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Five Ways Walking Daily Can Change Your Life

The Center for Disease Control recommends taking 10,000 steps per day to maintain good health. This is the equivalent of about five miles, but the average American only takes about 3,000 to 4,000 steps or 1.5 to 2 miles per day with a moderately active lifestyle. The best and simplest way to increase your daily steps is by taking a dedicated walk each day. Here, we break down five reasons why taking a daily walk can improve your health and positively impact your life.  

 

It Improves Muscle Strength 

Because walking activates nearly your entire muscular system, it is a great way to increase your muscle tone and overall strength. Your legs engage as you balance and walk up or down an incline. Your core, which includes your abdomen, side body, and lower back, works to stabilize you with each step. If you pump your arms while walking, your biceps and triceps can even strengthen through this small isometric movement. Overall, this strength helps increase your range of motion and takes the pressure off your joints.  

 

It Will Help You Sleep Better at Night 

Moderate aerobic exercise such as walking increases your body’s ability to produce slow-wave sleep. This is the deep stage of sleep that allows the body and mind to recover and reduce stress. The time of day that you exercise may have a small effect on your body’s ability to transition to sleep. Be mindful of this and avoid workouts before bedtime if your body is sensitive to this. Because exercise releases endorphins and raises your core body temperature, it cues a more wakeful state for 30 to 90 minutes. 

 

It Improves Your Mood 

Have you ever had a bad day and decided to take a walk to clear your head? While the change of scenery probably helped, taking a walk to improve your mood has scientific backing as well. Walking releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers and mood enhancers. It can also boost energy levels, which may be low if you are in a bad mood. Your body circulates oxygen faster, along with releasing cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, which are hormones that regulate energy levels. This combination of energy and endorphins leaves you feeling more positive after your walk.  

 

It Is a Low-Impact Way to Trim Your Waistline 

Walking burns calories without placing a major strain on your joints through high-impact or high-intensity workouts. A 155-pound person will burn about 150 calories during a 30-minute walk, and this can increase with time or a quicker pace. Combining a daily walk with a healthy diet will create a calorie deficit, meaning your body will naturally burn slightly more calories than it consumes. Because walking does not place as much stress on joints as running, this is a great low-impact option for all ages and fitness levels.  

 

It May Even Help You Live Longer 

In a recent study, scientists found that adults who took 8,000 steps per day had a 51% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those who took half that. Walking improves your overall physical and mental health, putting you in a better place to live a long and happy life. It is also important to note that even a small change can make a major impact. Just a 30-minute walk five times a week can lower your risk of heart disease, the top disease killer in the U.S., by 19%.  

 

If daily exercise is not already part of your routine, consult with your doctor and start small. Even a brisk 30-minute walk is better than not taking one at all. From there, begin to add time and increase your speed as you become more comfortable with the exercise. Walking has multiple health benefits that can lower your risk of diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. Staying healthy even as you age can also lower your insurance premium as well.  

 

To learn more about lowering your premium by maintaining good health, speak with your insurance agent today. 

Seven Ways to Make Dental Health Fun for Kids 

Cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children today, but the good news is they are almost completely preventable. According to the Center for Disease Control, about one-third of all cavities can be prevented by fluoride varnish, which children can obtain from dental applications, fluoride-treated water, and toothpaste containing fluoride. Below, we outline seven healthy habits that will make dental health more fun for your children.

Brush Together 

Making this activity part of what you do as a family helps children establish a healthy routine. When your child sees you taking care of your own teeth, they will feel encouraged to do the same and look forward to that time together. Be sure to brush thoroughly and floss, along with completing any other routines recommended by your dentist. 

Time It Out 

Teeth should be brushed for at least two minutes, but this can be hard for children to count out in their heads. Use an hourglass or digital timer to mark exactly two minutes. Allow your child to flip the hourglass or program the timer to foster their own independence and make the activity more engaging and memorable. 

Use a Special Toothbrush 

Children enjoy having objects that they helped select. Allow them to select their own toothbrush at the store. Make sure it has soft bristles that are appropriate for young children. Many stores offer kid-friendly toothbrushes with cartoons or superheroes on the handle, which can also make brushing more exciting and personalized.

