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Staying Safe in a Tornado

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Spring is finally here.  Unfortunately, that means tornado season is also upon us.  

All of us here at HJ Spier want you and yours to be safe.  Below is an article from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) with tips and information for    

  Staying Safe in a Tornado

To stay safe during a tornado, prepare a plan and an emergency kit, stay aware of weather conditions during thunderstorms, know the best places to shelter both indoors and outdoors, and always protect your head.

Tornadoes continue to impact locations across the country every year, bringing massive winds and destruction in their paths.

The 2016 tornado season claimed the lives of 18 individuals and injured another 325. Seventy-eight percent of those victims were in a mobile home or trailer park at the time of the tornado. These storms caused an estimated $183 million in property damage.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) there is no guaranteed safety during a tornado. Even the possibility of a tornado must be taken seriously. Although the most violent tornadoes can level and blow away almost any house and those within it, extremely violent EF5 tornadoes are very rare. Most tornadoes are much weaker. You can survive a tornado if you follow safety precautions. Here are three important tips to help keep you safe.

House after a tornado

Make sure you and your loved ones know what constitutes a “safe shelter(” (See our infographic( for a quick summary of tips).

TIP ❶: Be prepared.

The best way to stay safe during a tornado is to be prepared with:

  • fresh batteries and a battery-operated TV, radio, or internet-enabled device to listen to the latest emergency weather information;
  • a tornado emergency plan including access to a “safe shelter” for yourself and for people with special needs;
  • an emergency kit (including water, non-perishable food, and medication); and
  • a list of important information, including telephone numbers.

Make sure your children know what a tornado is, what tornado watches and warnings are, what county or parish they live in (warnings are issued by county or parish), and what constitutes a location as a “safe shelter,” whether at home or at school.

TIP ❷: Stay aware of weather conditions.

To protect yourself and your family from harm during a tornado, pay close attention to changing weather conditions in your area. If you know thunderstorms are expected, stay tuned to local radio and TV stations or an NOAA weather radio for further weather information. Some tornadoes strike rapidly without time for a tornado warning. The following weather signs may mean that a tornado is approaching:

  • a dark or green-colored sky;
  • a large, dark, low-lying cloud;
  • large hail; or
  • a loud roar that sounds like a freight train.

If you notice any of these conditions, take cover immediately, and keep tuned to local radio and TV stations or to a NOAA weather radio or check the internet.

TIP ❸: Know where to shelter.

Falling and flying debris cause most deaths and injuries during a tornado. Although there is no completely safe place during a tornado, some locations are much safer than others.

  • Go to the basement or an inside room without windows on the lowest floor (bathroom, closet, center hallway).
  • Avoid windows.
  • For added protection get under something sturdy (a heavy table or workbench). Cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag or mattress. Protect your head with anything available.
  • Do not stay in a mobile home.

If you are outside or in a mobile home, find a nearby building preferably with a basement. If you are in a car, do not try to outrun a tornado but instead find the nearest sturdy building. NOTE: You may need to change your plans and change locations when the tornado watch is issued.

No one can know a tornado’s strength before it touches down, so keep up with local weather information, especially when thunderstorms are forecast. Prepare your home and family for the possibility of a tornado. Moving to shelter quickly is easier when everyone knows where to go, whether in your home or outdoors. Following these tips will give you the best chance for staying safe in a tornado.

Learn more about how to stay safe during a tornado(

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HJ Spier- Your Anti Status Quo Benefit Advisers

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Our advisers at HJ Spier are turning away from worn out, status quo solutions to solving the medical plan overspend.  The Preferred Provider Organization networks of yesteryear are nothing more than a worn out watered down solution.  Today’s networks allow employees to use any provider in their area and in exchange don’t receive any real discounts that move them away from the retail setting. 

The medical ID cards from status quo plans are the equivalent of a credit card that provides access to any provider, anytime, regardless of the cost of care.  We have concrete evidence that a knee replacement surgery costs 3 times as much from one provider as compared to the next.  One might suggest that the larger the cost the better the outcomes, but evidence proves that not to be the case.  We are involved in direct negotiations with providers to obtain true savings. 

