Inspect Your Deck

outdoor deck photo

As the weather warms up, relaxing on an outdoor deck can be a great way to spend time with friends and family. However, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors estimates that only 40 percent of the 45 million decks in North America are safe. Use these tips to inspect your deck and keep your friends and family safe.

  • Inspections should begin at the bottom of your deck. If a deck seems unsafe or is sagging in any location, do not walk on the deck.
  • Inspect the connection between your deck and the building to ensure that it is secure.
  • Ensure that railings on the deck and stairways are properly supported and stable.
  • Check for water sources near your deck that could contribute to accelerated wood decay. These can include the following:
  • Lawn sprinklers that regularly come into contact with your deck.
  • Indentations around your deck’s support beams where water may pool, especially in newly installed decks.
  • Downspouts from gutter systems that exit near your deck.
  • Narrow gaps in the deck’s floor boards that don’t allow water to pass through.
  • Make sure that none of the deck’s wood has decayed. Keep in mind that layers of paint can hide decay.
  • Visually inspect the beams below your deck for signs of sagging.

If you have any concerns about the safety of your deck, refrain from using it and contact a home inspector to perform a complete inspection. Using your deck should be a relaxing experience, and following these tips will help ensure that everyone using it will have a safe and enjoyable time.

Photo by One-Fat-Man

Beating the Summer Heat

Tips for staying cool when summer heats up

hot weather photo

Summer heat can be more than uncomfortable; it can be a threat to your health, especially for older adults and children. Whatever your age, don’t let the summer heat get the best of you.Heat ExhaustionHeat exhaustion occurs when a person cannot sweat enough to cool the body – usually the result of not drinking enough fluids during hot weather. It generally develops when a person is playing, working or exercising outside in extreme heat. Symptoms include:• Dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache and vomiting• Blurry vision• Body temperature rising to 101°F• Sweaty skin• Feeling hot and thirsty• Difficulty speakingA person suffering from heat exhaustion must move to a cool place and drink plenty of water to avoid a more severe heat-related condition – heat stroke.Heat StrokeHeat stroke is the result of untreated heat exhaustion. Symptoms include:• Sweating stops• Unawareness of thirst and heat• Body temperature rising rapidly to above 101°F• Confusion or delirium• Possible loss of consciousness or seizureHeat stroke is a serious medical emergency that must be treated quickly by a trained professional. Until help arrives, cool the person down by placing ice on the neck, armpits and groin. If the person is awake and able to swallow, have them drink a small glass of water every 15 minutes or until help arrives.Tips for Staying CoolThe combination of heat and humidity in the summer months can be downright uncomfortable and even dangerous. Stay cool by following these safety tips.• Drink plenty of water. In hot weather, drink enough water to quench your thirst. The average adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, and even more during hot weather.• Skip the caffeine and soda; drink water instead.• Dress for the weather. When outside, wear lightweight clothing of natural fabric and a well-ventilated hat.• Eat light. Replace heavy or hot meals with lighter, refreshing foods. And always eat smaller meals before work or intense activity.

Protecting Employees from Summer Workplace Hazards

Summer in Colorado presents its own distinct workplace safety challenges. In Colorado, the intensity of the sun is greater many other states and it can be especially hazardous to your health. Many workers, especially those who work outside, are at risk for injuries ranging from severe sunburn to heat exhaustion. It’s important for you and your employees to understand and protect yourselves from summer hazards. By learning the basics and taking a few simple precautions, you can work to stay safe from heat-related injuries and illnesses this summer.Hazard #1: SunburnSunburns are a significant, and the most preventable risk factor for the development of skin cancer.

  • Encourage employees to protect their skin by applying sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 on all exposed body parts. Reapply every two hours for maximum effectiveness.
  • Employees can also minimize exposure from the sun by wearing proper clothing including a brimmed hat and sunglasses. Make sure hats or sunglasses meet your worksite’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements.

Hazard #2: Heat stressHeat stress includes heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.

