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 Important Food and Product Recalls

 “Passing on the latest product and food recalls are one of the ways we can keep our employees and customers healthy and safe,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading independent healthcare insurance agency.

USA Today declared just last month, one of the hottest toys/tech gadgets for Christmas was the hoverboard. It’s a motorized, self-balancing, two-wheel scooter. The hoverboard is available from several manufacturers and is powered by a lithium battery and operated by leaning in and balancing.

Just as this in demand gift was hitting its rise, several accounts began coming in to the U.S. Product Safety Commission.  CBS News reports the number of injuries and fires associated with the hoverboard has increased to 25 percent in the past several days. Many injuries are fall and collision related while there are also reports of the boards catching fire.

The agency is not issuing a recall until they can determine what is causing the hoverboards to overheat and catch fire. Meanwhile several retailers such as Costco, Amazon and Overstock.com are ceasing the sale of some models.  All major U.S. Airlines have banned hoverboards on planes. They are citing the lithium-ion batteries responsible for charging the boards as a potential problem.maxresdefault

Products are not the only recent recalls. With outbreaks of norovirus and E.coli at the popular restaurant Chipotle, it is an unfortunate reminder that food and product recalls happen on sometimes a daily basis. Some popular food products that caught our eye at GreatFlorida Insurance are listed below.

  • Sweet Leaf Tea – glass fragments have been found in some products. The recall affects 1.5 million bottles of the organic tea and lemonade.
  • Tyson Foods – has recalled over 50,000 pounds of fully cooked chicken wings. The product is detailed as having an, “off-odor” and causing mild illness.
  • Stella & Chewy’s – some of the dog and cat food has tested positive for listeria monocytogens bacteria. Over 990 cases have been reported.

Tyson1-1170x584Listeria is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections especially in young children, the elderly and others with a compromised immune system. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to listeria because the illness can cause miscarriage and stillbirth.

Symptoms include fever, severe headache, nausea, stiff neck, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Pets can spread the bacteria to humans while they rarely show signs of the disease.

GreatFlorida Insurance wants to keep you safe by keeping you informed. We offer a variety of choices for health insurance to suit a variety of budgets. Give us a call today.

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Seniors Work for Health Insurance

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Many seniors 65 and older are continuing to work beyond they typical age of retirement to gain access to better healthcare insurance.

“Employer based insurance plans have more affordable options than those with the Affordable Care Act which can have high premiums and deductibles,” reported Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent healthcare insurance agency.

Employer based healthcare plans often include extended coverage for the employer as well as their spouse on doctor visits, hospital trips and prescription medication. These benefits are much more than they can get from Medicare alone, which does not provide a family plan. The government insurance plan covers emergency care but many seniors are looking for more.

Those 65 and older made up 18.9 percent of the workforce in the United States in 2014, according to a report by U.S. News & World Report. In 2013, 4.9 million full-time, year round workers in the U.S. were 65 and older.

“The conventional idea of retirement is changing,” said Ellsworth Buck, with GreatFlorida Insurance.

In the National Health Interview Survey, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers found that not only working past 65 years old can provide you with better health insurance options but can keep you healthier.

“Being unemployed/retired was associated with the greatest risk of poor health across all health status measures, even after controlling for smoking status, obesity and other predictors of health,” concluded the study authors.

In order to find the best healthcare insurance for your family, some research could be required. It is advised to enroll in Medicaid within three months of your 65th birthday, as a precautionary measure.

No matter your age, GreatFlorida Insurance can compare popular health insurance plans to find which ones fit your needs within your budget. Call us today.

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Gators on the Golf Course

“It’s not unusual to encounter an alligator on the golf course when you are playing golf in Florida but lately, there has been some remarkable alligator activity on some Florida courses,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest healthcare insurance agency.

Two alligators shocked golfers when they began to wrestle on the greens at the Myakka Pines Golf Club in Englewood. Golfers reported that the two gators thrashed and bit one another for at least 10 minutes before the smaller gator, estimated to be 10 feet long, limped away. The champion of the fight, Goliath has been nicknamed by locals and is known for making appearances on the golf course but has never been seen taking on another alligator.

