Safety First When Celebrating Labor Day!

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There’s one thing I always say to my younger siblings when I know they’re hanging out with family or friends on a holiday weekend.
“Be smart! Be safe! Have fun!”
Your Labor Day weekend can be fun and safe at the same time! It’s normally a fun-filled weekend because it’s one of the last chances to be in the water, grill out, and enjoy the weather before the season change. While no particular Labor Day activity is unsafe, the combination of festivals, travel, boating, swimming, food, and alcohol requires us to be extra conscious about safety.
Here are some helpful tips to ensure your holiday adventures are as safe as possible.
If you’ll be traveling, traffic will be heavier than normal. When driving, follow these tips:
  • Don’t drink and drive! Designate a driver, please.
  • Watch for motorcycles!
  • Follow the speed limit.
  • Eliminate distracting driving, like texting on cellphones.
  • Remain alert and drive defensively.

If you’ll be on the water, there will be lots of boaters and swimmers. On the water, remember to:

  • Know weather conditions before/throughout the day.
  • Have a swim buddy in all areas.
  • Constantly supervise children in or near the water.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets.

If you’ll be cooking out, be mindful of the dangers. When grilling, be sure to:

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  • Keep the grill away from anything that could catch fire, like the house or tree branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill.
  • Do not use charcoal starter or lighter fluid once coals have already ignited.
  • Keep your grill clean.

One thing that can help protect you no matter your holiday weekend activities is a Personal Umbrella Policy. If you’re involved in an accident or a guest is injured on your property, you could be held liable. A Personal Umbrella Policy provides coverage above and beyond your primary auto or home policies for an extra layer of protection. Watch this video to learn more and then contact your independent insurance agent about this valuable coverage!

The information above is of a general nature and your policy and coverages provided may differ from the examples provided. Please read your policy in its entirety to determine your actual coverage available.

Products underwritten by Central Mutual Insurance Company and affiliated companies.

Copyright © 2019 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

School Bus Safety For Kids By a Kid!

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Sometimes the best way to share information with your child is for them to hear it from another child! Check out this video by 10-year-old Drayden for some important school bus safety tips!

School bus safety tips highlighted in this video include:

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb and line up away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

Visit the Car, Road & Bus Safety page at with your children for fun activities to teach them more about school bus safety.


Copyright © 2019 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

Be Smart, Be Safe: School Bus Safety Tips

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Summer has come and gone once again. Parents are getting excited, but kids are dreading their final days or weeks before school starts again. As we gear up for the school year, it’s important to educate ourselves on school bus safety. Here are some tips to keep in mind for this school year:

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  1. Slow down. Give yourself plenty of time to get to and from your destination. Being in a hurry can be a distraction.
  2. Be prepared to stop. The law states a driver must stop for a school bus regardless of what side of the road they are on. Always remember to keep a safe distance due to frequent and sudden stops. Failure to stop puts children in danger, and the driver can be fined and penalized.
  3. Be alert. Always look for children on the sidewalks, streets, or bus stops. Whether you are backing out of your driveway, driving on a country road, or through a school zone – always look for children.
  4. Learn school bus laws. Each state is different. Take the time to get familiar with your state’s laws regarding school buses.
  5. Have insurance. Be prepared. You can take all the necessary measures to prevent an accident, but they still happen. Make sure your insurance will provide coverage in case of an accident.

Have questions regarding your policy? Contact your local independent agent to make sure you are prepared for this school year and years to come.

To read more, please see this previous blog article titled: School Safety Saves Lives

Copyright © 2019 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

Don’t expect your car’s safety tech to reduce insurance costs

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RUCKERSVILLE, Va. (Reuters) – Automakers are accelerating the rollout of technology designed to avoid crashes, but insurance companies are waving a caution flag at consumers eyeing discounts for buying cars with suites of accident avoidance technologies. 

The global market for such systems is expected to reach more than $67 billion by 2025, growing more than 10% each year. A group of 20 carmakers has pledged to outfit almost every new vehicle with forward collision warning and city-speed automatic emergency braking by 2020.

Government mandates to install technology such as collision-avoiding automatic braking systems are driving the market, as is the promise of profits for these higher-margin vehicles.

