4 must-have insurance coverages for local retailers

Small Business Saturday has grown in popularity, and customers everywhere are supporting their local retailers with a commitment to #shopsmall on the Saturday following Black Friday.

As a small business owner, honor those customers by making sure you have the right insurance in place to protect them (and yourself) from accidents and theft.

Ask your agent about these special insurance considerations for retail stores:
  1. Peak Season Endorsements:  Retail operations should have flexible insurance that changes with the season. Peak season endorsements provide additional coverage during your busiest months, ensuring you have the appropriate coverage year round, particularly when inventory levels are at their highest.
  2. Equipment Breakdown: From point-of-sale systems to phones, HVAC, and electrical, your retail business relies on a variety of equipment to stay up and running. With Equipment Breakdown coverage, you can get the rapid repairs you need to keep your doors open. Plus, coverage helps pay for inventory damage and lost income due to breakdowns — even if you lease your retail space.
  3. Data Compromise: Even small retail shops are attractive to cyber criminals who want your customers’ names and credit card numbers. That means cyber liability policies are now essential to protect your retail business from the high cost of data theft. Data Compromise insurance helps pay the expenses related to data breaches, including legal costs, notifying affected customers, and credit monitoring.
  4. Crime: A business crime policy provides coverage if one of your employees steals money, inventory, or other property. What’s more, these policies provide protection against unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account.

Independent retail stores are essential to the fabric of a community. You help create unique neighborhood identities, provide jobs, support community organizations, and keep more money locally.

But keeping a small retail shop open for business can be hard work. Protecting yourself shouldn’t be an even bigger challenge. Talk to an agent about creating a policy that’s right for your shop.

Three tips for quitting smoking

The Great American Smokeout, organized by the American Cancer Society, takes place the third Thursday in November. But anytime is a great time to quit or make a plan.

Visit the Great American Smokeout page for resources (app, game, helpline), and consider using the tips below to kick the smoking habit!

1.    Pay yourself to quit.

In one research study, some smokers were offered $800 if they quit and remained smoke-free for six months. Others were asked to pay $150 of their own money up front, with the promise they’d get that money back if they stayed smoke free. Turns out, smokers with their own cash on the line were twice as likely to quit.

Set your own dollar figure and time commitment, and then give that cash to a trusted friend or family member who will hold you accountable. As an extra incentive, promise that money to a charity or political cause you don’t actually want to support.

You can use the stickK app (free for Android and iPhone) to do the same thing — pledging money if you fail to reach your goal. You also can opt to have other stickK supporters cheer you on with motivational messages along the way.

2.    Talk to your employer.
Find out if your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with smoking cessation resources. Smoking increases your health risks, so your employer benefits when you quit. Chances are good that they’ll be able to connect you with a free support program (plus insurance savings and other incentives if you’re successful)!

3.    Ask about anti-smoking medication.

Prescription drugs are available to help you quit. Studies show that some tobacco-cessation medications double your success rate for quitting. Talk to your doctor to find out if prescription help might be right for you.

The 5 best ways to honor a veteran

Each year when November 11 rolls around, many retail stores are eager to advertise their Veterans Day sales and promotions. Granted, you may get a great deal on that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing up, but how much will that 25% off sale at the department store really do to honor veterans?

Besides, is the sale really that special when it pales in comparison to the even bigger discounts offered for that other national holiday that’s only a few short days away – Black Friday.

Instead, why not check out one of our top 5 picks for honoring soldiers, both past and present, this Veterans Day:

  1. The suicide rate among many veterans is staggering. Some experts suggest that it’s because they feel they had a duty and mission while serving in the military and, when they return home, they struggle to find their purpose.

