Dear Valued Customer,
What a gorgeous spring we’ve had! I hope your family is enjoying the vibrant colors and warm days as much as mine is. During this season of transformation, I find it fortuitous that I’ve had so many opportunities to grow personally and professionally as of late.
One of the things I am the proudest of is Brown & Brown’s tradition of philanthropic giving. We are, and we encourage our team to be, generous with our time, talent and financial resources. Of course, generosity takes on many shapes and variations and is arguably subjective and personal, but I have found that serving on a Board can be especially impactful.
It delights me to watch our newer Sales Executives serve in this way. As Board Chair of Portland Children’s Museum, I truly appreciate the value of having engaged, passionate Board members. I am so proud of the work our Board, with the Museum’s always-focused Executive Director, has done over the last year. It was such an honor for Portland Children’s Museum to receive the Rotary Club of Portland’s Oregon Ethics in Business Award in May.
In a recent Thought Leader Forum, I had a conversation with a couple of other leaders and Portland Business Journal about workplace giving. In summary, the value of making community involvement a priority in the workplace is increasing our team’s sense of fulfillment. Fulfilled teammates are happier teammates, and happier teammates are better able to stay present, engaged and focus on our highest priority – you, our customer.
Thank you for entrusting us with your business. Thank you for enabling us to maintain, continue and grow our tradition of giving. I hope you find our newsletter useful and that you will reach out to your broker with questions, comments or suggestions.
State of the Market: Current & Future Forecast for Property & Casualty Insurance
Insurers’ hope for accelerated growth and improved bottom line profitability was tempered throughout 2017 by major speed bumps, both natural and man-made. There seems to be a cautious optimism for improving conditions in the current year of 2018.
Property & Casualty insurers saw underwriting losses more than double to $5.1 billion for the first half of 2017 compared to the year before. This was an even more dramatic downturn when you consider the industry was in the black by $3.1 billion during the same period two years ago. Soaring loss costs, led by higher catastrophe and auto claims, drove net income down 29% in the first half. This was before the huge third quarter disaster claims from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. These storms have reverberated globally, particularly within the reinsurance sector, as did claims from other massive natural disasters outside the United States, most notably Mexico’s earthquake in September.
On the other hand, a soft market beyond auto and property catastrophe lines continues to prevail. Global insurance renewal rates fell for the seventeenth consecutive period in the second quarter of 2017. This appears to be mainly due to an overabundance of capital, particularly in the US market, with industry surplus at an all-time high of $704 billion as of June 30. Even record storm losses are unlikely to put more than a temporary dent in those reserves, making the recent hurricanes earning-events rather than creating any serious capital concerns for most primary insurers. However, reinsurers and those issuing linked securities may be harder-hit over the long term as mounting catastrophe claims are settled.
Treating Pain Without Opioids
You’ve probably heard a lot about opioids lately, and for good reason—the CDC estimates that more than 115 people die from opioid overdoses every day. One of the biggest reasons for widespread misuse of these drugs is that they’re both effective at short-term pain management and highly addictive. Luckily, to combat what some now call the “opioid epidemic,” researchers from the American College of Physicians (ACP) have published guidelines that promote alternative noninvasive and therapy-based pain treatments. Although these guidelines recommend the use of opioids and other medications as a last resort, therapeutic treatments may help strengthen your body and help you heal naturally. However, you should always consult your physician for the best way to treat your pain.
Here are some common pain treatments based on the ACP’s guidelines:
• Use heat or ice packs to reduce pain and swelling. Regulating how much blood flows into affected areas can be a simple and effective way to reduce pain.
• Avoid overexertion. Rest will allow any injured tissue and nerve roots to begin to heal. However, too much rest can cause your muscles to weaken.
• Exercise when possible. Although exercising to relieve pain may sound strange, even low-intensity activity like stretching or walking can help strengthen your muscles and relieve pain. Consult with a health care or fitness professional to customize a safe and effective exercise routine for any severe or chronic pain.
• Engage in relaxing activities such as yoga and meditation. Research has shown that the mental aspect of physical pain can cause it to be much more intense than it would be otherwise.
