Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Early detection is key

“I found the lump by mistake.”

“I’ve always performed self exams.”

“They found my tumor about a year and a half before I would have found it myself.”

Inspirational women – women we call our friends and family – have shared with us their stories of breast cancer throughout the past two months. While each tale is different, they are bound by a common thread: early detection.

During October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re reminding women and men about the critical importance of early detection of breast cancer through self examination and annual mammograms. Some women overlook this because they think are too young or there is no family history of cancer. They couldn’t be more wrong.

• In the U.S., one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer.
• While a woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if a mother, sister, or daughter has been diagnosed, 70-80
  percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of the disease.
• Even though the most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender and aging, it can strike at any age.

There is hope
Through research, we are detecting breast cancers earlier and finding better treatments. When found in Stage I, breast cancer will be successfully treated in 90 percent of women. What’s more, the mortality rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1990. We want to keep the momentum going; let’s find a cure.

On Aug. 1, we launched our annual One By One campaign to give to the cause of breast cancer research. We will give $10 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for every new SECURA MILE-STONE home and auto policy written until Oct. 31, 2011.

Share your story
If you have a story about how breast cancer has impacted your life or would like to read others’ stories, please visit SECURA's Facebook page. One by one, we can win the battle.

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Roadside Rescuer delivers service with ease

David Barran — a SECURA MILE-STONE® home and auto policyholder — carried his Roadside RescuerSM card in the front of his wallet; he wanted to be prepared if he needed the service, which provides roadside assistance.

And that need came sooner than he expected. After stopping for a snack on his way to a nearby golf course, David couldn’t get his car started. When jumper cables didn’t work, he opened his wallet and saw the Roadside Rescuer card.

Quality assistance at every turn
The representative that David spoke with offered support and peace of mind, suggesting ways to get the car started and contacting a reliable towing company.

“Halfway through the conversation, the call was already placed for a tow truck,” said David. “We covered a lot of ground in 10 minutes.”

David worried about how long it would take for help to arrive as he watched the Friday rush hour traffic piling up, but he didn’t have to wait long. The tow truck driver showed up in 25 minutes, jumped the car, and gave him directions to a battery shop less than a mile away. The driver even gave David his number to call in case anything went wrong along the way, promising to return and pick him up. David pulled into the battery shop and, while his battery was being replaced, received a call from another Roadside Rescuer representative checking to make sure he was taken care of.

“That is the kind of help and service you don’t believe is available anymore! I was totally impressed!” said David. “The way the whole thing was handled was super. Everything was more than perfect.”

SECURA’s Roadside Rescuer service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you’re out of gas, locked out, stranded with a flat tire or dead battery, and more. The service is included for vehicles with physical damage coverage on MILE-STONE Gold policies, and is available in our MILE-STONE Basic and monoline auto policies with the purchase of towing coverage.

Protect your home and property from wildfire

Wildfires happen almost anywhere in the country. That’s why having a plan in place to protect your most valuable possessions is critical.

The first step in protecting your home from wildfire is assessing the fire risk. Each home is unique with a different risk of wildfire. Follow these steps to assess the fire risk:
• Learn the history of wildfire in your area.
• Become aware of recent weather and burn restrictions.
• Determine whether your home is easily accessible to fire fighting equipment (is it accessible to equipment or the fire fighters?). Hire a professional to inspect your home for ways to reduce your risk.

    Learn and practice fire safety
    • Build fires away from nearby vegetation.
    • Keep fire pits at a distance from your home and other flammable exposures.
    • Never leave a fire unattended.
    • Always have a way to extinguish the fire quickly and completely.
    • Keep fuel sources, such as brush and firewood, away from your home.
    • Avoid open burning, especially during dry season.
    • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and near sleeping areas.
    • Check smoke detectors monthly.
    • Have an emergency evacuation plan in place.

      Create safety zones around your property
      All vegetation (not just dry vegetation) is potential fuel for a wildfire. Some plants are more flammable than others. Highly flammable plants include pine, eucalyptus, junipers, and fir trees. Knowing the types of plants surrounding your home will help eliminate potential hazards. Remember, the greater the distance between the vegetation and your home, the safer your home will be.

      Keep the volume of vegetation within the first 30 feet surrounding the property to a minimum; this will help eliminate your risk of wildfire. If your home is on a hill, the zone should be extended on the downhill side as fire spreads more rapidly uphill.

      Remove other combustibles from the 30-foot zone. This includes gas grills, propane tanks, and wood piles. Swimming pools, patios, and stone walls can act as heat shields and deflect flames away from the property.

