Looking for a career in insurance?

insurance-hip-hopLiberty Mutual, one of our partner insurers, produced this fun rap video talking about getting a job. It’s not necessarily insurance specific, it has good advice for any job seekers looking for a job in a professional environment.

If you’re curious about what types of jobs are available in insurance, there’s an informative new site: MyPath: Insurance. It’s an industry collaborative dedicated to educating students and young professionals about the insurance industry and its various career opportunities.

And be sure to check out our employment openings at Renaissance Alliance. If you don’t see a particular job you want, just send us a resume – we have 90+ member agencies throughout New England so there may be openings at one of them.

See more about insurance jobs at this story in Bloomberg News. Hat tip to Jayleen Heft at PropertyCasualty360 for the pointer to the video!

The Dirty Dozen Tax Scams, 2015 Style

tax-fraudWith just over 3 weeks left to go before tax day, the nation’s tax scammmers are doing double duty trying to intercept your tax return or, failing that, make off with your private information that they can put to nefarious purposes.

The IRS has updated their Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2015 — everything from e-mail phishing and phone threats to tax preparer fraud and fake charities. Run through this list and familiarize yourself with the most common schemes to part you from your money. Spread the word too – tweet it, post it on Facebook. Phone fraud is particularly rampant this year and extremely aggressive. We’ve experienced robocalls at all hours of the day and night, with very threatening messages about arrest and lawsuits. Remember, the IRS will never call you out of the blue and threaten you!
Unfortunately, senior citizens are big targets for fraud and the IRS has issued a recent warning about scams targeted specifically to the elderly.

“Some seniors are paying swindlers money to file returns for them in the hopes of claiming benefits that they don’t actually qualify for. The con men then make off with a senior’s money and any important personal information the elderly person has provided them with.”

If you have elderly relatives, you may want to review some of these scams with them.

Add the Poison Help line to your phone – it could save a life!

poison-lineMarch 15-21, 2015 is Poison Prevention week – if you do one thing, program the Poison Help telephone number in your phone: 1-800-222-1222. You never know when it could come in handy for you or someone else. Calls are free and confidential and can be translated into 161 languages. Most calls can be handled over the phone and don’t require a hospital visit. Plus, you can call for information about chemicals and their safety, too – a call doesn’t have to be for an emergency.

In 2013, America’s 55 poison centers received over 3.1 million calls. Of those, about 2.2 million were calls about poison exposures ranging from carbon monoxide to snake bites to food poisoning. The rest were calls for information. Although children younger than 6 accounted for about half of all the poison exposure calls to poison center in 2013, adults accounted for 92 percent of all poison-related deaths reported to poison centers.

Here are some handy tools for poison prevention and emergency response:

The AAPCC offers this chart to help poison-proof your home.

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A few ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

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St Patrick’s Day is a big event in our neck of the woods – although this year’s parade will have a bit of an abbreviated route due to all the snow. Here’s a Guide to Where to Celebrate Boston’s Irish Heritage in and around the city – parades, pubs, concerts & more. Here are other St. Patrick’s Day parades in New England, many on Sunday. Or you could just stay home and cook up a traditional New England Boiled Dinner of corned beef & cabbage. Just remember one important thing: It’s Paddy mot Patty!

And remember, if tipping a few pints are in your plans, be sure to have a designated driver!

Here are some great clips from Discover Ireland to get you in the spirit.

With any luck at all, you’ll stumble on one of Tourism Ireland’s flash mob dances – here’s a spectacular one they staged in Central Station, Sidney a few years ago.

Celebrate Pi Day with some irrational insurance numbers – and some pizza!

Are you ready for it? Tomorrow is Pi Day, what some call the “Math Geek Mardi Gras.” It may not be an event you were planning to celebrate, but this might entice you: Top 5 National Pi Day pizza deals.

The Insurance Information Institute sent along a great infographic illustrating “10 Irrational Numbers” noting that the insurance world is a treasure trove of facts and figures showcasing irrational decision-making.

10 Irrational Numbers about insurance

Drowsy Driving: Scary video shows how quickly it happens

Depositphotos_5342842_xsThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy and 37% admit to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year.

The terrifying video below shows three different angles of a crash that happened last October when a Michigan bus driver nodded off for a second while driving – he cut a half mile swath of wreckage. Amazingly, nobody was killed.

A 2014 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that “…drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21% of fatal crashes, up from 16.5% from the previous 2010 study, as most drivers drift out of their lanes or off the road.   Drivers themselves are often crash victims who die in single-car crashes.”

