Monthly Archives: July 2017

Do Wearable Tracking Devices Really Work?

Everybody seems to have a Fitbit these days; and while it might be annoying to listen to your co-workers brag about the number of steps they’ve counted, you might also be curious about these wearable tracking devices. So why all the excitement? Do wearable tracking devices actually work? And who needs to know how many steps they took, anyway? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more.

What is a wearable tracking device?

Simply, a wearable tracking device is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a device that you wear (usually on your wrist; a few companies offer clip-ons) that may be able to track any number of things, from heart rate to steps taken to distance traveled to sleep patterns. Some have other, non-fitness related features, like GPS or an alarm system.

Do you really need a health and fitness tracker?

Not necessarily. But there are plenty of benefits to owning one. If you are extremely active, health-conscious, or if you participate in a sport like running or cycling, you will probably love having the ability to track your own every move and use the data to improve your performance. And those who are not very active but aspire to be may find that a fitness tracker gives them the accountability and motivation they need to get going. But not so fast: if you’re only interested in one feature and you don’t plan to make full use of the data tracking software, you may find that your smartphone will work just as well. A smartphone is just as accurate at counting steps and can check your heart rate, too.

What’s the Downside?

If you’re thinking about purchasing a health and fitness tracker, the main thing you should know is that there is a wide discrepancy between models and price points. If you plan to buy a fitness tracker, do your homework to make sure you’re getting the device that’s right for your lifestyle and budget.

The Bottom Line:

The key to getting the most out of a fitness tracker is making use of the information it gives you. What’s the use in correlating your sleep patterns with your caffeine intake if you’re not going to use those discoveries to get a better night’s sleep? Just like with your workout, you’ll get out of it only as much as you’re willing to put in.

To get your insurance in better shape call AmeriAgency at 615-209-9362.

AUTO HOME LIFE BUSINESS

First Day Of School Dates

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Rutherford County Schools

August 7

http://www.rcschools.net/apps/events/2017/8

Murfreesboro City Schools

August 4      1/2 day grades 1-6

http://www.cityschools.net/calendar/2017-08

Williamson County Schools

August 10

http://www.wcs.edu/about/district-calendar

Metro City Schools

August 7

http://www.mnps.org/district-calendar

We hope it’s a wonderful year!

For all of your insurance needs, call us:

AmeriAgency Inc.

615-209-9362

 

Melanoma Detection

In the U.S., melanoma diagnoses and deaths are on the rise, especially among women under the age of 30. With increased education and treatment, it’s possible to reverse this trend. Read on to find out how you can decrease your risk of melanoma and help to educate others in honor of Skin Cancer Detection Month.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and usually originates in the cells that produce the color in your skin, called melanocytes. Although melanoma begins on the skin, if left untreated it can spread to blood vessels and other organs and become life threatening.

What causes melanoma?

Most melanomas are the result of skin cell damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. Too much exposure to the sun or to artificial UV rays from tanning beds can greatly increase your risk of getting skin cancer.

How to detect melanoma:

A melanoma tumor is usually black or brown; but can also be skin colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Both men and women should have their skin checked regularly and thoroughly for potential skin cancers.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends looking for the “ABCDEs of Melanoma” when examining the moles on your skin. These include:

  • Asymmetry, where one half of the mole is not like the other half
  • An irregular or poorly defined border
  • Unusual coloring
  • Diameter greater than that of a pencil eraser
  • A mole that is evolving in size, shape or color

Risk factors:

Some people are more at risk of developing skin cancer than others. These include people with fair skin or with a family history of skin cancer. If you have had frequent sunburns or use tanning beds, you are also at an increased risk. Finally, people who have a compromised immune system for any reason have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

How to protect yourself:

Skin cancer can be prevented by minimizing your exposure to the sun and avoiding tanning beds and sun lamps. When you do go out in the sun, protect yourself by wearing broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, sunglasses, a hat, and loose clothing that covers the skin. Never sunbathe or allow yourself to get sunburned, and try to reduce your sun exposure during the hottest part of the day.

Tanning beds are not harmless:

Because of the prevalence and popularity of tanning beds, skin cancer is on the rise among teenage girls and young women. According to a 2014 study, more people develop skin cancer from tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking. People who have used a tanning bed 10 or more times increase their risk of developing melanoma by 34 percent; those who use a tanning bed before the age of 35 have a 75 percent higher risk of developing melanoma.