• Explore your options. Talk with your doctor about alternative pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. You could also discuss when to use or how to wean off strong narcotics. Opioids should only be considered as a last resort.
Summer Alert: Avoid Heat Illness
When it is hot outside, your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels. Normally, your body cools itself through sweating. However, in hot and humid weather, sweating is not enough to prevent heat illness. Here are some tips to help you and your employees stay healthy this summer:
Staying Cool While Working in Hot Weather
• Wear loose, light-colored clothing and some type of hat.
• Adapt to working in hot conditions gradually, especially if performing strenuous tasks.
• Take breaks in the shade when possible and remove any outer protective gear you may be wearing.
• Avoid overexerting yourself during peak temperature periods (mid-day).
• Drink liquids frequently, even if you don’t feel thirsty – at least eight ounces every 20 to 30 minutes. Choose water, fruit juice or sports drinks and stay away from liquids containing caffeine, which can dehydrate you.
Recognizing & Treating Heat Illness
There are three forms of heat illness, each with its own distinct symptoms. It is essential to treat heat illness as soon as possible. If you or a coworker has any of the following symptoms, ask for help and follow the first-aid suggestions.
Heat Cramps: Severe muscle spasms in the back, stomach, arms and legs, which are attributed to the loss of body salt and water during periods of heavy perspiration.
First Aid: Move the victim to a cooler area and provide them with water or other cool, non-alcoholic beverages. Follow up with a medical examination.
Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms include heavy sweating, cool or pale skin, nausea, headache, weakness, vomiting and fast pulse.
First Aid: Move the victim to a cooler area and keep them lying down with their legs slightly elevated. Cool their body by fanning and applying cool, wet towels. Have them drink approximately six ounces of water every 15 minutes. Follow up with a medical examination.
Heat Stroke: Symptoms are high body temperature, stopped sweating, red and often dry skin, rapid breathing and pulse, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, confusion or unconsciousness.
First Aid: Call an ambulance immediately. Meanwhile, move the victim to a cooler area, remove outer clothing, immerse them in cool water or apply cool, wet towels or cloths to the body. If the person is awake and able to swallow, give them small amounts of cool water to drink. If medical help is delayed, call the hospital for further instructions while waiting. Heat stroke is life-threatening, so it’s important to move quickly!
The risk of heat illness increases with age, poor diet, being overweight, insufficient liquid intake, poor physical condition and/or when taking medication. Never take salt tablets without your doctor’s approval. Be aware of weather conditions when you will be working outside so that you can be prepared with appropriate clothing and beverages. If you are working outside and start to feel any adverse symptoms, inform your supervisor and take a break.
Car Prowl Prevention
Theft from a vehicle, also known as car prowl, is the unlawful taking of motor vehicle contents or parts and are crimes of opportunity. An offender makes a split-second decision to break into a vehicle based on a perception that there are items of value in that vehicle, making the potential payoff worth the risk.
Car prowls are consistently one of the top reported crimes in our area. Although there is no profile of a typical car prowler, many offenders break into vehicles to support drug addictions. One offender at the height of his affliction broke into 15-20 vehicles per day.
A car prowl can be completed in a minute or less and a significant number of these crimes occur between the hours of 10pm and 4am. Methods of entry include: entering the vehicle through an unlocked door, breaking a window, or using a wedge to gain access. The offender often wears a backpack or bag to transport stolen items.
Frequently stolen items include GPS systems, laptops, electronic devices, CDs, mail, bills, documents with personal information, purses, wallets, luggage, gym bags, money, cell phones, insurance cards, vehicle registration and shopping bags. Car prowls are a gateway to other crimes such as identify theft, burglaries, and vehicle theft.
Car Prowl Prevention Tips
Car prowl is one of the easiest crimes to prevent with increased awareness and a change in habits. The following steps will help to reduce the chance of your vehicle being targeted:
• Keep the interior of your car “showroom” clean. Never leave valuables, including bags, purses, wallets, briefcases, laptops, cell phones, loose change, or anything that may appear valuable in plain view. Offenders often break into vehicles for items such gym bags because they assume electronic devices and other items are stored in them.
• Hide chargers and accessories that indicate a GPS, mobile phone or other device that may be stashed in your vehicle.