  • Make sure that you and your employees are familiar with the symptoms. Symptoms range from confusion and heavy sweating to nausea, irritability, muscle cramps and spasms.
  • Remind employees to drink plenty of clear liquids including water, or beverages with electrolytes such as sports drinks. Steer clear of sodas because they can prevent hydration and may contribute to a heat-related illness.
  • If your employees feed dizzy or nauseous, take a break. They should find a cool, shady place and rest until they feel better. Keep in mind, heat stroke can impair a person’s ability to make sound judgments and may cause accidents.

Hazard #3: Severe WeatherColorado summers also bring a chance of severe weather. Remember:

  • Thunderstorms can bring hail, heavy wind and lightning. Remind your employees to take cover during extreme weather and thunderstorms, but not under trees, where lightning risk increases.
  • If you or your employees are working off the ground and see lightning, get down immediately. Lightning kills more workers each year than tornadoes.
  • If it begins to hail, find a covered shelter, such as your car. Hail in Colorado ranges from pea size to golf ball size, both of which can cause injuries.

For more information on how to avoid summer workplace hazards, contact Martin Insurance Group at 970-963-6161.

When Jewelry Disappears

The following story is from an actual insurance claim:

It was early November in Colorado and the heavy snow had made the parking lot icy and snow packed. Sarah was leaving her office for the day and while walking to her car, she slipped on the icy curb and fell. As she got up, she wiped the snow off of her pants with her bare hand.She got in the car and began to warm it up when she realized her wedding ring was missing! She jumped out of the car and frantically started to search the ground next to her vehicle. It had only been a couple of minutes at most since her fall she figured it had to be there!

Story continued below...

Sarah felt more hopeless with every step she took combing the area back and forth to find the cherished ring. It couldn’t have gone that far! After a long search, reluctantly Sarah got back in her car. Her neighbor and daughter were waiting for her to give them a ride home.

Her passengers agreed they should return to the parking lot and all look. After all, three pairs of eyes are better than one. Sarah was desperate and gratefully accepted the help. The women returned determined to find the ring.

By the time they returned, a plow had come through and it looked like the ring was gone. Searching in this cold weather any longer was not going to change a thing.

So the question is, will insurance cover this loss? The answer is usually YES, if you have mysterious disappearance coverage. However, mysterious disappearance is not standard on most policies so it should be added by speaking with your agent. Mysterious Disappearance can cover losses such as jewelry falling down the drain of the kitchen sink, falling off while on the ski lift, coming off while swimming or leaving your jewelry by the sink in a public restroom. Martin Insurance Group strongly recommends purchasing separate coverage for your jewelry by scheduling your valuables. This will broaden the coverage to include mysterious disappearance.

The Conclusion...

The following spring, Sarah was on her way out to her vehicle after work. She typically parked in the same spot every time. It had been a warm couple of weeks and the snow was melting quickly. In the dirt right by the curb something caught her eye. It was the ring she lost the prior fall!

[caption id="attachment_428" align="aligncenter" width="300"]

The wedding ring went missing November of 2010[/caption]

Not all stories have happy ending like this one did. The odds that she would ever have seen that ring again are extremely slim. The parking lot was in Frisco, CO and at an elevation of 9075 feet, they receive more than their fair share of snow.

So if you have jewelry or other valuables and want to make sure they are covered properly, give us a call. We will review your policy and make sure you have the proper coverage to protect your valuables.