“Anybody that has been in a car with advanced safety solutions is not going to go back,” Kevin Clark, chief executive of auto technology supplier Aptiv PLC told Reuters. The cost for advanced safety systems – automatic braking, lane keeping and adaptive cruise control – can be relatively low to the automaker, between $500 to $1,000 per vehicle, Clark said.

“The (manufacturer) can price for it and consumers will pay for it,” he said.

Aptiv expects to book more than $4 billion in new safety tech business this year. “We have gone from five customers just a few years ago to I think we’ll have north of 20 in a couple of years from now,” Clark said.

The insurance industry’s perspective is different.

Personal auto insurance, while traditionally a low-margin business, provides the largest amount of liquidity to insurers, generating more than $244 billion in 2018 direct premiums in the United States alone, data by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners showed. Car insurance is also seen as a way for insurance companies to cross-sell other, more lucrative products to customers.

According to Swiss Re AG, the world’s largest auto reinsurer, and mapping company HERE, safety tech has the potential to reduce motor accident frequencies by up to 25%, cutting global insurance premiums for safety-tech-equipped cars by $20 billion by 2020.

But U.S. insurers said they currently do not have sufficient data to validate auto industry promises of safety benefits from automated driving systems.

They cite car manufacturers’ reluctance to provide detailed information on models sold with those features, a lack of consistent standards, drivers’ unpredictable use of the systems and higher repair costs.

“We’re not going to go against the data and create any type of false discounts for the purposes of marketing at this point. We just want to make sure the rate is reflective of the risk that it brings,” said Steve Armstrong, a vice president of Allstate Corp’s pricing department, one of America’s largest insurers.

Shantelle Thomas, also a vice president at Allstate’s pricing department, said insurance rates will reflect benefits and costs of modern auto technology in the next five years, but will not necessarily be presented as discounts.

The sentiment was echoed by other insurance providers.

“We’re stuck in a murky in-between,” said Jennifer St. John, national auto claims leader at Westfield Insurance. “(Safety tech features) have shown to provide real world benefits, but there really isn’t a great deal of commonality in terms of what’s out there.”

Insurers pointed to higher repair costs as a risk. Sensors and cameras central to automatic driving systems are mostly installed in a car’s bumper or windshield. Research by AAA has shown repair costs for even minor collisions can double if such sensors are damaged.

“There’s no such thing as a $300 bumper anymore. It’s closer to $1,500 in repair costs nowadays,” said Richard Lavey, executive vice president at The Hanover Insurance Group.

State Farm in a statement said it did not offer discounts specific to advanced driver assistance systems and that future rates would be shaped by a variety of factors, including safety, regulation, underwriting, liability and repair costs.

GEICO did not respond to requests for comment.


With new automated driving features being released on a rolling basis, insurers said it is difficult to keep up.

Forward collision warning with automatic braking has been found to have one of the greatest safety benefits among various driver assistance systems. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded in a recent study that automatic braking could reduce front-to-rear crashes with injuries by 56%.

But most safety tech features are still sold as optional equipment, making it impossible for insurance companies to validate which features ultimately end up on a specific car. Insurers are reluctant to trust car buyers to correctly identify what technology their vehicle has on board.

Advanced safety features not only differ in performance and description among different manufacturers, but even among models by the same automaker, according to research by IIHS and its UK equivalent Thatcham Research, which conduct road tests to evaluate safety tech performance.

“The only way you can adequately price is by getting more data to understand what a vehicle has and whether it makes a difference,” said Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s research director.

That data is not sufficiently provided by manufactures who often cite proprietary and competitive reasons, said Tom Karol, general counsel of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, whose members insure more than 170 million U.S. auto policyholders.

Automakers and insurers said they are dealing with the data issues. General Motors has a team working on safety tech and insurance, according to Barry Engle, head of GM’s North American operations.

Engle said he expects with better information, the insurance industry would respond positively. “To the extent that they are not, collectively we need to do a better job of communicating with one another,” he said.

Swiss Re is leading efforts to develop a global safety tech risk score and a mechanism allowing carmakers to supply data to Swiss Re, which in turn will recommend discounts to auto insurers. 

