12 Mindless Habits That Are Secretly Exhausting You - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

12 Mindless Habits That Are Secretly Exhausting You

Feeling tired no matter how much rest you get? These mindless habits and behaviors you probably do every day could be to blame.

By Krissy Brady09/21/2021 05:45am EDT | HuffPost.com

It’s no secret feeling drained has become the status quo, one that leaves us overexerting ourselves just to get through the necessities of the day. This leads us to lean on any energy booster we can think of to help us make it through. However, we also should suss out the energy sappers lurking in our daily habits.

Think of your energy as water in a cup that has a hole in the bottom. There are two ways to ensure the cup always contains enough water: pour more water into it or make the hole smaller.

“Finding ways to boost your energy is analogous to filling the cup and focusing on ways to make tasks less draining to making the hole smaller,” Tyson Lippe, a psychiatrist at Heading Health in Austin, Texas, told HuffPost. “Both are equally important, yet we often underestimate what can drain our stamina.”

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8 Fall Chores You Can't Afford to Ignore - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

8 Fall Chores You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Do these maintenance tasks now and reap the rewards later

By Paul Hope | Published October 15, 2016, | Updated September 22, 2021 | Consumer Reports

Early fall is the right time to get your yard and house in order because come winter, small problems can turn into expensive nightmares.

Consumer Reports’ money-saving checklist covers everything from fallen leaves to your furnace. And many of these fall chores cost little more than time and effort. “A little bit of preventive maintenance now will help you avoid big hassles in the future,” says John Galeotafiore, who oversees CR’s testing of outdoor power equipment and other home gear.

Outdoor Fall Chores With Immediate Payoff

Close Your Hoses

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Why You Can't Shake Pandemic Fatigue — And What To Do About It - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Why You Can’t Shake Pandemic Fatigue — And What To Do About It

Pandemic Fatigue: How to know if (still) feeling tired is a phase, a funk or something worse

by Beth Howard, AARP, August 10, 2021 | Pandemic Fatigue |

Feeling fatigued during what seems like a never-ending pandemic? Join the club. Whether you feel like you’re languishing or just lacking the energy to head back to the office this fall, you may be one of many Americans who can’t quite shake pandemic-related malaise.

“We’re at home and we’re stressed and the impact of that is to develop a sort of mental and emotional lethargy,” says Margaret Wehrenberg, a clinical psychologist in Saint Charles, Missouri, and author of Pandemic Anxiety: Fear, Stress, and Loss in Traumatic Times.

And yes, your pandemic habits can also play a role — especially if things like regular exercise or healthy eating went out the window sometime during the lockdown. “A lot of people who thought it was going to be a six- or 12-week thing let their diet go,” says Kathryn A. Boling, M.D., a primary care physician at Mercy Medical Center’s Mercy Personal Physicians in Lutherville, Maryland. And instead of, say, going to work and hustling through a commute, “we just walk from the bedroom to the living room and sit in a chair most of the day, except for when we get up to snack.” A year of such habits has likely contributed to the general lassitude. But if you’re over 50 and worried that feeling worn out may just be your new normal, know this: Being tired is not a typical aspect of aging. At least it shouldn’t be when you’re in your 50s, 60s, or 70s. “It does not have to be part of aging until you get pretty advanced,” Boling says. “If you’re 90, you’re more likely to run out of gas.”

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4 ways telematics can drive safety for construction companies - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

4 ways telematics can drive safety for construction companies

In recent years, many construction companies have realized the value of telematics, a method of using phone apps, seatbelt monitors, AI sensors, and cameras to capture information on driving behavior and safety. But while implementing telematics has become increasingly common in construction vehicles, studies show that most companies aren’t embracing the technology to its full potential.

A recent survey showed that while 86 percent of construction companies use telematics, only about 23 percent use that data to inform their decision-making.

The value of telematics data goes beyond safety. It can also offer insight into company-wide trends, reduce operating expenses, and even help in court. Here are four ways that implementing telematics can add value to your construction company—and tips to help construction risk managers and executives act on the data these systems collect.