Auto Insurance Minimum State Requirements

Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for anything. Picking the smallest package or option available can be a good way to save money, but not always.When you buy a car you have the option to get the base model, the limited or something in between. While you may not actually NEED the leather seats, seat warmers or navigation, it’s a convenience you are willing to pay a little more to have.If you go to the car wash it’s not just a simple car wash. You have your basic car wash, deluxe or premium. Basic may get the dirt off but the premium has the wax, spotless top coat and dries the car at the end. Again, not something you really NEED but it makes the car look better and keeps the sliding doors on the minivans from freezing shut during the winter.There are many decisions we make from day to day and decide where we are willing to spend a little more for a convenience. There are definitely places where the basic just won’t cut it.Certain models of cars cannot have the cheap gas. If you do use the cheap stuff, something happens inside and the mechanic will tell you that using the cheap gas is a bad thing. It's best to pay a little more to keep your car nice and avoid inconvenient trips to the mechanic.It never fails when we get the cheap DVD player at my house, it doesn’t work after a year or so and we have to buy another one. If we just buy the better one to begin with, we would save money buying the thing once instead of two or three times.Windshield wipers in the mountains are important. If you get the cheap ones you will be go through them like my 2 year old goes through underwear. It pays to take the good ones and avoid buying more for a few years.Car insurance is another place to consider options and price. So many times people will call and say they just want the state minimum. They say they only need what is required by the state to drive. The only thing you really need to have in order to drive a vehicle, other than gas and a drivers license, is liability and not very much of it. It’s only $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $15,000 for property damage.There are many more coverage options available on an auto policy but let’s just think about the liability. If a person is driving with state minimum limits and causes a car accident, there insurance will only pay out the limits on the policy. If the claim is for a higher amount than the limits on the policy, the insurance company is done paying and the balance is that person’s responsibility. If that person cannot write a check for the amount, they could be forced to liquidate assets to pay what they are responsible for and even risk having their wages garnished.Odds are, you won’t need your insurance. You get a packet of papers in the mail every renewal and put one of them in your car because you have to. It always does happen to somebody else and everybody is somebody else to somebody else.

Protecting Your On-Board Art Collection

A yacht is unlike any other venue for displaying art. It moves constantly, and it passes through various climates and political boundaries. As a result, keeping your collection on-board presents a unique set of challenges. We’ve compiled the following recommendations to help you lessen the chance of accidents and other preventable losses.Improving securityOn land or at sea, works of art are attractive targets for thieves. However, most art thefts are crimes of opportunity that easily could have been prevented. Collections housed on a yacht face a greater security risk because of increased access, whether by crew, charter guests or service personnel. The risk is heightened further whenever the yacht goes into a yard.What you can do• Conduct background checks on all staff and vendors; thefts often are inside jobs. • Arm the security system whenever your boat is moored. You may find it helpful to create several zones on your alarm panel, so that you can arm the perimeter even when you are on board. • Consider attaching individual alarm contacts to particularly high-valued items so the alarm system will be triggered if they are moved. • For an additional layer of protection, separate radio-frequency identification (RFID) software systems can be used to wirelessly track the movement of objects throughout the boat. • Bolt safes into the structure of your boat so they cannot be removed. • If you intend to move your collection into storage for an extended period, identify facilities near your port that specialize in fine art. They may offer related services, such as packing, crating and transit. Controlling the environmentCollections on yachts face a number of natural impediments to preservation: water, humidity, sun and salt.What you can do• As much as possible, maintain a consistent temperature and relative humidity (RH), and try to ensure that any environmental changes occur gradually. For yachts with climate control systems, the environmental levels best suited for displaying a general collection are 68–75° F (20–21° C) and an RH of 45–65%. Consult a conservator for specific recommendations for your collection. • Ask a conservator to conduct an annual or seasonal walk-through to look for any changes in conditions that need to be stabilized. In humid environments, be particularly vigilant in guarding against the onset of mold. • Have a framer fully encase works that are particularly susceptible to damage due to their materials or location on the boat. • To minimize the negative long-term effects of both direct and indirect sunlight, consider applying UV filtering films to windows. This protection is maintenance free and virtually undetectable when installed properly. Avoiding accidentsOur claims experience shows that a majority of fine art claims are due to accidental damages. On a yacht, this risk increases due to confined spaces and constant pitching and healing.What you can do• Proper installation using specialized hardware is paramount. Whenever possible, valuable works should be installed under the guidance of a professional art handler. A yacht presents a unique set of challenges, because walls may have shallow backing and be covered with premium finishes. If you have a new yacht under construction, discuss art installation with your project manager and/or builder during the early planning stages. • When deciding where to install art, look beyond the aesthetics. Consider the location of doors and pathways, and place objects in areas that are not highly trafficked. Insuring sufficientlyIn addition to its aesthetic value, art is an asset class. When managed properly, insurance can help protect your financial investment.What you can do• The best way to insure fine art is with a distinct private collections insurance policy. • Maintain current valuations to ensure that works will be covered adequately in the event of a claim. Typically, we recommend that appraisals be updated no less than every three to five years. Consult your appraiser to find out what is recommended for your collection. • Remember to insure your wine, a valuable that often is overlooked. Maintaining documentationKeeping thorough inventory records not only helps you track your assets, but in the event of a loss, a detailed inventory also facilitates the claims process.What you can do• Maintain a complete inventory of all items on board, and make updates as items are added or removed. The format can be as simple as a comprehensive list, but we recommend entering descriptions and images into a secure computerized collections management database. • Keep a copy of your inventory in a fire and water-resistant file cabinet or a pelican case. Keep a second copy off the vessel. • When traveling internationally, have appropriate paperwork on hand, such as customs and CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) documents, and copies of appraisals and receipts. Preparing for disastersLike other insurable property, collections on yachts are vulnerable to disasters including hurricanes, flooding, tsunamis and fires.What you can do• Talk to your captain to ensure that your yacht’s emergency plan considers the security of your collection. Include a list of objects to be evacuated, the tools needed and detailed instructions to follow. Most importantly, decide who will be responsible for quickly and effectively implementing the disaster plan if you are unreachable. • Identify specialized service providers—storage facilities, art handlers, framers, conservators and shippers—in the ports you visit regularly. Ensure they are familiar with your collection and yacht layout. For information on protecting your collection, contact our agency.