“If we say these cars are safer, insurers are more prone to believe us as we take part of the risk” as a reinsurer for consumer-facing auto policy writers, said Sebastiaan Bongers, Swiss Re’s head of products and technology.

Bongers believes reductions in accident frequency and severity will eventually offset higher repair costs. But he said lower premiums could result in temporary liquidity problems in the insurance sector in about 10 years.

Swiss Re so far has partnered with BMW and is in talks with more auto manufacturers to develop a comprehensive system.

Seven Safety Tips for Tornadoes You Must Know

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Safety Tips for Tornadoes

Seven Safety Tips for Tornadoes You Must Know

Tornadoes can happen anywhere in the United States and they have the ability to destroy structures and cause great harm. Whether you live near a Pacific Coast beach or reside inland, it’s important to be prepared for severe weather. Learn these tornado safety tips to help keep your loved ones safe in the event a tornado warning or watch goes into effect near your home.

What Is a Tornado?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) classifies a tornado as a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm and comes into contact with the ground. Because we can’t see wind, a tornado won’t come into view unless it forms a condensation funnel consisting of water droplets, dust, and debris.

Meteorologists use the Fujita Scale to measure the intensity of a tornado. The weakest is an F-O. These have wind speeds that ranges from 40 to 72 miles per hour and usually only cause light damage. The strongest tornado is an F-5. With wind speeds clocking in at 261-318 miles per hour, these tornadoes can result in catastrophic damage to life and property.

Where Do Tornadoes Happen?

According to preliminary reports from NOAA, 1,154 tornadoes touched down in the United States in 2018. That’s not a small number by any means, and NOAA also reports that Louisiana (86), Iowa (84), Mississippi (68) and Illinois (64) experienced the most tornadoes last year, while California (6) had the most on the West Coast.

Tornado Safety Tips

  1. Know the difference between a tornado watch versus a tornado warning. A tornado watch signals the possibility of a tornado in and around your area. A tornado warning means weather radar has spotted one.
  2. Prepare an emergency supply kit. Gather items like fresh batteries, a battery-operated TV, radio or internet-enabled device, water, non-perishable food, and medication, and leave them in a place you can easily reach during an emergency. Use this helpful checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
  3. Designate a safe building for shelter. Come up with a plan for where your family should go during a tornado. Basements, storm cellars and interior rooms on the lowest floors are your best options.
  4. Find low-lying ground if you’re stuck outside. Look for a ditch or a flat area on the ground if no cover or shelter is available. Stay on the lookout for flash floods as they can sometimes accompany tornadoes.
  5. Get off the road if it’s possible. If you’re driving when a tornado warning goes into effect, getting to shelter should be your first priority. If none are available, pull over to the side of the road in a low-lying area away from trees and stay clear of bridges and highway overpasses.
  6. Be flexible. Tornados are unpredictable. A backup plan for where to go during a tornado provides added flexibility in the event you’re unable to get to your planned safe location.
  7. Stay informed. Listen to local news on the battery-powered radio or check for updates on your phone or television for information and instructions if you have power.

Staying safe during a tornado comes down to preparation and common sense. Follow these tornado safety tips to prevent harm to you or your family, and talk to a Mercury Agent to find out how a homeowner’s policy could protect your assets.

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

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Kids look forward to Halloween all year long: the costumes, the trick-or-treating, and, of course, the epic candy haul. But here’s a frightening fact: children are twice as likely to get hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Check out these tips to help keep everyone safe this Halloween.

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For trick-or-treaters:

  • Make sure a responsible adult accompanies younger children during trick-or-treating.
  • If older kids are trick-or-treating without an adult present, ensure they stay in a group, that a parent helps them discuss and plan their route, and that everyone agrees on a curfew time for their return.
  • If kids are trick-or-treating after dark, provide working flashlights for all kids and escorts.
  • Make sure kids understand the rules of stranger danger: never getting into a car or going anywhere, including inside the home, of somebody they don’t know. Instruct them to only trick-or-treat at homes with a porch light on and to never enter someone’s home or car for a treat.
  • If trick-or-treating at night, use reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags. Glow sticks or glow-in-the-dark costumes are another good option for raising their visibility.
  • Only trick-or-treat on well-lit streets and use the sidewalk if there is one (if none is available, walk at the road’s edge, facing traffic), and remind kids not cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Remind adults AND kids not to look at their cell phones or other electronic devices while walking down the street or crossing the road.
  • Motorists, especially when driving at night, can have trouble spotting trick-or-treaters. Teach kids about proper road crossing etiquette: looking left, right, then left again, crossing as a group in established crosswalks, and never crossing between parked cars or to cut through people’s yards.
  • Costumes and accessories should be fire-resistant. Avoid walking near lit candles, jack-o-lanterns, or luminaries.
  • Masks can obstruct vision. Non-toxic face paints are a great alternative.
  • Oversized costumes can be trip hazards. Wear shoes and costumes that fit properly.
  • Costume props like knives, swords, or staffs should always be made of soft materials, like rubber or foam, so they can bend easily should a child trip and fall while carrying it.
  • Go over how to make a 9-1-1 call with your kids, and talk about what actions they should take in the event of an emergency or if they get lost.
  • Encourage your kids to wait until they get home to start eating treats. Have an adult examine all treats before allowing kids to dig in (though tampering is rare, unwrapped items, homemade goodies, and/or choking hazards like popcorn or hard candy for kids under 4 should be thrown away and not consumed).

For drivers:

  • If you find yourself driving on Halloween night, be vigilant: watch for kids and pedestrians in crosswalks and on the roads, including on medians and curbs.
  • Be extra careful entering and exiting driveways and alleys.
  • Look out for kids who may be in dark clothing.
  • If you’re a new or inexperienced driver (or the parent of one), refrain from driving on Halloween night, if possible.

Stay safe and have a Happy Halloween!

Safe and smart

about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.

Make Road Safety a Top Priority This Harvest Season

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With farmers in and out of fields for harvest season, it’s important for everyone to do their part to help keep our farmers and motorists safe. One study by the University of Iowa indicates that equipment-related accidents in the nine Midwestern states alone account for over 1,100 accidents a year[1]. Many of these accidents can be avoided by having patience, using extreme caution, and following a few simple recommendations:

Recommendations for Motorists:

  • Wait until it’s safe to pass farm equipment. Make sure you have clear visibility and plenty of time to get around them.
  • Be prepared to stop at railroad crossings when following a vehicle towing anhydrous ammonia. Federal and state regulations require all vehicles transporting this substance come to a complete stop prior to crossing any active railroad tracks[2].
  • Slow down at the first sight of farm equipment on the roadway. Farm equipment usually travels less than 25 miles per hour, and it only takes a matter of seconds for a vehicle traveling at 55 miles an hour to catch up to these slow moving vehicles.
  • Drive defensively, especially when approaching on-coming farm equipment. Impatient motorists may attempt to pass when it’s not safe or when they have poor visibility.

Recommendations for Farmers:

  • Always mount Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblems to equipment. This is the law in many states [3].
  • Use turn signals or proper hand signals to communicate intentions to motorists.
  • Make sure equipment has appropriate lighting and/or have an escort vehicle follow you to allow for the best visibility for approaching motorists.
  • If traffic is backing up behind you, attempt to let traffic pass when there are no oncoming vehicles.

Road safety this harvest season is in our control. These recommendations and a little patience, caution, and common sense can go a long way towards making sure our farmers and motorists stay safe.


[1] Ramirez, M. Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health. “Farm Equipment Crash Study.”

[2] Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association. “A Guide to Anhydrous Ammonia Regulations.”

[3] Kirk Hall, P. The Ohio State University. “Ohio Law on Speed Identification Symbols on Farm Machinery.”

Copyright © 2018 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

How to Build a Winter Emergency Kit for Your Car | Allstate Insurance

How to Build a Winter Emergency Kit for Your Car | Allstate Insurance
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Keeping a properly stocked winter car emergency kit may help you survive if you get stuck or stranded. Consider packing these helpful items:

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Mandatory Driver Safety Discounts for Mature Drivers

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6 Safety Features That Can Save You Money on Car Insurance

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