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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Why Driving When Tired Is Bad


Dangerous driving habits come in many forms. Some are more obvious than others (Hint: Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol) and some are a bit more subtle. Today, Sharp Insurance will be looking into a dangerous driving habit that some people tend to overlook -- namely, driving when tired. If you are an Edmonton resident, then you know how important it is to drive carefully, especially in the winters. But do you know why it's important to drive when fully awake?

Well it's because driving when tired is every bit as dangerous as driving when drunk.

Yes, you read that right, and no, we didn't exaggerate. Are you surprised? Most people probably are because they simply don't realize how much of an effect sleep deprivation can have on a person's overall ability to drive safely.

Consider this: When your body really needs to sleep, your reaction times slow down, and falling asleep at the wheel becomes a very real possibility. Do we really need to talk about the results that could ensue? You hear about them all too often.

Of course, you can try to keep yourself awake by playing some music and forcing your eyes open, but at the end of the day, when your body wants to sleep, it needs to sleep. This is why we urge you to never drive when tired; No matter what your intents are, losing focus for a few seconds is incredibly easy and all it takes for things to go wrong. And when things go wrong behind the wheel, they can go really wrong...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

How Can Small Business Owners Protect Their Business Data?


When it comes to business data, the laws are very strict. Don't take care of it and allow it to fall in the wrong hands and the end is pretty much assured for your business. While we agree that laws are laws, regardless of how harsh they are, we also agree that business owners have the responsibility to protect their business data... and that sometimes, it's easier said than done.

If you own a small business in Edmonton, then we cannot stress enough the importance of being informed. So without further ado, here are 4 little tips that you can follow in order to protect your business data:
  1. Encrypt your data. This is your first line of defense against hackers. If you don't know how to encrypt your data properly, plenty of resources are available online.
  2. Use strong passwords. And make sure that you don't use the same one more than once.
  3. Back up your data. Really, is anyone out there NOT backing up their data? If you own a small business in Edmonton, failure to back up your data could end up in disaster. Don't make this mistake -- it can be avoided so easily.
  4. Be careful who you share your data with. Hire employees who you know you can trust. Likewise, make sure to teach them how to keep data safe -- assuming that they don't know already how to do so.
  5. Don't store important data when you don't need it. This is quite self-explanatory. Make sure that you have a good plan when it comes to your data, and more importantly, make sure to stick with it!
  6. Beware of where you store your data. This is especially important if you own a small business. Too often, people store important data on their own personal laptop. This is a big no no! 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

How to Keep Your House Cool This Summer In Calgary


Ah, summer. It's awesome.. but sometimes, it's a bit too hot for our liking. Summers in Calgary are no exception to that rule. If you've found yourself abusing your air conditioning a bit too much these last few weeks and have paid the price for it, Sharp Insurance would like to offer you a few tips on how to keep your house cool this summer in Calgary.

If you're currently melting away in your seat, take note! Here's how to keep your house cool in Calgary without using air conditioning:
  1. Open the windows at night. And keep them close during the day. This simple tip can and will go a long way if you follow it. By opening the windows at night you are essentially cooling your house down and allowing for better air circulation.
  2. Keep your blinds shut during the day. But keep them open at night. Sunshine filtering in from open windows is the #1 reason why homes in Calgary overheat. Keep them open and you will definitely see a quick improvement in the temperature of your home.
  3. Close doors during the day. And open them at night. Once again, this will allow for better circulation and will prevent heat from permeating certain areas during the day.
  4. Use more fans. Fans are amazing and are definitely one of our favourite replacements for air conditioning. We suggest placing at least one in every major room of your house.
  5. Don't use your oven as much. Ovens do a wonderful job of overheating houses. If you don't want that to open to yours, don't use your oven nearly as much as you usually do, or only use it when necessary. You might consider grilling a bit more this summer!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Red Deer Driver Training Courses: Yes Or No?


Let's face it: Being a driver in Red Deer isn't an easy job. Snowy winters and icy roads aside, you also have to deal with car insurance premiums -- and we all know how much fun these are!

If you are a new driver, here's what we recommend: Pass a Red Deer driver training course and notify your insurance company of it. Doing this will give you knowledge and experience that you may not have had otherwise. But that's not the only thing (and here's the good news): Passing a driving training course can also go a long way towards reducing your monthly car insurance premiums in Red Deer!

Yes, you read that right. You see, insurance companies care about new drivers mostly for one reason: They tend to cost them a lot more money than 'regular' drivers. As you already know by now, new drivers in Red Deer (and all over Canada for that matter) pay more on their monthly insurance premiums than regular ones. This is because insurance policies see new drivers as more prone to being in and causing road accidents... which is true, sadly.

