5 Water Safety Tips to Heed Before You Go Boating This Summer

As the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior is a popular boating destination not just for people living in and around Duluth, but for visitors from throughout the country and even around the globe. That means once the warm weather hits, there are a lot of people plying the lake’s waters with all sorts of watercraft. And that doesn’t even take into account the commercial traffic on the lake.

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Most people associate traffic accidents only with cars, trucks and other vehicles on roads and highways, but they’re also a common occurrence on the water, especially among boaters who are less experienced or who don’t know or understand the basic concepts of safe boating. While you can’t ensure other boaters are taking proper water safety precautions while on the water, you can control what goes on in your own craft. Here are some basic “safe boater” steps you can – and should – take when heading on on the Big Lake or any other body of water:

  • Know the weather. Weather can change quickly, so listen to weather reports before heading out and be conscious of changes in the water, sky or wind that can indicate a storm approaching.
  • Wear a life jacket. Statistics show most people who drown during a boating accident are not wearing life jackets. Today’s jackets are lighter weight and more comfortable than ever, so if you’ve been leaving your jacket off because it feels too bulky, invest in a few new ones and make sure everyone wears theirs while on the water.
  • Leave the alcohol on land. The effects of alcohol are intensified by bright sun, wind, and noise and vibrations of the boat. You should never operate any boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Make sure your boat lights and radio work before leaving the dock, and have a working, charged fire extinguisher on board – and easily accessible.
  • Learn (or review) the rules of navigation. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a downloadable boating and water safety booklet that can help. Click here to view it.

One more water safety tip: Make sure you have enough insurance to protect yourself, your boat, your assets and your passengers in case of a boating accident. At Cartier Agency, we offer an array of insurance products for boats and other recreational vehicles, and we can help you assess your risks so you can get the best coverage for their needs. Give us a call at 800-756-3346 and let us review your coverage today.

Finally, remember: No matter how placid the water or weather may appear when you head out, Mother Nature is always the boss – and both the weather and the lake can be unpredictable. Review these safe boater tips before casting off, and visit the website of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to learn more.

9 Simple Tips for a Safer Summer BBQ Season

Minnesotans take their barbecuing seriously. Once the cold, gloomy winter and cool, wet spring give way to the glorious (albeit short) summer season, the vast majority of us head out to the backyard to wheel out our trusty bbq grills and prepare them for another season of good eating. Whether you’re an experienced, die-hard bbq devotee or a newcomer to the craft of charbroiled goodness, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind to ensure your own summer bbq season is as delicious and enjoyable as possible:

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  • Never use a grill on a porch, patio or other covered area, and never use a grill in a garage or enclosed area either.
  • Be sure your grill isn’t located under any low overhanging branches or eaves, and ideally, set it up on a hard surface away from anything that could burn from a flyaway spark.
  • Store fuel away from the grill, especially while the grill is in use. The same goes for lighter fluid. Or eliminate lighter fluid entirely with a chimney starter that helps you light charcoal without the need for fluid.
  • If you use a propane grill, check all the hoses and connections before firing up the grill to ensure there are no fuel leaks. Replace any rusted connectors or damaged hoses – don’t “make do” with a patch.
  • Clean your grill after use (once it’s cooled down) to remove built-up grease that could spark a blaze the next time you use your grill.
  • Keep kids and pets away from the grill while it’s in use as well as while it’s cooling down.
  • Make sure to have a pail of sand or dirt on hand or a fire extinguisher approved for use on grill fires.
  • Cook meat thoroughly. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a list of recommended internal temperatures for meat and fish at its website here.
  • Never, ever leave a grill unattended, even for a few minutes. And don’t leave it unattended while it’s cooling down. Make sure it’s completely cool before storing it or placing a cover on it, and never dispose of charcoals until they’re entirely cool. Douse them thoroughly with water before disposing of them to be extra safe, and place them on their own in a metal pail to await disposal.

And finally, if a summer of grilling has you convinced you’re a bbq grand master, head on over to the Minnesota Barbecue Society website and learn how you can compete for a coveted title (and cash prizes!) next summer.

