7 Ways to Stay Healthy This Cold and Flu Season

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Every year in the U.S., millions of people become ill from the flu virus, missing work and school and sometimes even winding up in the hospital. This year, make it your New Year resolution to stay healthy and avoid the flu (and pesky winter colds) with these simple tips:

  • Get a vaccine. The flu vaccine is one of the best ways to prevent illness. Don’t feel like scheduling a doctor’s appointment? Lots of pharmacies offer vaccines too.
  • Get plenty of rest. During sleep, the body performs many of the repair processes that help it stay healthy, and it also gives your body plenty of time to recuperate. While rest is always important, it’s especially critically to get enough sleep during cold and flu season when the immune system needs to be at its strongest.
  • Watch what you eat – and drink. Make sure to get plenty of fluids, especially water, and eat a balanced diet of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables that are full of vitamins to keep your immune system in top condition.
  • Reduce stress (if you can). Studies have shown stress – especially chronic, day-to-day stress – can take a huge toll on immunity and make us more prone to disease. A balanced diet can do a lot to help mitigate stress, but consider yoga, meditation or simple activities to help you wind down and relax on a daily basis.
  • Use antibacterial wipes on your desk, phone and other accessories, and to wipe down desks. Carry a bottle of antibacterial handwash and use it throughout the day, especially after using public restrooms.
  • Consider using a humidifier. Mucus membranes provide a sticky layer that can trap germs before they have a chance to enter the lower airway and lungs where they can cause infection. Winter’s dry air can dry out membranes and make them less able to trap germs.
  • Stay home when you feel ill. Not only will your body benefit from the extra rest, but you’ll avoid spreading the disease to others.

While you’re at it, make sure you have adequate health insurance just in case. Your health insurance provide important coverage for all sorts of illnesses and medical care without taking a big bite out of your budget. It takes just a few minutes to review your health insurance coverage. Call Basi today at 209-847-3065 to review your insurance coverage. It’s a simple step that can go along way toward helping you get the medical care you need to prevent sickness and to treat illnesses that do occur.

4 Home Security Tips to Keep the Cheer in Your Holidays

The holidays are upon us, and that means it’s time for presents, parties and family visits – lots of fun for friends and loved ones – and unfortunately, lots of opportunity for thieves. Nobody wants to be a Scrooge during the holidays, but statistics show they’re a prime time for home burglaries, and taking a few precautions can help you keep your happy holidays from turning into a stressful nightmare.

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Here are a handful of tips that can help you keep the cheer in your holiday celebrations:

  • Invest in a home security system. Sure, we hear you – you’re not made of money. But guess what? There are plenty of home security options available today that are surprisingly affordable, even on a modest budget. And many of them feature options that let you monitor your home remotely right from your phone or laptop. Holiday sales abound, making DIY systems even more affordable.
  • Keep packages out of sight. Locate packages (and unwrapped gifts) away from windows or close your blinds. In the car, keep them stowed in the trunk.
  • Mind your trash. Leaving boxes for new electronics or other big-ticket items curbside for trash pickup lets thieves know what’s inside your home. Break up boxes and turn them inside out so labels don’t show before putting them out for recycling.
  • If you’re taking a trip to visit relatives, set your lights and maybe a TV on timers. Opt for timers you can control remotely so you can alternate the times when lights turn on and off. Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your home, and consider parking a second car in your driveway to make it look like you’re home.

Of course, one of the best ways to protect yourself against the unexpected during the holidays (and all year long, for that matter) is with a comprehensive homeowner’s insurance policy that’s customized for your needs, with just the right amount and type of coverage to keep you and your loved ones financially “whole” if a nasty surprise does occur. That goes double if this year’s gift list includes expensive jewelry, antiques or other items not covered by a traditional homeowner’s policy. At Basi Insurance Services, we specialize in helping our customers get the right coverage for their needs. Start the New Year right with a review of your homeowner’s insurance coverage. It takes just a few minutes and it’s one of the smartest gifts you can give to yourself and your loved ones this holiday season. Call 209-847-3065 for a policy review today.

7 Tips to Score Deep Discounts This Black Friday

Thanksgiving Day may be the favorite holiday of gourmets and gourmands, but the next day – Black Friday – is arguably the most anticipated day of the year for those who get their biggest thrills from major discounts and bargain-basement prices. Many Black Friday ads have already been “leaked,” and this year looks like it’s shaping up to be a bargain-hunter’s dream, with plenty of discounts on an array of products, from electronics and toys to clothing and housewares.