And of course, more accidents = more claims being made.

By enrolling in driver training course you are effectively showing your insurance company that you care enough to become more knowledgeable and experienced, and that you actually are both of these things to pass it. And as you will soon find out, the benefits will be worth the trouble of doing this when your insurance company ends up lowering your monthly premiums. A neat idea, no?

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

5 Things You Need To Know About Your Water Coverage Right Now


Insurance is changing

Insurance in Alberta and the rest of Canada is evolving to keep up with our changing weather patterns and our needs as insurance consumers. What you may not know are your options, and changes that may currently be on your policy that could cost you thousands in the event of a claim! We have outlined the limitations and changes some of the major insurance companies in Canada have made to their coverage, how this affects you, and new insurance options that could save you money and give you more water protection.


1) Sewer backup limitations:  Many insurance companies have put strict payout limitations on claims resulting from sewer backup. Check your policy to see what your limits are on sewer backup. Some are as low as $15,000 that would barely cover the costs of cleaning out your basement. Ask yourself this: Is your basement finished? Is it furnished? How much would it cost to not only clean out the water damage, replace the flooring, and drywall, and but to also replace any furniture or fixtures you have in there.  Your sewer backup limit should be sufficient to cover the costs these repairs.

2) Not eligible for coverage: In some cases, depending on your area, you may not be covered for sewer backup, or you may have very low limits. If this is the case, you can prevent much damage to your home by either installing a back-flow valve (which can be very pricey) or by making sure your sump pump is working, has a backup energy source, as well as a monitored alarm. Mitigating costly risks is a big part of being a responsible homeowner especially if you live in a high risk area.

3) Limitations on roof coverage: Due to the increasing amounts of wind and hail claims the past five years in Alberta, many insurance companies have put limitations on roof replacement claims. This is to help reduce the costs of insurance for all Albertans. Limitations that may exist on your policy that you should look out for include:  ACV (actual cash value) repairs on roof meaning, you will not be given the full payout to have your roof replaced in the event of a claim, due to the age of your roof. If your roof shows signs of aging such as lifted tiles, your claim could be rejected altogether. If this is the case for you, shop around, or go to a broker who will do that for you to find an insurance company that does not have these limitations. 

4) Get overland water insurance: Overland water insurance or, freshwater flood insurance,  was introduced in early spring by some of the leading insurers in Canada.  It’s a fact: overland water damage is becoming more and more prevalent every year. This is not just the case for individuals living in or around the flood zones. We are seeing a lot more instances of torrential downpours which could cause sewers to clog up and overflow on the streets and into your home. If you’re not in the flood zone, this coverage could cost you as little as a Starbucks Frappuccino per month, but could save you thousands in water damage repairs. Overland water coverage just makes sense!

5) Overland water and Sewer back up coverage: these two are your ultimate armor for water insurance protection. Here are the facts: Insurance companies have put tighter regulations on what constitutes a sewer backup claim. For most if not all companies, as soon as there is evidence of overland water entering your home during a sewer backup incident, your claim payout could either be severely limited or denied altogether. Both of these coverages will ensure that you are not left owing thousands in repairs due to stringent limitations  and exclusions found on your policy.


For more information about water insurance or for your free, no obligation flood insurance quote, please visit www.floodinsurance.ca

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The 3 Most Common Mistakes That People Make With Their Car Insurance Coverage


Let's face it: Car insurance coverage in Edmonton can be complicated. It doesn't help that under Canadian laws you are required to be covered under a car insurance policy before hitting the road. If you are new to the world of insurance coverage there are certain things that you should be aware of before purchasing a policy. To make sure that you are not guilty of making a mistake that could end up affecting your Edmonton car insurance coverage negatively for an extended period of time, Sharp Insurance has compiled the 3 most common mistakes that people make with their car insurance coverage.

