Traveling in Extreme Heat

Traveling in Extreme Heat

It’s going to be a hot one. When you’re traveling, that can be a problem. Vacationing in extreme heat is not only uncomfortable, but it can put you in real danger. Here’s how to keep your cool when you’re traveling or vacationing in extreme heat this summer.


Avoid the hottest hours.

The sun is highest at midday but that’s not when the air is the hottest. While it depends on your geographic location, generally the hottest times of day are between 3 and 6 pm. It’s a good idea to avoid being outside during those hours. Take a siesta in your vacation home. Plan an itinerary that includes outdoor adventures earlier in the day or in the evening. The advantage of traveling in the summer is that sunset is very late in some countries so there’s extended daylight well into the evening hours.

Pro Tip: Check for evening discounts. Some attractions may offer them.


Wear the right clothes.

Look for white or light-colored clothing made of rayon, cotton, or linen. Those fabrics will allow heat to pass through and keep you cooler. Avoid synthetics and dark colors which absorb heat. Choose loose styles that allow your body the space to “breathe” and sweat. Don’t forget your hat and sunglasses; both will help.


Stay hydrated.

You sweat more when it’s hot, and so you need to replenish the water and nutrients lost by your body. Try to drink every 15-30 minutes even if you’re not thirsty. Stick to water or sports drinks that have electrolytes. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol, both of which are dehydrating.

Pro Tip: Set reminders on your phone to hydrate. There are apps available that can make it fun.


Choose the right foods.

When we eat a lot of heavy foods, our bodies work hard to digest them. In the process, that creates heat. Choose lighter fare instead. Hydrating foods like fruits and salads do double duty and provide extra water. Cold foods, like ice cream and smoothies, naturally help to cool down your body. Salty snacks such as salted nuts, popcorn, and trail mixes help replace electrolytes.


Get wet.

If you can’t get to a swimming pool to cool down, there are some creative options. Take a cold shower or dunk your head under the faucet. Wet hair will make breezes feel cool. Hold your wrists under cool running water. Wet your hat or wear a damp evaporation scarf. All of this will help lower your body’s core temperature.

Pro Tip: Invest in a breeze fan and bring the misty breeze along with you.


Use an umbrella.

Think of it as your personal shady spot. By keeping the sun’s rays off you, an umbrella will make you cooler. Heading to the beach? Bring a tent or umbrella for a similar effect. In general, it’s a good idea to seek out shade wherever you go.


Look for places to cool off.

Look for malls, libraries, museums, and galleries that can offer quick relief. Plan for those inside activities during the hottest part of the day. You may want to call ahead to confirm that they have air conditioning. It is not necessarily the norm in countries outside the U.S.


Don’t overdo it.

Exercise raises your core body temperature. Limit physical activities in the heat. Avoid climbing hills or doing any activities that require exertion. These activities will only put extra stress on your body as it’s trying to deal with the heat.


Take care of your car.

Extreme heat can affect your car, too. If you’re on a road trip, make sure to be aware of the effects. The heat could make it hard for your battery to hold a charge. It can affect tire pressure and even cause tires to overheat, putting you at risk for a blowout. Air conditioning puts extra stress on the engine. Before you plan a road trip in the summer, have your vehicle checked to make sure it’s in its best shape to travel.


Acclimate yourself before your trip.

You can adjust your body to the heat before your vacation. Go to a sauna or steam room. Work up to spending 30-40 minutes in that sauna/steam room over 7-10 days. It allows your body to get used to the heat.


Beware of heat stroke.

Know the signs of heat stroke and a place where you can get medical attention while traveling. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable so you will want to take extra precautions to keep them cool.


Safe travels and enjoy the journey!


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

Protecting Your Cell Phone From Hackers

Protecting Your Cell Phone From Hackers

Your cell phone is your trusted companion, your admin assistant, social director, banker, compass, and connection to the world. If it ends up in the wrong hands, you could be in deep trouble.