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If you’re developing your own Black Friday plan of attack to help you score some amazing discounts, here are a few tips to help you find the best deals – and avoid some of the dangers when heading out on the busiest shopping day of the year:

  • Sign up for Black Friday deal websites to receive notifications of specials and to see previews of most ads long before they appear in newspapers or on the retailers’ own websites.
  • Sign up for emails from favorite retailers for notifications of special Black Friday discounts as well as coupons that can help you save even more.
  • Look for apps – there are several – that help you find deals on-the-go as well as compare deals between retailers while you’re shopping.
  • Do your homework ahead of time so you can focus on the best deals, especially if you’re buying an item like a TV, laptop or tablet where there are plenty of models to choose from.
  • Keep your spending on one credit card to make it easier to stay in budget as well as helping you spot fraudulent activity. Or buy gift cards and use those instead of credit cards. You’ll have a set spending limit and you can avoid the risk of fraud entirely.
  • Be careful when using online coupons, especially those that arrive via email from unknown email addresses. Fraudulent coupons may contain spyware that can infect your computer or they may be used to capture your account numbers or other personal information.
  • Also be careful when using ATMs. Thieves use tiny devices placed inside or over the ATM slot to collect card numbers and pins so they can fabricate a duplicate card and ransack your bank account.

Whether you’re buying gifts for others or for yourself, a little time spent preparing can help you keep more of your hard-earned cash in your own pocket – and who knows? With some careful planning, you might even be able to avoid those dreaded post-holiday credit card bills when January rolls around.

From Replacing Income to Paying for College, Life Insurance Plays an Important Role in Financial Planning

Most people know they need life insurance, but many people put off actually buying a policy or never bother to review their policy to make sure it still provides enough coverage to suit their needs. Having a life insurance policy in place can offer plenty of benefits, including replacing lost income and ensuring your kids can afford to go to college, plus it can even be used to leave a bequest to help your kids and grandkids enjoy a brighter future.

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If you find the idea of buying life insurance more than just a little confusing, you’re not alone. Here are some guidelines to help you find the right policy:

  • Know what you need. Do you need to replace your income? Cover future college costs? Plan for long-term care? No one understands your financial situation or your goals and objectives better than you do, and an experienced insurance broker can help you understand how to meet and fulfill those goals.
  • Understand the difference between term life and whole life policies. In a nutshell, term insurance is good for a specific period of time and may or may not be renewable once that time limit is reached. Whole life (sometimes called permanent life insurance) policies remain in place until your death. Each type can offer different advantages depending on your own situation and needs, so consider each type fairly to make the best decision.
  • Ask plenty of questions. Most consumers have only the vaguest understanding of what a life insurance policy does or the options it can offer. Replacing lost income is just one of the benefits. Be sure to ask if the policy can be canceled or renewed, how long the current premiums remain in effect, what riders are included, if protection is provided for accidental death, and what exclusions are in place.
  • Start planning early. Life insurance provides critical protection for policyholders, especially in the event of an unseen accident. Putting off life insurance planning and purchasing leaves your loved ones at risk for serious financial problems that can have a direct bearing on their futures. Early planning is the key to ensuring your loved ones’ needs will be met no matter what happens.
  • Use an independent broker. Brokers that work for a specific company will be limited in the options they can offer. Independent brokers (like Basi Insurance Services) have access to a wider array of products from many different companies, which means they can customize a plan that’ specifically suits to your needs, your long-range plans and your budget.

Buying life insurance may not be the most pleasant task, but with an experienced independent broker, it doesn’t have to be daunting. Plus, having life insurance in place is one of the best ways to show your loved ones you care about their future and to help them feel confident and secure that their needs will be met, no matter what the future holds.

7 Steps to Protect Your Farm and Your Workers During Harvest Season

Harvest season is in full swing in and around Oakdale, and with so much activity, the risk of accidents is also on the rise. Taking a few extra precautions now can pay off by helping you keep the cost of accidents and worker’s compensation claims low so you can enjoy more of the fruits of your labor.

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  • No matter what the season, staying safe on the farm begins with regular review of safety protocol for workers in every stage of your operation. Reviewing regulations not only ensures your workers stay safer, but it also helps keep you in compliance with local, state and federal regulations. Don’t make the mistake of thinking routine reviews of safety guidelines are just for new workers; even the most seasoned employees can benefit from a refresher, especially since regulations are frequently being updated.
  • Don’t forget to review operational guidelines as well. Whether you’re adding an entirely new piece of equipment or updating a similar existing piece of machinery, reviewing the operational manual can play a critical role in avoiding accidents. Reviews can be beneficial not just for those who operate the equipment, but for anyone on your farm who may come in contact with the machinery while it’s in use.
  • Make ample use of signage. View your farm with critical eyes, looking for areas where caution signs can provide a visual reminder for workers to be extra careful. Packing facilities, trucks and other machinery all should be properly labeled in visible locations.
  • The peak of harvest season also means more vehicles will be heading out on the roadways to travel from one field or location to another or to take the harvest to market. Review the rules of the road and make sure trucks and other vehicles are labeled for the benefit of workers as well as other drivers.
  • Harvest is also a time when machinery will be in high use. Make sure every piece of equipment is properly maintained and serviced for optimal, safe operation. Don’t forget to check guards and rollover devices to ensure they’re properly secured.
  • Review protocol associated with the proper use of respirators and other personal protective equipment, including eye wear and footwear. Make sure workers understand the risks of leaving these items behind when performing their tasks.
  • Finally, review your insurance coverage and perform an overall assessment of your operation to look for potential safety issues and have them corrected as soon as possible. Call Basi Insurance to review your policy and find out about other steps you can take to maximize your workers’ safety during harvest season and throughout the year.

