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Staff Spotlight: Courtney McNabb

Every month we like to introduce one of our staff members so you can get to know them better. This month, our Commercial Account Manager Courtney told us the remarkable story of meeting the mistreated rescue horse she’d end up owning for the next 18 years.

You won the lottery! What’s your first purchase?

First, I would pay off all of our parents’ debt! Then, I would take my daughter out of school and travel the world for a year or more depending on how much I won. First stop, the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, then to Spain and Portugal! I want to show my daughter that the world is filled with so many wonderful people and horses!

Share one thing you love to do that you always strive to include in your daily routine.

I strive to be kind. A smile or just a kind word might change someone’s day or even life. We never know if the people in our lives or the people we come across are struggling with something unbearable. My five-year-old daughter says that kindness is magical. “How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time” – Morgan Freeman

What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?

Horses, horses and horses. I was born loving horses and begged for a pony at a very young age. My parents couldn’t afford it so when I was 12 I found a way and I started cleaning stalls in exchange for riding lessons. My parents told me that I couldn’t own my own horse until I graduated from high school, so the day after I graduated I bought my own horse. My mother thought the “hobby” would wear off. Well, I worked three jobs to pay for her and I had her until she died 18 years later. I rescued her from a field of mud that she was standing in up to her knees. No one could touch her and when I walked up to her, she put her head in my lap and I cried. She and I knew that we were meant to be together. She was my first true love. Now I have another wonderful rescue horse that has been with me for 14 years. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to live the dream of my childhood. “No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses” – Herman Melville

Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences.

Having my daughter was the most life-changing experience I’ve ever had. It took us five years to have her and I almost lost her once during pregnancy. I was on bedrest for months with her only to almost lose her again during delivery. Whew! She is the miracle of my life. We felt so blessed that we donated our remaining embryos and a wonderful couple had twins. Not only did I have the love of my life but we were able to give another couple theirs too!

What is your favorite Biggs story?

My daughter had her 5th birthday party this past summer which was naturally a My Little Pony party with very fancy foiled pony plates. We had a lot of cake left over, so I brought some along with the fancy pony plates to the office. A coworker, who shall remain anonymous, decided to microwave her lunch on a shiny pony plate. Little did we know that shiny pony plates are flammable in the microwave!

What does success look like to you?

Success for me is raising my daughter to be a compassionate person that knows who she is and can stand her ground even when it’s hard. Being her Mom is the most important job I will ever do!

You can find Courtney’s contact information on our Team page!

Next-generation home health care is already here

The home health care industry continues to grow as more aging Americans prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. While this may sound like great news, many home care companies throughout the country are struggling to keep up with demand.

The primary challenge is the ability to hire and retain good quality staff. Traditionally, home health care has had higher turnover rates than many other industries. This is trending up as noted in an article by Home Health Care News in May of 2019. They report that the home care industry turnover is at an all-time high of 82%. Home care entities are searching for solutions to meet the rising demand for the services they provide. Two possible solutions are the use of telehealth and robotic caregivers.

Telehealth services

Telehealth – remote patient monitoring – allows home health services to check in with their clients and even monitor vital signs without a personal visit. The growth in this new technology is partly because of changes to the Home Health Prospective Payment System administered by Medicare and Medicaid. Changes to the federal programs will allow for home health care entities to include the cost of remote patient monitoring in their cost report forms.

Even when a caregiver can’t be present, this format allows a client to connect with someone remotely and talk through any issues they might be experiencing. Some highly technical systems that monitor a client’s vital signs can pick up on changes and alert the home care service, allowing it to respond – sometimes even before the client knows they are having an issue.

Robotic caregivers

Another fascinating solution involves the use of robotic caregivers, such as INF Robotics Inc’s Rudy.

Rudy the robot may represent the next generation in home health care. From left: Nick Forcier, Carla Rodriguez, Rudy and Anthony Nunez of INF Robotics.

Founder and CEO Anthony Nunez came up with the idea of Rudy after observing that his own grandmother was not receiving the care he felt she needed. Based in Fairfax, Virginia, Anthony and his team spent six years developing the technology.