At best, a hacked phone could make life difficult. At worst, it could result in thousands of dollars in identity theft. Here’s what you need to know to protect your cell phone from hackers.


Update to the latest version.

Many hackers take advantage of out-of-date operating systems. Whether you have iOS or Android, make sure to update your phone to the newest version. This will give you the latest security fixes.


Avoid fingerprint and facial recognition.

Hackers can take your fingerprints from a drinking glass to open your phone. They also can use photos of you to get past facial recognition settings. Use a pin instead and make sure you’re the only one that knows it. Change it regularly, at least once a year.

Pro Tip: Don’t set your phone to automatically unlock, even at home. If you’re an iOS user, disable Siri access from the lock screen.


Avoid unsecured connections.

Public WiFi is available nearly everywhere. While it makes our lives easier, it comes with security risks. Use caution if you’re on an unsecured network. Never access your bank account or shop online unless you’re on a secure network with a lock icon.

Pro Tip: Use a VPN, a virtual private network that protects your identity while working on a public network. VPNs usually have an associated fee.


Use strong passwords for your apps.

Avoid pet names, birthdays, and other personal information that may readily be available on social media. It makes it easy for hackers to guess your password. The best passwords are complex and unique. Password managers make it easy to set distinct passwords without having to memorize them.

Pro Tip: For an added layer of security, use different email addresses: one for financials and one for social media.


Don’t just download any apps.

Anyone can create an app, including hackers. If you download the wrong app, you could be adding malware that can steal from your phone. Make sure the apps you’re using are from reputable companies. Take a few minutes to review your apps and delete any that aren’t verified.


Don’t save your information.

It may be convenient to save your credit card information on online shopping sites. Check out as a guest instead. Be selective when you give out your personal information.


Freeze your credit.

Cell phone providers use the National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange. Freeze your credit with them and with the big 3 credit unions: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. This will ensure that no one can open new accounts in your name.


Disable WiFi, Bluetooth and Cellular Data if not using your phone.

A hacker can’t hack you if you’re not connected. When in a public place, you can disable access to the internet. One easy way is to turn on Airplane Mode. You also can use your user’s manual to find out how to disable connectivity.


Consider anti-virus software.

There are two schools of thought on whether security software is necessary for smartphones. Some say it’s unnecessary and others recommend it. You may consider it as an additional layer of protection.


Know how to control your phone remotely.

Settings and apps allow you to remotely lock and erase your phone if it’s stolen. Make sure you know how to use them. There is the “Find My Phone” option in iCloud and the Android Device Manager in Google.


Back up your data.

Make sure you regularly back up your data to the cloud or your computer. If you’re hacked, you’ll still have access to that information.


How to Know if Your Phone Has Been Hacked

You may not realize the moment your phone is hacked. Initially, it may present as a technical issue. Malware can cause this with its malicious code. Watch for these telltale signs:

  • Your phone loses charge quickly.
  • Your phone runs very slowly, freezes and crashes.
  • You notice unusual activity on your online accounts.
  • There are popups or changes to your home screen.
  • You receive unfamiliar calls or texts.

If you believe your phone was hacked, install and run anti-virus protection. Delete any risky apps, texts, and files. If the damage is extensive, you can always wipe and restore your phone to factory settings. Then you’ll be able to address the damage done by hackers to your accounts, both financial and social.



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


Signs You May be A Victim of Identity Theft

Signs You May be A Victim of Identity Theft

You’ve probably heard a lot about identity theft, but it could never happen to you, right? Unfortunately, it’s more common than you think. Every 22 seconds, someone has his/her identity stolen in the U.S.

You could be the next victim. Learn the signs of identity theft and the strategies to help protect your identity.


Types of Identity Theft

Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information to steal from you. They can take over your personal accounts. They can ruin your credit. They can take out loans in your name, leaving you on the hook for thousands of dollars or more.