1. Create a culture of safety for construction companies.

Construction workers face one of the highest rates of injury and death on the job of any profession. The industry accounted for about 20 percent of all on-the-job fatalities in 2019, according to OSHA. As such, creating a culture of safety is a high priority for construction executives, who want to mitigate risk and keep employees safe.

Telematics data enables companies to create that culture of safety—but simply implementing telematics won’t make drivers safer. To make real change, companies need to monitor and coach drivers, with the goal of improving driving behavior and reducing risk.

By leveraging data to change drivers’ habits, companies can take a proactive approach to safety and help stop accidents from happening in the first place. 

Tips for implementation: coach drivers more effectively and respond to trends, not single incident, so employees don’t feel like they are being punished for a situation that may not have been in their control. Focus on positive reinforcement and get to the root cause of poor driving behaviors—like determining whether employees are overworked or fatigued. Liberty Mutual’s Managing Vital Driving Performance (MVDP™) program takes this approach to help companies implement telematics successfully. One customer realized a 56 percent decrease in aggressive driving events and a 60 percent decrease in hard braking events over a three-month time period after implementing MVDP.

2. Reduce operating expenses.

As noted above, telematics data can help your company move from a reactive to a proactive approach to driver safety—and that can make a difference for your bottom line. Why? Safer driving will lead to fewer accidents and less money spent on vehicle repair and replacement. Over time, safe driving can even cut down on regular maintenance costs because drivers won’t wear out brakes and other parts as frequently. Additional savings might include improved fuel efficiency and better regulatory compliance—which means lower fuel costs and fewer DOT citations to pay.

Tips for implementation: bring telematics into your asset-management process by monitoring costs like maintenance, citations, and other expenses each quarter. You can then compare these expenses to telematics data to track how safe driving is impacting your operating costs.

For larger companies, in particular, telematics is a valuable investment as it can help you spot trends across your fleet. A national construction company, for example, might use telematics to monitor driving behavior across geographic regions to determine whether certain areas are more prone to risk. Telematics data can also help you track trends across different employee populations, types of vehicles, and more. These trends can help you assess your risks from all aggressive driving—not just aggressive driving that has resulted in a single accident.

Tips for implementation: for companies with a large fleet, telematics data analysis should be part of a robust fleet safety program that includes pre-hiring screenings, crash reporting protocols, and more. 

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FDA clears Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine boosters for vulnerable groups - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

FDA clears Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine boosters for vulnerable groups

The decision comes after weeks of debate over whether or not Covid-19 vaccine third doses are needed

by Nicole Wetsman  | Sep 22, 2021, 7:59 pm EDT | The Verge | COVID-19 vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration cleared a third dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people some vulnerable groups — the first booster in the United States’ vaccination efforts.

The agency signed off on boosters for people 65 years of age and older, those who are at high risk of severe disease, health care workers, and other people at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 at work.

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Your Guide to Saving for Retirement in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Your Guide to Saving for Retirement

Your Guide to Saving for Retirement in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s

By Roxanna Coldiron | Updated September 09, 2021 | MarthaStewart.com

Our financial experts weigh in on the money milestones to hit throughout your life.

Most of us dream of the day we can retire from the workforce. That doesn’t mean that we plan to sit around and watch the grass grow all day, but we would love the opportunity to enjoy life without worrying about our finances. And by the time we reach retirement age, many of us have been working for over half a century. We have earned the rest from constant labor. That’s why it is important to begin saving for retirement now. “No matter what your age, or marital status, people should start saving as early as possible,” says Yanela Frias, senior executive for Prudential Retirement. “You’re never too young or too old to start saving.”

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Fire Prevention 52 RV Fire Safety 101 - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Fire Prevention 52: RV Fire Safety 101

By Kathy Komatz, National Structural Fire Training Specialist | NPS.gov

20,000 RV Fires Occur Annually

RV fire safety is of premium importance to the conscientious RVer. Unfortunately, fire is one of the leading causes of RV loss in the U.S. today. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that 20,000 RV fires occur annually. Don’t let yours be one of them!

