What You Need To Know About Tornado Safety

tornado safety

tornado safety

If you live around here you have seen the recent aftermath of the tornado that hit Shelby Sunday night. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected! Hopefully we will not experience another storm like this anytime soon, however it never hurts to be prepared. Do you know the steps to take in the event of a tornado? Does your family have a plan? Do you know the signs? Keep reading, we can help. 

Tornado Safety Precautions

When it comes to tornado’s it is crucial to plan ahead. Peak season is between March and May and deadly storms can pop in at any time. It is important for you and your family to know what to do before and during a tornado. 

Before A Tornado Strikes

  • Create a family plan. Include where you will seek shelter and where you will meet after the disaster in the event you get separated. Practice your tornado safety plan at least once per year. 
  • Gather items that can protect you such as mattresses, sleeping bags and thick blankets and place them near your shelter area. 
  • When the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch, go to your shelter area and check to see that everything you need for protection is there. 
  • Gather bottled water, non-perishable food items, flashlights and a batter-operated radio. 
  • Keep an ear to the radio or television and listen for storm status updates, and stay alert for warnings. 

Signs Of A Tornado

In addition to listening to weather reports, the following signs may indicate a tornado is near:

  • Strong, persistent rotations at a cloud’s base
  • Whirling dust or debris
  • Hail or heavy rain, followed by a dead calm or intense wind shift
  • Loud rumbles of noise that do not fade away in seconds like thunder

During A Tornado

  • Go to the basement or lowest level of your home. Get under a sturdy structure, such as a table, and then cover yourself with protective materials. If your home does not have a basement, go to a small, central space such as a bathroom, closet, under a stairwell or a hallway with no windows. Then, crouch down to the floor, face down and cover your head with your hands.
  • If you live in a mobile home, leave your house and seek other shelter. If there is nowhere else to go, lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands. 

We hope you will never need these tips, but having a tornado safety plan can ensure your family’s safety. 

A Nite At The Races To Support The Domestic Violence Shelter

Nite at the Races

Nite at the RacesIt’s Nite at the Races time!!! This annual event kicks off next Saturday, April 13th at 6pm. Choose your winning horses, bid on silent auction items, win raffle prizes, enjoy an night of fun– all while supporting the services and programs of The Domestic Violence Shelter. 

New this year, the Domestic Violence Shelter partnered with The Phoneix Brewing Company to brew a special beer just for this event! Stand Tall – Shelter From The Storm, will make it’s debut at the Nite at the Races. Brewers included a group of female board members from the Shelter as well as some local business supporters that joined together for the brewing of this beer. We were honored to have one of our own, Laci Vanderpool participate in the Stand Tall brewing.

Tickets are still available and food and drink is included with your ticket. If you are interested in a ticket, contact John Hower at our office or purchase online by clicking here. Join us in our support of The Domestic Violence Shelter for a memorable evening.  


If You Own A Child Care Business, You Need To Be Aware Of These Risks

child care

Owning and operating a child care business, such as a day care center or preschool program, can be a fulfilling experience. And, studies suggest an increasing number of parents are working full time. This means there are more opportunities for industry growth.However, with a higher number of families utilizing these services, it’s more important than ever that child care providers understand the risks and challenges associated with their business.

Child Safety

When operating a child care facility, safety is of the utmost concern. Inadequate policies or a single lapse in oversight can lead to serious injuries or even lawsuits.To ensure you are doing the most to protect the children in your care, it’s important to understand some common safety concerns and how to address them:

Lack of Supervision

Children in your care need to be watched closely at all times. Just one momentary distraction can result in an accident. To help prevent incidents and to ensure children are appropriately supervised, keep a low child-to-adult ratio. Experts suggest caregiver-to-child ratios should be at least 1:3 for infants and young toddlers, 1:6 for older toddlers and 1:9 for preschool-aged kids. Be sure to follow any state or local laws related to caregiver-to-child ratios.

Improper Medication Use

It may seem unlikely, but children can be accidentally poisoned quite easily if prescribed medications are administered improperly. To help prevent this, instruct parents to give their children medications at home whenever possible. If this is not possible, medications should be provided to your staff members in their original containers along with specific instructions. Staff members will also need to be trained on proper medication handling and storage. You should also have written parental authorization when it comes to administering medicine.

