It is the Month of the Heart ~ What’s the State of Yours?

Posted on February 21, 2012. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , |

February is American Heart Month. Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for BOTH men and women? An estimated 630,000 people in the US will die from heart disease and its associated complications in this year alone. You may think you’re safe because you are young. But, heart disease is now the third leading cause of death in women aged 25 to 44.

Signs and symptoms to watch for include:

  • Discomfort in the center of your chest.
  • Discomfort in other areas of your upper body, including: arms, back, neck, jaw or abdomen.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweats, nausea, and/or light-headedness, especially when combined with any of the above symptoms.
The absolute best way to keep your heart healthy is through a healthy diet and regular exercise. For an overview of the top 24 heart-healthy foods, click here.

It is also vital that you get an annual physical. Be your own advocate and talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may have. With health reform, many health insurance policies now include annual preventative care covered 100% by the insurance company. If you live in Texas and need insurance, contact us.

Here’s to your heart’s health!

Image: renjith krishnan /

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Questions to Ask: Choosing an Insurance Agent

Posted on December 8, 2011. Filed under: Commercial | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Have you ever used the “eenie, meenie, miney, mo” method to locate an insurance agent? Or, maybe you look for the agent with the biggest ad in the yellow pages? With all the quoting sites available online, it’s easy to find low rates. But, how can you be sure those rates are attached to adequate coverage and superior service?

Insurance protects your most important assets, which makes it worth the effort it takes to find an experienced, independent agent. Here are some things you should know:

  • The insurance companies to which the company has access. Independent agents, who have access to multiple insurance companies, have the ability to look for the best policies to meet your unique needs at the best value.
  • How much time the agent will spend helping you assess your insurance needs. Insurance is a complex matter. It is not a “one size fits all” product. It takes time to fully assess your unique coverage needs.
  • Whether the agent reads AND understands the policies they offer.
  • If the agency specializes in insuring a particular type of business or line of insurance. For example: businesses that require insurance including professional liability insurance such as real estate agents, accountants, doctors, contractors, or computer programmers or technology related operations, etc.
  • If this was a referral, did it come from someone you trust and respect? Find out what their experience with the agent was like. The things other people desire and want may not be the same things that you want in a professional service provider.
  • Whether the agency can address all of your insurance needs, from home and auto, to life, health, disability, and commercial.
  • Ask who will handle your account on a daily basis. Is it someone who is licensed in insurance, and can provide advice as you communicate with that office, or an order taker?
  • What the agency’s hours of operation are, including their availability after hours, as well as the average time it takes to respond to client requests.
  • What involvement the agent has in the claims process. Understand how claims are tracked and the role the agent takes in the resolution of disputes.
  • Whether the agent is proactive in periodically reviewing your policies and shopping coverages for you.
  • If the agent is involved in their community. An agent’s active involvement in their community may translate into a greater commitment to his or her customers.

Choosing the best independent insurance agent for your needs takes an investment of time on your part. But the interests they will be helping you protect are certainly worth it, don’t you think?

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Battling Holiday Stress and Depression

Posted on November 29, 2011. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The holiday season is now in full swing. And, while this is a time full of happiness, cheer and fellowship for most, for some it is the most stressful time of the year. With the whirlwind of added demands, such as parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, good emotions can quickly turn into stress and sadness. Add to that an injured economy, and many are feeling extraordinary budgetary pressures this year.

The Mayo Foundation and Mental Health America suggest the following ideas to help lift the weight of holiday stress:

  • Keep your holiday expectations in check.
  • Focus on today, and leave the past behind.
  • Do something for somone else.
  • Monitor your alcohol intake; too much can worsen depression.
  • Surround yourself with people who are caring and supportive.
  • Take some time for yourself.

If you are feeling “SAD,” you may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which typically happens when the days are shorter and the sun is not out as long each day. To combat the effects, spend time outside when the weather is nice and work out regularly.

If you focus on taking care of yourself, you will naturally ease the stress and lift your mood, so you can enjoy the holiday season and its many blessings.

For more information on healthy and green living, visit our website.

(Adapted from: BCBS of Texas “News from the Blues”)

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Avoid Packing on the Holiday Pounds

Posted on November 11, 2011. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

“The average adult consumes 3,000 calories and 229 g of fat in one Thanksgiving meal, reports the American Council on Exercise. A 160-pound person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk 30 miles to burn off a 3,000-calorie Thanksgiving Day meal. Furthermore, that figure swells to 4,500 calories when the entire day’s feasting is considered.” (, “How Many Calories Does the Average American Consume on Thanksgiving?”)