Early detection is key:

When melanoma is detected early, it can often be cured through surgical removal of the affected area.

Chemotherapy or radiation may be necessary for melanomas that have spread beyond the skin. Strive for early detection by conducting regular self-examinations and having your skin checked annually by a physician. Skin cancer often develops on the back, particularly in men, so it’s important to have the help of others in order to complete a thorough examination.

Keeping Your Boat Water-Ready

Perform a thorough inspection on all systems and equipment:

  • Fuel System: Check fuel lines, filters, clamps and, of course, the fuel tank for damage or wear and tear. Look for leaks, cracks and secure fittings between elements. If anything seems off, don’t take the risk: just replace it.
  • Belts, Cables and Hoses: Winter weather can cause these items to crack or become brittle. See that all belts fit snugly and that cables don’t show any cracks or swelling.
  • Propellers and hulls: Inspect propellers for cracks or dings and other damage; be sure it is securely in place and replace bearings if necessary. Thoroughly clean the hull and decks and make sure the drain plug is secure.
  • Battery and electrical system: Be sure your battery is charged and check all electrical connections for corrosion before getting out on the water. Because a boat’s electrical system is inherently different and presents unique risks, always use an experienced marine electrician and be sure to have your wiring inspected by a professional on a regular basis.
  • Fluids: Check fluid levels, power steering fluid, oil and coolant.
  • Safety gear and equipment: Check lights, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detector and other safety equipment to be sure it’s in good working order. Make sure you have an adequate number of life jackets in proper sizes, as well as flotation devices for emergency.

Review boating rules and regulations:

  • Check that your registration is current and meets the requirements of your state.
  • Although most states do not require that you have a special license to drive a boat; many states do require a safety course or have other regulations, depending on the age of the driver. Make sure you are familiar with your state’s licensing requirements before getting on the water or allowing someone else to drive your boat.
  • Similarly, laws regarding water skiing, noise, boating under the influence and marine sanitation vary by state. Review your state laws and guidelines to ensure a safe and stress-free boating season.

Need Insurance for Your Boat Call AmeriAgency at 615-209-9362?
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When to Start Your Own Business

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Thinking about starting a business? Many of us in Tennessee dream about getting paid to do what we love or finding a way to pursue our creative ideas, but getting there is another story.
Top 4 reasons you may want to start your own business:

pexels-photo-288477
You have nothing (and everything) to lose: What have you got to lose? We know: money, security, a feeling of self-efficacy, the patience and goodwill of your significant other… It’s true, there are no guarantees that your exciting new venture will go exactly as planned–in fact, it probably won’t–and that hard truth shouldn’t be ignored, especially if there are others who depend on you. But, just for a second, try putting those fears aside and consider the alternative: What will you lose if you don’t take the risk of pursuing your goal? These might include self-worth, the joy of finding your true vocation, and the ability to inspire others to follow their own dreams. Now which one seems like the greater risk?
You’re spending more time (and almost making more money) at home than at work: A true passion and opportunity is something that can’t–and shouldn’t–be ignored. If your organic baby food side business, Ebay store or blogging career is threatening to take over your life, maybe it should. Although it may not be a sure thing, if you’re putting a ton of energy towards a hobby, idea or skill and it’s yielding results, it may be time to cut the cord to your “real” job and allow the universe to do its thing. If your freelance career is bringing in more work than you can handle, even better.
You have a strong support system: Nobody ever accomplished anything great without the help of others. If you’re considering venturing out on your own, the time may be right if you have the full support and encouragement of your closest friends and family. Share your fears and dreams honestly with those in your inner circle and listen closely to their feedback. If they’re telling you to go for it (and they really mean it), then not only can you count on them to cheer you on; you can be sure they will step in to catch you if you fall.
You love to learn: If deciding to start your own business is a do-or-die proposition, then you’re probably better off sticking to your day job. But if the idea of learning more than you ever thought possible in such a short period of time sounds thrilling, then the possibility of failure is really non-existent–because starting your own business is guaranteed to maximize your growth and learning, stat. No matter how things turn out, you’ll be just that much more experienced, skilled, educated–and ready to try again.