How to Prevent Slip, Trip and Fall Injuries

How to Prevent Slips Trips and Falls in the WorkplaceSlips, trips and falls are one of the most common workplace injury claims no matter what time of year, and wintry conditions can contribute to an even higher incidence of these injuries. Although this year we have not seen much snow (yet) remember that it’s almost springtime and we expect (and hope) our snowiest time to be coming soon. Here is some essential information to help protect yourself and your employees during a winter storm and every day.True or false?Slips trips and falls are one of the most common and serious workplace injuries in America.True. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) slips, trips and falls are the cause of the most common and the most serious injuries in the workplace. It's no different with the employers we insure. It is important to note that many of these injuries are a result of falls from heights, but these injuries can also happen in other contexts within the workplace.I only need to take precautions against slip, trip and fall injuries during the winter months.False. Wintry weather might lead you to believe snow and ice are the leading cause of slips, trips and falls in Colorado’s workplaces. Of course, wet and snowy conditions do lead to a higher incidence of these types of injuries, but they can be caused by other hazards such as boxes left in a walkway, liquid spills on the floor or debris around the work site. Make sure you are taking the right precautions no matter what the season.Slips, trips and falls are not preventable.False. Many people believe slips and trips are part of life and can’t be prevented. However, most slips and falls are a result of a specific factor or combination of factors that employers can take steps to eliminate. Review management practices that contribute to the presence of hazards and then implement policies to address those hazards. Basic policies such as instituting a routine cleaning schedule can go a long way. It’s also important to hold everyone in the workplace accountable for jobs like housekeeping, keeping walkways free of boxes and other storage items, and cleaning up slippery or wet areas.There’s nothing I can do right away to protect my employees during winter weather.False. There are things you can do tomorrow to help prevent slip, trip and fall injuries. Martin Insurance Group recommends these top five tips to protect yourself and your employees from slip, trip and fall injuries in the snow:1. Wear boots or shoes with slip-resistant soles.2. Be alert on stairs and ramps. Always use handrails.3. Take small steps – walk like a penguin!4. Take your time and avoid distractions.5. Use three points of contact when entering and exiting vehicles – use two hands and one foot or use two feet and one hand.Have more questions? Martin Insurance Group has more resources that can help. Call our office today and speak with one of our commercial agency at 970-963-6161 or at 888.872.7115.