There are many types of identity theft. Here are some of the most common:

• Bank fraud
• Credit card fraud
• Employment fraud
• Tax-related fraud
• Government benefits fraud
• Insurance fraud
• Loan or lease fraud
• Medical services fraud
• Online shopping fraud


Watch for These Warning Signs

Identity theft can easily happen without you knowing it. Be on the lookout for signs that show someone is fraudulently using your information.

1. You do not recognize charges on your credit card or bank account. Check your credit card statement each month, or online more frequently if you feel you may be a victim of identity theft. If you see charges that you didn’t make, contact your credit card company. You can dispute those charges, and change your account number. Similarly, if you see withdrawals on your bank statement that you didn’t make, notify your bank immediately. While they may not be able to refund that money, they can put a hold on your account and open a new one for you.

2. You are getting calls from debt collectors. If you’re getting calls from debt collectors for a purchase you did not make, that’s a huge red flag. It’s possible someone made a purchase in your name. Get the information from the debt collector. Contact the fraud department of the creditor who says that you owe the debt. Request copies of the transaction. Dispute the charge. Close or change the account where the debt was originally charged, whether it’s a bank account or credit card.

3. You receive notifications of password changes you didn’t make. If you get a notification that you changed your password, and you didn’t make the change, take action right away. That means someone was able to access your account. Notify the institution. Change the initial password to something new. If you use that same password elsewhere, change it there, too.

4. You get texts with verification codes. If you get a verification code from PayPal or other services, that’s a sign that someone is using one of your personal accounts. Change your password immediately and contact the account provider.

5. Your credit score suddenly drops. Perhaps you’re denied a loan because your credit report shows unexpected problems. Or maybe you checked your credit score and it’s much lower than it was. Order a credit report to get detailed information. You can get a free report from the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Then you can correct any inaccuracies for future reporting.

6. You’re missing mail and bills. Identity thieves sometimes use a change of address form to reroute your mail. That’s one way they can get personal information mailed right to them. If you notice that mail is missing, especially bills, contact those companies and make sure the address on file is the correct one.

7. You’re getting unfamiliar bills. If you’re receiving medical bills for services that you didn’t receive or bills for items you didn’t purchase, someone is pretending to be you. Contact the provider and let them know.

8. The IRS has more than one tax return in your name. This happens when someone files a tax return to get your refund. You will need to contact the IRS to resolve the situation. You can get a copy of the fraudulent return and take steps to protect your social security number in the future.


How to Protect Your Identity

Follow these steps to help prevent identity theft.

• Guard your social security number. Most places will ask for the last four digits only. Do not share the full number unless you are certain it is secure and safe.

• Watch out for phishing scams. Don’t respond to unsolicited calls or emails. Don’t click on links in those emails either. Never enter your personal information in response to an email.

• Keep close tabs on your billing cycles. If bills do not appear, you will know what is missing.

• Read your credit card statements and look for small charges, too. Scammers often start with a small test before making a big purchase.

• Create complex passwords for your accounts. Avoid using complete words and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Initiate 2-step verification for an extra layer of protection. Avoid storing passwords on your devices.

• If you bank online, install virus protection on your computer and mobile devices.

• Don’t use public WiFi. Use a secure VPN for your devices. Keep devices updated with the latest security fixes.

• Freeze your credit. This prevents anyone, including you, from opening a loan or credit card in your name. When you’re ready to do so, you can unfreeze your credit temporarily.

• Sign up for a credit card alert for purchases more than a certain amount. That will give you an instant notification if someone happens to use your card and spend over that amount.

• Use an ID theft protection service like Cyber Scout, offered at no additional cost to you with every California Casualty policy.


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


Distracted Driving 101

Distracted Driving 101

We all want to think that we’re good drivers. The truth of the matter is, every once in a while, we get distracted…some of us more than others. We reach for that French fry. We have an argument with the kids in the backseat. We hear our phone ding and instinctually grab it to look at a message. We know better, but we do it anyway.

In honor of April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month, here’s a reminder about the dangers of distracted driving and why it’s important to stay focused behind the wheel.