You just won’t be happy otherwise: Maybe you have an idea or a product that’s going to transform the way we live our lives, but it’s not likely. But that’s no reason to stay stuck in a job that you know will never inspire you, just to pay the bills. If you’re creative and resourceful enough to want to run your own business, then you’re probably going to be able to make ends meet. And if you’re OK with not being the richest or the best, but would just be happy to get to spend your days doing something you care about, then why not make the leap?

Call AmeriAgency to start a business policy today at 615-209-9362.

Basics of Motorcycle Insurance

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Warmer weather is on the way, and the open road will soon be calling. Whether you’re a recreational motorcyclist or a serious cross-country rider, be sure you have the right insurance to meet your needs and to protect yourself on the road.

In most (but not all) states, motorcyclists are required to have basic liability insurance, which covers injuries to others or property damage that you may cause. Some liability policies also protect passengers, but check the fine print if this type of coverage is important to you. If you are leasing or financing a bike, you may also be required to purchase additional coverages.

Because of the risks associated with riding a motorcycle, it’s a good idea to consider purchasing more than just basic liability insurance, which doesn’t cover injuries to you or damage to your motorcycle in the event of an accident. Collision coverage will pay for damage to your bike in the event of an accident. A comprehensive policy will protect your motorcycle in the event of theft, fire or vandalism.

Special Coverages:

Personal Injury Protection: This type of coverage may include things like medical bills, physical therapy, psychiatric visits and other costs if you are injured in an accident, regardless of whether you were at fault.

Medical Payments: This type of policy also covers expenses related to an accident, but is less comprehensive than PIP coverage.

Replacement Value: This option will cover the replacement cost of your motorcycle, rather than its original value minus depreciation. If you’ve had work done or added special features to your bike, consider upgrading to replacement value coverage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: Just as with auto insurance, this addition will protect you in the event of an accident with someone who does not have sufficient insurance to cover your damages.

Trip Interruption: If your bike breaks down when you’re miles from home, trip interruption insurance will cover food, lodging and alternate transportation until your bike is up and running again.

Accessory/Custom Parts and Equipment: If you have purchased optional parts, accessories, or equipment for your bike, this addition will provide the unique coverage you need to protect the total package.

Lower Your Motorcycle Insurance Rates:

Your insurance premium will be based on the type of motorcycle you own and how you use it. But there are many ways to lower your rates. Ask your agent about safe or experienced driver discounts; and consider taking a safe rider course or joining a motorcycle club to earn an additional rebate. In some states, discounts are available for police officers, firefighters and other professions. Finally, if you live in a region where winter weather prevents you from riding your motorcycle for several months of the year, you may be able to purchase a special policy that only kicks in during the months you can ride.

For any motorcycle insurance questions, call at 615-209-9362 or contact AmeriAgency Insurance today.

10 Things to Know About the Zika Virus

Here’s all you need to know about Zika in order to make your summer plans:

  1. It’s not new: You might be surprised to learn that Zika virus has been around since 1947. Its name comes from the area where it was discovered: Zika Forest in Uganda. The reason ZIka has only recently been deemed a public health emergency is because it is now spreading quickly to countries where it previously never existed.
  2. Pregnant women are most at risk: Zika virus is especially dangerous for pregnant women, because it can cause serious fetal defects. The CDC has now confirmed that Zika causes microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads. The virus has also been linked to Guillain Barre Syndrome and other serious birth defects, but these connections have not been officially confirmed.
  3. The virus is spread by mosquitos and unprotected sex: Infected mosquitos are the primary culprit when it comes to spreading Zika virus, but it can also be spread through sex with infected males; or from a pregnant mother to her baby. Experts suspect Zika can also be contracted through blood transfusions, but this has not yet been confirmed.
  4. Zika is now in the US: Hundreds of cases of Zika virus have now been documented in the US, and a portion of those are pregnant women, who are being closely monitored by health officials.
  5. Beware of visiting countries with Zika: So far, everyone who has contracted Zika virus in the US has gotten it by visiting affected countries or having sex with somebody who has. World health organizations are advising pregnant women or those who plan to conceive in the near future to avoid visiting these countries.
  6. You can have it and not know it: Because the symptoms of Zika are often mild and sometimes even nonexistent, it is possible that you could contract the disease and not know it. So if you are visiting a country known to have the virus, be sure to get tested if you suspect you may have it.
  7. There are things you can do to protect yourself: The best way to protect yourself from Ziks is to avoid countries where it is prevalent. Common summer destinations known to have the virus include the Caribbean, and both Central and South America. If you do visit these places, be sure to use EPA approved insect repellent and wear protective clothing; and consult your doctor if you have any concerns following your return.
  8. You can’t get it through casual contact: Zika isn’t transmitted through food, water, or casual contact.
  9. You probably won’t die from it: People rarely die from Zika virus; and because its symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases, it can often go undiagnosed or undetected. Most people who contract Zika will be better within a week, and the virus will be out of their blood in about the same amount of time. Experts believe that those who contract Zika are probably safe from future infections.
  10. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook: Because of Zika’s potential to cause birth defects, it is critical that those who are infected know it, and take steps to prevent the spread of the virus to others.

