Are you at risk for an Earthquake?

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), at least 39 of the 50 states in the U.S. have been affected by earthquakes, with 90 percent of Americans living in seismically active areas. Even with statistics like this, it is surprising that an overwhelming majority of Americans do not have earthquake insurance.

Like floods, earthquakes are not covered under most homeowners insurance policies. However, earthquake insurance is available as an additional coverage. (SECURA does offer earthquake coverage as an optional add-on to our MILE-STONE policies.) Knowing the risk of earthquakes in your area and talking to an agent will help you determine if this is a necessary coverage.

The map below from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) highlights areas of the U.S. that are at higher risk of earthquakes.

If you are at risk, are you prepared? Here is a resource for creating a disaster plan.

Have you experienced an earthquake big or small? Share your story.

How much could a flood cost you?

Have you looked at your homeowners policy lately? If not, you might want to review it. SECURA's MILE-STONE homeowners insurance policy – like most homeowners policies – does not include flood insurance. You need to purchase this type of insurance separately. If you don't have flood insurance, the water damage could cost you thousands of dollars or more. Use this tool from to calculate the cost of damages a flood could cause in your home.

Do you know the flood risk for your home? To find out, visit www.floodsmart.govand complete the One-Step Flood Risk Profile.

Nine tips for protecting your property from water damage

Did you know that flooding causes more damage than any other severe weather-related event in the United States each year? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), floods cause over five billion dollars in damages each year. Welcome to National Flood Safety Awareness Week, as we enter yet another season of melting snow and rain.
If you're looking for ways to protect your personal property this spring, start by heading downstairs. Basements are especially prone to water damage. If it happens to your home or commercial building, you could face large repair costs or a decline in indoor air quality associated with mold and mildew.
Keep in mind that dwelling policies do not cover floods. Here are nine steps you can take to protect your dwelling from the devastating effects of water damage:
1. Make sure the floor drains are clear and plumbing systems operate efficiently.
2. Identify and repair all leaks and cracks in windows, doors, roof, foundation, exterior walls, and plumbing and HVAC     systems.
3. Label shut-off valves so your water supply can be easily closed in the event of a plumbing leak.
4. Apply a water-proof sealant to the inside of your foundation walls (and to the outside walls as soon as the snow melts).
5. Test your sump pump, and install a battery-operated backup in case a storm causes a power outage.
6. Store all personal items in your basement in plastic storage bins to prevent them from being destroyed by water.
7. Use large carpet remnants or rugs rather than wall-to-wall or permanently-fitted carpets in the basement.
8. Protect furniture, appliances, and exercise equipment with sealed plastic bags.
9. Elevate electric components including all wires at least one inch above the floor. Most damage occurs when water is one inch deep or more.

Luck or skill? Gear up for hole-in-one contests

Hey Ace, ready to sink your shot? If you're an avid golf lover, you're no doubt dreaming of bright green fairways, the rattle of clubs in a bag, and the tantalizing aroma of freshly clipped grass.
Know who else is gearing up for golf season? We are. Competition makes the game even more interesting, and many corporate and charity groups are already looking to their insurance agents for help sponsoring hole-in-one contests.
Here are four reasons we all love hole-in-one contests:
They generate a lot of publicity. Hole-in-one contests are crowd pleasers, because they offer players a one-time chance to win large sums of money, often in the tens of thousands of dollars.
It's rare, but not impossible. What if one or more golfers sink that shot? Event sponsors know some players get lucky – and players know it, too!
The prize is covered. We take care of the payout no matter how many lucky players ace that shot.
The signs point to fun. Our hole-in-one coverage includes colorful, custom-made signs that display the agency name, the sponsor's prize and hole number, and our logo. Sponsors can proudly display the sign on the course.
Do you have a hole-in-one experience to share? Tell us about it

Undocumented workers: Protect your bottom line

The prevalence of undocumented workers increases in the spring and summer, when work picks up in the landscaping, construction, and other similar industries.

But hiring undocumented workers can subject any company to fines and penalties from the Immigration and Naturalization Service – even if they unknowingly hire them. Additionally, most states require workers' compensation benefits be extended to all employees whether or not they have proper documentation. However, if an injured employee is undocumented, they will not be allowed to return to work. This leaves a gap in employee resources, and the company runs the risk of having increased workers' compensation rates.

E-Verify: Free resource to help

To help employers determine the citizenship of their workers, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Social Security Administration (SSA) formed a Web-based system called E-Verify, which verifies Social Security numbers.

Employers must register to use E-Verify, and can obtain results in seconds. In return for verified results, employers must follow certain requirements highlighted on the website, such as:

• Employers must post a notice at work informing employees that they use E-Verify.
• E-Verify must be used for new hires only. It cannot be used to verify employment eligibility of current employees.
• E-Verify must be used for all new hires regardless of national origin or citizenship status. It may not be used selectively.

Visit the Department of Homeland Securities website to register for E-Verify.

SECURA celebrates milestone anniversaries

March 1, 2011 is a big day for SECURA. Our company is 111 years strong, and we celebrate our one-year anniversary of offering products for non-profits and specialty businesses.
Anniversaries inspire people to look back, and we're doing that too. The world certainly was a different place 111 years ago. In 1900, after a massive cyclone tore through New Richmond, Wis., our founders and charter members simply wanted to protect their own and their neighbors' farms from future devastation.
While this still holds true to us today, we've grown from a small farm insurance company into a super-regional carrier. We've gained many loyal agency partners, valued policyholders, and talented associates to our growing family. And we've built a strong line of products and coverages to help people focus on living out their dreams, knowing we've got them covered.
Agents: Get a slice of the excitement
We invite our agency partners to join the celebration. All the details are here.
Tell us about your SECURA connection
In the comments section below, share where you are from and how long you've been with us – whether you are an independent agent, one of our policyholders, or a SECURA associate.