• Remove garage door openers, key cards and house or work keys from the car so that a thief cannot gain access to your home or business.
• Don’t store or leave credit cards, identification or personal information in your glove compartment or anywhere else in your car.
• Before leaving your car, always remove the keys, roll up the windows, lock the doors, and set the alarm (if you have one).
• If possible, store your car in a closed and locked garage. If parked in a carport or near your house, leave your exterior lights on throughout the night. Trim back any trees or bushes that block the view of your vehicle from your home.
• Consider installing a motion detector on the light fixture closest to your car. Motion detectors are good psychological deterrents, causing a thief to think that someone has seen them when the light comes on. Additionally, the light makes the thief more visible.
• If you park on the street, choose a well-lit, exposed area whenever possible. Avoid parking near anything that limits visibility like dumpsters, large vans or trucks, or wooded areas.
• Use a mechanical locking device such as a club that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake.
• Keep your keys with you instead of putting them in a hiding place.
• Don’t leave your vehicle in unattended for long periods of time.
• When you pay to park in a lot or garage, leave just the ignition key with the attendant. Make sure no personal information is attached. Do the same when you take your car in for repairs.
• Carry the registration and insurance card with you when you leave your vehicle. NOTE: Make sure you have these items with you when you return. Operating the vehicle without these documents is against the law.
• Consider installing a security system if you live in a high-theft area or drive an automobile that is an attractive target for thieves. You may get a discount on your auto insurance.
• Organize a Neighborhood Watch. Get to know your neighbors; share contact information and look out for each other. The people who live on your block are the most likely to recognize suspicious people or activities.
• Be observant as you exit or approach your parked vehicle, stop and look around the area.
Fire Safety Reminder
Fires are a serious risk for businesses of all types. It’s up to you to take the proper precautions to keep yourself, your co-workers and your business safe from fire hazards. There are some simple things you can do to lower the risk of fire:
• Always comply with regulations.
• Obey “No Smoking” signs.
• Dispose of cigarettes and matches in the proper receptacles after ensuring they are completely extinguished.
• Watch for frayed electrical cords and overloaded circuits.
• Dispose of flammable wastes and scraps by placing them in metal containers.
Always store combustible materials in a safe area. Fumes can travel a considerable distance and become ignited by a furnace, stove, electrical equipment or even a lit cigarette. If you need to dispose of flammable liquids, do not pour them down the drain. Educate yourself on the proper method of disposal. If you must burn wastepaper, make sure it doesn’t contain explosive materials, such as aerosol or paint.
Inspect Equipment Regularly
Proper maintenance procedures are important to fire safety. If you use electrical equipment or tools, inspect them regularly to make sure they are working correctly. Keep mechanical equipment properly lubricated to avoid excessive friction. Keep spark arrestors on exhaust systems.
Always Be Prepared for a Fire
• Become familiar with the location and operation of firefighting equipment.
• Learn where fire extinguishers are located and what types of fires they are to be used on.
• Participate in periodic fire drills to practice fire response procedures.
• Become familiar with the different types of alarms used in your workplace.
• Establish an employee meeting place.
When a Fire Breaks Out
• If the fire alarm rings, always treat it as a true emergency unless you are told ahead of time it is a drill. Just because you do not see smoke or flames does not mean a fire is not present.
• Always use the stairs instead of the elevator.
• If the room fills with smoke, stay low to the ground and get out as fast—but as safely—as you can.
In the Community: CFO of the Year & Food Drive for Lift Urban Portland
CFO of The Year: Brown & Brown Northwest Insurance was honored to sponsor Portland Business Journal’s CFO of the Year Awards for the fourth consecutive year. We are proud to participate in this event as the critical role of CFO is not often in the spotlight. We recognize that the insight, analysis and strategic guidance provided by the CFO is critical to the success of any organization.
Food Drive for Lift Urban Portland: In May, teammates at Brown & Brown Northwest had a food drive raffle to raise money and collect non-perishable donations for Lift Urban Portland https://www.lifturbanportland.org/! Brown & Brown Northwest connected with Lift at a Hello Neighbor! event spear-headed by Brigitte Dimmitt, Senior Account Executive in Personal Lines.