A time for celebrating family and fellowship, Thanksgiving is the official beginning of the holiday season each year. It can also easily become an excuse for many of us to overindulge in both food and drink. From the appetizers, game day snacks, Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, and extra helpings of dessert, it is no wonder many of us pack on a few extra pounds each year at this time. But, there are healthy ways to enjoy the holidays, without impacting your waist line.

First, don’t criminalize the food being served. But, do plan what you are going to eat. It is fine to try a little of everything . . . key word being “little.” Rather than a full serving of every dish, treat yourself to a taste or two of each. Use a smaller plate, to help you dish up smaller servings.

Second, don’t rush back for seconds. Allow your food to settle for at least 15 to 20 minutes. This will give your stomach time to register what you’ve already eaten, and to communicate to your brain whether or not you are actually still hungry.

Third, don’t sample every dessert. Choose your favorite and have one small serving. Or, better yet, prepare a lighter version of a yummy treat so that you can easily avoid the heavier, calorie packed offerings.

Fourth, don’t take that nap when you finish eating. The tryptophan in the turkey may be singing you to sleep, but your best option is a brisk walk after your food has had time to settle. Fresh air and some activity will help your body burn up those calories faster.

Fifth, skip the late night snacks. Save the turkey sandwiches for lunchtime. And, if you just have to have another piece of pie, eat it for breakfast instead of at midnight.

Follow these helpful tips and you really can have your cake and eat it too!

For more healthy living tips that are good for you, visit our website’s educational resources: Keystone Insurance Services Resources.

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Preparing for a Safe Halloween

Posted on October 21, 2011. Filed under: Fun and Games | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Halloween is just around the corner, and many people may not realize how scary this eerie night might really be for their personal safety, their property . . . or their wallets. Here are some tips to prepare for Halloween hazards that may come in disguise or under the cloak of dark.

The following safety tips are endorsed by Trusted Choice(r), the consumer branding program for independent insurance agents and brokers:

  • Prevent Accidents: Remove or move lawn furniture, or any other obstacles, to avoid accidents or damage. Ensure your home’s entry is in good condition, free of loose or broken pieces on stairwells and walkways to avoid trick-or-treaters’ injuries on your property.
  • Fire Dangers: Prevent fires by making sure pumpkins containing candles are placed at a distance where a child’s costume cannot be ignited or a curious guest may tip it over. Extinguish all candles before going to bed. Consider using battery operated lights wherever possible. A variety of Jack-O-Lantern lights are available at most stores that sell Halloween decor.
  • Costume Safety: Be careful with costumes. All disguises should be made from flame-resistant materials and shouldn’t be too long or contain sharp accessories. Try to avoid masks that may obscure vision and try to use hypo-allergenic make-up.
  • See and Be Seen: Encourage each trick-or-treater and adult chaperones to carry a flashlight. Apply light-reflecting material to costumes.
  • Don’t be a Scary Driver: Drive sober, slowly and even more carefully than usual on Halloween. Watch for children who may be running or wearing dark costumes in the road.
  • Power in Numbers: When walking, travel in groups and cross only at corners and crosswalks-never between parked cars-and stay on well-lit streets.
  • Unwelcomed Guests: Scare away potential property vandals who often use the chaos of Halloween night to strike by keeping outdoor lights on.
  • Pet Safety: Keep pets inside. Warn your children to stay away from animals as they go door-to-door. Halloween night can be stressful, even on the friendliest dog or cat or other creatures.
  • Candy Inspection: Cavities aren’t the only candy-related risks on Halloween. Inspect all children’s treats. Never eat unwrapped items, collect candy only from those you know and ask the local police department if it offers a candy x-ray and/or inspection service. Throw away any suspicious candy.

Stay safe . . . and BOO!

Printed with permission from Trusted Choice.

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Closing Your Business?

Posted on September 23, 2011. Filed under: Commercial | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

We hope you are not one of the many businesses seriously impacted by the current economy. But, if you are, take a moment to learn more about the possible risk of cancelling your insurance.

Shutting Down Your Insurance – Commercial Liability Insurance

“I’m closing down my business. Will I need to continue any kind of insurance coverage to protect myself and my employees from future lawsuits?”

That’s an excellent question and we applaud your concern for yourself, your family and your employees.

Businesses that make or build or fix things have a continuing need for special liability insurance coverage even after the business shuts down. This coverage is called “discontinued products and completed operations liability” and it protects you and your employees against lawsuits arising out of injury or damage caused by the products you made or the work you completed while you were in business.

But wait! You purchased commercial general liability insurance for years – including products and completed operations liability –while you were making or building or fixing things. If something happens after you shut down, why won’t the policy that was in effect when the product was made or the work was done cover the resulting injury or damage?

