Telematics and Managing Commercial Auto Risks - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Telematics and managing commercial auto risks


Telematics and managing commercial auto risks: 3 steps to success

More cars on the roads, rising medical costs, distracted drivers, and higher repair costs are just a few of the factors driving the increase in commercial auto losses. In an effort to help minimize risks and better control costs, more businesses are exploring telematics technology. According to the most recent Fleet Management Technology Report, 44 percent of fleets now use some form of telematics.

However, to get the most return on investment from telematics, businesses need to consider a variety of factors. Here are three steps that can help companies successfully adopt and implement telematics in their operations:

Select a vendor that can help solve your business challenge.

Certain vendors are better at certain things, so it’s important to know in advance the problem your company is trying to solve to help ensure your vendor’s capabilities will meet your needs. For example, a company with a fleet of service vehicles that charges by the hour may want to track exactly when a commercial vehicle arrives at and departs from a specific location to help avoid billing discrepancies. A delivery operation may want to optimize routes to improve productivity and manage fuel costs. A business that is experiencing an uptick in vehicle accidents may prefer to review driver performance by individual, location and vehicle type to identify potential issues.

Translate data into useful information.

The high volume of data, notifications and detailed reports generated from a telematics system can be overwhelming. A business wishing to develop a successful program must know how to transform the data into information that can be applied strategically. For a company that uses telematics to track driver performance, getting an alert for every “aggressive” driving event (speeding, hard braking, etc.) may not provide much value. However, being able to review event rates (number of events per 100 miles driven) for individual drivers could be a better way to compare performance and identify outliers. Establishing suitable reporting parameters to create driver rankings or “scorecards” can help a fleet manager understand “average” performance, set realistic goals that support company objectives, and develop action plans for drivers in need of improvement.

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Spring Lawn Care Tips - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Spring Lawn Care Tips

Michigan Spring Lawn Care Tips and Tricks for a Healthy Lawn

When spring hits in Michigan, there’s a short period before summer comes where you have the time to care for your lawn and make it presentable!

This kind of spring lawn care usually includes ensuring your sprinklers are working properly to keep your lawn hydrated during the warmer months, taking care of your grass and soil with fertilizer, factoring in weed prevention, and of course, getting ready to do something about those pests and mosquitoes.

Everyone wants a bright, inviting lawn and garden, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Take a look through these tips and tricks to be sure you have the best lawn on the block.

Tips and Tricks

Ditch Your Weeds

To keep your lawn looking clean and not overgrown, it’s always a good idea to start by taking care of your weeds. Weeds start to show up right when spring does. Michigan’s most common and most stubborn weeds can include Dame’s Rocket, Maple Seedlings, and Dandelion.

While not harmful to humans, besides the occasional allergy symptoms, weeds are essentially a death wish for your lawn. You’ll want to spray some weed killer or dig each one up from the root before it spreads. They can take over the lawn quicker than you think.

Use Fertilizer On Your Lawn

Fertilizing your lawn in the spring gives it the nutrients it needs to grow back after the harsh Michigan winters. After the snow melts and the spring rain comes, the nutrients your lawn needs have long been washed away.

A properly fertilized lawn can thrive, just like the one you’ve always dreamed of. It can recreate the whole look of your home, without really changing anything at all.

For a bright green lawn, a fertilizer containing Nitrogen helps; and you’ll want something to ensure your roots are healthy as well, so one containing Phosphorus is a good idea as well.

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Free Spring Walking Tours in Grand Rapids - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Free Spring Walking Tours in Grand Rapids

MARCH 29, 2021 | Walking Tours | Shield Insurance Bog

Downtown GR Now Offering Free Spring Walking Tours

Topics include public art, history and notable landmarks

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. partnered with Grand Rapids Running Tours to offer visitors free walking tours around Downtown Grand Rapids throughout this spring season.

These walking tours explore topics ranging from public art, history and iconic Downtown landmarks.

All tours meet at Rosa Parks Circle and no registration is necessary. First come, first serve. Please bring your masks.

See the full schedule below.

Rad Women Walking Tours

March 30, 9:00 – 11:30 AM

This #WomensHistoryMonth, celebrate the #RadAmericanWomen throughout history via public art and FREE walking tours around #DowntownGR! The artwork and tours are based on the New York Times bestselling book “Rad American Women A-Z” by Kate Schatz. With a total of 27 works of public art on electrical boxes featuring portraits of #RadWomen from Angela Davis to Zora Neale Hurston, the tour will give you a background on each public figure and the Rad Local Artist behind each artwork.