      Maintain a secondary zone up to 100 feet away from your home. In this zone, it is best to reduce and/or replace as much of the flammable vegetation as possible.

      What to do after a wildfire
      Check your roof immediately. The roof is especially vulnerable in a wildfire. Embers and flaming debris can travel great distances, land on the building’s roof, and start a new fire. Avoid flammable roofing materials such as wood, shake, and shingle.

      Check the attic for hidden burning sparks or embers. Maintain a “fire watch,” re-checking for smoke and sparks in and around the property for several hours after the fire.

      View our wildfire safety checklist.

      Seven ways to avoid identity theft in a social world

      Cell phones, GPS devices, and immediate access to online communication can provide a sense of security and completeness, allow you to call for emergency help, and offers hours of entertainment and information.

      These technologies also feed identity thieves morsels of information they are eager to devour. With a few precautions, you can rely on electronic devices without being a victim of identity theft. Here’s how.

      1. Do not respond to suspicious texts. Text messages that ask for personal information, like your social security number, debit card PIN, or bank account number are virtually never legitimate. Contact the sender by phone to verify the identity.

      2. Store contacts by first names. By listing contacts as Mom, Hubby, or Home, you’re inviting a thief to contact them for personal information. Thieves can quickly text Hubby to find out, “What’s our bank PIN again?” before he knows your phone was stolen.

      3. Delete sensitive data. If you plan to sell your phone, delete your personal data. If you are unsure how to delete your pictures, passwords, or contacts, bring your phone to your network provider’s retail store and ask for assistance.

      4. Download ringtones from reputable sites. In order to capture personal data, identity thieves create phony sites that claim to offer ringtones and other downloads.

      5. Do not store your home address on your GPS. An identity thief — or burglar — who steals a GPS can find your home and feel comfortable knowing you won’t return if you store your schedule on the same device.

      6. Carry electronic devices separately. A cell phone, GPS, and wallet make a great combination. If you carry all of them together — in a purse, for example — you leave a thief with the needed information to steal your identity.

      7. Do not share too much on social networking sites. A message on a social networking site stating that you will be on vacation for the next two weeks is an invitation to burglarize your unattended home and rummage through your mail and other personal information. Never list a full birth date. This is key information for an identity thief to use to set up false accounts.

      A little ID fraud coverage goes a long way
      Prevention tactics are key in avoiding identity fraud, but anyone can fall victim. SECURA’s Identity Fraud Expense and Restoration coverage provides immediate support if your identity is ever stolen.

      MILE-STONE® Gold policyholders automatically receive our Identity Fraud Expense and Restoration coverage. MILE-STONE Basic policyholders can purchase coverage for less than $3 per month. Contact your independent agent today to add Identity Fraud Expense and Restoration coverage to your policy.

      Four ways SECURA’s ID fraud coverage can help
      • Learn the steps to take in the event a family member dies.
      • Receive advice about measures to take to keep your maiden name protected if you recently married.
      • Obtain assistance reclaiming lost documents if your home is damaged or destroyed by natural disaster.
      • Receive guidance in protecting the identity of active duty military men and women.

      For news, articles, and more ways to protect your identity, visit

      Actual cash value or replacement cost: What’s better for insurance?

      CRASH! From the middle of nowhere, an inattentive driver t-bones you. Fortunately, you and the driver of the other car are not injured. But your 2007 auto is totaled. You only have 30,000 miles on the car.

      After talking with the claims adjuster, you learn that you’ll only receive $11,000 for the total loss. “What?” you think to yourself. “It would cost at least $20,000 to buy that car new!” Yes, and $20 grand minus the $9,000 the auto depreciated is what insurance companies refer to as actual cash value (ACV).

      The simplest definition for ACV is: Replacement cost minus depreciation.

      Replacement cost is the amount of money it costs to replace a damaged item with a new item of like kind and quality.

      Typically, a standard home insurance policy covers the replacement cost of a house. If a house is leveled during a natural catastrophe and the policyholder has adequate coverage, the policyholder likely would receive a claim check for the cost to rebuild (minus the deductible amount).

      As for the contents in a home – computers, appliances, clothing, etc. – that may be a different story. Similar to the standard auto policy, most often personal belongings within a home are insured at ACV which, again, accounts for depreciation.

      Some insurance carriers offer special coverage that gives a policyholder replacement cost for personal property so they can purchase all new items if they are destroyed in a loss. Other carriers allow a policyholder to purchase (usually with restrictions) special coverage that offsets auto depreciation for a certain number of years.

      Ask your independent agent to review your coverages with you to see what your policy covers in the event of a loss.