Here they are:
  1. Not reading through their policy. Yes, we understand that it's long and boring and that you have kids to take care of. But surely you are still able to spare 20 minutes of your time to read through your policy, no? Failure to do so could lead to very bad surprises down the road. As we said before, not all insurance policy were created equally. As a result, knowing exactly what your insurance policy protects you from is of the utmost importance.
  2. Not notifying their insurance company of changes. In Edmonton, car insurance coverage works just like any other type of coverage. Many things determine how much money you end up paying each month on your premiums, among them your location and the addition of new driver(s). To remain in good standing with your insurance company, always notify them of changes, regardless of how trivial you think they are.
  3. Not shopping around for the best insurance policy in Edmonton. Don't settle for the first good one that you come across because chances are that you can find a better one (at a lower rate) somewhere else. When looking for an Edmonton car insurance policy, spend some time shopping around. Also make use of free insurance quotes that some companies like Sharp Insurance like to provide.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Forest Fires: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


You may have noticed a surge in forest fires in Canada this summer especially in British Columbia and in Northern Saskatchewan. There is a lot of myth and misinformation surrounding the causes and dangers of forest fires. While forest fires are an important revitalization life-process for most forest ecosystems, it can be devastating for the people who have built homes and lives in and around these wooded areas. Understanding why forest fires occur, what they do to our environment, and how this affects our ecosystem for years to come, is vital for recognizing and addressing issues such as climate change and fire safety. 

Causes of Forest Fires

There are two causes for forest fires: 1) natural elements such as lightening and 2) human-caused ignition such as campfires.

Naturally Occurring Forest Fires

Natural fires are typically caused by a combination of factors that contribute to a highly flammable environment. Dry, hot weather, in a wooded area is the perfect breeding ground for flames. These fires are usually ignited by lightening with a very small percentage of fires started by spontaneous combustion.


Human-Caused Fires

Forest fires caused by humans can occur in a myriad of ways such as improperly controlled or constructed campfires, sparks from car engines and motor powered equipment and smoking. Although human-caused fires actually make up the majority of the forest fires we see today, it is actually the naturally occurring fires that cause the most damage. Human-made fires are often noticed right away and therefore are much easier to put out. Naturally made fires, on the other hand, often go undetected, which allows the fire to spread and burn faster and longer. These fires can be extremely difficult to extinguish.


Forest Fires are Good?

Forest fires are a double-edged sword as they are contradictory in nature. Fire destroys life, yet this destruction is actually vital for the rejuvenation and birth of new life. In fact, many plant and tree species need fire in order for their seeds to open. 

Why there are so many forest fires recently:


Naturally occurring forest fires are important for the continuation of the ecosystem  life-cycle process. It is, however, the intervention of humans that have lead to wider spread fires in recent years. The reason for this is kindling. When natural forest fires do occur, they are not only important for the propagation of new life and plant species, but are also integral in controlling future fires. Think of it: a fire will actually prevent future fires from spreading too much as it cycles through dry wood every so often. No access kindling, means no fuel for the fire. 



Climate Change:

The increase in hot and dry temperatures has contributed to the growing numbers of forest fires year after year in Canada.These conditions provide the fuel for a wildfire. This, combined with more lightening without rain all contribute to the growth of wildfires especially in Western Canada.

Even though forest fires are an important part of the lifecycle process, it can be quite devastating for people who live in and around a fire zone.

Right now in Canada alone, there are 273 forest fires burning, 117 of them are currently uncontrolled. In northern Saskatchewan alone, approximately 14 000 people were evacuated from their homes and over 600 firefighters are now on site to help control the situation. This is the ugly reality of forest fires: they can happen anywhere and at any time, putting many peoples’ homes and lives at risk.



Insurance coverage during a fire evacuation:

If you are  forced to evacuate your home due to safety reasons, your insurance company will cover you for additional living expenses such as rent/hotel costs, transportation fees, food, and any other costs associated with the evacuation.

The best thing to do is to call your insurance company as soon as you have been evacuated to a safe location to ask them for your coverage options.


Forest Fire Awareness and Prevention:

You can do a lot to reduce the risk of forest fires by following a few simple safety checks:

Campfires: Do you know how to build a proper and safe campfire? There are a lot of great resources on fire safety while camping. Below is the link to the Alberta Parks’ campfire safety guide:


Pay attention to fire bans in your area: Whenever it is dry and hot, it usually means there is a high level of wildfire risks. Always check to see if there is a fire ban before camping or even burning a fire pit in your backyard. After all, one rogue amber can be carried by the wind and be the source of ignition for a nearby wooded area.

For fire bans in your area:

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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

How to Secure Your Home While On A Vacation This Summer in Calgary


With summer all around us, it comes as no surprise that some of us enjoy taking a break from the monotony of day-to-day life. And what better way to do this than to travel? Regardless of whether you are travelling to Paris or somewhere closer to home, securing your home while you are gone is of the utmost importance. To help you with that, Sharp Insurance has compiled a list of the most important steps to take before leaving your home.