Sudden Infant Death S7ndrome (SIDS)

SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age. SIDS is generally the diagnosis given for the sudden death of children in this age group and has no known cause. However, there are a number of precautions you can take to ensure the safety of infants in your care:

  • Put babies to sleep on their backs.
  • Never place bumper pads, fluffy blankets or toys in cribs.
  • Avoid soft bedding.
  • Learn more by clicking here

The Presence of Toxic Substances

Accidental poisoning is a leading cause of death among children. As a child care facility, it is likely you will have harsh chemical cleaners, medicines and other potentially hazardous substances on-site. To safeguard children, it’s important to store these substances in locked, childproof cabinets. In addition, to prevent accidental poisoning, you should never store food and cleaning supplies in the same area.

Unsafe Toys or Equipment

Just because a product is made for children does not mean that it is safe. In fact, even when manufacturers test their products, safety issues can be easily overlooked, compounding injury risks for child care providers. To keep children safe:

  • Discard damaged toys. Inspect toys on a regular basis to ensure they are safe for children in your care.
  • Understand the intended use of toys and equipment you make available to children. Prevent children from using toys and equipment in an unsafe manner.
  • Stay up to date on toy and product recalls.
  • Keep play areas for younger and older children separate. This is particularly important when you consider that many toys are only appropriate for older age groups.
  • Ensure play areas are free of tripping and choking hazards.
  • Keep playground surfaces and equipment in good condition.

Poor Food Safety

There are a variety of risks associated with food for child care providers. For one, children are prone to choking and will need to be monitored during designated snack times. Also, foodborne illnesses can affect multiple children at once, making food safety all the more important. Instruct your staff to keep cooking surfaces, equipment and utensils clean to avoid cross contamination. In addition, food should be properly cooked, cut appropriately and allowed to cool before serving. It’s also important to be aware of any food allergies. Consider documenting these allergies so staff members can easily identify what foods are safe for each child in your care.

Maintaining a Clean and Healthy Facility

Ensuring the health of children and staff members alike can be a challenge for child care businesses. This is especially true when you consider that small children are vulnerable to a variety of illnesses and often carry germs that are easily spread to others. All it takes is one illness to infect all the children in your care as well as your staff. When this happens, not only can you experience staff shortages, but your child care facility can suffer serious reputational damage as well. It’s important to be proactive when it comes to protecting against contagious illnesses. The following are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Clean play areas daily, making sure to thoroughly sanitize all surfaces and toys.
  • Create and communicate a strict sick child policy. This policy should specify when children should stay home and procedures you will follow should a child get sick in your care.
  • Ensure staff members and children wash their hands regularly.

Staff Challenges

Hiring qualified and trustworthy staff members is critical to ensuring children receive the appropriate care. Poor employment practices can lead to safety hazards and affect your business’s bottom line. Child care facilities should be appropriately staffed. For added safety, and to avoid potential employee-related claims, consider doing the following:

  • Screen all of your employees, performing a detailed background check.
  • Ensure staff members are at least 18 years old.
  • Train staff members on child safety. Consider enrolling them in child-development related courses to further their education and learn new child care skills. Staff members should also be trained on pediatric CPR and first aid.
  • Create a reporting procedure for your staff members to follow should they suspect abuse, whether that abuse occurs in or outside of your facility.
  • Have at least two adults per each group of children in your care.
  • Hire enough staff to ensure children get the most one-on-one care possible. This can also protect you in the event that multiple staff members can’t come to work.

Behavior Concerns

As a child care provider, you must ensure children behave in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the safety of others in your care. However, this is easier said than done, and you must navigate potential disciplinary issues carefully. Just one poorly handled incident can lead to negative publicity or even costly litigation.

Your facility should have a clear disciplinary policy, to ensure behavior issues are addressed appropriately, . This policy should set expectations, account for appropriate disciplinary actions in a variety of scenarios and be communicated to parents. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of behavior issues and inform parents of recurring issues.