Toothpaste Flavors 

You can make brushing fun by using a special toothbrush, but don’t forget to have your child select their favorite flavor of toothpaste, too. Traditional peppermint may not be as exciting for young children, so look for whimsical flavors like bubblegum, strawberry shortcake, or wild cherry. Most manufacturers offer colorful and flavorful toothpaste for children while still including the proper fluoride and cleansing needed for cavity prevention. 

Get Competitive 

For young children who are reluctant to establish an oral hygiene routine, a friendly competition can nudge them in the proper direction. Encourage parents, older siblings, and anyone in your household to enter the competition. See who can brush his or her teeth for a full two minutes without getting tired or distracted. 

Gold Stars 

If your child enjoys competing against family members, take it one step further with a chart that allows children to earn gold stars for each night they complete their oral hygiene routine. This serves as a visual reminder of all the required steps (brushing for two minutes, flossing, etc.) and provides a tactile reward when applying the gold star. This is another activity the whole family can participate in! 

Post-Dentist Surprise 

A great way to ensure every dentist visit is a positive experience is by combining it with another activity your child loves. This reduces anxiety when they know an appointment is coming soon and allows them to remember the event fondly. Some children may enjoy taking a special picnic with snacks that promote healthy teeth, or visiting a park or museum indoors.  

By taking actions that make dental care fun, you are protecting your child’s oral health while also establishing good habits for the future. Most dental insurance providers cover preventative costs such as checkups, so be sure to visit your child’s dentist every six months. Regular visits combined with proper brushing and flossing are the best way to prevent unwanted cavities for years to come. 

Buying a Fixer-Upper? Here’s What You Need to Know About Insuring It

If you are looking into buying a home, you may be experiencing a bit of a hard time due to the current circumstances of the housing market. Buying a fixer-upper can sometimes provide a shortcut to homeownership, whether you are a first-time homeowner or buying your next home. With the low inventory but high demand for homes, the difficulty of obtaining a home has increased, especially on a budget. This is why we are seeing a rise in people buying fixer-upper homes. But what insurance do you need if you are buying a fixer-upper instead of a traditional home? We’ve compiled a list of insurance policies that can help protect you and your new property. 

Insurance Options for a Fixer-Upper Home 

Conventional Home Insurance 

Eligibility for conventional insurance comes down to the ability to complete any outstanding repairs before or within 30 days of closing. What if the home has more difficult to complete repairs? What if you aren’t planning on moving in for a few months? The conventional insurance policy may be out of reach. Did you know that empty and under-construction homes are considered a high risk for insurance companies? The traditional insurance company will, more than likely, recommend that you get a different insurance policy that is specifically formulated for higher-risk situations like these. Some may even write the policy themselves while other insurance companies will refer you to a third-party insurer that specializes in these high-risk policies. 

Builder’s Risk 

The most common form of insurance for homeowners with a new construction or newly renovated home is builder’s risk insurance. Typically, this policy starts with lower costs and as the home gets into better conditions, the cost will rise because the home value has now increased. This policy is easier to get if there is a solid, timed plan to finish the construction or new build.    

Vacant Dwelling 

Will your new home be sitting vacant while repairs and work are being done on the property? Vacant dwelling insurance may be a possibility. This policy will cover most physical losses if there are any, but it will usually not cover any form of theft from the premises. Pay attention to the location of the property and decide if theft is a huge or minor issue. This can be a real problem anywhere if the home contains valuable appliances, tools or copper wiring and piping.  

Need to know more about policies to protect your new fixer-upper home? Reach out to your local agent for more information on the best insurance policies that fit your situation.  

Beyond the Commute: How to Ensure Your Business Vehicles are Covered

Insurance companies typically view individuals who drive a vehicle as part of their daily job as high-risk drivers. This is because they are simply on the road more frequently than the average commuter. If you own a business that requires employees to travel outside of their daily commute to the office or offer company-titled vehicles, you may need additional insurance coverage. Read on to learn why these policies are important for your business to obtain before an accident occurs. 

Companies may not be covered for accidents if they occur during a work-related outing and the driver is in his or her personal vehicle. Instead, business owners may need to obtain a hired and non-owned policy to cover these vehicles used for work. 