We are also moving our clients to a fee based model where we will align ourselves with our client’s interests.  We are not aligned when our commission based payments increase when our clients face hardship.

Today’s health plans are broken and using status quo solutions will not fix them.   Until employers demand new solutions, they will continue to run overpriced plans.  At HJ Spier, we declare ourselves to be Anti- Status Quo Advisers. 

Contact our Employee Benefit Advisers to see what we can do for you.




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When you visit your doctor, it's a good idea to come prepared with a list of questions to ask.  May I suggest that you use the same idea for your next visit with your insurance professional? Three questions that I suggest are as follows:




 Every insurance policy has certain things that are excluded from coverage. These are known as policy exclusions.  Smart consumers want to know what these exclusions are. When you talk to your agent, be sure to specifically ask him or her about what is NOT covered under your policy. Flood and earthquake are some examples. The policy also has limitations that is a set maximum amount set aside for certain types of losses.  A homeowner policy has set limits and specified causes of loss for damage from backup of sewer and drains, damage to jewelry, guns, or furs. A business policy has set limits for damage to signs, limits on business interruption, or theft of cash. What about coverage for employee dishonesty?

An agent's experience can add value to the insurance relationship. Once coverage gaps are uncovered, it can be determined what additional coverages are available to fill in the gaps. How do I get a flood policy? Can we add earthquake to my policy? Next ask your agent, "What can I do to reduce my risk?" A good agent might recommend an alarm system for your home. What about additional outside motion sensor lighting? A business might benefit from an adequate supply of floor mats strategically placed to reduce slip and falls. What about a formal safety program? What about the use and regular inspections of fire extinguishers?

Claims help available from an agency can vary. Some agents (or agencies) take claims information directly from clients, while others refer the client to a toll free number. Some agents assist clients with claims that are not at fault by contacting the at fault carrier, while others will not. In the event of a claim involving loss to property, some agents will take photos, while others don’t. Ask your agent how they handle these matters. Your agent is a knowledgeable, experienced professional. Take advantage of that knowledge by asking for advice!

Your visit with your doctor is a meeting of the minds between a trained professional and a mindful client with specific questions. Shouldn't your next interaction with your insurance agent be the same thing?             



Keep the 'PLEASURE' in Pleasure Boating

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Our agency has received a number of requests for coverage on new or used boats. 

It is crucial that first-time boaters get instructions as to operating boats safely.  Also, each boater should check that all life vests and other safety equipment are present and in-use when all operators and riders first enter the boat and as they exit the boat.

Read the article below by Cincinnati Insurance Company on other boating saftey tips!


Blanket Coverage

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If your business has more than 1 location it would be wise to consider blanket coverage for your building and/or contents insurance. If you blanket the total values, that provides a cushion in the event of a loss compared to having specific values listed per location.

For example, if Business A has 2 locations with values of $100,000 on the building and $50,000 of contents for location 1, and $200,000 on the building and $100,000 of contents at location 2, and you blanket the values, the business would have $450,000 of total building and contents insurance coverage in the event of a loss at either location.

If Business A had the same values above on a scheduled basis and then had a $60,000 loss of contents at location 1, the insurance company would only pay up to a maximum of $50,000 but if the policy was written on a blanket basis, the entire $60,000 loss would be paid.

It would be wise to discuss this coverage with your agent if applicable to your business.

Call us at HJ Spier for more information.



Pool Safety and Awareness

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As the weather warms up, pools are preparing or have opened for the summer. Memorial Day is the traditional opening day of the summer swim season.  Swimming is the most popular summer time activity. A new report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that the number of reported fatal child drownings in swimming pools involving children younger than 5 has actually decreased 17 percent nationwide since 1910.  Unfortunately, drowning is still the #1 cause of unintentional  death for children ages 1-4.   Of the total number of drowning deaths in pools and spas of children ages 0-14 from 2012 -2012 77% of those deaths involved children younger than age 5. Annually there are about 5900 emergency department pool and spa drowning-related injuries treated annually.

