Seven ways to keep your computer virus free

Online pop-ups offer all kinds of tempting deals, but as soon as you click one, the prize disappears - and so does your computer's security. If your computer isn't protected, someone could access your personal information or expose you to a virus that brings your computer to a crashing halt.

Take these steps to make sure your computer is secure:

Create a secure password. Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters - just make sure it's something you can remember!

Use antivirus software. Configure your antivirus software to update automatically so your protection is always current. Also, regularly check for updates for all software you use to eliminate any gaps in security.

Set up a firewall. A firewall can help secure access control and prevent someone else from remotely taking over your computer.

Disable JavaScript. Secure your browser by disabling JavaScript for all but the most essential websites. This will help you browse the Internet more safely and eliminate unwanted pop-ups.

Avoid pop-ups. Never click on a pop-up box without reading it carefully, and don't allow any program to download that you didn't specifically request.

Watch for suspicious e-mails from your bank. Be wary of e-mails reporting a security concern from your bank or financial institution. Don't log in from the e-mail; instead, visit your bank's website and log in there, and call your bank to confirm the report and alert them to any scams.

Check the privacy policy. Read a website's privacy policy before entering any personal information, and make sure the site offers a secure connection before giving your credit card information.

Is your kid college bound? What you need to know about your insurance coverage

Make a list of the property your child is bringing to college. Do valuable electronics or furniture make the list? Most often they do. We all want to believe our kids lock their personal belongings in their rooms or rental homes all the time, but the reality is they still can fall victim to theft. That includes identity theft.

So, while we encourage you to remind your child (incescantly, if need be) to lock up her or his valuables, also contact your insurance agent or carrier to learn what’s covered in instances of theft when a student is at college.

Does SECURA provide insurance protection for my child?
If you are a SECURA MILE-STONE® policyholder and your child is a full-time student and a member of your household (same permanent address), we offer 10 percent of your personal property limit or $1,000 in coverage (whichever is greater) for personal property stolen from a dorm room or rental home.

We also cover liability for the student. Let’s say your son or daughter leaves a candle burning in their apartment when they leave for class. While they’re gone, the apartment sustains fire and smoke damage. Your liability policy might come into effect.

So what about identity theft? If you have our Identity Theft and Restoration coverage, your college student also has those benefits. We encourage you to stress the importance of keeping their debit or credit cards with them or locked up at all times. Another important measure is to have your kids keep their social security cards at your home, locked in a safe location.

A stipulation for coverage through your MILE-STONE policy is that the student has to be at his or her school residence for 45 days before a theft is covered.

What if my child is a student but not a member of my household?
If your student has a permanent address other than yours or receives no financial support from you, he will need his own renters insurance policy, including liability coverage.

What about my auto coverage under MILE-STONE?
If your child is a full-time student attending school more than 100 miles from home and does not have an auto, you may be eligible for a discount on your policy. Contact your SECURA agent for details.

Coverage and services may not be available in all states. Coverages and services described are subject to all the terms and conditions of the policy, including deductibles, exclusions and limits of liability. Not all agents are authorized to sell all types of insurance. Please read the policy carefully.

Roadside emergency kit checklist

You packed your luggage, a cooler, a few beach towels — you’re ready for anything on your road trip. But is your car ready for anything?

If your car is stranded on a road with low traffic or in an area without cell reception, it could be a while before you can reach help. Be prepared for a flat tire, a dead battery, and any number of vehicle-related issues by creating a roadside emergency kit.

Purchase a pre-assembled emergency kit to store in your vehicle’s trunk, or pack the following items in a bag:

• Blanket
• Bungee cord
• Can of tire inflator and sealant
• Duct tape
• Extra fuses
• First aid kit
• Flashlight and batteries
• Gloves
• Jumper cables
• Paper towels or rags
• Pen and paper
• Phone number of your roadside assistance contact
• Pocket knife
• Roadside flares
• Screwdriver
• Tire pressure gauge

One by one, we can win the battle against breast cancer

Our team of Personal Lines associates don their pink at the start of our drive for
breast cancer research funds to honor those impacted by breast cancer.
Millions of women and men are impacted by breast cancer in one way, shape, or form. While the numbers of diagnoses still remain staggering, the mortality rate is beginning to decline. But only slightly.

There’s still much to be done to bring the number of deaths to zero. Through medical and technological advancements, which only can happen through research, we can achieve that number.

August 1 marks the launch of our 3rd annual One by One campaign to give to the cause of breast cancer research. For each new SECURA MILE-STONE® home and auto policy written now through Oct. 31, 2011, we will donate $10 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Our donation is coupled with an expansive list of honorees submitted by our agency family. These agents have stories. Some are devastating, others uplifting, but all are empowering. We invite you to share your story with us in honor of those you know and love who have been affected by breast cancer.

Together, we can win the battle.