Distracted driving by the numbers

Nine people die each day in crashes caused by distracted driving, reported the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Over 3,100 people were killed and 424,000 injured due to distracted driving in 2019. One in five who died weren’t even in a vehicle. They were walking, riding their bikes, or simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Distracted driving deaths have increased by 12% from 2020 to 2021, reported the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Drivers aged 18 to 34 are more likely to die due to distracted driving than any other age group. It’s no surprise that teens, with their inexperience behind the wheel and the world at their fingertips, are at greater risk for distracted driving. A survey of U.S. high school students found that 39% admitted to texting while driving in the past 30 days. 


What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is defined as any activity that takes focus off of the road. There are three major types of distractions, as defined by the CDC:

  • Manual: This causes you to take your hands off of the wheel, such as when you are reaching for something. If you’re eating while still looking at the road, that could be a manual distraction. 
  • Visual: This is anything that takes your eyes off the road ahead. If you are rubbernecking, fiddling with the radio, or even looking at your GPS, that could be a visual distraction.
  • Cognitive: This type of distraction takes your mind off driving. If you are texting or emailing while driving, that’s a cognitive distraction. If you’re engaged in conversation, daydreaming, or worrying, that takes your attention away, too.


Reaction time and distracted driving

You may think that glancing at your phone to read a text is no big deal, and takes no time at all. Consider this. If you’re reading a text while driving 55 mph, you’ll probably take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. According to NHTSA, that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Five seconds is more than enough time to whiz past a stop sign, slam into a car that suddenly brakes in front of you, or seriously hurt or kill a pedestrian. Texting while driving increase your chances of crashing by 2300%.

Even hands-free devices can be a mental distraction. An AAA study found that it takes 27 seconds to regain your full attention after engaging with your hands-free device. At 25 mph, that’s enough time to travel nearly three football fields.


How distracted driving affects your insurance

Many states have bans for handheld cell phones while driving. It is your responsibility to know the local laws, even if you’re traveling out of state. If your state has banned cell phone use, even holding your phone at a stoplight can get you a ticket. If the engine is turned on, your car is considered in motion.

Tickets for illegal cell phone use can come with hefty insurance penalties. Forbes noted that if you are found to be distracted driving, it could raise your insurance rates as much as 41% depending on the state where you live. The average is an increase of 16%. So, in addition to the damage that distracted driving can do to people and property, it can affect your wallet, too.


Tips to stay focused

Follow these tips to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on driving. 

    • Avoid multitasking while driving. Do everything you need before you start the car. Set up the GPS. Choose radio presets. Send any texts you need to send before you start the car.
    • Leave your phone in a secure place. Enable the “do not disturb” setting while you’re driving. Your phone will silence texts and maybe even send an automatic response text that tells people you’ll reply to them when you’re not driving.
    • When in doubt, pull over. Find a parking spot or lot to enter an address in a GPS or call or text someone. Plan breaks to eat, text, and talk.
    • Lead by example. If you have teens or pre-teens, they are watching your driving habits and taking note.
    • As a passenger, you can help the driver focus on the road. Limit distractions around them, and speak up if you see them starting to text or otherwise shift their attention.
    • Educate yourself and your loved ones on the dangers of distracted driving. 

Safe travels.


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

Hydroplaning and Tips to Keep Your Car Under Control This Spring

Hydroplaning and Tips to Keep Your Car Under Control This Spring

There are few things scarier than losing control of your car, but when it’s wet outside it can happen in an instant, no matter how safely you drive. This phenomenon is known as hydroplaning and it’s common during spring storms. 

Here are some ways to reduce your chance of hydroplaning when you’re behind the wheel, and how to keep your car under control if you do. 


What is hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning happens when your tires encounter more water than they can scatter. As a result, your tires lift up off the road and start riding on a layer of water. You lose traction, braking, and steering as your car skids and slides all over. It’s easy to crash. The more water there is, the more chance you might hydroplane. However, hydroplaning also can occur when roads are just slightly wet. The first 10 minutes of a light rain can be dangerous as water mixes with the oil residue and creates a slippery road surface. 