When I get a new car, when should I call my Agent?

When you a purchase a new vehicle, there are a lot of opinions thrown around when considering the right time to call your insurance agent. Some companies need you to call within 15 days. Some companies say 30 days. The dealer where you bought the car probably gave you his opinion.Bottom line is, coverage will automatically extend to a newly acquired vehicle for a short period of time. If you are buying a car, the best time to call your agent is while you are considering purchasing the vehicle. At this time you can ask them what you will need to know if you do purchase the car.

  • How long will coverage extend to the new vehicle?
  • How will adding the vehicle affect the cost of the policy?
  • Will anything need to be paid at the same time the vehicle is added?
  • How will the additional premium be billed if there is a payment plan in place?

By calling ahead of time, you are eliminating the possibility of any unpleasant surprises after you have already made the purchase. All insurance carriers are different so even though your friend or the dealership said you have coverage for 30 days, keep in mind they are not licensed insurance agents. Of course if your friend happens to be your insurance agent, then you may consider what they have to say.Another advantage to calling ahead of time is so you will know what it will cost for the new car. After you have made the purchase is not the time to find out the premium is three times what you thought it might be.If you are purchasing a new car and would like help with your policies, give us a call to help sort through your insurance options.

What to Do When an Injury Occurs

The first 24 hours following a workplace accident are critical to your injured employeeand to you. In almost all cases, reporting an injury immediately helps employees recover and returnto work faster. By reporting the injury early and actively managing the claim, claims costs canalso be lowered. Getting familiar with the following four steps will help you prepare for anemployee injury, in the unfortunate event that one should occur:1. Get medical treatment for your employeeIf your employee’s injury is life-threatening, go to the nearest hospital emergency room. Get himor her stabilized – that’s top priority. In all other cases, give your employee your DesignatedProvider List Notification Letter, have him or her select a provider from your list and take youremployee to the doctor. Your employee will appreciate your concern and you will gain importantinformation about the injury, recommended treatment and an outlook for returning to work. It isbest to document that you have provided the injured worker with this information. (Wheneverpossible, we recommend having your employee sign and date the letter. Give the employee one signedcopy and keep one signed copy for your records.) If the employee is initially taken to an emergencyroom, the designated provider will step in afterward to manage all related follow-up care.2. Investigate the accidentUse an Accident/Incident Investigation Report and an Employee Accident Report to thoroughly investigate any accidents.Complete your investigation immediately, before memories fade and evidence is lost. Conducting anAccident Investigation is an important prevention tool which can help you further mitigateaccidents and enhance your safety program.3. Report the InjuryProvide all information requested on the First Report of Injury form, but don’t wait to report ifyou don’t have all the information. Be sure to relay any questions or concerns about the injurywhen you report it.4. Complete the wage history form and plan for modified dutyIf your employee is unable to return to regular duty work, provide an accurate average weekly wage with the Wage History form. Start thinking about what modified duty tasks the injured employee may be able to assist with. In addition to helping the injured worker stay connected at work, returning an injured employee to work at modified duty can also decreases claims costs. or information on modified duty.Planning ahead is crucial to both your employees’ safety and to effective claims management. Proactively understanding what to do in the event of an injury can help you prevent an accident and react quickly in the case that an injury occurs. Don’t forget to make sure your managers, supervisors, foremen and employees also know about and understand what to do if an injury occurs. For more information on injury reporting and the claims management process.

"Insurance Resolution"

Nearly 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions according to a study by University of Scranton*. They found that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. Their study shows that the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 were:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Getting Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Other in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

At Martin Insurance Group we are making our own resolutions and getting organized. We also want to help you with yours. While we probably cannot help you Fall in Love, Lose Weight or Quit Smoking we would like to help you while Getting Organized your insurance policies, to possibly Spend Less, Save More, and certainly to Learn Something Exciting! Give us a call to review your insurance policies no matter who your agent may be. Start 2015 with confidence your insurance is adequate for your needs, there will be no surprises if there is a claim and Martin Insurance Group will be there to help you however we can.*