Parents and caregivers are reminded to follow Pool Safely’s simple steps to keep children safer in and around water:

  • Install a four sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas or a mechanically operated pool cover that prohibits access to the pool via a continuous connection between the cover and the deck, cannot be opened or shut without a key or digital touch pad, and has a tag indicating that the cover meets ASTM standards.
  • Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water.  This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone or be otherwise distracted.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards.  If you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safe drain covers.  Since the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety law went into effect in December of 2008, there have been no drain entrapment-related deaths involving children in public pools and spas.

For more tips for pool and spa owners, visit or

Enjoy the warm summer days and please be safe.




Celebrating Graduation Safely

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Graduation time is upon us, and with it is a time to reflect and celebrate accomplishments!  It is an exciting time for graduates and the entire family, but before seniors and parents begin their parties, please take the time to talk with them about keeping safe and alcohol free while driving.   

Unfortunately, what is supposed to be a happy time can end in tragedy.  Car accidents are the leading cause of fatalities among teenagers. 

Please review the following safety information from Cincinnati Insurance for Students Parents, and Party Hosts. It is important to continue to educate ourselves so our Graduates can continue to lead a happy, healthy, full life!


Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month as observed by The National Safety Council.  Now more than ever this is an important topic for consideration and action!  If you are like me, it is amazing how many people you can see driving that are looking down at their phone.

Insurance companies have experienced an increase in the number of claims related to distracted driving over the last several years particularly in the case of one vehicle accidents.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2014 distraction was cited in approximately 7% of drivers involved in fatal crashes.  The flaw in the statistics is that the data relies on information from drivers and witnesses that might not be forthcoming or have the wrong perception of the cause.

Whether you are a parent or an employer, espousing the benefits of ignoring a phone while driving is a worthy endeavor.  Many insurance companies require employers with company vehicles to have a written and documented cell phone policy in place which contains rules and consequences for the use of phones.  A number of families that I know have a written contract with the youthful drivers in their household governing and prohibiting the use of a phone while driving.

Here is a link to The National Safety Council’s website that is worthy of sharing with family and/or employees.  This contains a lot of information underscoring the dangers of distracted driving. 

Drive safely!



Small Group Transitional Relief Policy Extended Through 2018

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CMS has issued a new one year extension on the transitional relief policy for pre-ACA “grandmothered/legacy” plans.

This gives groups with grandmothered plans the opportunity to remain on their current plan until December 31, 2018.

Here is what we know so far:

                Anthem Groups

·         Plans that renew September-December will have no renewal in 2017

·         Rates will be guaranteed through December 31, 2017

·         All plans will renew January 2018

·         You can then keep your current plan through December 31, 2018

·         All plans will renew to an ACA Compliant Plan effective January 1,               2019

United Healthcare Groups

·         As of now your renewal date will remain the same 

·         All plans will renew to an ACA Compliant Plan effective January 1,               2019


We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more!



HealthiestYou-Help Employees Bridge the Gap Between Deductibles

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HealthiestYou is a telemedicine product that HJ Spier is integrating into Employee Benefit Plans. We love it so much that we use it ourselves!

With Healthcare costs on the rise we are always looking for tools to help Employers AND Employees lower their spend.

HealthiestYou brings FREE 24/7 telemedicine to your employees. Members can call, go online, or download an app to access board-certified, licensed physicians that can diagnose and prescribe, whether members are at home, at work, or on the road.

This saves a trip to the physician’s office, Urgent Care, or Emergency Room. HealthiestYou can treat and diagnose common illnesses such as:  Allergies, Bronchitis, Earache, Sore Throat, Pink Eye, Sinusitis, Strep Throat, Upper Respiratory Infection, Urinary Tract Infection, And More! 

This Employer Sponsored program helps employees by minimizing their exposure to deductibles and Out-of-Pocket expenses, and helps Employers by removing doctor’s office, Urgent Care, and Emergency Room claims from the health plan.

To learn more about HealthiestYou and other managing tools HJ Spier can bring you reach out to our Benefits Team:

Jeff Fox ( or Caitie Hodge (



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