Rudy has a screen placed near his chest that allows caregivers, family members and even physicians to control Rudy and talk through video conference.

Rudy can also:

And in an emergency, Rudy can call for help.

These solutions show great promise and have the potential to make life better for both the home care entities and their clients. Both are designed to augment the service of a caregiver, not replace it.

As home health care companies look for new ways to meet client needs while managing demand for workers, technology is one part of the equation. They also rely on the professional advice of a local, independent insurance agent to help evaluate risk management and insurance coverage.

Source: Cincinnati Insurance Companies’ blog

Halloween 2019: local events for guys & ghouls of every age

Hear that distant, bone-chilling howl? See those pumpkins popping up on every corner? It can only mean one thing – the spookiest season is here! Here are some events all can enjoy that range from crafty to educational:

Cardboard Costume Creation

Friday Oct 4, 5:00-8:00pm

Vancouver Mall Library

8700 NE Vancouver Mall Drive , Suite 285, Vancouver, WA 98662

Create amazing cardboard costumes! We provide the cardboard and other supplies, you provide the imagination. Ages 15 and up.

Second Saturday at the Water Center – Creatures of the Night

Saturday Oct 12, 1:00-3:00pm

Vancouver Water Resources Education Center

4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver, WA 98661

Join us for a spooky Second Saturday where we explore the fun and fascinating world of nocturnal animals. Fun and free!

CCHM History on Tap: the Haunting History of Clark County

Thursday Oct 17, doors at 6:00pm, event begins at 7:00pm

The Kiggins Theatre

1011 Main Street, Vancouver, WA 98660

Clark County Historical Museum will conclude its 2019 History on Tap program with a talk by local historians Pat Jollota, Brad Richardson, and Jeff Davis; they’ll explore the modern folklore of Clark County through historical interpretations, personal stories, folktales, and various haunting accounts drawn from Jollota’s book, “Darkness Next Door.” The evening will begin with a game show-style segment in which three members of the audience will be invited on stage to answer a series of historical questions about Clark County and beyond. Another segment, “Ask Pat,” will feature Pat Jollota’s answer to one question about local history, as selected from social media (#AskPat), email, or submitted through the museum.

Tickets $15 in advance or $18 day-of.

Squishing of the Squash

Friday Oct 18, 11:00am

Oregon Zoo

4001 SW Canyon Road, Portland, OR 97221-9704

Samudra the elephant enjoying a giant pumpkin!

The Oregon Zoo’s annual Squishing of the Squash, in which some of the world’s largest land animals demolish some of the area’s largest pumpkins, is a precursor to the zoo’s Howloween celebration taking place the following weekends (more on that here!). Throughout the weekend, visitors can also watch the zoo’s enrichment team and keepers provide animals with pumpkins and other holiday-themed treats.

Free with zoo admission.

 

 

 

Halloween Bath Bombs at Heathen Brewing Feral Public House (presented by lather + foam)

Tuesday Oct 22, 7:00pm

Heathen Brewing Feral Public House

1109 Washington Street, Vancouver, WA 98660

Create witches cauldrons that will begin to bubble and brew once they are dropped into your tub! These are so much fun to make and the possibilities are endless. We will have all sorts of Halloween fragrances available as well as spiders, snakes, ants, eyeballs and more to hide inside your cauldrons!

$40 per person admission price guarantees each guest 6 cauldrons to take home.

Frightmare on Main Street presents “The Crow” – special viewing with screenwriter Q&A

Friday Oct 25, 9:30-11:30pm

The Kiggins Theatre

1011 Main Street, Vancouver, WA 98660

We have a very special guest in attendance for our October 25th edition of Frightmare! Screenwriter John Shirley will be in attendance to introduce the cult film THE CROW and to do a post-screening Q&A! Tickets $11.50 each.

