, and Safe Halloween!

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