Knowing what causes hydroplaning can help you take steps to avoid it. Hydroplaning is caused by a combination of three things:

    • Wet conditions
    • Your speed
    • The condition of your tires

How to lower your chances of hydroplaning

1. Reduce your speed.

Hydroplaning is more likely to happen when you’re traveling faster than 35 mph. Plan your travels in the rain so that you can move more slowly. Also avoid sudden increases in speed, such as when passing cars. Those increases can cause your car to hydroplane.

2. Choose high-quality tires.

Your tires are your car’s first defense against hydroplaning. The tread or grooves are designed to push water aside. Make sure you invest in high-quality tires. Replace them when the tire tread has worn down. Driving on bald tires is especially dangerous in wet conditions. 

3. Keep your tires well-maintained.

Make sure to rotate and balance your tires to help the tread wear evenly. Rotate the tires every other time you do an oil change, about every 7-10,000 miles. Also, make sure to keep your tires properly inflated.

4. Avoid puddles and standing water.

Spring storms can create puddles and standing water. If you see them, try not to drive through them. Also, avoid driving in the outer lanes where water tends to accumulate. Follow the tire tracks of the vehicle in front of you. Their tires already did some of the work of displacing the water. Just don’t follow too closely in case you have to slow down or stop unexpectedly. 

5. Avoid hard braking and sharp or quick turns.

Sudden quick movements can cause hydroplaning. If you have to turn, take it slowly. Avoid any type of sudden braking. Stay in your lane. 

6. Don’t use cruise control in the rain.

You’ll have to react immediately if you start to hydroplane. You don’t want to take extra time to disengage cruise control. In the moment, every second counts.


If you hydroplane, here’s what to do.

    • Take your foot off the gas. This will help to slow you down. 
    • Do not slam on the brakes. That may be your natural instinct, but slamming on the brakes can cause your car to skid further out of control. If you need to brake, use a light pumping motion.
    • Gently steer in the direction your car is sliding. This will help your tires realign and allow you to gain control of the steering.
    • When you feel the tires reconnect with the road surface, take control of the steering. You’re now good to proceed on your journey. You may want to pull over to a safe spot to regroup and calm down before going on.

Accidents can happen. Make sure that your vehicle is fully covered for added peace of mind.

Safe travels.



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

Thanksgiving Dinner Disasters – There’s Coverage for That

Thanksgiving Dinner Disasters – There’s Coverage for That

Thanksgiving is a special time to gather with loved ones. But when your turkey catches fire, your aunt drinks a little too much and falls and breaks her leg, or your fur baby takes a little nip of a guest, it’s time to be thankful for insurance. Fortunately, there’s coverage for most Thanksgiving dinner disasters. Whether you’re home entertaining guests, or traveling to friends or family, we’ve compiled a quick guide.


Cooking Fires

It’s easy to lose sight of something on the stove or in the oven when you’re also attending to guests. That’s why you’re more likely to have a holiday cooking fire on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The risk increases if you’re deep-frying a turkey. Deep fryers heat up to such a degree that they have caused severe burns and injuries, and even deaths. (If you must have a deep-fried turkey, consider ordering one from your local grocery store.) When cooking fire accidents happen, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will cover the damage to your home, your belongings, and any related injuries to your guests. (For the guest injury part, skip to the next section.)

    •  Your homeowner’s policy includes dwelling coverage. This covers the repair or rebuilding of the structure of your home up to your policy limit. So, if the fire damages your kitchen or other areas, you can report the claim to your insurance adjuster. They will advise you on how to proceed. Your insurer will likely send someone out to inspect the damage and write up an estimate. You will get reimbursed by your policy, minus your deductible (which is the amount that you chose to pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in).