Above all, staff members should never physically discipline children. Staff members need to act tactfully when disciplining children, making sure to avoid any actions that could be considered verbal or psychological abuse. Thorough staff training is a must to ensure care providers know what is and isn’t appropriate when addressing child behavior concerns.

Further Managing Your Risks

There are considerable risks to consider when owning a child care business. While proactive risk management can help reduce potential liability concerns, the proper insurance coverage is equally important. To gain a better understanding of the risks associated with your operations and secure adequate coverage, contact us today or click here to learn more about business insurance. 

How to Handle a Surprise Medical Bill

medical bill

medical billIf you’ve ever received a surprise medical bill, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, over half of American adults have been surprised by a bill that they had assumed would be covered by their medical insurance. Moreover, only 1 in 5 of these surprise bills were the result of a patient actively seeking out-of-network care.

The situation in which you would receive a surprise medical bill is commonly referred to as balance billing. This article will explain what balance billing is, how to handle a surprise medical bill and tips to help you avoid receiving one in the future.

What is surprise medical billing?

When you seek medical care, you often choose where you go to obtain care based on in-network providers. Choosing in-network care is typically the most affordable option.

Unfortunately, even if you choose an in-network provider or care facility, you may be hit with an unexpected costly bill. This is known as a surprise medical bill or balance bill. There are typically two situations in which surprise medical billing occurs:

  1. Medical services are performed at an in-network facility by an out-of-network provider (situation includes both emergency and non-emergency services)
  2. Emergency medical services are performed by an out-of-network provider

In either of these cases, while there was little patient control over provider selection, the patient will be responsible for the percentage of the bill that insurance doesn’t cover. Essentially, you’re billed the balance that remains on the bill. In the majority of cases, patients were unaware of the out-of-network provider until they received the surprise medical bill.

How common is surprise medical billing?

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, out-of-network charges resulted in a surprise medical bill in 24 percent of emergency room services provided at an in-network facility. The same study revealed that 18 percent of inpatient admissions resulted in such charges as did 15 percent of admissions in an in-network facility.

Medical services that can often result in balance billing include:

  • Services performed by anesthesiologists, pathologists, neonatologists, intensivists, hospitalists, radiologists and ER doctors
  • Ambulance services, including air ambulances
  • Post-procedure medical equipment (e.g., crutches and wheelchairs)
  • Services performed by a provider not chosen by the patient (lab test analysis)

As previously discussed, the majority of patients didn’t know that the provider of their services weren’t in-network. In fact, 7 out of 10 individuals with costly surprise medical bills had no idea until they received the bill.

Last year, the concept of surprise medical billing made the news when a Texas man suffered a severe “widow-maker” heart attack. While he made a recovery, he was hit with a startling surprise balance bill of nearly $109,000. The man’s emergency care and hospital stay totaled up to $164,941 and his insurance covered $55,840. The hospital where the man was treated was out of his insurance network, which resulted in the extraordinarily expensive surprise balance bill.

The man and his insurance company fought the bill and tried to negotiate it down, and ultimately a deal was made after the story made national headlines. This man’s story is an example of what many Americans experience. Especially when they need emergency care and have little to no choice in where they obtain their care or the services they need in order to save their life. 

Are there any laws in place to protect patients from balance billing?

While not always illegal, balance billing can be incredibly frustrating and financially stressing for patients. Federal and local governments have taken strides to address the problem of surprise medical billing, but the issue still persists.

Handling a Surprise Medical Bill

If you’ve received a surprise medical bill, you still have options. Here are some things that you can do to try to handle your surprise medical bill:

  • Carefully review your medical bill and your insurance’s explanation of benefits (EOB). Your EOB will explain what medical treatments or services your insurer paid for and the amount you still owe. Make sure to ask your health care provider for an itemized bill to ensure that everything you’re being billed for is a medical service that you received. With over 70,000 diagnosis and 71,000 procedure codes that providers and billing departments have to sift through when composing your initial bill, mistakes can unfortunately happen. Carefully reviewing your itemized bill can help you make sure you don’t pay for things you didn’t receive. You can obtain this itemized bill by calling the provider’s billing department and, if necessary, asking to speak to the supervisor.
  • If you’re questioning what’s on your itemized bill, trust your gut. Run the current procedural terminology (CPT) codes from your bill in the CPT/Medicare Payment tool on the American Medical Association’s website. Common CPT code errors include billing for a private inpatient room instead of an outpatient room. Double-charging for services under a bundled CPT code and again under the separate CPT code. And operating room overcharges. If you notice any errors, contact the provider’s billing office and ask to speak to the supervisor.
  • You can also reference the facility’s pre-insurance procedure and service pricing to see if there are any discrepancies between what is on your bill and what the hospital would charge. By law, every facility must post this chargemaster online. It’s important to note that the chargemaster data doesn’t take any insurance discounts or network cost agreements into account. However, you can still get some insight into what your base charges may be.
  • If you’ve gone through your bill and find that you still owe unexpected charges, it’s time to negotiate. Call your provider’s billing department, ask to speak to a supervisor and try to work out a deal. You may need to schedule an in-person meeting or call more than once. A Consumer Reports survey revealed that 57 percent of those who negotiated payment of their medical bills were successful in lowering their amount owed. While you shouldn’t expect to make your bill disappear, you should hope to find a happy medium. For example, you can ask the billing department supervisor if they would accept what your insurance is willing to pay. This way, the provider is still receiving payment for the services, but you’re not paying a large amount out-of-pocket. If you’re not comfortable negotiating with a billing department, or if you’re having a hard time striking a deal, you may want to consider hiring a medical billing advocate to do so on your behalf.
  • Ask to work out a payment plan if you’re not able to pay your balance owed out-of-pocket. Ask the billing department if you can set up affordable monthly payments to pay off your unexpected bill amount. Many billing departments will work with you. But the only way to find out is to ask if they’ll offer that option to you.

Avoiding Surprise Medical Bills

While you can’t always avoid receiving a surprise medical bill, being a wise health care consumer whenever possible can help lessen the possibility that you will receive one. Of course, in an emergency and life-threatening situation, you should seek out the nearest care center.

For planned medical services, you should do your due diligence and find out what is covered before you obtain those services. Never assume that just because you’re receiving care at an in-network facility that your health care provider will be an in-network provider, too. The same can be said about where you’re receiving treatment. Your provider could be an in-network provider but the facility in which you’re receiving care could be an out-of-network facility. This could result in facility charges. 

Asking questions about the care you need to receive can be intimidating. But doing so can help you avoid surprise medical bills. Being an informed consumer can help you make the most informed health decisions and protect your wallet.

If you need help with understanding your health insurance benefits or even assistance with reviewing a claim, we can help. 

Click here to learn about health insurance.

Click here to contact us.


Visit Us At The 14th Annual Business Expo This Thursday

Business Expo

Business ExpoThis weekend marks the 14 Annual Richland Area Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. Our agency, along with 100 other vendors, will be set up at the Richland County Fairgrounds. The Business Expo is a great way to meet local businesses and learn about what they have to offer. And each year has a theme. This year’s theme will be 70’s Disco. Our agents will be at the booth and we will have our best Disco Theme on display. 

Admission and parking is free and is open to the public. The Expo will also be having a food drive. So bring a canned good to be entered in the door prize drawing! Make sure to stop by our booth as we will be having a drawing of our own! To learn more see the flyer below or go to Richland Area Chamber of Commerce Business Expo

Business Expo

Did You Know Volunteering Has Positive Effects For You?



Volunteering is something near and dear to our hearts here at Rinehart Insurance. Our owners, partners and staff participate in numerous volunteering events each year. We take great pride in supporting and helping out in our community. And we encourage you to join us. 

Volunteer Work

In addition to boosting your social well-being, volunteering can make you feel physically stronger, increase mental sharpness, aid in reducing stress and even help you live longer. Wow! Despite these proven positive effects, only 1 in 4 Americans regularly volunteer. (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). If you’re curious about the specific benefits of volunteering or how to get started, read on.