This summer, don't stress. Here is how you can secure your home while on vacation this summer:
  • Make sure that your windows are doors are closed properly -- and that they are locked. We just can't stress enough the importance of this step, as simple as it may sound. Doing this will not only prevent thieves from breaking into your home: It will also prevent your interior from water damage in the event of a heavy rainfall.
  • Stop newspaper delivery. Temporarily, of course. This will be useful to detract potential burglars as nothing screams "empty house" louder than a pile of newspaper on someone's porch.
  • Invest in a timer for lights. This might be the most costly advice on this list, but this is definitely one that you don't want to overlook. Investing in a timer for lights will give thieves the impression that your house is occupied -- something which you definitely want while you are away on vacation.
  • Keep your valuables away from preying eyes. This is rather self-explanatory. If you want to take it one step further, lock your most important valuables in a safe deposit box.
  • Notify your neighbors of your absence. Knowing that someone is keeping an eye on your home while you are gone is sure to give you extra peace of mind.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Prevent Injuries On Your Business Premises By Following Those 5 Simple Tips


Two words that don't go together at all: business and injuries. If you own a business, then someone injuring themselves on your business premises could well prove to be disastrous. Not only would you feel bad about it -- if the injury is grave enough, it would also be possible for you to face the threat of a lawsuit.

Now being sued is not something that anyone ever wants to experience, let a lone a business owner. Unfortunately, it happens, and just because it "happens to other people" doesn't mean it can't (or won't) happen to you. The good news, however, is that preventing injuries is still doable, and that yes -- Canadian commercial general liability insurance policies are still around.

So without further ado, here are 5 little tips to prevent injuries on your business premises:

  • Clearly mark slippery areas. Most injuries on business premises are caused by slippery areas. When cleaning the floors, never, ever forget to place a "Caution -- Wet floor" sign that people can see from at least a few meters away. Ideally, the sign would be in both English and French.
  • Take care of your merchandise. The last thing that you want is a heavy hammer falling on someone's head! To ensure this doesn't happen, regularly make sure that your products are where they should be. Also consider placing heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Keep people away from dangerous areas. Always lock doors that you don't want people entering. Similarly, consider placing signs around those areas.
  • Keep your grounds and floors clean. And yes, that includes outside paths as well. In the winter, have someone clear the snow first thing in the morning. Your business property should always be as neat and tidy as possible.
  • Take care of your parking lot. Everyone hates potholes, but some people hate them more than others. If you have potholes in your parking lot, fix them before someone sues you for vehicle damage.

What You Need to Know About Driving in a Different Country




Planning a European vacation? Want to rent a vehicle to tour around the French Riviera? There are a few things you should know before you rent a car and drive around in a different country. To keep you safe and worry free, we have compiled a list of tips to help you with your travel plans. 




Check the vehicle type:

  • Most vehicles outside of Canada are manual transmission which can be really tricky to drive if you have little or no experience with that type of car. Even more, automatic vehicles are much more difficult to find and can be quite a bit more expensive to rent.
  • If you know you are travelling outside Canada, spend a few months learning how to drive a manual vehicle. DO NOT try to drive one when you are in a different country. Your risk for accident and injury will increase by a lot. 



Rental car tips:

  • Depending on where you are renting a vehicle, you may not be able to drive a rented car into some countries such as: Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia.
  • Always pay with your credit card in the event of a charge dispute or for insurance reasons.
  • Do not rent a vehicle from an airport as you may be required to pay an “airport tax.”
  • Be sure to ask the rental place for the total you will have to pay including all fees and charges so that there are no surprises when you return the vehicle.  Get a written confirmation of these charges.



One way trip vs a return trip:
  • One way trips with vehicle drop off at a different location could actually cost you more than flying to each location! It could be as much as $1000 or more! Do your research and plan your route to avoid additional charges.



Check your insurance:

  • Do you need to buy additional insurance for a vehicle when travelling abroad? Some insurance companies will cover your insurance in different countries; call your provider to check to see if you have this coverage.

  • Often times your credit card company will cover the insurance on your rented vehicle. Be sure to call your credit card company and let them know both your travel itinerary and the approximate value of the vehicle you will be renting to ensure their insurance will cover you for any damages.
  • Rule of thumb: a $100,000 Porsche will not be covered by your credit card company or car insurance policy; there is usually a price limitation of about $20,000 to $30,000 depending on the insurance provider. 



Be prepared:

  • When driving in a different country, always have a paper map and a spare tire with you at all times. You never know the state of the roads where you’re travelling and you may not always have a satellite signal to guide your GPS program.