For a current list of countries experiencing a Zika outbreak, go to CDC.gov.

Call AmeriAgency today to start saving on Auto insurance at

615-209-9362.

When the Boss Goes on Vacation

For small business owners in North Carolina, taking off for a summer vacation can be more stressful than just staying at work. Here are some tips for going on vacation if you’re the boss so that you can actually relax while you’re away from the office.

7 tips for going on vacation if you’re the boss:

  1. Prepare staff well ahead of time: Leaving somebody else in charge while you’re away will be much less anxiety making if that person has had some time to learn the ropes. Instead of making your backup boss responsible for a whole bunch of unfamiliar tasks at the last minute, give them opportunities to step in and learn throughout the year, so that they actually know what they’re doing. Similarly, make it common practice to give employees enough training to be able to cover for their peers. This way, when someone quits, gets ill, or goes on vacation, your employees won’t be blindsided by having to cover for somebody else on short notice.
  2. Consider the benefits: Getting not just out of but away from the office for real is a great way to show faith in your employees and give them an authentic opportunity to step up and grow. Plus, you will get some much needed rest, which will enhance your motivation and productivity when you return. Vacations have also been shown to have health benefits and to make people happier. With so much to gain, how can you not take a vacation?
  3. Don’t be a guru: Creating a business that relies on the strength and expertise of one person who has to be around all the time is a setup for failure, not to mention burnout. Fostering an atmosphere of teamwork and mutual responsibility not only creates a healthy professional environment, but it also makes it easier to take time away even if you’re the boss.
  4. Make yourself as unavailable as possible: Do you really need to be answering emails and phone calls while you’re away? Only you can answer that question, and it may be that checking in every once in awhile actually makes you feel better about being gone. Whatever you decide, keep communication with work to an absolute minimum to experience the full benefits of your time away.
  5. Take advantage of digital tools: Using simple technology tools like an automatic out-of-office reply on your email can help put you at ease because you can assure clients that you will be back in touch soon. And if you need a little help staying unplugged, there are even apps that will lock you out of your smartphone or block addictive apps for a set period of time.
  6. Define “emergency”: Even if you’re a laid back boss, there are probably a few scenarios that could and should warrant your immediate attention. Let your staff know what these are and how they should contact you something serious occurs. Consider having a separate emergency number or ringtone so that you know the call is critical. Finally, make a detailed list of contacts for potential problems like technology or building issues, so that any minor emergencies can be handled without your assistance.
  7. Ask yourself: How important is it? Yes, things can and might go wrong while you’re on vacation. But it’s unlikely that something catastrophic is going to happen. And even if it does, there may be little you can do about the situation even if you’re on the scene. In the end, you may have a few regrets about taking time away; but it’s likely you’ll have many more if you don’t.

To start saving on auto insurance today call AmeriAgency at 615-209-9362.

Sewer Backup: Do I Need This Coverage

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A sewer backup can be one of the most dreaded things to happen to a home or property owner. Add to that the fact that most standard insurance policies won’t cover this type of damage without a special endorsement, and a sewer problem can become an absolute nightmare. Here’s what you need to know to ensure your property is protected:

Causes of Sewer Backups:

Did you know that as a homeowner you are responsible for maintaining the sewer line that connects your home to the city system? Because of this, it’s important to pay attention to anything that might disrupt your sewer line and cause major problems. Common causes of sewer backup include tree roots, cracked or damaged pipes due to an outdated system, and blockages that can occur for a variety of reasons. In addition, a sewer backup can happen when a flood or major rainstorm overwhelms the system, sending raw sewage backwards through drains and toilets.