The CGL policy does not cover bodily injury and property damage unless the injury or damage occurs while the policy is in effect. It doesn’t matter when you manufactured the product or completed the work. The only thing that matters is when someone is injured or some property is damaged because of your product or your work. A liability insurance policy must be in force when that happens.

If you are closing your business, ask your insurance agent about the availability and cost of “discontinued products and completed operations liability insurance.” There are laws – called “statutes of repose” – that dictate how long you may be legally liable for injury or damage caused by your work or products, and thus how long you may need to carry such insurance.

If you operated your business as a corporation or some other form of limited-liability entity, you may want to ask your attorney about whether you or your employees can be sued personally for accidents caused by your work or products after the business shuts down and the entity is dissolved.

****This article was prepared and made available to your agent by the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, which is solely responsible for its content. Please read your insurance policy. If there is any conflict between the information in this article and the actual terms and conditions of your policy, the terms and conditions of your policy will apply. The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas is a non-profit association of more than 1,800 insurance agencies in Texas, dedicated to helping its members succeed, in part by providing technical resources that explain insurance policies sold to their customers.

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Technology Companies Beware!

Posted on August 31, 2011. Filed under: Commercial | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Insuring technology companies is a complex endeavor. Besides the more basic coverages like general liability, products and completed operations, and errors & omissions, many companies must also consider cyber liability, intellectual property, and invasion of privacy cliams. And, that is just to name a few.

It’s also important to remember that claims do not only arise because of disgruntled employees. Some of the most costly mistakes are just that, simple mistakes. For example:

1. The inadvertant erasure of critical data.
2. An employee accidentally sends an inappropriate email to the wrong recipients.
3. Failure to meet deadlines, agreed upon specifications, or compatibility requirements.
4. Software failures, which cause other damages such as bodily harm or even death (ex. transportation system programs, hospital or other medical treatment systems, etc.).

All of the above can lead to costly judgments, often in excess of the actual losses or damages that may have been caused.

To ensure you have adequate coverage, we recommend you choose an insurance agent that not only understands the exposures you face, but the business you do.

We are your technology insurance expert. Located in Austin and serving the great state of Texas. Call us!

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Fun in the Sun

Posted on February 21, 2011. Filed under: Personal (Home & Auto) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Warm weather often arrives early in Central Texas, which for many means it’s time to bring the watercraft out of storage! It’s vitally important that your insurance agent know about the watercraft you own, to ensure you have appropriate and adequate coverage. You should also understand your coverage prior to renting boats or other watercraft. Did you know whether a boat or jet ski is inboard or outboard may impact how it is covered by, or excluded from, a homeowner’s policy? For more information, or for quotes, contact us.

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Living in a Customized World

Posted on December 17, 2010. Filed under: Personal (Home & Auto) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |


We live in a world of customization and upgrades. You can order thousands of drink combinations at Starbucks, Burger King wants you to “have it your way,” and if you are treating someone to an iPad this Christmas you have the option of adding a personalized inscription.

Then there are the BIG ticket items, like automobiles and homes. If you’ve recently built a home, renovated or updated a home, bought a car with add-on packages, or customized a car, it is a good time to visit with your insurance agent to ensure you have adequate coverage.

Your Home Insurance. Most estimates demonstrate that more than half of the single-family dwellings in America are underinsured by approximately 22%. If your home is insured for what you paid for it, or the appraised value, it’s possible you are underinsured. The key to properly insuring your home is calculating the cost to rebuild it at current construction costs, less the value of the land. This is called “Insurance to Value.” Things to consider, in addition to materials and labor, include: debris removal prior to rebuilding, architectural/design fees, inflation due to the effect of a major catastrophe, and the impact of local building codes. All of these can be addressed by your homeowners policy, but they may require additional endorsements or increases in the amount of insurance purchased. It is also a good idea to consult with your insurance agent if you have recently renovated or upgraded your home, to ensure your coverage is adequate.

Your Automobile Insurance. Make sure your agent is aware of any add-on packages you purchased when buying your car, or if you customized your car in anyway after purchase. Your auto insurance may fully exclude, or limit, the coverage for items that are considered “upgrades” or “customizations.” Examples: adding custom grilles, custom wheels, bedliners, etc. In some cases, endorsements may be added to provide additional coverage in the event of damage.

The most important thing to remember: ultimately you are responsible for making sure you are appropriately covered. Your insurance agent is available to help guide you through the process. Therefore, it is important for you to consult regularly with your agent and whenever your situation changes.

If you don’t have an agent, your agent does not encourage this type of conversation, or you would like insurance quotes, contact us. We are here to help!

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