Hiring a Summer Intern? 5 Tips for a Successful Experience

Summer internships can be a great way for students to gain real-world, resume-building experience for future careers, and businesses gain too by having access to new ideas and a little extra help around the office.shutterstock_378529474

If you’re bringing an intern on board this summer, here are a few tips that can help ensure both the student and the business get the most benefits possible from the experience:

  • First, be wary of unpaid summer internships. Recent lawsuits have repeatedly found in favor of unpaid interns who sought back pay for work outside of the scope of their learning experience. To avoid such problems, offer paid internships. You’ll still save money (there’s no need for benefits and you can offer a very modest stipend) while staying on the “good side” of the law. If you opt for an unpaid internship, you must ensure the intern has close supervision to help them build skills and benefit from professional guidance.
  • Make sure the summer internship experience is geared to helping the student grow their own skills and gain educational experience that can help them in their future careers. The educational benefits of the position need to be the focus; you can’t bring on an intern simply to perform random tasks on an as-needed basis – there must be an educational benefit aimed at helping the intern gain relevant skills and experience.
  • Have a plan for your intern’s tasks and workload. Most interns come on board with lots of enthusiasm and a desire to be truly helpful to your business. Make sure you both get the most from the experience by developing your own modified curriculum, really structuring your program to provide an in-depth look at the field the intern will be entering after graduation. You might even consider designating a mentor to oversee the intern’s progress.
  • Tap into their youthful view of the world. In addition to enthusiasm and energy, most interns are also chock full of new ideas which can provide a fresh focus on your business’ operations. Letting your intern be a part of planning and discussions when appropriate could even help you expand your market or identify an entirely new niche. Plus, because interns aren’t tied to performance rewards or bonuses (or hampered by worries they’ll displease the boss), they’re often more willing to explore new approaches to old problems that can help you think “outside the box.”
  • Finally, make sure your business insurance covers your intern and his or her activities while on the job. Before bringing an intern on board, ask your agent to review your policy to prevent unpleasant surprises if something unexpected occurs.

And there’s one more benefit to bringing on a summer intern: Working with a soon-to-be-graduate can give you a jump on your competition by helping you identify new talent early so you can be ready with an offer when the intern graduates. With proper planning, a summer internship could be just what your business needs to grow to new heights of success.

Tempted by the Summer Sun? Use These 7 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with about 8,500 new cases of skin cancer diagnosed every day on average, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. About 18,000 people are expected to die as a result of skin cancer this year alone, with more than half of those deaths attributed to melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.

Nearly all skin cancers are due to too much exposure to UV rays, most commonly derived from the sun (although using tanning beds can also cause skin cancer). And that means that in order to significantly decrease the chances you’ll develop skin cancer, you need to protect your skin every day. One of the best ways to do that is with sunscreen – but you need to be sure you’re using it correctly.

How to Wear Sunscreen

First, choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, according to recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology. Make sure it offers both UVB and UVA protection. SPF tells you the amount of UVB protection a sunscreen offers. For UVA, look for products that contain one of these ingredients to get the best protection: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, oxybenzone, avobenzone or ecamsule.shutterstock_186970088.jpg

Second, apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside to enable the product to start working, and massage it into the skin, don’t just leave it laying on top of the skin.

Third, apply it every two hours or more frequently if you’re sweating a lot or you’re swimming.

Fourth, make sure you use enough – most people need at least an ounce for complete coverage. That’s about as much as fills up the palm of your hand, or enough to fill a shot glass to the rim.

Finally, be sure to cover “forgotten” areas like the ears, toes and the back of the neck.

More Tips

In addition to wearing sunscreen – and wearing it properly – there are a couple of other important steps to take to prevent UV exposure from the sun:

  • Avoid the sun when it’s at its brightest – typically between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Stay indoors or in the shade during those hours if you can.
  • Wear protective clothing like a long-sleeved shirt for added protection, as well as a wide-brimmed hat to protect the eyes and face and good-quality sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Have routine skin cancer screenings. They take just a few minutes, and when performed by a trained dermatologist, a screening can identify cancers in their earliest stages, when treatment can be most effective.