Who’s at risk? According to drowsydriving.org, anyone can fall asleep at the wheel, but surveys show that sleep related crashes are most common in young people, especially men, adults with children and shift workers. Commercial drivers and people with undiagnosed sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and acute insomnia are also at greater risk for fall asleep crashes.

Warning signs of drowsy driving include:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable

Here are some tips from drowsydriving.org to help prevent drowsy driving

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Plan to drive long trips with a companion
  • Schedule regular stops, every 100 miles or two hours
  • Avoid alcohol and medications
  • Take a 15 to 20-minute nap. More than 20 minutes can make you groggy for at least five minutes after awakening
  • Consume the equivalent of two cups of coffee; remember, caffeine takes about 30 minutes to enter the blood stream and will not greatly affect those who regularly consume it.

Here’s the lowdown on Daylight Savings Time

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Don’t forget to set your clock ahead this weekend. And while you are at it, here are some other seasonal things you should do:

  • Change smoke alarm and CO2 alarm batteries
  • Check pressure / expiration date on any fire extinguishers
  • Replace furnace filters
  • Clean your dryer filter, hoses and vents
  • Throw away any expired medications
  • Reverse your ceiling fan direction

Ever wonder why the heck we even go through the changing of the clocks every spring and fall? Check out this great DST video explainer.

Has your car ever been recalled? New tool allows easy VIN lookup

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Another week, another auto recall. If you feel like every car in the world was recalled last year, your fears aren’t far from reality. Here’s the 2014 recall tally, according to Auto News:

The final tally of 2014′s damages came in from federal regulators this month, showing that automakers sent out some 64 million recall notices in the United States.

That was more than double the previous calendar-year record of 30.8 million, set in 2004.

And which maker was the industry’s biggest offender?

Of those 64 million, nearly 27 million came from GM. That’s a 3,466 percent increase from GM’s total in 2013.

Put another way: In one year, GM recalled the equivalent of every single vehicle it sold from mid-September 2005 through the end of 2014.

How can anyone keep up? Owners may not always know whether or not their vehicle was ever recalled or whether it still needs to be repaired.

Good news – now there’s a way. Use the the NHTSA’s VIN lookup tool to see if your car was ever recalled in the last 15 years.

NHTSA’s new search tool lets you:

  • Enter a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to quickly learn if a specific vehicle has not been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years
  • Directly access the recalls databases of major vehicle and motorcycle manufacturers
  • Get the relevant recall information so you can contact the manufacturer or dealer about the repair if it was part of a safety recall

It’s pretty comprehensive but there are some things it may not cover – check the page to see what these are.

Many recalls are for minor defects and nuisances but some are safety related. That’s why some legislators are trying to pass laws barring car registration until recalls are completed. Right now, it’s still legal to sell a car that was recalled but not fixed.

“The lawmakers said 65 percent of recalled vehicles are repaired within 18 months. About 46 million cars with unfixed flaws were on the road at the end of 2014, and as many 5 million changing owners during the year, according to Carfax Inc., which tracks vehicle sales and accident histories.”

For more info on vehicle recalls, see SaferCar.gov and Recalls.gov

TV Tip Overs: Parents of small children take note!

Most parents go to great lengths to childproof their homes, but there’s one danger that is all too often overlooked. According to Safe Kids, “Every 3 weeks a child dies from a television tipping over. Over the past 10 years, a child visited the emergency room every 45 minutes because of a TV tipping over.”

This is an easy thing to fix once parents are alert to the danger. Check out this short video and the infographic below for more info on how to prevent this tragedy. There’s also more information tip-over prevention at Safe Kids.

TV TIPOVER SAFETY INFOGRAPHIC

Supporting local philanthropy: Belle of the Ball

z-belle-of-the-ballAs part of our Caring Company initiative, we recognize local clients and Renaissance Alliance members who give back to the New England community. There’s no better embodiment of generosity of spirit than Anton’s Cleaners, currently embarked on their 11th Annual Belle of the Ball, which is collecting prom gowns now through April 5, 2015.

Belle of the Ball cleans and distributes prom dresses and provides related accessories at no charge to high school junior and senior girls who could not otherwise afford to attend their school’s prom. Unlike other prom gown collection drives, this program culminates with a day-long boutique where deserving girls are invited for a day of personal shopping and pampering. The program has grown to hosting more than 400 young ladies for an indulgent day of prom “shopping,” beauty tips, and prizes.

Here are places that you can donate a dress, along with other ways you can support Belle of the Ball.