SECURA honors 2015 top-performing agencies

We recognized our 2015 top-performing agencies this week. The winners were chosen based on their profitability, growth, and loss history with our company.

Our top-performing agency was eight-time award winner The Charles L. Crane Agency Company, from St. Louis, Mo. Tom Berra, Jr. and Mike Reedy accepted the award from Dave Gross, our President & CEO, at a ceremony during our annual Premier Agent Professional Development Conference. The Crane Agency has partnered with SECURA for 22 years.

These agencies also received awards:
  • Ansay & Associates, LLC, Port Washington, Wis., a three-time award recipient and partner since 1985. Tom Schaetz accepted the award. 
  • Beth & Rudnicki Insurance Agency, Inc., Rockford, Ill., a three-time award recipient and partner since 2000. Eugene Rudnicki accepted the award. 
  • Indianhead Insurance Agency, Inc., Eau Claire, Wis., a 10-time award recipient and partner since 1978. Bruce Freeland and Craig Jameson accepted the award. 
  • The Neckerman Agency, Madison, Wis., a three-time award recipient and partner since 1992. Doug Dittmann accepted the award. 
  • North Risk Partners, LLC, St. Cloud, Minn., a three-time award recipient and partner since 1993. Chris Meidt and Barry Quernemoen accepted the award. 
  • Spectrum Insurance Group, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., our Rookie of the Year award winner and partner since 2014. Darrel Zaleski accepted the award. 
Congratulations and thank you to these outstanding agencies!

5 musts for your winter car survival kit

Winter’s icy roads and plummeting temperatures present greater driving challenges and more dire consequences after mishaps. To prevent problems in the first place, good winter driving sense and a well maintained car are essential. Heed weather alerts, don’t let your gas tank approach empty, and make sure your tires have good tread.

When those precautions aren’t enough, a winter survival kit can help you get out of serious trouble.

Top 5 tips for snowbirds: Protect your home while away

As cold weather moves in, a southern migration will feel even better if you are confident your home is safe while you're away. Start preparations early and work from a list to help you remember everything necessary to protect your home and property.

1. Make your home look lived in.
  • Set timers to control lights and a radio to confuse would-be burglars.
  • Have a trusted neighbor collect any deliveries.
  • Cancel newspapers and forward your mail
  • Forward telephone calls and turn off the phone’s ringer so these don’t give away your absence.
  • Arrange for thorough snow removal. Encourage a neighbor to park in your driveway.

2. Secure property.
  • Give police your travel plans and contact information.
  • Put small valuables in a safe-deposit box.
  • Put outdoor furniture and grills in a locked garage.

3. Reduce energy consumption and fire hazards.
  • Set thermostat to 50°.
  • Unplug electronics and cleaned refrigerators and freezers, with doors propped open.

4. Prevent water damage.
  • Clean gutters.
  • Turn off water supply to house if heating system allows.
  • Turn off and drain water heater.
  • Disconnect dishwasher and laundry machines. Winterize according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Drain and blow out pipes. Pour RV antifreeze down each drain to fill traps.
  • If water must stay on, open cabinet doors that conceal plumbing to allow circulation of warmer air and prevent frozen pipes.
  • Allow your trusted neighbor to monitor house temperature using a wireless outdoor thermometer; the sensor goes in your house and the receiver stays in your neighbor’s. Or, use a red bulb in a lamp connected to a temperature-sensitive outlet to signal your neighbor of dangerous temperature drops.

5. Consider harnessing technology.
  • Smartphone apps allow you to monitor your home and control lighting, temperature, and other functions from anywhere you have a cellular or Wi-Fi signal.

Maintain a safe following distance

How close are you to that vehicle in front of you as you drive down the road? Would you have enough time to slow down if the other vehicle suddenly braked? Your answers depend on many factors.

You may have learned in drivers’ education class to allow for one car length between you and another vehicle for every ten miles of speed you are traveling. This is great advice for private passenger vehicles and light trucks, but it can be difficult to calculate.

Three second rule
An easier rule of thumb for a following distance is the three-second rule. Pick a fixed object on or near the road, such as a road sign or lane stripe. Once the lead vehicle passes the object, start counting one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three. If you reach that fixed object before you’ve said one-thousand-three, you are following too closely.

Driving commercial vehicles
Commercial vehicles like large trucks take longer to stop and should have an even farther following distance. If you’re driving a larger vehicle and your speed is less than 40 mph, the rule of seconds suggests that you allow at least one second for each 10 feet of your vehicle length. For speeds of more than 40 mph, add another second to the total time.

Likewise, the next time you pass a large truck and get in front of it, ask yourself if you’re giving the trucker enough space to stop in an emergency. You may still be able to stop suddenly, but will the trucker be able to stop before he or she strikes the back of your vehicle? If you’ve encroached in their following distance, the odds will not be in your favor.

The suggested distances apply during favorable weather and road conditions. Driving through rain, snow, fog, heavy traffic, or on poor pavement will require even more time to stop in an emergency.

Tailgating can be seen as aggressive behavior by other drivers and can lead to road rage incidents. Saving a few seconds during your trip isn’t worth increasing your chances of being involved in a collision. Even a minor fender-bender will be an inconvenience to all of the parties involved, and the repairs could be expensive and time consuming.

More concerning is your safety and that of others on the road. An incident involving a fatality is life-altering. Being late to an appointment beats not making it there at all. If someone is tailgating you, focus on maintaining your proper speed so you remain in control of your vehicle.

Driving is a privilege, and driving safely is everyone’s responsibility. So, maintain an adequate following distance to help ensure everyone’s safety.