At the Crandon Park Golf Course in Key Biscayne, a six foot crocodile ate a dog after it ran into the water. The dog was a 25 pound pit bull terrier mix, off his lease and chasing ducks and geese in the early morning hours.florida-health-insurance

Another alligator was photographed by a stunned golfer in Naples at The Golf Club at Fiddler’s Creek. The alligator was feasting on a large python.

While alligators are native to Florida, alligator attacks are rare. According to the Tampa Bay Times, no one has suffered a fatal, unprovoked alligator bite in Florida since 2007. Encouraging news, there are no documented deaths from an alligator bite to a golfer in Florida.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, FWC reports 10 percent of all violent gator confrontations occur when golfers are trying to retrieve balls.

With an estimated 1.5 alligators populating the state, it is no wonder they can be seen lurking around golf course marsh areas and banks with heavy vegetation.  “At one time, the American alligator was considered endangered but thanks to the alligator population boost, the species was removed from the endangered list,” reports Buck, from healthcare insurance provider GreatFlorida Insurance.

In order to have a peaceful co-existence between golfer and alligators, the FWC has the following recommendations:

  • Never feed alligators, it is dangerous and illegal.
  • Seek immediate attention if you are bitten by an alligator.
  • Observe and photograph alligators from a distance.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and warning signs.
  • Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.
  • Leave alligators alone, even small ones

Alligators less than four feet long are not considered dangerous. If you encounter a gator longer than four feet and posing a threat to people, property or pets, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).  Nuisance alligators are killed not relocated.

GreatFlorida Insurance wants to help keep golfers in prime shape for the green. That can be accomplished through the high quality healthcare insurance we provide to cover well visits and injury care. Give us a call today.

Ending No-Fault Insurance

Frustrated Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty recently threw out the idea, “Let’s fix it or flush it. We have done everything to fix PIP you could have possibly have done.”  McCarty believes ending Florida’s Personal Injury Protection, PIP requirement would cut off the flow of money feeding PIP fraud.

“Personal Injury Protection, also referred to as no-fault auto insurance is to blame for widespread insurance fraud across  Florida,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance. “Fraud schemes are so bad they have caused some insurance companies to pull out of offering auto insurance in Florida.”

Examples of how far reaching the fraud schemes go are evidence in recent arrests and lawsuits.

  • A Florida chiropractor was recently arrested for felony fraud charges for running a $1.5 million insurance fraud scheme.
  • The A&E show American Takedown featured the case, “Operation Cold Call” which uncovered a network of attorneys, doctors and clinic employees who were engaged in recruiting, paying and treating phony patients for treatments that did not exist for staged car accidents.
  • The Sun Sentinel reported a story of a criminal ring involving a bank, medical clinic owners, patient recruiters and sham accident victims. The ring purportedly conned Allstate out of $10 million.

PIP requirements were implemented as part of auto insurance coverage so car accident victims could receive quick payments for medical treatments required without having to wait for a determination on the responsibility of an accident. It was also intended to free up the courts from small claims cases.

Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance informs, “Policyholders recover expenses for car accident injuries from their own insurance company regardless who is at fault for the accident.” Drivers are required to purchase PIP to cover medical expenses and those of passengers. Florida PIP provides up to $10,000 in coverage for medical expenses.

Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of no-fault auto insurance have been rampant fraud. Florida is considered the car insurance fraud capital. Staged accidents or dishonest medical professionals file false or inflated claims to exploit the system. According to the Insurance Information Institute, fraud costs the Florida PIP insurance system one billion dollars a year.

GreatFlorida Insurance has experienced professionals located throughout the State to make sure you get the right car insurance. Contact us today.

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Safe Holiday Driving

“The holidays are an ideal time for traveling to see family and friends. It’s a time to celebrate but when the party is over, many drivers get behind the wheel- alcohol impaired,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent auto insurance agency.