Renters insurance myths from Liberty Mutual

If you have questions about renter’s insurance, you’re not alone; luckily there’s Liberty Mutual’s ‘Master This’ blog, which has lots of short, informative articles developed in partnership with HowStuffWorks® – here’s an entry debunking common myths about this coverage:

If you’re a renter, you may think you can get away without insurance to protect your personal belongings. While a 2016 poll by the Insurance Information Institute found that 95 percent of homeowners have homeowner’s insurance, it also found that just 41 percent of non-owners have renters insurance to cover their possessions.

Maybe you’re opting out of renters insurance because of the cost, or maybe you don’t think your possessions are valuable enough to warrant coverage. The truth is, renters insurance provides significant protection that can save you money in the event of an accident, theft, or other disaster. If you’ve had excuses not to purchase a plan, it’s important to know all the facts in order to make an informed decision. Here are five of the most common misconceptions about renters insurance and the truth behind each one:

  1. It’s too expensive. Since renting a property often comes with added costs like cable, internet, and utilities, you may be putting off purchasing insurance because of the price tag. But plans are probably much more affordable than you think. In 2014, the national average for a renters policy was about $190 annually, or about 52 cents per day – that’s much less than the price of a decent cup of coffee.
  2. My personal property isn’t valuable, so I don’t need it. Even if you think your individual items aren’t worth protecting, you might be surprised by the grand total when you tally the value of all your possessions. In addition to obvious high-price items like electronics, your living space holds everything from your clothing and furnishings to small kitchen appliances, cookware, dishes, and more. If you lost everything all at once, it would likely be very expensive to replace out of pocket.
  3. I’m protected by my landlord’s insurance. This is a commonly held belief that keeps many renters from protecting themselves. In reality, most landlord insurance policies protect only the physical building, not your possessions. That means if someone steals your television or a fire destroys your furnishings, you’re responsible for the cost to replace them.
  4. Renters insurance covers only my property. You may be surprised to learn that in addition to property protection, many standard renters insurance policies also provide liability coverage. It may protect you against personal legal responsibility for things like injuries someone might sustain while on your property. That means if someone slips and falls in your home, your policy might help pay for their medical expenses, as well as any legal fees you may face, up to your policy’s coverage maximum.
  5. It only protects my items inside my home. Many renters insurance policies actually cover items if they’re stolen or damaged outside of your home as well. For instance, if your car is broken into, and items you have insured are stolen, your policy will most likely cover the cost to replace them if your car insurance doesn’t.

If you’re part of the 43 million rental households in the U.S., one of the most important things you can do is protect your family’s possessions with renters insurance. The right policy for you is probably a lot less expensive than you think, and will end up saving you money – and potential heartache in a worst-case-scenario.

Source: MasterKit on insuring your apartment

Deer breeding season’s here – tips to avoid collisions

There are hundreds of accidents involving deer in Washington every year, more than half of which occur during October and November – so now’s when you should be most diligent when driving in deer-prone areas. Here are some tips for staying safe.

Source: the WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Staff Spotlight: Natalie Stofiel

Every month we like to introduce one of our staff members so you can get to know them better. This month, our Personal Lines Account Manager Natalie told us fondly about her (very) recent wedding.

You won the lottery! What’s your first purchase?

If I won the lottery, one of my first purchases would be to pay off all of my debt; then I would probably go on a shopping spree, and pay off my friends and family’s debts as well. Beyond that I would probably purchase a car or two for my husband and I. I would maybe make a few investments, and eventually buy a house and live a comfortable life!

Share one thing you love to do that you always strive to include in your daily routine.

To read for 15 minutes from a self-help or success type of book. I also try to listen to podcasts by successful people. I feel like in doing these things I’m introducing new knowledge and starting my day off in a positive light.

What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?

I love to play softball, but as I’ve gotten older I don’t really have much time for that! Lately I’ve been finding myself spending more time on outdoor hobbies like hiking, picnics, and water activities. In addition, living in the Pacific Northwest I have grown accustomed to our rainy days, and I love to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea!

Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences.

It actually happened about two weeks ago: I married the love of my life, and was able to have the most perfect day! This memory is still so fresh in my brain, but I know that it is going to be one of the most memorable days of the rest of my life.