Agriculture work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. Don’t skimp when it comes to protecting your farm and your workers. Call Basi Insurance at 877-590-4826 to learn how you can run a safer operation and prevent dangerous and costly accidents.

Business Claims: Do You Know What to Do? 6 Important Steps

Commercial insurance can provide important protection for your business – but only if you know what to do when a loss occurs. The claims process is an essential part of making sure you get the reimbursement you deserve under your policy so you can get your business up and running as quickly as possible.

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Unfortunately, plenty of businesses – even large, established ones – don’t know the important steps they should take when a disaster occurs. If that sounds like you, never fear – we have a quick list of steps every business should take to protect their businesses, their property and their bottom lines in the event of an insurable loss:

  • First, call your agent. The sooner you contact your insurance agent, the sooner your claims process can begin. Plus, your agent will arrange to have an inspector come out to survey the damage and take notes and photos as needed.
  • Take your own photos. Don’t rely on the inspector or adjuster to take all the photos from every angle. It’s your loss, so for your own peace of mind (not to mention your records), take plenty of photos that clearly show the extent of the damage. Also keep a written record of the steps you’re taking throughout the claims process so you can refer to them if necessary.
  • Don’t move anything. As a business, you want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible to avoid losing customers or income. But moving debris or damaged equipment can make it more difficult for the adjuster to estimate your losses. If you must move items or debris, be sure to take plenty of pictures first.
  • Have your policy in hand and review it so you understand your coverage and can be ready to ask questions throughout the process. Ideally, your policy will be stored in a safe, easy-to-access location (and your agent’s number will be stored in your phone).

Those are the four essential steps to take if you have a loss. But there are a couple of things you should do before a disaster to help prevent losses and to make the claims process go as smoothly as possible.

  • Make a plan. Every business of every size should have a written plan that spells out the steps to take in case of a disaster. Knowing what to do can help ensure your business gets back to normal much more quickly and it can also avoid a lot of confusion when it comes to setting priorities.
  • Review your policy frequently. Businesses change over time, and even small changes can mean big gaps in coverage. Review your policy yearly as well as any time you add new equipment or make any other changes to ensure you’ve got the coverage you need to stay protected.

At Basi Insurance Services, we help businesses of all sizes throughout the Oakdale area get the coverage they need for their business’ specific risks. Call today and let us review your coverage.

Vacation Plans? Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

Nearly 1.8 million burglaries took place in the U.S. in 2014, resulting in almost $4 billion in property losses, according to the latest statistics from the FBI. The vast majority of those burglaries occurred in homes when the residents were out – either at work or, commonly, on vacation. In fact, while most of us consider summer to be a time of vacations and relaxed work schedules, for burglars, it’s the busiest time of the year. That’s because they know many people take at least one vacation during the summer, leaving a lot of empty and often poorly secured homes. If you’re planning a summer getaway, follow these tips to keep your home and your possessions safe while you’re away:

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Keep your plans to yourself.

One of the best ways to make sure your home stays safe when you’re on vacation this summer is to avoid posting about your plans online. Statistics show professional burglars make it a regular habit to surf the internet, looking for posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms providing detailed information about upcoming vacation plans.

Invest in a security system.

There was a time when owning a security system meant a huge financial outlay and large, ongoing fees to keep it up and running. But all that’s changed, and today’s systems are much more affordable, making them well within the reach of even modest budgets. Plus, many systems offer cameras that enable you to keep an eye on your property from anywhere there’s an internet connection, and you can even control your lights and other appliances right from your smart phone or tablet.

Recruit your neighbors (assuming they’re trustworthy).

Obviously, your neighbors can keep an eye on your home while you’re away, calling the police if anything unusual happens. But they can also bring in mail or flyers left on your doorstep, and they might even have an extra car they can keep parked in your driveway so it looks like someone is home.

Use timers – judiciously.

If you don’t have a remote security system, you can still turn lights on and off using timers. Set them to turn lights on in different areas of your home at different times of the day to avoid having all the lights turn on at once, which can be a pretty clear indication timers are in use.

Check your locks.

Before leaving on vacation, make sure all your locks work, including the ones on your garage door and windows. Invest in a special locking bar for sliding doors as well.

One more tip: Before leaving on vacation, make sure your homeowners policy is up to date and offers the coverage you need to keep all your valuables protected. No one likes to think about being the victim of a burglary, but in the end, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. To have your own policy reviewed, call Basi Insurance Services today.