After winter of gray, cold weather, everyone wants to spend some time basking in the summer sun. And taking these few simple precautions can help ensure you stay healthy while doing it.

For Those in the Trucking and Carrier Industry, Reviewing Safety Tips Can Prevent Accidents

In the U.S., truck drivers play a critical role in the economy, transporting nearly three-quarters of the freight tonnage, or about 9.2 billion tons of goods, each year. It takes more than 3 million drivers to accomplish that herculean task, and every day, those drivers are exposing themselves to risks that are unique to their industry.shutterstock_144772471

In fact, the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics shows truck driver fatalities have risen in recent years, with 2014 experiencing the highest number of deaths since 2008.

If you’re a truck driver, whether you drive across the country or you’re a regional carrier, you need to review the following list of safety tips to help avoid potentially serious accidents:

  • Make sure your truck is in good repair. Both long-distance and regional carrier routes place significant wear and tear on trucks, and having regular safety inspections and routine maintenance is important for avoiding breakdowns and ensuring your truck is as responsive as possible when on the road.
  • Make sure your blind spots are always visible. Other drivers are woefully unaware of the blind spots that can make it difficult for large trucks to maneuver safely, so you need to be extra careful to make up for that. Always check the following areas before making a lane change or turn:
  • directly to the rear of the truck
  • behind the side mirrors
  • just in front of the cab
  • Adjust your speed in high-traffic areas and in work zones. As many as a third of construction zone accidents involve trucks, and many accidents involving other vehicles are caused by trucks that can’t slow down quickly enough to avoid a collision. Always be mindful of the traffic conditions and other hazards and adjust your speed accordingly.
  • Adjust your driving habits for bad weather. Icy, rainy or click roadways and foggy conditions can all have an impact on reaction time, braking time and your overall ability to control your vehicle. About a quarter of trucking accidents occur as a result of bad weather. Reduce your speed and pull over if visibility or road conditions are extremely poor.
  • Take care of yourself. Be sure to get enough rest, eat right and get some exercise to avoid drowsiness as well as muscle aches and pains.

If you’re an independent carrier, it’s also essential to make sure you have ample insurance coverage to protect yourself, your truck and your loved ones. Call Cartier today at 800-756-3346 and learn about all the trucking insurance options we can offer to help provide you with plenty of peace of mind.

Get the Coverage You Need to Protect Every Facet of Your Agriculture Business

Your farm is your business, and like any business, it needs to be adequately protected against loss. Farm insurance policies can serve as your first line of defense against a wide variety of losses, and today’s coverage options let you customize your policy so it suits your specific needs to a “T.” If you’re not sure about farm insurance and how it can benefit your agriculture business, we can help. Here’s quick review of some of the most common questions about farm insurance to get you started:shutterstock_85011913

What kinds of coverage do I need for an agriculture business?

That depends on the type of farm you operate, your activities and operations, the number of people you employ and other factors. At Cartier, we offer a complete range of farm insurance coverage options, including:

  • crop insurance
  • farm owners insurance
  • livestock insurance
  • equine insurance
  • equipment insurance
  • farm dwelling insurance
  • farm structures insurance
  • farm auto insurance
  • umbrella insurance
  • agriculture liability insurance

Your agent will be able to determine which of these options should be included in your coverage to protect your farm and your assets.

What losses does crop insurance cover?

Depending on the plan options you choose, crop insurance can be tailored to cover the cost of actual loss of a crop or a portion of a crop due to a natural disaster such as a flood, hail storm or drought, or revenue losses due to a drop in pricing of the commodities you produce.

How is the cost of farm insurance determined?

There are many factors that go into determining the cost of a farm policy, including the number of acres contained in the farm, the type of farm, the equipment used, the number of workers you have, and of course, your farm’s loss history. To determine your actual policy costs, your farm operation will be carefully evaluated to identify your risks as well as your needs.

Does a farm insurance policy cover activities related to agriculture tourism?

You can – and should – add special coverage options for agri-tourism. Like other types of coverage, the amount you need will depend on the activities you plan to offer. Your agent can help ensure your policy provides the right amount of coverage to keep you adequately protected.

What can I do to keep my insurance costs low?