Miles of Murals Walking Tours

April 7, 6:00 PM., Miles of Murals Part One Walking Tour
April 14, 10:00 AM, Miles of Murals Part One Walking Tour
April 21, 6:00 PM, Miles of Murals Part Two Walking Tour
April 28, 10:00 AM, Miles of Murals Part Two Walking Tour

Who says art museums must be inside, enclosed with 4 walls, a ceiling, and a floor? Swirling all about us in Grand Rapids are intriguing artworks on sides of buildings, underneath highway overpasses, on retaining walls, street surfaces, and utility boxes. These are murals – street and wall artworks – painted by artists that celebrate beauty, calls to action, or tributes to heroes. The murals transform otherwise unnoticeable – or worse – blighted spaces into a must-see, energizing attraction. Viewing these murals is a study in local history, community activism, and sheer expressions of creativity… art all the time! So many murals, so little time – so the walk is divided into two parts… we pick up where we left off when we meet for Part Two.

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Hemingway and Michigan Summers - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Hemingway & Michigan Summers

Shield Insurance Blog | Hemingway |

Ken Burns’ Hemingway Documentary Includes Michigan Summers

By MYNORTH NEWS SERVICE on March 12, 2021

Award-winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick direct the upcoming three-part, six-hour documentary on Ernest Hemingway, including historical photographs of the writer’s summers spent in Northern Michigan.

The series about Hemingway, the iconic literary figure considered one of the greatest American writers, will premiere on central and Northern Michigan PBS affiliate, WCMU Public Media, April 5 at 8 p.m., and include voice actors Jeff Daniels as Hemingway; plus Meryl Streep, Keri Russell, Mary-Louise Parker, and Patricia Clarkson as Hemingway’s four wives. The documentary series will also include historical photographs of Hemingway’s time spent in Northern Michigan, provided by Michigan’s Clarke Historical Library.

“The extraordinary pictures in the photo albums at the Clarke Library are absolutely irreplaceable to our film,” shares filmmaker Lynn Novick about the important photographs the Clarke Historical Library provided for the documentary series. “They make it possible for us to represent Hemingway’s family and life in Michigan in the most vivid, tangible, and authentic way, and we are so grateful to be able to include them.”

In anticipation of this series, and to explore Hemingway’s deep ties to Northern Michigan along with how they influenced his attitudes, passions, and writings, WCMU Public Media is partnering with the Clarke Historical Library and noted Hemingway historian Michael Federspiel for “Hemingway in Michigan: A Live Streaming Event” Wednesday, March 31 at 6 p.m.

During this virtual event, attendees will enjoy “Let’s Go Back” video stories featuring the Clarke Historical Library’s Hemingway Collection containing one-of-a-kind items from the legendary author’s life, watch an exclusive advanced preview of the Hemingway documentary series before its April 5 nationwide premiere on PBS, and participate in a question-and-answer session with Hemingway experts, including filmmaker Lynn Novick and producer Sarah Botstein.

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Create Moments of Joy this Cookie Season - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Create Moments of Joy This Cookie Season

There are smiles, purpose, and YUM in every bite!

When you make a Girl Scout Cookie purchase, you’re helping the next generation of entrepreneurs get an important taste of what it takes to be successful: teamwork, planning, and a positive outlook. Because proceeds from your purchase stay local, you also help create positive change in your community by powering life-changing experiences for Girl Scouts all year long.

Whether it’s an outdoor adventure she’ll never forget, a STEM activity that opens her mind to new possibilities, a service project that changes her community, or the chance to build a lifetime of memories with her Girl Scout sisters near or far, Girl Scout Cookies make it all happen!

The best part is this: as you help equip girls with the confidence and know-how they need to dream big and do bigger, you’re also giving yourself and your family the simple, powerful joy of biting into a delicious Girl Scout Cookie with lots of love, inspiration, and purpose in every bite. It’s a sweet reminder that just like Girl Scouts, you too can be brave, resilient, and dedicated to making the world a better place, no matter what.

Give cookies to a friend, enjoy them yourself, or donate them to a local cause—every bite counts!

Feed your cookie craving!

Ready for cookies? There are several ways to satisfy your Girl Scout Cookie craving.