This policy is more commonly needed by small businesses that rely on their employees to use personal vehicles for work errands. While this can seem minor, especially when the employee consents to do so, it does create liability issues that can be avoided.

Consider this possible situation. An employee is injured in an accident while driving their car to meet a customer at their office. Personal auto insurance does not cover work-related driving, so the other party in the accident could sue the business owner for the cost of medical expenses. 

If a business often rents trucks or vans for an event or conference, the hired and non-owned policy would still cover its liability in the event that the owner or an employee has an accident while driving the rented vehicle. 

For businesses that offer company-titled cars to employees, a commercial auto insurance policy is the best way to protect liability. Most states require businesses that own vehicles to obtain this insurance if employees use these cars to travel to and from work sites or offices while conducting company business. 

Businesses that transport equipment, products, or employees in company-owned vehicles should also consider obtaining commercial auto insurance, even if it is not required by the state. 

Because insurance coverage does not work retroactively, it is important to obtain the appropriate policy before an accident occurs. In rare cases, the medical expenses and repair costs from a car accident can even bankrupt a company. Speak with your local insurance agent today to evaluate your need for additional auto insurance today.

Strategies to Reduce Employee Illness and Injury 

As a business owner, the health and safety of your employees should be a top priority. Not only are healthy employees happier, but they are more productive, too. Ultimately, having high health and safety standards will also reduce costs to your business since insurance premiums will be lower with a cleaner safety record. Additionally, having employees that are healthy and able to work will reduce costs that would arise from loss of productivity or hiring and training in the case that your employee has an accident and is unable to continue. 

Root Causes

Workplace injuries or illnesses can occur for a number of reasons. Improper application of safety procedures or protective gear, misuse of equipment, lack of ergonomic solutions, and overexertion from overtime work are common themes that lead to workplace injury–or even death. It is important to pay attention to the past injuries or accidents that have occurred at your business, so you can plan to prevent them in the future. 

Education is Key 

The best way to ensure that health and safety standards are met in your workplace is to regularly educate both management and staff about the proper procedures. While everyone may receive this kind of training in orientation, employees that stay on for several years will eventually forget what they learned and may unintentionally lapse in their duties to uphold the company’s standards. For this reason, it is a good idea to schedule employee health and safety refreshers at regular intervals. 

Develop a Plan

With regular meetings about wellness and safety comes an increased awareness of the unique safety concerns that may be present at your business. Each type of business will have its own specific concerns. Meetings can be an excellent way to hear the concerns and opinions of all employees and identify matters that may need to be investigated or procedures that may need to be adjusted. If your business does not already have a health and safety plan, use these meetings to develop one based on the input of your management and staff. 

Get Insured

Implementing high health and safety standards can do a lot to reduce the frequency of employee illness and injury, but accidents may still happen. In the case that they do, you want to make sure your company has the right insurance coverage to take care of your employees and prevent losses to your business. 

Why Stay at Home Parents Need Life Insurance

You may think that the only parents who need life insurance are working parents, but that isn’t exactly correct. A stay at home parent is more than just a mother or father. These individuals wear many hats: tutor, chef, chauffeur, housekeeper, caretaker, and more. The true value of these duties is priceless, but the economic value of them is clearly measurable. Purchasing a life insurance policy for a stay at home parent is a smart and compassionate way to ensure that your family is financially protected in the event of the unthinkable.

The Value of the Invaluable

Purchasing life insurance for a stay at home parent may seem strange since one of the purposes of life insurance is to replace the insured’s income that dependents rely on. Even though they do not earn an income, a stay at home parent’s work may be valued at over $100,000 a year. This means that in the case of a stay at home parent’s death, the surviving parent could be responsible for over $100,000 of equivalent services each year. Daycare alone can cost up to $20,000 a year, depending on the state you live in and the age of the child. Even if it doesn’t cost that much, this kind of expense can put a heavy burden on a surviving parent – and this is only one example. For this parent to continue earning an income, some or all of the work the stay at home parent previously performed will need to be outsourced. Having a life insurance policy in place for the stay at home parent can assist in alleviating these newfound financial responsibilities.