    Consider working with the non-profit organization, The Mission Continues. They help empower veterans who are adjusting to life after the military to find purpose through civic action. They deploy veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their legacy will be one of leadership and service.
  2. Grant a wounded warrior’s wish. The Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is to raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members. They provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members. Learn how you can get involved.
  3. Who hasn’t been moved by the images of veterans arriving at the airport after returning from an honor flight? The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. They transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill. You can help by volunteering or donating.
  4. Even small acts of caring can make an impact. When you see a soldier or veteran eating at a restaurant, let the waiter/waitress know that you’d like to pay for their meal. Or, visit your local VA retirement home and bring some home-baked cookies. The challenge is to make it more than a once-a-year event. Form a friendship with a veteran that lasts throughout the year.
  5. Replace your worn or faded flag by bringing it to your local American Legion. While there, thank the veterans who are serving and ask to hear their story. The American Legion holds special ceremonies to properly and legally dispose of unserviceable flags in a dignified manner.
Consider these tangible ways to honor veterans this year. While it is unfortunate that all generations have known war, it is truly fortunate that we have our veterans to thank for our protection.

How to make your home less appealing to burglars

You lock the doors, shut the blinds, and set a timer for lights, eager to head out for a weekend getaway. Sound familiar? It seems like a safe plan…but is it enough to keep burglars out?

Take these additional steps to keep your home safe while you’re away.
  • Always lock doors and windows when you leave — it seems simple, but it’s easy to overlook. Also consider a timer for your TV or radio so it sounds like you are home. 
  • Keep any bushes around your home trimmed to eliminate hiding places for burglars. 
  • Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house. They can bring in newspapers, watch for suspicious vehicles, and even park in your driveway occasionally to make your home appear occupied
  • Don’t announce when you’ll be gone on social media, or post pictures of expensive purchases like jewelry or a TV. Both of these are like ads to potential burglars. 
  • Keep items like laptops, jewelry, and car keys out of sight. Store them in unpredictable spots so they can’t be quickly found. Burglars aim to get in and out fast. 
  • Don’t overlook a staycation. If you’re relaxing in your backyard, keep your garage closed and other doors locked — someone could steal from you even while you’re home. 
  • Create a home inventory. Take photos or video of every room in your house to document your belongings, and store them electronically or somewhere outside your home. Also note serial numbers of large items; police can use them to trace the stolen items.

Top 10 insurance discounts you may be missing

Maybe you're the type of person who likes to clip coupons, or perhaps you find yourself driving across town to save two cents on a gallon of gas. It's a good feeling to save a few bucks. Chances are, you can save money on your home and auto insurance premium, too.

While all insurance carriers may not offer these deals, you should ask your agent about these top ten insurance discounts:
  1. Valued policyholder discount. You're rewarded for being a loyal customer. The longer you stay with your insurance carrier, the more you save, regardless of your claims history.
  2. Select pay discount. Save when you pay through electronic funds transfer (EFT), or when you pay your premium in full.
  3. Non-smokers discount. Here's another reason to quit. Not only are non-smokers healthier, they also are less likely to have a house fire. You can receive this discount when all residents in your home are non-smokers.
  4. Hybrid vehicle discount. Earn this credit by owning or leasing a hybrid car.
  5. Good student discount. Receive this discount if your policy covers a good student driver. The student must be be age 16-24, go to school full time, and have a 3.0 grade point average or better.
  6. Away at school discount. Policyholders with drivers on their policies will receive a discount if the driver attends school 100 or more miles from home.
  7. Accident prevention course discount. Provides savings to a driver age 55 or older who completes a state-approved driver improvement course.
  8. Claim free/violation free discount. Qualify for this discount if you've been accident free for the past three years and have no moving violations.
  9. Package discount. Sometimes referred to as "bundling," this discount automatically applies if you have both your vehicle(s) and home insured on one policy.
  10. Umbrella coverage discount. Reduce your home premium when an umbrella policy is added to your coverage.
SECURA is among the carriers that provides these and other discounts to its MILE-STONE Gold or Basic home and auto or apartment and condo policyholders. If you've had your policy for several years, it's a good idea to check with your agent, who can update your policy, and help you discover if you qualify for these and other discounts that come with being a loyal and safety-conscious customer.