SECURA releases 2015 Annual Report

Our company is building on the momentum of our growth and service to policyholders and agents through the years.

Policyholders can feel confident that our company will be there for them when they need us most. We’re proud to partner with the best independent agents in our 12 states, and are dedicated to creating a positive and caring culture for our employees.

Our commitment to fiscal responsibility and treating people fairly helped us achieve remarkable growth last year and maintain our long-term strength. Read more in SECURA’s 2015 Annual Report.

5 ways to beat the odds stacked against truckers

According to a NIOSH study, 88 percent of truckers have at least one of the following health risk factors: high blood pressure, smoking, physical inactivity, sleep apnea. This is compared to 54 percent in the general population. Despite an awareness of the health risks, seven out of 10 truckers are obese — two times the rate of other adult workers in the U.S. — and 67 percent are smokers.

While the long, stressful, isolated hours sitting behind the wheel of a big rig may present challenges to those drivers who want to stay or get healthy, there are ways to reduce the health risks associated with those who drive long distances as part of their jobs.
  1. Eat and drink healthy. Opt for healthy snacks instead of junk food when driving. Prepare good meals to cook in a crock pot while you drive so an alternative to fast food is available when you stop for the night. Drink water instead of sugary sodas, energy drinks, or even fruit juice.
  2. Get active. Get exercise while your truck is being loaded or unloaded. Even if you are unfamiliar with the area, walking laps around the parking lot will get you some much-needed exercise. Mount a bike rack to your truck and take a ride several times a week, research walking trails in the area, or get a membership at a national fitness chain so you can work out wherever you go.
  3. Quit smoking. Your employer or insurance company may offer help and incentives for smoking cessation efforts.
  4. Have fun. Find ways to reduce stress. When home, spend time with friends. On the road, use the gym as an opportunity to socialize.
  5. Track your weight. This gives feedback about how well your exercise and diet efforts are going, and provides motivation once you start to see success.
With a little planning and adjustments to your routine, you can get on the road to better health.

4 need-to-know answers when insuring a new vehicle

You’re ready for a new ride. You’ve researched gas mileage, reliability, performance, and safety. You even know what color you want. But did you consider the insurance costs and the steps you need to take to make sure that new vehicle is properly covered before you leave the lot?

Here are some questions you’ll want to answer before the car dealer hands over the keys.

1. What should I consider when researching which car to buy? 
Certain vehicles do cost more to insure. Factors that go into determining insurance costs include vehicle performance, cost of vehicle, cost to repair, and theft potential. For example, high-performance cars have higher rates because they tend to be driven more aggressively and are involved in a higher percentage of accidents. Contrary to popular belief, the color of your vehicle has no impact on your insurance premium.

Go to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website to research vehicles. They also have specific recommendations on the best used cars for teens.

2. How quickly after I purchase a vehicle should I call my insurance agent?
If you don’t have auto coverage at all, you should arrange for that before leaving the sales lot. If you already have a policy, you have a reasonable window of time to inform your insurance company.
Check your policy for “newly acquired auto” provisions and follow-up with your agent within 10 days — especially if you are adding an additional vehicle to your household or need different kinds of coverage.  

3. What information will I need to give to my agent?
Your agent will want to know the car’s year, make, model, VIN number, lienholder information (if there is a loan), the car’s primary driver, and how the car will be used (such as miles to work each day and an estimate of annual miles driven). After that, your agent can help you figure out what kind of coverage is needed.

4. What if I’m keeping the old vehicle as a back-up? Is there a discount?
If you’re keeping your older vehicle and it won’t be driven as much, tell your agent how the vehicle will be used so the rating on the policy can be adjusted. It's also important to note that when you own and insure two or more vehicles on the same policy, you could qualify for a multi-car discount.

Following these tips will help make the process of buying and insuring your new purchase run as smoothly as the vehicle does.

5 steps to take when your vehicle breaks down

If your car breaks down on the road, it’s more than inconvenient, it’s hazardous. When this happens, consider it a safety issue first and a mechanical issue second.

1. Get off the road.
Breakdowns rarely happen with a sudden stop, so you should be able to signal and drive or coast to the right. Find a spot with easy access into traffic after your car is fixed.

If your car is stopped in the middle of the road, exit the vehicle only if it’s safe to do so. Go to the side, beyond the guard rail. On busy roads, though, crossing traffic safely may be impossible.

2. Make your vehicle visible.
Use flashers, emergency markers, and flares to warn others. If stuck in a live lane, your dome lights will increase visibility.

3. Call or signal for help.

Call your auto club or insurance company if covered for roadside assistance and towing, like SECURA’s Roadside RescuerSM. You also could call 911; police can arrange towing. Lacking a phone or cellular signal, open your hood and someone else may call the police for you.

4. Lock the doors.
If your car is off the road, stay locked inside. You can roll your window down slightly to talk to strangers, but keep yourself safe. Wait for police. If you're on a busy road, they are patrolled heavily enough that help should arrive soon.

5. If you choose to leave your car, stay away from traffic.
Don’t change a tire near traffic. If you’re walking for gas, use extreme caution. If you feel uncomfortable with any stranger who offers to help, tell them a friend is already on the way.

Good maintenance may help avoid trouble, but when breakdowns occur, think safety first.

Three steps to evict varmints from your garage

It's unsettling to discover mice, rats, and squirrels in your garage, and overlooking them is about the same as inviting them into your home.

Rodents destroy insulation, adding to heating costs. They can gnaw through wiring, creating fire hazards. And they can do tremendous damage to the engine compartment of your car, too.

Check with your insurance agent to see if you’re covered for damage caused by rodents, and then follow these steps to send them packing.

1. Make your garage less desirable. Garages are notorious for clutter, providing nesting, homes, and hiding places for pests.
  • Keep it clean.
  • Store garbage outside if possible, or in tightly sealed sturdy containers.
  • Seal bird seed and pet food in thick-walled pails.
  • Stack firewood outside.
  • Keep food and wrappers out of your car.
  • Try peppermint oil, scented dryer sheets, or Fresh Cab to safely deter mice.
  • Use mothballs or poisons if there is no danger to pets or children.
2. Find and seal entry points. Rats can squeeze through half-inch gaps, and mice fit through quarter-inch holes. They run on and through pipes, and can crawl upside-down under screens and wire.
  • At night, shine a flashlight in corners, where plumbing and wiring enter, along the tops and bottoms of walls, and around doors and windows. From the outside, any gaps will show brightly.
  • Block floor drains with drain grates.
  • Temporarily plug holes with steel or copper wool, or copper mesh.
  • For a more permanent solution, plug using plaster or concrete patch over copper wool or welded hardware cloth.
  • Nail flattened tin over larger holes.
  • Close and seal windows and doors tightly.
3. Create an outdoor safety zone.
  • Remove vines from walls.
  • Clear a two-foot space between walls and vegetation.
  • Trim branches away from roofs and eaves.
In the meantime, take care when cleaning up mouse droppings and remains. Use gloves and disinfectant to prevent exposure to bacteria and disease.