The best way to keep costs low is to minimize your claims, and that means paying special attention to risk management and loss prevention activities.

Learn more about farm insurance.

Cartier Agency understands the importance of your agriculture business, and we also understand its risks. Our agents are experienced in assessing agriculture operations to ensure you get the best coverage at the lowest possible cost. Call us today toll-free at 800-756-3346 or send us an email to learn more.

6 Simple Tips to Keep Your Car on the Road this Winter

Minnesota has a reputation for snow and ice storms, and as most Minnesotans know, preparing your car for winter isn’t just a matter of convenience – it’s good, common sense. Few chores are as unpleasant as scraping the ice off a windshield on a frigid morning or getting your car started only to have it stall out a few seconds later. Next time you have to head out into the cold, try these tips to avoid the hassles a Minnesota winter can bring:

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  • Use a simple solution of water and rubbing alcohol – about one part water to two parts rubbing alcohol – and spray it onto your car windshield to instantly remove ice buildup. Keep a bottle in your car at all times – because of its low freezing point (128 degrees BELOW zero), you don’t have to worry about the solution freezing. You can also use white vinegar mixed with water.
  • No spray on hand? Try these tips: Crack your windows, crank up the heat, turn off inside air circulation and switch the controls to the air conditioner setting, all of which can help dry out the inside air to remove moisture so frost removal occurs more quickly.
  • If you use your wipers, be sure to turn them off before turning off the ignition, and be sure they’re in the lowered position. Why? Because if you stop while they’re mid-swipe and they freeze in that position, it can put a lot of strain on the wiper motor as it tries to return the blades to their normal position when you start the car again in the morning.
  • Speaking of blades, be sure to keep yours free of ice and replace them as soon as they show signs of wear to help keep ice and sleet off your windshield when driving. You might want to consider investing in the newer winter blades before the next snowstorm – but be sure to take them off when the weather gets warmers, since their heavier weight can cause your wiper motor to wear out prematurely.
  • Make sure your battery is in good shape; if you haven’t had it checked this winter season, now’s the time. Don’t wait for the next snowstorm to find out your battery isn’t up to its task.
  • If you need to be somewhere at a certain time, leave a little early to provide your car with plenty of time to warm up. If you try to take off before your engine has a chance to warm up, you’re bound to wind up stalling out at some point. If you have an older vehicle, consider cracking the window while the car is idling to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide buildup.

Winter driving is no fun, but at least you can take some of the risk and hassle out of it by following these simple tips for safer driving while we eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring!

Getting Engaged? Insuring a Diamond May Not Be Romantic, but It Can Help Ensure You Live Happily Ever After

If you’re planning on getting married, you probably already know how complex the wedding planning process can be: From the moment you get engaged, there are details big and small that need to be addressed to make sure your big day goes as smoothly as possible. With so much to do, it’s easy to get caught up in the planning process and overlook some important steps you should take with regard to your insurance needs and your financial future. Fortunately, updating your insurance to reflect those new needs is pretty simple. Here’s what you need to know:

  • shutterstock_338460194Like the title of this blog post advises, if you haven’t purchased insurance on a diamond engagement ring, diamond wedding ring or other costly ring or jewelry, now is the time. While it’s true the value of an engagement or wedding ring is steeped in sentiment, there’s also a monetary value attached to the ring, and having it insured just makes good financial sense. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your diamond ring is covered by your homeowner’s or rental policy; most policies don’t include coverage for jewelry and many other types of valuables. The good news is, buying extra insurance can be surprisingly affordable. Give your agent a call and ask about the cost of a rider to ensure your ring is protected against theft and other loss.
  • Update your life insurance or buy or increase your policy after marriage. Life insurance helps ensure your spouse can carry on with the financial obligations you’ve assumed together. There are many types of life insurance policies, and updating your policies to reflect your new married status is important for ensuring your benefits go to the beneficiary of your choice – for most married people, that means their spouse. Updating a policy just takes a few moments, and it can provide you and your spouse with important peace of mind that comes having adequate financial protection.
  • Review your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, especially if you haven’t lived together prior to marriage. Combining assets often means added exposures for loss, and reviewing your policy and updating it as needed protects you, your assets and your spouse against all sorts of losses.