What is your favorite Biggs story?

My favorite Biggs story has to be during my first week here, when we all took a trip to Crosley Lanes for the annual bowling party. We got to choose teams and bowl against everybody in the company! It was really fun to get to know people in a casual setting and still have lots of fun!

Is your favorite season spring, summer, winter, or fall – and why?

I love every season of the year – that way you always have something to look forward to! But I do particularly love the holiday season. 😊

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I would choose the power of persuasion; I believe that not only could you do some really fun things with this (like borrow a yacht), you could also do some really good things with it!

You can find Natalie’s contact information on our Team page!

Urban Mobility Report shows Portland-area drivers spending record time, money on commute

Drivers are spending more time and more money sitting in traffic, according to one new study. So much money, you could buy a flight to Europe.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute published their annual Urban Mobility Report this week. They found Portland-area drivers spend an average of 66 hours per year in traffic. That’s the 14th highest in the nation. In 2008, it was 46 hours per year.

Researchers found Portland commuters are wasting an average of 31 gallons of gas every year. Total, they say congestion costs each driver $1,193 per year.

“I think that is underestimating it honestly. I think a lot of people have it worse,” said Vanessa Valentine, who commutes to Clackamas from Vancouver.

“It’s pretty depressing. Certainly, the most frustrating part of my day is getting off work and dealing with that,” said Scott Veazie, who commutes to Portland from Vancouver every day.

“When I worked in downtown Portland, I was spending an average of three-and-a-half to four hours a day in traffic,” said Dulcie Cameron, who also lives in Vancouver.

According to the study, Portland ranks 7th in the amount of gas wasted per person each year. Researchers found the worse congestion happens at 4 p.m. on Fridays.

“It’s no secret that Portland has seen a real increase in congestion the last couple years,” said Don Hamilton, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Researchers say there is no single way to reduce congestion. They say it will keep getting worse.

Hamilton says ODOT is working on several projects to reduce traffic. He says signs that give drivers a real-time look at traffic delays is already helping. ODOT reported a 20 percent drop in number of crashes along Hwy 217 the year after installing one of those signs, according to Hamilton.

ODOT has also widened some freeways with auxiliary lanes, which go between freeway exits and entrances. They are planning to do the same thing on I-5 through the Rose Quarter, but this project is controversial.

“These are good tools for reducing congestion and they reduce the number of fender benders, and sideswipe, and rear-end crashes that we see on the highways, that means fewer delays caused by crashes,” said Hamilton.

Those opposed to the project contend adding the lanes will only invite more cars to use the road and say it won’t help with traffic.

Hamilton said ODOT is also considering tolling along parts of I-5 and I-205. They’re also exploring the possibility of a new bridge over the Columbia River.

Source: KATU News

How digital forensics detectives investigate a data breach

If you suspect that your company’s data has been breached or compromised, you potentially face a number of time-sensitive and highly technical questions. As seasoned digital detectives in the cyber space, digital forensics teams can help companies piece together any evidence and understand the scope of a breach. The information they discover can help you protect your business and your customers now, and help prevent future breaches.

While many companies employ general-skill IT professionals, digital forensics is a highly-specialized skill set, according to Kurt Oestreicher, Director of Forensics in Travelers’ Risk Control. While IT teams can get companies back in business following a breach, IT team members are often not trained in forensic investigation techniques that can prevent data from being altered. Travelers enlists with digital forensics firms to investigate data breaches for cyber insurance customers.

“It’s no different from any other crime scene,” Oestreicher says. “The most critical step is preservation of the evidence. If you don’t obtain the evidence properly, everything else you do may be rendered invalid if the case goes to court.”

Among the questions that digital forensics can help answer include:

A digital forensics team will examine the network and look for signs of a lingering attack, such as malware or unauthorized user accounts, or accounts with unauthorized privileges. The team can determine if an attack is still ongoing, and firm up the company’s defenses to halt continuing damage. Members of digital forensics teams who have worked with a variety of companies and breaches can bring with them more experience and insight than an in-house team with more limited external exposure might.