Protect yourself:

  • Do not make yourself a target by leaving luggage and valuables in the vehicle when you’re not around. Try to stow these items away in your hotel room or safe.



Do your research:

  • Although road rules are for the most part, universal, there are small differences that can be dangerous if you are not aware of them. For example, what side of the road do you drive on? Are there unwritten rules you should know about that may get the attention of authorities which may result in a fine or a travel delay?


Vignettes:

  • Depending on where you go, you may have to pay highway tax, similar to our highway tolls. Keep all receipts of payments because you may be stopped by the authorities and asked to produce proof of payment.


Licensing and driving permits:

  • To be legally able to drive in a different country depends on where you are going. Some countries will require you to have an international driving permit along with your Canadian driver’s license. You may also be required to have your license and permit translated to the primary language of the country you are travelling in, for example, Italy.


Permits typically costs about $25 and take about 30 minutes to get in person, or 2-3 days by mail. To find out more about international driving permits, visit: http://www.caa.ca/travelling/idp/





Friday, 3 July 2015

Calgary Stampede Safe Transportation Options

Don’t Drink and Drive: Be Safe, Plan Ahead, and Know Your Options

Stampede marks a time of celebration and merriment. The city comes alive every year with the hustle and bustle of people from all over Canada and the USA to celebrate this historical event. For many people, it’s a time to cut loose, have some fun, and enjoy the many beer and wine garden options. Last year, a whopping 46 people were charged with a DUI during Stampede. Although down from 2013, (90 convictions), that is still 46 people too many. The fact of the matter is, drinking and driving is deadly, and there is no reason why someone should purposely put other people and themselves at risk for injury or even death. 

Calgary has many options to ensure Stampede-goers a safe method of travel. We have outlined them below and urge anyone planning on having some drinks to plan ahead and be smart about their travel plans. 

Stampede safe transportation options:


Calgary Transit:
C-Trains will be running 24 hours a day from July 2nd  to July 16th:

Between 6 am to 12:45 am, trains will be running every 5 to 8 minutes, and on a 30 minute schedule outside those hours.

The Stampede Express Bus (Route 304) starts at North Pointe Terminal and has 11 stops on the way to Stampede grounds.

Taxi:
There will be temporary taxi stands set up on both the south and north entrances of Stampede Park. Many venues will also have temporary taxi stands set up as well.

Remember to dial #taxi or use the Checker or Associated Taxi app to see when a taxi will be available or to hail a cab.

Accommodations:
If you live outside of the transit/bus route lines, you may want to consider finding accommodations closer to the Stampede grounds either by staying with a friend or seeking hotel accommodations. That way, it will be much easier to utilize the city's public transportation options. 

Designated Driver:
A great way to ensure a safe drive home is to assign a designated driver for the night. Going to Stampede more than once? Why don’t you rotate turns with your friends for who is going to be the driver for the evening?

Keys Please
Keys please is a great program where you can schedule someone to drive you home in your own vehicle! For more information please visit their website: http://keysplease.net/




Thursday, 2 July 2015

Is Car Insurance Coverage in Edmonton Driving You Crazy? Here Are 4 Tips For You



Car insurance coverage is one of these things in life that nobody wants to associate themselves with, yet prove to be extremely useful under circumstances. Here at Sharp Insurance, we know that not everyone enjoys the process of purchasing car insurance coverage. As you probably already know, however, Canadian laws require that you be covered under a car insurance policy before hitting the road.

If finding a car insurance policy in Edmonton is driving you crazy (no pun intended), here are 4 little tips intended to make the process easier for you:
  1. Shop around. When purchasing a car insurance policy in Edmonton (or any other type of insurance policy for that matter), shopping around for the best rates is of the utmost importance. Don't settle for the first good policy that you come across because chances are that you can find a better one at a lower rate somewhere else.
  2. Request free insurance quotes. This ties in directly to the advice given above. As you continue shopping around for the best rates you will find that many insurance companies of the likes of Sharp Insurance enjoy offering free quotes to potential customers. Don't be shy; request as many quotes as possible. Doing so will give you a general idea of what to expect from certain insurance companies and might also end up saving you a lot of money down the road.
  3. Ask questions and read online reviews. Once again, don't be shy! Insurance brokers are there to help you. Reach out to insurance companies if you need to as well. Likewise, spend some time reading what customers have to say about certain insurance companies, but try to remain as objective as possible while doing so.
  4. Narrow down the possibilities. Once you have found a few potential insurance policies, narrow down the possibilities. Take a break and come back to them a few hours later before making a decision.
Good luck!