Is Your Home Covered?

A standard homeowner’s policy does not cover sewage backups but it’s an easy fix a special rider can be purchased to protect your home or property in case of a sewer problem. The cost of the policy will be based on an evaluation of your risk, and can run anywhere from $40 to $160 per month. This type of coverage may help with plumbing, cleaning and repair costs, as well as costs to replace damaged items. Remember, a sewer backup policy may not cover backups in certain cases, so be sure to read the fine print. If your homeowner’s policy includes Loss of Use coverage, you may also be able to get reimbursed for living expenses if you cannot stay inside the home.

Sewer Backups are Preventable:

Although sewer backups are a costly and complicated to fix, the good news is that they are preventable. Homeowners can start by keeping grease and other harmful items (such as paper products) out of drains and toilets. In addition, prioritizing basic annual maintenance will help you to recognize potential problems long before they become serious. Finally, consider replacing old pipes and/or installing a backwater prevention valve to drastically reduce the risk of damage to your home in the event of a sewer backup.

How to Handle A Sewer Backup:

In many cases, a sewer backup poses a serious health risk and must be dealt with immediately. Start by turning off the water and do not use any water or flush toilets in your home. Clear pets and children from the area. Always wear gloves and protective clothing if you are handling raw sewage. If your sewer is connected to the city system, contact your local sewer department for help and guidance. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may need to call a professional in order to properly clean affected areas and dispose of the sewage safely. Your local health department can instruct you in how to dispose raw sewage. Finally, to file a claim or for recommendations on service providers, contact your insurance provider. For insurance purposes, be sure to photograph all of the damage and save receipts for any cleaning or repairs. In this case, it is helpful to have “before” pictures and an itemized list of valuable items to ensure the maximum benefit from your policy.

For any home insurance questions, call AmeriAgency today at

615-209-9362.

Wedding Safety

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Summer is wedding season, and couples throughout North Carolina will be tying the knot. If you’re one of the lucky couples, wedding safety might be the last thing on your to-do list, but if something goes wrong on your big day, you’ll wish it had been the first.

Here are 4 things to consider in order to to ensure that getting hitched goes off without a hitch:

Weather:

An impromptu thunderstorm can easily ruin an outdoor wedding. If you’re planning to get married outdoors, don’t assume the weather will cooperate, and have a backup plan. Investigating tent rentals, having an indoor venue option, or purchasing special event insurance (more on that below) are great ways to prepare for the possibility of inclement weather. At the very least, be sure to bring an umbrella (or several).

Alcohol:

If more couples had alcohol-free weddings, a great many dance floor disasters and terrible speeches could have been prevented. It may seem sacrilegious to not have champagne at a wedding reception, but it’s worth contemplating what alcohol will really bring to–or might take away from–your event. Choosing to serve alcohol could not only cost you a lot of money; it also multiplies the potential for injury, accidents, and embarrassment. If you do decide to serve alcohol, consider hiring a ride service, limiting the amount guests can drink, or serving beer and wine only.

Food:

Don’t risk having your festivities derailed because a 5-year-old with a severe peanut allergy has to be stabbed with an epi pen and taken away in an ambulance. Be sure to include a way for guests to communicate important food allergies, especially if you’re serving a sit-down meal. Similarly, take precautions to minimize the risk of food poisoning and be sure to vet your caterer’s health and safety history; or, if you’re catering your own event, insist that helpers be trained in and use proper food handling procedures.

Special Event Insurance:

When you have put your heart, soul, and a whole lot of cash into planning a beautiful celebration, the stakes are high. Purchasing special event insurance is a way to take the pressure off in case something goes wrong. Some venues actually require wedding insurance; others may have liability coverage of their own. There are several different coverages that you may want to consider, including liability (in case someone is injured), cancellation, and property coverage for the wedding dress, rings, etc. Do your homework and talk to an insurance agent to find out what type of coverage makes the most sense–and will put your mind at ease.

Not all wedding disasters can be planned for–or prevented. So even if your celebration goes south, keep a good attitude and remember: if at the end of the day you are married, the event has been a success.

To start saving on auto and home insurance call AmeriAgency today at 615-209-9362.