Health Benefits of Volunteering

As previously mentioned, volunteering has proven health benefits. A few of those benefits include:

  • Increased mental and physical activity – Participating in volunteer activities gives you the opportunity to move and think in different ways than you’re used to doing. Both at home or at work. And, there’s a good chance that you’ll be on the move while volunteering. This will increases your overall physical activity level, too.
  • Reduced stress levels – Giving back to those in need is said to enhance one’s sense of belonging, meaning and appreciation. Those are all elements that can help reduce your stress levels.
  • Increased social well-being – By going out and volunteering in your community, you’re broadening your social circle and forging new relationships. As well as giving back to those who are in need. All of these activities can increase your social well-being, a component that plays a large role in your overall health.

Volunteers may work full time, part time or be retired. Some may volunteer with one organization a few hours a week. Others with multiple organizations several hours a week. No matter what amount of time that is contributed, studies show that volunteers have an overall healthier, happier outlook on life.

How to Get Started

There are many organizations that can benefit from your volunteer time. A good place to start looking is within your community. Pick one that complements your talents, interests, schedule and physical abilities. When you’re thinking about what you’d like to do as a volunteer, it may be helpful to think about what’s motivating you. Some volunteers are motivated by the following:

  • Helping others
  • Learning about the community
  • Meeting new and interesting people
  • Working in a team environment
  • Feeling like they made a difference
  • Gaining valuable life experiences
  • Acquiring new skills

Once you’ve determined what’s motivating you to volunteer, you’ll be able to narrow down your search for local volunteer programs. For example, if you enjoy helping others, it may be beneficial to try to volunteer at a hospital or clinic. If you want to learn more about your community, volunteer on a community council or committee.

How to Have a Successful Experience

Online listings or a newspaper are great options to identify volunteer programs. To ensure a successful outcome for both you and the volunteer program, ask yourself the following questions:

  • When can I begin?
  • What skills can I offer? 
  • What skills can I gain?
  • How much time can I commit?
  • What would I not want to do as a volunteer?
  • How often do I want to participate?
  • What community issue do I want to affect through my volunteer service?
  • What group or population do I want to serve?

Making the decision to volunteer is greatly appreciated by those in need. A small task for you can make the world of difference to someone else. From one community member to another, we Thank You! 

Fire Safety and Prevention, What You Need To Know

Fire Safety

Fire SafetyHome is where the heart is…it’s also where your family, prized possessions and most fond memories are. Home is also the same place that has the greatest risk of fire. Nearly 80% of fire deaths in the US each year occur in the home. Are you taking steps to keep your home and family safe?

Fire Safety

  • Check all electrical appliances, cords and outlets. makes sure they are all in working condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs.
  • Use caution with portable heaters. Never place one where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over, and keep it at least 3 feet away from flammable objects.
  • Be careful in the kitchen. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Always practice safe cooking habits, such as turning pot handles to avoid being knocked over, and supervising children while cooking.
  • Check the fireplace. It should be kept clean and covered with a screen to keep sparks contained. Burn only wood in a home fireplace and never leave a fire burning unattended.
  • Beware of cigarettes. They are the number one cause of fire deaths in the US. Most are started when ashes or butts fall into couches or chairs, so use caution if you smoke in your home.
  • Use candles safely. Keep them out of the reach of children, away from curtains and furniture, and extinguish them before you leave the room. Do not allow children to use candles when unsupervised by an adult. 
  • Be aware of holiday dangers. If you use a cut Christmas tree, be sure to keep it watered daily, and inspect all lights yearly for worn or frayed cords.

Fire Prevention

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home.
  • Use the smoke alarm’s test button to check it every month and replace the batteries at least once a year. 
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. 
  • Plan escape routes by determining at least two ways to escape from every room. 
  • Caution everyone to stay low to the floor while escaping and never open doors that are hot. 
  • Select a safe location outside your home where everyone should meet, and practice your escape plan at least twice a year so everyone knows it well. 

Do you need to discuss homeowners insurance with one of our agents? Click here to learn more or Click here to contact us. 

Share these tips with everyone you care about, you can never be too careful! 
Your friends at Rinehart-Walters-Danner Insurance.   