AAA reports Thanksgiving weekend as the most dangerous holiday for travel. This year they estimate an increase in holiday travel. You will have to operate with more caution as they approximate 47 million will be traveling over Thanksgiving, the most since 2007. Driving continues to be the most preferred method of transportation for travelers, thanks to low gas prices.

USA Today recently highlighted a poll that revealed many drivers are unaware that the legal drinking limit is.08 blood alcohol content or higher. While GreatFlorida Insurance represents auto insurance carriers that can provide auto insurance that can help in tough circumstances, suffering the consequences of a DUI can destructively change your life.

The night before Thanksgiving is sometimes referred to as “Black Wednesday,” or “Drinksgiving” because it is one of the busiest nights of the year at bars.  DUI arrests are at their highest between Thanksgiving and the end of New Year’s weekend. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports 40 percent of traffic related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers.

Impairment begins with the first drink. Once you begin to drink it is easy to underestimate alcohol’s lingering effect. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reveals alcohol continues to influence the brain and body after you have your last call. “Even after someone stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream, impairing judgement and coordination for hours.”

The key is to make sure to have a plan in place if you decide to have a drink at a gathering.  Keep tabs on the number of drinks you consume. Try drinking water or another non-alcoholic beverage between drinks. Have a designated driver or alternative ride home, a friend, cab or ride share company.

GreatFlorida Insurance wants all our customers to safely and responsibly enjoy the holiday season. We provide comprehensive car insurance at great rates. Our agents will compare car insurance from several reputable companies across the U.S. to find an auto policy suitable for you.

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Gratitude

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The tradition of giving thanks during November began with the Pilgrims, giving thanks to God for survival and a plentiful food harvest.  However, you do not need to be religious to experience the significance of gratitude.

“Gratitude is not just a positive sentiment, it is a mentality, a practice that can improve several areas of your life,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s leading independent healthcare insurance agency. Being thankful is beneficial to our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Physical Benefits

Having an attitude of gratitude is proven to boost your immune system and lead to better sleep while contributing to higher energy levels and more exercise. WebMD reports that stress is linked to several leading causes of death including, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.Healthy-Living-insurance

Stress is the result of 90 percent of all doctor visits. Being thankful can help people cope better with pressure on a daily basis. A University of Utah study showed that stressed out law students who were optimistic had more immune boosting blood cells than their pessimistic peers.

Bing Crosby sang, “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings,” there is some truth to the popular tune.  Stress is also a culprit of sleep quality and restfulness.  According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people were more likely to exercise more often and attend preventative check-ups with their doctors. These factors, along with quality health insurance are likely to contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Mental Benefits

Being thankful can contribute to a more optimistic outlook on life, less materialism, less self-centeredness and increased self-esteem.  When you are thankful for what you have, you begin to starve the need for more in your life. When we get more, we seem to want more, which places us in a cycle of discontentment.

“Being thankful can cause you to think about yourself less and focus more on others,” comments Buck, from GreatFlorida Insurance. An article found in Psychology Today says, “Thankfulness is reported to reduce toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, frustration and regret.” Examinations by Robert Emmon, a leading gratitude researcher found gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

Emotional Benefits

Let’s face it- no one enjoys hanging out with “Debbie Downer” complaining about their problems. People who are thankful are characteristically happier, less envious, more relaxed, kinder, are more social and maintain stronger friendships and marriage relations.

A 2014 study published in Emotionnews, found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. Write a thank-you note, thanking someone for even a small act of generosity can open doors for new and meaningful relationships.

If some of the following claims leave you feeling a bit dubious, check it out for yourself. Try keeping a thankful journal and record your blessings on a regular basis. Also, try to reframe a situation that seems negative by viewing it through the lens of gratitude, you might find yourself thankful for the situation.

At GreatFlorida Insurance we promote healthy lifestyles. Part of maintaining good health, begins with dependable health insurance. Our top notch healthcare insurance agency can help you find the right insurance policy to fit your lifestyle. Give us a call today.

What is Making Florida’s Kids Fat?

Childhood obesity is a problem not only for children in Florida but one in three kids in the United States is overweight.