RV fires can start when your RV is moving or when it is parked. The following tips can help you recognize the most common fire hazards. 

Before you go:

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PFAS the extraordinarily costly liability you need to know about - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

PFAS: the extraordinarily costly liability you need to know about

A new and massively costly complication is changing environmental liability: cleanup of hazardous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in aqueous film-forming foams or AFFFs. Commonly used throughout the United States, these Class B firefighting foams are used to extinguish fires involving flammable and combustible liquids, oils, gases, and more. PFAS are held to some of the toughest cleanup standards among regulated contaminants. To make matters more challenging, there are few technologies proven to do the job – and many associated costs.

Cleanup costs of PFAS compounds in AFFF can be 5 to 20 times more than those of fuels released from a petroleum storage facility.1

What creates such high costs?

PFAS waste is managed by waste disposal companies as federal hazardous waste. Disposal costs are often nearly double the typical cost of disposal of petroleum-impacted waste. There are several factors at work here:

  • Limited soil treatment options. The only proven methods for treating PFAS in soil are excavation followed by landfill disposal or destruction via incinerator – both of which are costlier than methods used to dispose of other contaminants. 
  • Limited soil treatment resources. Because of the potential for extraordinary liability, only a limited number of landfills and incinerators accept PFAS waste.
  • High transport costs. With facilities few and far between, transporting PFAS-impacted soil can be four times higher than transporting petroleum-impacted waste.1
  • Limited groundwater treatment options. Only ex-situ technologies that include groundwater extraction wells and above-groundwater treatment systems with granular activated carbon or ion exchange resins are proven to treat PFAS in groundwater.
  • Long-term groundwater costs. A groundwater extraction and treatment system may need to operate for as long as 40 years, entailing significant operation and maintenance costs. 
  • Strict federal standards. The acceptable rate of PFAS is notably low, requiring a greater effort and more funds to achieve.

Breaking down cleanup costs

This outline of cleanup costs associated with PFAS contamination following a typical energy industry fuel fire shows the considerable scope of this threat.

Collection and disposal of 1M gallons of AFFF, water, and fuel at hazardous waste management facility

$12M to $54M
The projected cost for soil cleanup

$10M to $15M
The projected cost for groundwater cleanup

One year of stormwater runoff management (collection, transport, and disposal of 800,000 gallons of runoff at hazardous waste management facility)

$26.05M to $73.05M

How can vulnerable companies prepare?

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Tracking COVID-related securities litigation 4 reasons cases may be on the rise - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Tracking COVID-related securities litigation

Tracking COVID-related securities litigation: 4 reasons cases may be on the rise

When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, many in the insurance industry anticipated a wave of litigation that would mirror the influx of lawsuits after the 2008 recession. During that year, investors trying to recuperate lost funds filed more than 200 new cases, increasing securities litigation by nearly 20 percent from 2007. So far, however, this prediction has not played out—at least not yet.

Courts have experienced a slowdown in securities-related lawsuits since the beginning of the pandemic, with only 29 cases filed since the initial shutdown. But some experts believe a surge of COVID-19-related litigation is on the horizon. In this article, we’ll explore what we know based on the COVID-19 securities cases that have been filed so far, and why there could be a rise in legal activity and related directors and officers (D&O) claims. 

COVID-19 securities litigation: what we know so far

Unlike other events that precipitate stock market crashes, the pandemic has had a unique impact on the economic and legal landscape—in large part because it’s unlike any other financial crisis we’ve experienced. Despite the uniqueness of the situation, however, it’s possible to identify several reasons why the pandemic hasn’t sparked the same rise in securities litigation that we saw in 2008.

Importantly, this time the government quickly provided aid to help offset the pandemic’s impact on the stock market. On top of that, many companies went above and beyond to share information with stakeholders following the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) guidance from April 2020 to “disclose as much information as is practicable regarding [your company’s] financial and operating status(…).” These factors, plus the widespread belief that COVID-19 was just a temporary setback, likely kept many investors out of the courtroom.

Even with the litigation slowdown, however, there are a few cases currently working their way through the courts. The following is a breakdown of the three main types of COVID-19-related securities lawsuits experts have observed so far.