And remember, by buying and donating cookies, you support and celebrate girl ingenuity and innovation across the country, as Girl Scouts use creative sales methods like contactless delivery, virtual cookie booths on social media, and digital cookie platforms to keep you safe, meet their goals, and keep on shining.

Click here to find Girl Scout cookies in your area

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2021 MLB Season Guide - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

2021 MLB season Guide

Everything you need to know about MLB Spring Training, Opening Day, and more

March 19th, 2021

Last Oct. 27 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, Dodgers left-hander Julio Urías froze the Rays’ Willy Adames for strike three, closing out a 3-1 victory in Game 6 of the World Series and igniting a joyous Los Angeles celebration. The Dodgers had won their first championship since 1988, officially closing the book on the 2020 MLB season.

It also began the countdown to Opening Day, which is now fast approaching.

That also brings up many questions for fans, such as, “Is baseball coming back in 2021?” and “Will MLB allow fans in stadiums?” among other things. To help with that, here is a complete guide to everything you need to know about the 2021 MLB season.

MLB and COVID-19
Last year, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic shut down Spring Training in mid-March and delayed Opening Day. Ultimately, the 2020 season did not begin until late July, and teams played a 60-game schedule, adhering to MLB’s strict COVID rules. They then embarked upon an expanded postseason, with the field widened from 10 teams to 16.

Nearly a year later, the pandemic persists, although ongoing vaccinations — including many at Major League ballparks — are providing hope. However, COVID-19 will continue to affect the MLB schedule in 2021, especially throughout Spring Training and early in the regular season. That will extend to both fans (in terms of how many are allowed to attend games) and players (who once again will have to abide by health and safety protocols, throughout Spring Training, the regular season, and the postseason).

Free agency and transactions

While the offseason got off to a slow start, most of the top free agents have now signed. That includes reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer (Dodgers), center fielder George Springer (Blue Jays), catcher J.T. Realmuto (Phillies), second baseman DJ LeMahieu (Yankees), and left fielder Marcell Ozuna (Braves). There also have been some blockbuster trades, including the Padres’ deals for pitchers Yu Darvish (Cubs), Blake Snell (Rays) and Joe Musgrove (Pirates), the Mets’ acquisition of shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco (Indians), and the Cardinals swap for third baseman Nolan Arenado (Rockies).

With that said, even with Spring Training now underway, some notable players remain on the free-agent market, including starting pitchers Rick Porcello and Cole Hamels. Clubs will continue looking to bolster their rosters ahead of Opening Day, especially as injuries cut into their depth.

Spring also tends to be a time when teams and players agree to contract extensions, as players often do not want to be involved in negotiations once the regular season begins. MLB already saw one huge deal in late February, with the Padres inking superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year pact. But there are many other extension candidates to watch.

MLB Tonight: Tatis Jr. extension

Spring Training

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Medical Stop-Loss Insurance - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Medical stop-loss insurance: Helping health insurance corporate buyers keep pace with medical inflation

Shield Insurance Blog | stop-loss | Start A Quote Today!

Over the past ten years, healthcare costs have risen steadily each year as treatment and care options have become more sophisticated and advanced. As a result, corporate health insurance buyers are looking for more effective solutions to manage their healthcare spend, which is their biggest cost behind payroll.

For employers who choose to self-fund their health insurance programs, employer stop-loss insurance protects those groups against large or catastrophic claims, as an alternative to traditional group health insurance and benefits plans. The medical stop-loss insurance sector has experienced dramatic growth in recent years as more employers migrate to self-funded health insurance programs, which offer customizable coverage for employees with disciplined cost containment oversight.

Karthik Mohan, vice president of sales & distribution for the medical stop-loss group at Liberty Mutual Insurance, outlines how medical stop-loss insurance can help organizations keep pace with medical inflation. 

The value of medical stop-loss insurance for self-funded health insurance programs

Today, approximately 61% of U.S. employers self-fund their health insurance programs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2019 Employer Health Benefits Report Annual Survey. Frequently, those same employers purchase medical stop-loss insurance, which is a financial management tool that transfers the liability risk arising from large, unexpected claims, like cancer treatments, new therapies for complex conditions, and organ transplants, to an insurance carrier – sparing the employer from unpredictable, catastrophic medical claim costs that can materially impact an organization’s cash flow and bottom line.