Marriage is a major life event. Updating your insurance – for your ring, your home and your life – is a smart move that can help you and your spouse gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve got the protection you need to handle just about anything life throws your way.

Four Major Events that Require a Review of Your Life Insurance Policy

Life insurance is an important part of any financial plan, providing a safety net for your loved ones just in case the unthinkable happens and they’re left to carry on without you.  Just like every other part of your financial plan, life insurance needs to be reevaluated and readjusted over time so it can change in response to the major life changing events that are occurring in your life.  Sometimes those events may mean you need more insurance, and sometimes they may mean you can cut back on your coverage and reduce your monthly or annual premiums.

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In fact, any time you have a major change in your life’s circumstances, you should take the time to review your life insurance policy to ensure it’s still providing you with the amount of coverage you and your loved ones need to feel secure.  Not sure what qualifies as a “major life changing event?”  Here are a few examples:

  • You got married. Life insurance policies have designated beneficiaries – the people who will receive benefits from your policy when you die.  In most cases, at least one of those beneficiaries is a spouse.  If you’re getting married, you may want to add your spouse and increase your coverage, just in case.
  • You had a baby or adopted a child. Caring for kids is a major expense, and having life insurance ensures a surviving spouse won’t be left with all the bills to pay on his or her own.  Depending on the amount of your policy, you can even ensure college expenses will be paid for.  An agent can help you determine the best coverage limits for your growing family’s needs.
  • Your children have left home and you’re now an empty-nester. Once your kids are out of the house, you and your spouse may no longer need as much coverage, or you may want to look into a long-term care policy that can help pay for your care if you wind up in a nursing home or assisted care facility.  Your agent can help you decide how much long-term care insurance you should have.
  • You’re buying a home. Especially if you’re buying a home with your spouse or significant other, having life insurance means they won’t need to cover the entire mortgage payment on their own or deal with the hassle of refinancing that may be required by some lenders when one borrower dies.

Reviewing a life insurance policy isn’t time-consuming, so why wait?  Call our office today and review your policy to ensure you have just the right amount of coverage for your needs.

How Often Should You See Your Doctor to Stay Healthy?

There’s an old saying that goes something like, “If you have your health, you’ve got everything.”  In today’s society, the focus is more often on wealth and fame, but the saying still holds true: If you don’t have good health, all the money and fame in the world won’t make up for it. Demetree November

There are plenty of things you can do to stay healthy – be more physically active, lose excess weight and eat a better diet, to name a few – but one of the most critical steps you can take to maintain your health is one that’s frequently overlooked: Seeing your doctor for routine physicals.

“But I’m not sick!”

That’s what most people say when they think of seeing the doctor for a physical – “If I’m not sick, why do I need to see the doctor?”  But that’s the purpose of routine physical exams – having screening tests and evaluations that can help ensure you stay healthy as you get older and as your lifestyle and medical needs change.  Having regular annual exams enables your doctor to recommend key health screenings that can identify risk factors and diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages.  Plus, by having exams every year, your doctor can easily compare baseline information like blood pressure, heart rate and more from year to year, a process that can also be vitally important in identifying small changes that could indicate big health issues.

Essential Health Screenings

So what screenings should you have?  To some degree, that depends on your medical history and personal risk factors, like if you’re diabetic, if you smoke or if you have a family history of certain cancers.  But generally speaking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following screenings for men and women:

  • Blood pressure at every exam, or at least every two years if you have normal blood pressure
  • Cholesterol screening as recommended by your doctor
  • Mammogram every two years beginning at age 50, or earlier if you have risk factors for breast cancer
  • Prostate exam as recommended by your doctor (a blood test and rectal exam are both available for testing)
  • Cervical cancer exam every three to five years, depending on your age
  • Colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50, or age 40 if you have risk factors for colorectal cancer
  • Blood sugar (glucose) testing for diabetes as recommended by your doctor

Your doctor plays a vital role in helping you stay healthy.  Take advantage of all the skills and information your physician can provide by scheduling an annual exam to ensure you maintain optimal health at every age.