  • Outbreak-related cases

A few cases have been filed against companies that experienced outbreaks in their facilities. For example, some cruise-ship companies, prisons, and long-term care facilities are facing securities litigation.

  • Cases against false financial claims 

Companies that claimed to be able to profit from the pandemic are also facing litigation. For example, shareholders at some vaccine development companies recently sued over false claims around the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

  • Cases in heavily impacted industries

Finally, shareholders with investments in companies most disrupted by the pandemic have started to file suits. Heavily impacted industries include real estate investment trusts (REITs) and businesses in the entertainment and travel industries.

4 areas of uncertainty around post-pandemic securities litigation

With so few cases in court today, why could there be a rise in COVID-19-related securities litigation and D&O claims? Here, we review four factors that could make an impact.

1. The nature of the stock market

Since March 2020, the stock market has been volatile, and it will likely continue that pattern for months, or even years. Because of this, reductions in stock prices will take time to develop. Many shareholders may wait until the market levels off to litigate to have a clearer picture of the long-term impact 

2. Stricter regulations from the SEC

According to news outlets, the new administration is signaling a tougher regulatory stance than its predecessor. If the SEC tightens restrictions and enforces stricter disclosures for publicly held companies, this may benefit future plaintiffs.

3. A lack of comparable cases and precedent

As noted above, there have only been a few securities lawsuits to date around COVID-19 losses, and most of the cases are still working their way through the court system. Without precedent to use as a guide, only time will tell if cases survive motions to dismiss and the percentage that is in favor of plaintiffs. If more plaintiffs pursue cases and are successful, it could whet the appetite for more suits.

4. Continued economic uncertainty

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Personal vehicles and business liability what risk managers need to know - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Personal vehicles and business liability: what risk managers need to know

If you’re a risk manager, safety officer, or a company stakeholder, you know the business liability exposure for company vehicles inside and out. You regulate and maintain your fleet and your drivers daily, and do everything you can to avoid being part of the more than 7 million auto accidents that occur in the U.S. every year.

But your liability may not end with your company fleet. If your business allows employees to use personal vehicles to conduct business, even only occasionally, you might be exposing your company to additional risk. Here are six areas to consider so your company can mitigate risk and better protect your employees and company.

1. Establish hiring guidelines

Limiting your company’s liability begins with establishing clear hiring practices. Just as you would for employees driving company vehicles, make sure employees who will drive personal vehicles on the job have valid driver’s licenses. For every driver, obtain a motor vehicle record (MVR) to review accidents, infringements, and other behind-the-wheel behaviors. Evaluate MVRs annually and confirm that all employees driving personal cars continue to maintain good driving records. If employees are found exhibiting unsafe behaviors, take whatever measures you feel are appropriate—including training, suspension, or even dismissal.

2. Clarify expectations for drivers

Require employees who are driving personal automobiles for business purposes to sign vehicle use agreements. This document should describe your expectations for employees while they are behind the wheel. For example, employees should agree to:

  • Abide by all state and local laws and regulations pertaining to vehicle operation;
  • Refrain from activities that could lead to distracted driving, including the use of mobile phones; and
  • Never consume alcohol or illicit substances during work hours.

The consequences for disobeying the agreement’s guidelines should be outlined as well. And remember to review and update these agreements regularly—and then obtain new signatures after staff review the revised agreement.

3. Evaluate liability coverage

Your business should also set standards for employees’ automobile liability coverage. In general, state coverage requirements are typically low. California, for example, only requires $5,000 coverage for property damages, while other states only require $10,000 to $15,000 coverage for bodily injury. But a serious accident, resulting in disabling injuries or fatalities, can result in claims costs in the millions.

Your insurance carrier and broker can help recommend minimum coverage requirements and also suggest changes to your company’s commercial auto coverage based on your potential exposure. Employees who use their personal vehicles for work frequently may also want to consider adding business use endorsements to their personal automobile policies. Maintain copies of employees’ certificates of insurance detailing coverage periods and limits and request updated copies every year.

4. Require regular vehicle maintenance

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