Recently, a group of researchers from Duke-National University of Singapore analyzed children’s food diaries, changes in Body Mass Index (BMI), weight, height and physical activity. Their findings show children who gained the most weight over the course of three years ate more butter and margarine, breaded fish and chicken, processed meat, French fries, milk, sweets and sugary beverages.

The authors singled out one food in particular, potato chips. “Potato chips are the most obesity-promoting foods for youths to consume.” Foods associated with staying at a healthy weight included, whole grains and high fiber breakfast cereals.eating-chips_0

“Childhood obesity is threatening the future of our children,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent healthcare insurance agency.  “I think parents are sometimes in denial over the serious health threat this poses to our children. It is the responsibility of the parents to make sure our children are healthy, so we can provide them with a positive future.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) childhood obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Children can also suffer from poor self-esteem and depression.

So how do you know if your child is overweight? Not all children carrying extra weight are considered overweight or obese.  The Mayo Clinic reports you cannot just look at a person and make this evaluation.  Some children have larger than average body frames. They can carry different amount of body fat during various stages of development.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) defines an overweight child as one who has a BMI at 85 percentile or above. A child with a 95 percentile BMI or higher is considered obese.  A BMI is age and sex-specific for children and teens. “BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters.”

Lifestyle choices are usually the cause for overweight children. It is important that parents and family members model healthy habits. The AAP recommends the following habits to guarantee your children are healthy.

  • Focus on bedtime- children who sleep less than nine hours a night are more likely to be overweight.
  • Get moving! Promote physical activity by going for walks, a bike ride, taking the stairs or getting involved in team sports.
  • Make healthy foods more visible and accessible. Keep fruit and vegetables on the kitchen table or counter or at the front of the refrigerator.
  • If you have high-calorie foods or sugary snacks for a celebration, buy them right before the event and get rid of them immediately afterward.

Having dependable health insurance can help promote a healthy lifestyle. GreatFlorida Insurance provides quality health insurance to keep preventative care doctor check-ups at a minimal cost for you and your entire family.  Contact GreatFlorida Insurance today for a free quote.

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Peril on Wheels

Car tires are often overlooked when it comes to your automobile, but let’s face it, you are not getting anywhere without them. They are the less sexy, workhorse on your vehicle.  It is imperative that your car tires are safe and reliable. Consumersearch.com tells us your brakes, steering and ride comfort all have to do with the quality of your tires.

“This week’s National Transportation Safety Board NTSB, report on tire recalls is disturbing,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

The NTSB reports, only one in five defective tires is being removed from the road through the safety recall process. They claim tire manufacturers are unable to contact most tire owners and warn them of a recall.

Another 24 percent of recalled tires experience damage or are removed from the road due to normal wear and tear. That leaves 56 percent of recalled tires on the road. “Based on the work we did, that system is not working,” said Dr. Rob Molloy, Director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety. “It’s completely broken.”

What’s the problem with the system? There is no requirement for most tire dealers to register the tires they sell with the manufacturer. Independent dealers sell 92 percent of tires and many of them do not make a record of the purchase making it difficult for manufacturers to contact tire owners in the event of a recall.

The NTSB reported, 55 safety recall campaigns involving, 3.2 million tires from 2009-2013. It is estimated over 500 people are killed and 19,000 injured in 33,000 tire related accidents yearly.

One case cited by the board occurred in Lake City, Florida last year. The driver of a 15-passenger van felt a vibration and pulled over to inspect the tires. Not finding a problem, he resumed driving. Soon after, a tire failed causing the van to careen off the road and roll over. Two people were killed and eight others were injured.

The defect was internal and could not be seen. The tire had been recalled over a year earlier, but it was not registered with the tire maker.

The panel of NTSB investigators unanimously recommended that Congress require tire registration and also suggested that drivers register their tires with the manufacturers.

Registering tires require sending your name, address and tire identification number to the tire maker. The number can be found on the tire sidewall and starts with the letters “DOT.”

GreatFlorida Insurance provides reliable auto insurance to cover all your needs. Contact us today to find affordable auto insurance.