    •  Personal property coverage is that part of your homeowner’s or renter’s policy that protects your possessions such as kitchen appliances, furnishings, and if the fire spreads beyond the kitchen, your television, clothing, etc. Fire is one of 16 different named “perils” that your policy covers. There are dollar limits for certain items such as money, jewelry, and firearms, so check with your insurer. For personal property coverage on a homeowner’s policy, you typically get 50 or 75% of Coverage A, the total amount of coverage for your home. If you’re renting, you get to choose the amount of personal property coverage when you select your policy.

    • You can select replacement cost or actual cash value (ACV) for personal property. ACV is the amount the item is worth, minus depreciation for its age. It will cost a little more for a policy that provides replacement cost (and we strongly recommend it).

    • Depending upon the extent of the fire, your house may not be livable. If that’s the case, you would be covered for any necessary increase in living expenses, such as lodging, food, and gas. Under Coverage D – Loss of Use, called “Additional Living Expense,” your policy will provide a flat percentage toward living costs, usually 30% of the Coverage A amount. Some states have time limits (e.g. 12 months) on when you can use that coverage. Plan to cover those additional expenses out-of-pocket.

Pro Tip: Having a fire extinguisher could earn you a discount on your home insurance policy.


Guest Injuries

Injuries can happen anytime, especially during gatherings where people may drink. Guests could become tipsy and trip, slip, and fall. That could happen even if they’re not drunk, of course. Burns could occur if there is a kitchen fire. Your guests could get food poisoning. Your normally well-behaved fur baby could bite one of your guests. While you can’t anticipate every situation, you can make sure there are no obvious dangers in your home, such as tripping hazards or unsecure handrails. Keep everyone’s safety and comfort in mind, including where your pet may be during the festivities. Then, if a guest does get injured, your insurance can kick in.

    • You may be covered for guest injuries under your homeowner’s or renter’s liability coverage. If you are found liable, the policy may cover damages to the injured party. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and permanent scarring. The policy also provides a defense in court, if needed, for the policyholder. This is at the insurance company’s own expense.

    • If you are not liable, but your guest was injured through his/her own fault, then Coverage F – Medical Payment to Others may cover your guest’s medical bills.

    • Liability coverage does not apply to you and your family. Your own injuries or illnesses are not covered under homeowner’s or renter’s policies. You would use your own health insurance policy to cover any injuries that you might have in your home.

    • If your dog has bitten a guest, make sure that your dog’s breed is not restricted by your insurance policy. Some policies will not cover breeds such as Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, or Rottweilers. California Casualty does not currently have such restrictions.



Thanksgiving on the Road

If you’re among the millions who drive to Thanksgiving celebrations, you’ll want to make sure your car is well-maintained, and that your car insurance is up to date. Be ready for the holiday traffic, and drive safely. An accident can put a damper on the holiday. The good news is that you’re covered if you do have one.

    • If you cause an accident, you are responsible for damages. You would pay with your vehicle’s liability policy. Importantly, auto liability does not cover any damage to your own vehicle; that’s covered by collision. It also does not cover injury to you and your family; it only covers the people in the other car. Liability coverage is required by law in most states.

    • There are two types of liability coverage:
      • If you are found liable for the accident, bodily injury coverage helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering for the driver and passengers in the other vehicle. We say “helps pay” because it depends on how much coverage you choose. The costs of an accident can be more than your insurance policy limit.
      • Property damage coverage helps pay for repairs for the other vehicle or for repair/replacement of property, such as a fence, damaged or destroyed in the collision.

    • If you are not at fault for the accident, the other driver is responsible for damages. Your insurance kicks in if the other driver does not have enough insurance. Collision covers your car for any type of damage, regardless of fault or if the person does not carry any/enough insurance. Underinsured motorist (UIM) and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage are for injuries. They cover you and your passengers if you are hit by an at-fault UM or UIM. Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) can cover your car if hit by an at-fault uninsured motorist.

    • Unlike liability insurance, collision coverage is not usually required—unless you’re leasing a car or paying off a loan on a vehicle. However, it may be good to have.

No matter where you enjoy the holiday, we wish you a safe celebration. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!



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



Pin It on Pinterest