Consider Term Life Insurance

A term life insurance policy is a good option for a stay at home parent since it can cover a range of years in which the family is at the most risk in case of the stay at home parent’s death. After children are grown, there are fewer services that a stay at home parent performs, and less coverage may be needed.

Other Advantages

In addition to providing assistance with the duties of child and home care, life insurance for a stay at home parent can also provide financial help with final expenses, debts, and other common uses for life insurance.

Speak to an Agent 

If you and your spouse are considering purchasing life insurance for the stay at home parent in the family, the best way to figure out what kind of coverage is best for your needs is to speak to one of our independent agents. We are here to help you think about the difficult things so your family can be better protected.

Retirement Plans: What You Are Truly Saving For

At first, it may seem like all that money you put into retirement savings over the years is pointless. However, in actuality, you will be thanking yourself for setting aside so much money once the time comes. Take a look at what you can look forward to after saving for retirement for so long.

Savings For: Travel & Vacation

Now that you have so many hours in the day to fill up, why not spend it going to places you’ve always wanted to see? Instead of daydreaming about paradise, you can actually go visit it with all the money you have saved up in your retirement plans! Retirement is the perfect time to see the world and all it has to offer. You may be surprised what you find out there. And with the right amount in your 401(k) or IRA plans, you can even make a vacation out of your adventure. You don’t have to worry about taking a personal day when you can have as many as you want to do whatever you want!

Savings For: A New Hobby

Have you ever wanted to take cooking classes? Or maybe even dancing classes? You may not have had time for hobbies in the past, or money, but now you do! Enjoy the things in life you couldn’t before by putting your savings to use the way you want. There is no better time to do this than during retirement.

Savings For: Your Loved Ones

When saving for retirement, you are not just trying to put aside money to spend on things you couldn’t afford before. You are also ensuring time with your loved ones. By saving enough money to enter retirement through various plans, you can spend your free time with your loved ones and bond like never before instead of focusing on work. You have worked so hard to ensure they have a good and happy life. Now you can be a part of it too.

Savings For: Volunteer Services

Volunteering is a great way to help those in need, but it can be difficult when you have to take care of yourself first. However, with your savings on your side, you don’t have to worry. Instead, you can spend your time volunteering without worrying about the fact that you do not make money profit because you know you are safe and secure with your retirement plans. Instead of constantly working to make ends meet, you can work the way you want by helping others.

Savings For: A Better Future

Many people look forward to retirement because it provides a time that is dedicated to the things you want. You can finally live happily after all the work you’ve put in. Without saving or investing in an insurance plan, your retirement may not be a fun time filled with all the opportunities listed above. Enjoy retirement by having our agency go over with you the best options for your retirement plan so your future is filled with joy. 

How to Lower Your Premiums on Home Insurance

As long as you own a home, homeowners insurance doesn’t go away. What’s worse is that insurance premiums have the tendency to increase over the years. Whether you are shopping for homeowners insurance for your first home or looking to decrease your premiums for your current home, here are a few tips to help you make your insurance more affordable.

Improve Your Home Security

By decreasing vulnerabilities in your home, you can potentially cut your insurance premiums by as much as 15-25 percent. Methods of improving your home security can include adding a smoke detector, burglar alarm, dead-bolt locks, sprinkler system, and professionally installed storm shutters and doors. With these added safety measures in place, your house is less likely to receive damage from unforeseen instances such as storms, floods, fire, or burglary. If you do make these safety upgrades to your home, keep a record of your receipts in case your provider wants proof before lowering your premium.

Know Your Location

If you haven’t bought your home yet, check the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report of the home you are interested in. These reports will be able to tell you the property’s insurance claim history so you can be familiar with any problems the house has had.

Increase Your Deductible

A deductible is the amount of risk you agree to accept before the insurance company starts paying on a claim. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your insurance premiums. You could save up to 25% on your premiums simply by doubling your deductible.

Bundle Your Home and Auto Policies

If you already have auto insurance, consider either purchasing your home insurance with the same provider or moving your auto insurance to your new home insurance provider. More often than not, you can save a lot of money on your premiums by bundling the two with the same provider. In fact, bundling can save you anywhere from 5 to 15 percent on your monthly payment.

