Disaster Readiness

Are you prepared for a disaster —hurricane, tornado, viral epidemic, terrorist act, earthquake or flood—that might strike your area? Although many homeowners claim that they’re ready for whatever comes, many will find themselves totally unprepared for the sheer magnitude of loss.

Although certain preparations apply to specific risks (such as window shutters in hurricane areas), almost all “best practices” in disaster preparation apply regardless of the cause of the loss. For example, Just like having a working smoke detector in your home, having emergency supply kits will put the tools you may need at your fingertips. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.

While there are many things that might make you more comfortable, think first about fresh water, food and clean air. Remember to include, and periodically rotate, medications you take every day such as insulin and heart medicine. Plan to store items in an easy-to-carry bag, such as a shopping bag, backpack or duffle bag. Consider two kits. In one, put everything you will need to stay where you are and make it on your own. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you have to get away.

The Department of Homeland Security has created a comprehensive website explaining the steps that a family can take to prepare for a disaster. For details, go to www.ready.gov.

Will ‘Mark Up’ Cover ‘Fix Up’?

Homeowners renovate and repair their houses for reasons other than increasing the resale value. But they’ll often ask contractors or realtors, “This seems like a lot of money—will I be able to get it back when I move?” For most renovations or repairs, the answer is “probably not.” Of course, a home in dire need of repair or updating can sink in price, so necessary upkeep and maintenance at least preserves the existing value of your house. But according to Remodeling Magazine, you can enhance the current pleasure of living in your home, while still giving yourself a reasonable shot at recovering costs when you sell, by doing these renovations:

Adding a deck pays back more than its original cost: 104%, on average.

• Close behind in the recovery percentages are siding replacement (98%), converting an attic into a bedroom (93%), and adding a bathroom (95%). Be sure not to overdo that bathroom, though; although an additional midrange bathroom holds the 95% mark, upscale additions average an 84% return.

Whenever you’re considering such renovations, don’t forget to alert one of our personal insurance representatives. We’ll help you make sure that your property coverage stays updated as well.



According to the U.S. Commerce Department, employee crime costs American businesses as much as $40 billion a year — that’s “billion with a ‘B’.”

To help prevent a fox from getting into your hen house, a leading risk management group recommends these guidelines:

1. Screen job candidates. You might discover that a potential employee was fired from another job for stealing. A thorough background check can give you hard evidence when doing an interview. Look for discrepancies between what the candidate says and what’s on paper; too many differences will point to a problem.

2. Reduce the temptation to steal. Be careful when making operational changes. The thief might become quite familiar with the change and believe that they have specialized and private information to use to their advantage. To avoid this danger, let everyone know about new procedures. Also, lock and bar all windows in warehouses or storerooms, create employee sign-ins in these areas, and never leave anything lying around to be picked up easily.

3. Protect monetary assets. Thieves sometimes write checks to ghost employees or vendors and use the money for their own finances. Separating accounts payable from accounts receivable will reduce the chances of such a fiasco. Also, if Jim in sales never, ever takes a vacation, something might be amiss; he could be snooping around or doing something besides genuine hard work.

4. Schedule periodic audits. If this isn’t possible, have an outside party review accounting and bookkeeping practices.

5. Create a zero-tolerance policy. Potential in-house thieves won’t be as inclined to steal if they know they’re risking their job.

6. Investigate suspected fraud. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners ( www.acfe.org ) offers expertise in this field.

It’s Time to Clean that Office!

In its “Handbook for Small Businesses,” the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) describes poor housekeeping as “a major contributor to low morale and sloppy work in general.” It also reminds small business owners that most safety programs begin with an “intensive clean-up campaign in all areas of business.” Because it’s easy to get too busy and overlook the small things, stop for a second and take a look around your office. Then ask yourself, “When was the last time we had a good old-fashioned housecleaning?” If it’s time for a cleaning, then get everyone involved!

It’s the responsibility of all employees to contribute to the well-being of their co-workers. Let them know it’s imperative to keep the work environment safe, healthy and efficient. From clearing exit ways to changing light bulbs and filters, simply “cleaning up” your place of business will reduce accident exposures and improve daily operations. These practices also will help reduce even the smallest hazards that threaten employees and escalate your business’s experience modification factor. Call us today for a free and thorough review of your business insurance coverage, including workers’ comp

To answer any questions you may have or for a no obligation quote – Call or stop into one of our Neighborhood offices and talk to a Van Dyk professional Today. We’re here to help you!


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