4 Renters Insurance Myths and The Truths You Need To Know

Renters Insurance

Renters InsuranceRenting instead of buying is a preferred way of living for many. Moving to a new location and being unsure of where you want to stay permanently. Not wanting or having the extra money for a down payment. Or simply wanting the ease of knowing you don’t have to worry about home maintenance or repairs. Those are all common reasons you may rent instead of purchasing a home. However, just because your landlord has insurance coverage, doesn’t mean that you should not purchase renters insurance. 

Insurance is an important protection you need for yourself and your family. There are many myths out there when it comes to renters insurance. We’re here to discuss those myths and make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. 

I don’t have enough stuff to get renters insurance

Things add up fast! Your electronics, appliances, clothes and even food are all large expenses that can be protected under your policy. 

My landlord’s insurance will cover the damages to my belongings

Typically, a landlord’s insurance policy only covers the physical building. Not anything that’s within the walls or that belong to a tenant. 

Personal belongings are the only things covered under renters insurance

Renters insurance can also cover damages to someone’s property within your home. And, depending on the limits of your liability coverage, it can cover some or all of the medical expenses if someone happens to get injured on your property. 

I can’t afford renters insurance

Renters insurance can be incredibly affordable. Although pricing can always vary, some policies can cost as little as a couple cups of coffee at your favorite cafe. 

Did you know that if your home becomes uninhabitable for reasons covered in your policy, the insurance company will reimburse you for your temporary living expenses until you are able to find a new place to live? Your insurance policy is there not only to protect your belongings, but so much more. 

Don’t wait until it’s too late to start thinking about renters insurance

We spend a lot of time and energy filling our living spaces with items that make it feel like home. It only takes one unexpected event to have it all stripped away. Renters insurance can give you peace of mind knowing that you and all of your belongings are covered. 

Click Here to learn more. 

The Flu And How It Affects You

the fluEvery year, anywhere from 5% – 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu. Around 200,000 people are hospitalized due to its complications, and another 36,000 die from it. Those are some shocking numbers!!

So what exactly is the flu?

The flu is an infection of the respiratory tract caused by the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can cause complications leading to death.

Flu Symptoms often include some or all of the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing and/or sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Stomach ailments such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (this is more common in children than adults)

The flu is spread primarily with coughing, sneezing or talking close to others. It can also be spread if an individual touches a surface that was touched by an infected person, and then touches his or her own mouth, eyes or nose. People are typically contagious from 1 day before symptoms start to 7 days after symptoms appear.

So what do you do if you have the flu?

  • Stay home from work or school
  • Get lots of sleep
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) medications appropriate for your symptoms
  • Seek medical attention if you are concerned

The best way to treat the flu is to avoid it all together. Prevention is the key to keep the flu away. Simple things such as getting a flu shot, keeping your distance from sick people or washing you hands immediately after interaction with them and maintaining a health immune system by eating health and exercising regularly are all things that can help you avoid getting the flu.

In the unfortunate event the flu turns into something more serious seek immediate medical attention. Now may be a good time to also review your insurance coverage to make sure you have insurance coverage if you are unable to work for an extended period of time. 

How To Avoid Back Injuries While Shoveling


  • shovelingYou arrive home after a long day of work and go figure…you can’t get into your driveway because the snow is too deep. After wading through the snow to get in the house, get on your snow gear and grab a shovel, it’s time to get shoveling. This is no easy task and you will quickly break a sweat, but be careful not to break your back.


Shoveling Precautions

It’s a good idea to warm up your muscles before shoveling by walking around for a few minutes or marching in place. Then stretch your arms and legs to allow your muscles to move more efficiently. (You wouldn’t run a marathon before warming up, this should be no different). After you’re all warmed up make sure you use the correct snow shovel. A bigger shovel doesn’t always mean better, especially with heavy snow. Look for a D-grip handle to provide a hand placement position that is more angled to the mounting surface.

Make sure to use proper technique while shoveling (yes there is such a thing). Stand with your feet at hip width apart to maintain your balance while keeping the shovel close to your body. Then, bend at the knees, not your back, and tighten your abdominal muscles as you lift the load on the shovel. If you need to move a load to one side of your body, re-position your feet to face the direction in which the load is good.

Dealing with the snow is bad enough, why have to deal with doctors, chiropractors and your health insurance too?