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Florida’s Most and Least Reliable Cars for 2015

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The appeal of buying a new car includes the pride of ownership, desiring the most updated features a vehicle has to offer, warranty coverage and nothing more than routine maintenance for the first several years. When you buy a new car, you do not want to end up back at the dealer’s service department getting an issue resolved. Results from the 2015 Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey prove not all new cars are created equal.

The data was provided by Consumer Report subscribers that are also new car owners. Information was gathered from over 740,000 vehicles for 170 models.

Most reliable brands: Lexus, Toyota, Audi, Mazda, Subaru, Kia and the Buick, (the only American made car to make the list).

The most reliable car is the Audi Q3, other top autos on the list were, the Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Crosstrek. The popular brand, Honda fell to 8th place mainly because of problems with its infotainment system and glitches with the transmission in new models, it is still considered a top pick.

Least reliable brands:  Fiat-Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Cadillac, Infiniti, GMC, Chevrolet and Nissan.

The least reliable cars include: Fiat 500L, Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon XL, Ford Fiesta and the Nissan Pathfinder. Owners reported most issues were covered under warranty. Common problems were found with the fuel pump, the transmission, infotainment systems along with general squeaks and rattles in the cars.

Excluded from the survey were, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Scion, Smart and Tesla, due to a lack of data. At one time, Consumer Reports named the Tesla S, “the best car ever driven.” They stripped the vehicle of this honor due to reported squeaks, sunroof leaks and charging problems reported by owners.

Consumer Reports said of the survey results, “We recommend you wait a year or more after a brand new car design is introduced before taking the plunge.”

If you are looking for a reliable car, you naturally want reliable car insurance to match. GreatFlorida Insurance compares rates and coverage to find the best car insurance to suit you and your vehicle. Call GreatFlorida Insurance today for a free quote.

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Flying vs. Driving in Florida.

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What is the best way to get from point A to point B?  Calm down, this is no obscure common core math problem; it is a question many ponder as they prepare to travel. Being six weeks out from Thanksgiving and about ten from Christmas,  people are contemplating the decision, “Should we fly or drive to our destination for the holidays?”

According to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse Survey, 71 percent of Floridians plan to take an overnight trip between October and December. Now that gasoline prices are cheaper, many Floridians are opting to drive rather than fly. The study reports 43 percent plan to fly, while 47 percent will take advantage of lower gas prices and drive.

“For many the issue usually boils down to money,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance. “While there are some deals on air travel during the off-peak season, I think many customers are frustrated that a significant price drop in oil/gas is not being reflected in the costs of peak-season air travel.”

Aside from high prices, another issue working against airlines is air travel in general.  The American Customer Satisfaction index rates airlines as one of the least favorite industries among American consumers.

So, do you load up the car or shell out for a pricey airline ticket? You have the option to contend with possible lost or damaged luggage, long lines, delays, awkward pat downs from TSA and cramped seating. Could it be worse than coping with mind-numbing traffic and complaining passengers?

As a general rule of thumb, personal finance app, Mint recommends if the destination is less than four hours away, drive. If budget is the driving force in your decision making, BeFrugal.com has a fly or drive calculator to help you in making the decision to fly or drive for your next trip by estimating the time and costs of driving and flying.

The AAA survey found the top factors in deciding to fly or drive include:

  • Cost of airfare
  • Trip distance/length
  • Amount of luggage
  • Gas prices
  • Number of travelers
  • Traveling with pets
  • Afraid of flying

Is safety is an issue? For the record, driving is more dangerous than flying. In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 32,719 people were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. While in sharp contrast, there were 265 deaths on commercial flights worldwide the same year.

If energy efficiency is a priority in your decision making process, the U.S.  Department of Transportation says the greenest way to travel is by bus or Amtrak.

GreatFlorida Insurance offers excellent customer service and competitive pricing on auto insurance. With over 115 offices throughout Florida, GreatFlorida Insurance is convenient and their independent agents take the time to compare prices to find  customers the best deal on auto insurance. Go online for a free quote of give us a call today.

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