“Digital forensics teams can dig deep and turn around lessons learned that can help a company improve their network infrastructure and security,” says Oestreicher.

Understanding Can Aid Recovery

Forensics professionals work closely with a company’s crisis communications team to provide the public and customers with up-to-date information about any private information that may have been compromised, and information on the steps being taken to help protect customers against future breaches.

Getting an accurate count of records that may have been breached is especially important for companies with data that includes private, protected client or customer information such as Personally Identifiable Information or Protected Health Information, which are subject to growing state and federal notification regulations.

These requirements add an extra level of complexity and cost to recovery efforts. The average cost per record in a data breach that contains sensitive or private information grew 8% from $201 to $217 in 2015.1 If a company has 20,000 records compromised, that would amount to $4.3 million.

In the increasingly complicated landscape of data breaches, digital forensics is becoming one of the critical tools that companies can use to piece together clues about the size and scope of a data breach as they work to stem the damage, meet their legal and regulatory requirements and assure customers that they are taking steps to help prevent such a breach from happening in the future.

Reach out to one of our agents today for a quote on cyber liability!

Source: Travelers Prepare & Prevent

Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Miller

Every month we like to introduce one of our staff members so you can get to know them better. This month, our Life & Health Client Services Coordinator Jennifer shares the story of her memorable first moose encounter upon moving to Alaska.

You won the lottery! What’s your first purchase?

A Lagotto Romagnolo puppy; they are expensive, and I want one! Lagottos are known for truffle hunting and I think that would be a fun addition to my outdoor activities, plus, they are amazingly cute.

Share one thing you love to do that you always strive to include in your daily routine.

A morning walk between 2-3 miles with Abigail (my pug). Works better than coffee for me and she’s ready to rest while I’m at work.

What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?

I enjoy hiking, places old and new. I love to go camping or to be outside in general year-round, but preferably in the off season – I like the rain. I also have a small garden and recently got some backyard chickens for eggs. Wish me luck!

Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences.

I moved back to Washington after living in Alaska for 3 years. The first time I saw a moose was literally on my first trail hike. He was a bull moose with all the antler fanfare, the perfect image of what you would think a moose looks like. I was stunned by the sheer size of him and wasn’t sure what to do, so I walked by slowly and my hike continued without incident. I’ve seen many (really so many) moose during my time in Alaska but the first one has always stuck with me.

What is your favorite Biggs story?

Halloween!! If you have the chance to come by Biggs during Halloween, I highly recommend it 😊

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without?

Family and food aside… chapstick.

Is your favorite season spring, summer, winter, or fall – and why?

I really like fall. It’s cool but not cold, the air is usually clear, and I can make soup out of anything.

What was your first job?

I know it’s a total cliché, but a paper route.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Flight, not supersonic but faster than a bike and no higher than a few hundred feet. Not that I’ve thought about it much though.

You can find Jennifer’s contact information on our Team page!

Vancouver kids go back to school on Aug. 27

It may only be the beginning of August, but in a scant 3(ish) weeks, school will be back in session here in Vancouver! We at Biggs are proud to participate in the ‘Write from the Start’ school supply drive – we’ve been encouraging employees to don their jeans on a weekday for the price of $5 per person, and have been saving that money up since January for a total of $435 raised in support of this great cause.

Speaking of which – if you’re the parent of an elementary-aged child in the Evergreen district, you’re off the hook for school supplies! For the last several years, the district has been providing supplies for all elementary-aged kids. This of course comes at a cost, so donations of supplies and/or funds are a great help. Check out this link to learn how to contribute to their school supply drive, ‘Stuff the Bus,’ happening now through Aug. 17th and culminating in a free community event in Fisher Basin Park!

If your child attends Vancouver Public Schools, you can find their supply lists for elementary, middle, and high school here.

Do you have a teen angling to ditch the school bus and acquire their license this year? You may want to check out these tips from our friends at Safeco on insuring a teenage driver.

No matter how you’re prepping for back-to-school, all of us at Biggs hope it’s a smooth transition with minimal whining! 😉