Determine if Loyalty Matters

Insurance providers typically reward their loyal customers by offering policy discounts. Some insurers will reduce your premiums by 5 percent if you stay with them for three to five years and by 10 percent if you remain a policyholder for six years or more. However, while loyalty has its benefits, some providers offer cheaper discounts to new clients who switch over to their agency.
Make sure you do not ignore such opportunities by occasionally checking your price with other policies that could potentially be cheaper from the beginning.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

This might sound obvious, but don’t have insurance for things you don’t need to cover. For example, if you aren’t in a flood zone, flood insurance may not be the best option for you. Or, if you don’t have any expensive jewelry, you shouldn’t need a jewelry policy. So unless you have a good reason for having a type of insurance, you probably shouldn’t have it. With that being said, it would also be a good idea to reevaluate your coverage each year to make sure your policies are relevant to your current lifestyle. Having one that is unneeded will only make you spend unnecessary money that could be used elsewhere.

Shop Around

Odds are that you aren’t going to pick the cheapest insurance provider with your first choice. In order to make sure you don’t pay more than necessary, shop around either before purchasing home insurance or before renewing your current policy. Ask your friends who they are covered through and check consumer guides to be sure you get the lowest rates that fit your current situation.

To be sure you get the lowest premiums on your homeowners insurance, contact our agency today. We’ll do the shopping for you to get you the best coverage at the best price, whether it’s your first time or you need a readjustment upon renewal time.

How Will Adding a Teenage Driver Impact My Car Insurance?

So, your teen is ready to get their license. It’s an exciting time for them! And maybe for you too, although you may have a number of concerns when it comes to adding a less experienced driver to your insurance plan. There’s the matter of their safety, whether or not they will break certain rules and restrictions on the road, as well as how they will affect your car insurance rates.

Keeping a teenage driver covered under an insurance plan can be extremely expensive, but going without insurance is not an option. While adding a teen driver may be pricey and stressful, there are many ways to lessen the cost. Below are just a few ways you can keep costs down while sending your new driver out on the road.

Mentor by Practicing Good Driving Habits Yourself

If you’re not practicing good driving habits yourself, how can you be your teen’s best mentor? To avoid additional costs, you’ll want to do everything in your power to help them avoid an accident. Have your teen strictly follow safety practices when driving such as putting their phone away, limiting distractions, and buckling up. Make sure they know and follow basic rules of the road every time they drive with you, and hold yourself accountable as well.

Increase Your Liability Coverage

You’ll probably want to increase your liability coverage before your teen even gets behind the wheel. The car they will be driving is in your name, so that means YOU are liable for whatever happens when they’re on the road. Because they are just learning to drive, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have the right coverage plan in case you are held accountable for something you did not do. While you probably do not wish to add an additional amount to your bills, liability will literally save you should a bad accident and subsequent lawsuits occur.

Have Them Drive an Older or Used Car

Because teenage drivers are at a greater risk of getting in an accident, it would be wise to have them drive an older or used car. The car shouldn’t be so old that it’s not up-to-date regarding safety, but having them drive in a well-running vehicle that’s a bit older could save you a great deal of money in the future. These cars are much less expensive to repair should damage occur to them.

Enroll in a Driver Tracking Program

Today, a number of insurance companies provide small devices that monitor driving habits and patterns. These trackers can tell how fast you’re going, the distance at which you break, and other important factors that can give your teen insight as to how they are regularly driving. With this type of information feedback, teens should be able to recognize where their driving could use improvement. Once your teen begins implementing better driving habits, you may see your monthly rates gradually decrease.

Ask About a Distant Driver Discount

When the time comes for your teen to head off to college, they may not take a vehicle with them. Less than half of teenage drivers head off to college with a car in tow. If your child falls into this category, you may be able to get a discount during the time they are away and not driving. In many instances, they don’t have to be very far from home to qualify for a distant driver discount. Check with your insurance provider to see if your teenage driver qualifies you for this type of discount today.

As soon as your teenager begins to think about driving, you’ll want to inform your insurance agency so that your son or daughter can be added to your current plan. This way, they will be covered throughout the experience of learning this important life skill. Make sure they are under the right car insurance plan by having them covered with our agency. To get started, give us a call and let us insure you for all of your major life moments.