Medical stop loss insurance is typically offered with two types of deductible options:

  • Specific Stop Loss, or “Spec” deductible, for individual stop loss insurance. Coverage protects the self-insured employer in the event of a severe or significantly costly claim for an individual member of the group plan receiving the care, such as a rare cancer condition, new drug treatment or gene and cell therapies
  • Aggregate Stop Loss, or “Agg” deductible, for group claims. Coverage protects the self-insured employer that experiences medical claims under the group plan that exceed the cap placed on the policy term for the coverage.

Under these programs, the stop loss insurance carrier reimburses the employer for healthcare financial losses above the contractual policy deductible limit.

The growth of the stop loss insurance market

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Tax Day is May 17, 2021 - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Tax Day is May 17

Tax Day for individuals extended to May 17: Treasury, IRS extend filing and payment deadline

IR-2021-59, March 17, 2021 | Tax Day | Start A Quote Today! | Shield Insurance Blog

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days.

“This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Even with the new deadline, we urge taxpayers to consider filing as soon as possible, especially those who are owed refunds. Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds, and it can help some taxpayers more quickly receive any remaining stimulus payments they may be entitled to.”

Individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This postponement applies to individual taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax. Penalties, interest, and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by May 17.

Individual taxpayers do not need to file any forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief. Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request a filing extension until Oct. 15 by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, or tax software, or using the Free File link on Filing Form 4868 gives taxpayers until October 15 to file their 2020 tax return but does not grant an extension of time to pay taxes due. Taxpayers should pay their federal income tax due by May 17, 2021, to avoid interest and penalties.

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Get Gardening Muscles in Shape and Prevent Injuries - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Get Gardening Muscles in Shape and Prevent Injuries

Get Gardening Muscles in Shape and Prevent Injuries. Before digging, pruning, and planting, make sure you’re ready for the work

by Susan Moeller, AARP, March 15, 2021

Christine Zellers tries to run five miles every day and, at 53, considers herself to be in shape. But even she admits that gardening can leave her sore and achy.

“I feel it, especially in the beginning of the season,” she says. 

Zellers, an assistant professor of family and community health sciences with Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, New Jersey, teaches gardening, leads group exercise classes, and grows vegetables and herbs in her own garden in Ocean City, New Jersey. To protect her body, she tries to remember to stretch and limber up before heading out to dig, plant, or lug big pots around.

“You want to be thinking about the kind of movement you’re going to do and make sure you’re strengthening those body parts, like your core and your back and your legs and your quadriceps,” she says. “So you want to warm up a little bit just like you would if you were going for a run or doing an exercise class.”

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Insurance Rates and Your Credit Score - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Insurance Rates and your Credit Score

How credit affects auto insurance: Rates could increase up to 72%

Kacie Goff /October 15, 2020

Article Highlights

Before offering you a policy, insurance providers analyze your risk profile by looking at things like your driving history, as well as personal details, such as age or marital status. This evaluation is used in determining your premium. 

But there’s another somewhat surprising factor that affects your premiums in all but three states: your credit score. Unless you live in California, Massachusetts, or Hawaii, expect your credit score to affect how much you pay to insure your car, at least to some degree. 

You may already be familiar with your credit score as determined by the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, it’s important to know that insurers assign you an insurance credit score that varies from your traditional credit score. While your credit score plays a role in that insurance score, additional factors are also involved.

It’s important to understand why credit affects car insurance. Carriers’ proprietary credit-based insurance score provides a way to check two things: your likelihood of making insurance payments on time and your likelihood of filing a claim.  

While insurance carriers use a more complex algorithm to calculate premiums based on your insurance credit score, for the sake of this study, Coverage simplified the ratings by classifying insurance scores into three general categories: “good,” “average” and “poor” credit. This is to give you a general idea of the premium impact by credit tier. 

Can credit scores be evaluated for auto insurance rates?

Short answer: yes, in most states. California, Massachusetts, and Hawaii are the exceptions here.

Michigan is a bit of a gray area, too. In Michigan, you might be mostly off the hook. Insurers can’t use your credit score, but they can look at your credit information. That means a low score won’t necessarily increase your rates, but a history of missed payments might make an insurance provider wary, and could ultimately affect your rates. 

Let’s look closer at why credit affects car insurance rates. Studies, including a Congress report by the Federal Trade Commission, have shown that a lower score means you’re a higher risk for your insurer. A poor score directly correlates to an increased risk of filing a claim. 

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