Monday, January 31, 2011

My Boss is Having a Baby!

My boss is having a baby any day now. She’ll be at work today, which brings up all kinds of thoughts about whether assisting with the birth comes under “perform other duties as specified.” Then again, she is currently writing my job description, so maybe it’s in there.

Anyway, today is her last day before going out on maternity leave. Given her oft-demonstrated penchant for the workaholic side of things, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to receive an e-mail later this week informing me that she’ll read my monthly report in-between contractions. This, as the doctor is trying to pry the iPhone out of her hands as she’s being wheeled into the delivery room.

She’s going to have a girl, something about which she is quite pleased as it will at least partially balance her house, presently occupied by her husband, their son (twenty months old, as I recall) and two dogs, both boys. Or, as she refers to the assembled throng of Y chromosomes, her four children.

Her firefighter husband is reportedly having a fair amount of difficulty adjusting to the notion of having a little girl in the house, thus was delighted to see one of the gifts I gave my boss at her baby shower was a teal San Jose Sharks outfit. (Hey, gotta make sure she’s raised right.) I also gave her a Disney Princess sleeper, for while I am a guy, I’m not that dense. Once in a while.

Anyway, I’m currently running a betting pool as to what month it’ll be when daughter has Daddy wrapped around her little finger, official signal being when he’s the one sheepishly standing in line with her at the Princess Faire in Disneyland. I am reminded of the scene I saw at Auto Club Speedway in southern California a few years ago when NASCAR was in town, as a steady stream of moustached macho men in their leather jackets and tattoos tried their best to slink through the souvenir trailers unnoticed, their pink-clad daughters clutching with one hand Daddy’s while the other firmly grasped their Jeff Gordon or one of the other driver’s stuffed animals freshly purchased at the Build-A-Bear mobile location.

Speaking of the baby shower, I was quite relieved when others offered to throw it as for a while it looked like I was going to have to serve as party planner. Can you imagine a baby shower planned by a Raiders fan? It’d consist of handing the mother-to-be a box of diapers with a bow on it. And you know they’d be the wrong size. That, and do you know how hard it is to find shoulder pads with spikes in infant size?

I’m glad my boss is having a baby. Not that I’m trying to get her out of the office for a few weeks; she’s terrific (and stop calling me a suck-up). Rather, it’s seeing the “once I get this pregnancy over with it’ll be so worth it” look on her face, along with hearing it in her voice. Also, there is one personal note of joy in all this. I’ve said way too many goodbyes lately. It’ll be good to say hello.

Welcome, little one.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not Horsing Around... In A Manner Of Speaking

A huge part of CSE's business directive is personalizing the insurance experience, both at the business end and among our customers. It is our intent to ensure that everyone we insure is seen as an individual, not blips and blobs in a file somewhere.

Recently, we took care of the needs of one of our insureds who is an avid horseman. A couple of years ago, he detailed a journey he and his horse Primo along the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Oregon for Equestrian Network Magazine (link here).

We're always on the lookout for interesting tales to tell, so if you know of an insured, or are one, with something you'd like to share please let us know. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our SAVE Program Featured in Insurance Journal

Hot off the presses... er, Internet:
Walnut Creek, Calif.-based CSE Insurance Group has filed a pay-as-you-drive auto insurance program with the California Department of Insurance.

Upon approval, customers who take part in the SAVE program will be rewarded for driving fewer miles with lower auto insurance premiums. This optional program will be available in an annual policy term with the minimum mileage starting at 5,000 miles. At policy inception, customers will provide estimated annual mileage and will have the opportunity to increase their mileage if needed during the policy term.

The insured will receive a refund if the annualized mileage is below the original estimated annual mileage reported. If the actual mileage driven is greater than the original estimated yearly mileage, the insured will be billed for the difference, making the program a consumer-managed program.

Pierre Bize, president and CEO, said, “This is a true pay by the mile program where our customers pay for the miles they drive. Not only are drivers reporting their actual mileage, they are reimbursed for the difference between their estimated and actual annual mileage. We believe the SAVE Program generates other clear benefits that fit squarely into our green initiative efforts by encouraging program participants to drive less.”

Policyholders will be able to logon to CSE’s Insured Portal 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to report and/or request a change in their mileage. The program also offers multiple payment options.

Insurers Automobile Club of Southern California and State Farm Mutual Insurance Automobile Insurance are approved to offer pay-as-you-drive programs in the Golden State.

Make sure you go to the post on the Insurance Journal website (link here) and leave a comment!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Last Thursday in Miami, two police officers were fatally shot by an individual wanted for murder. The suspect was shot and killed by another officer.

Sunday, an Indianapolis police officer was shot and critically wounded during a routine traffic stop. A suspect is in custody.

Also on Sunday, in Lincoln City, Oregon a police officer was shot and critically wounded during a routine traffic stop. The suspect is still at large.

Again on Sunday, in Port Orchard, Washington two sheriffs deputies were wounded in a gun battle with a shooter in a Wal-Mart. The gunman was killed.

And again on Sunday, an individual walked into a police station in Detroit, Michigan and opened fire. Four officers were wounded before the shooter was killed. All four officers are expected to recover.

This morning in St. Petersburg, Florida two police officers were shot and killed by an individual on whom they were attempting to serve an arrest warrant. A sheriffs deputy was wounded. The suspect was killed.

Now is a very good time to pause and reflect on the people we serve who themselves serve the people.

And thank them.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A New Threat to Online Privacy - And What You Can Do About It

The debate about online privacy, or lack thereof, has been raging for some time. Lately, a new player in the game has made it all too easy to reveal a ton of information about each of us.

The site is Spokeo ( Visit it, enter your name, and prepare to be alarmed.

Spokeo sifts through information available from numerous sources and compiles them into one frighteningly complete profile: address, phone, probable value of residence, and much, much more. Hardly the sort of stuff any of us wants hanging out there.

However, there is a method to ensure your information is removed from Spokeo:
  1. Go to a free e-mail site -- Yahoo, Gmail, etc. -- and create a new e-mail address for yourself. You'll see why this is advisable in a bit.
  2. Once you've got your new e-mail address, go to the site and look up your information.
  3. When you're at the page where your information is located, copy the URL.
  4. Next, click on the Privacy link at the lower right hand side of the page.
  5. On the resulting page, paste the URL into the indicated field.
  6. Enter your new e-mail address into the indicated field.
  7. Enter the code on the page, then select Remove Listing.
The reason for the new e-mail address is so the address you normally use can't be captured and used by Spokeo, or whoever is trolling the site looking for information.

It's worth noting that Spokeo can also be used to search by e-mail address, phone number and other tools.

Technically, Spokeo is doing nothing illegal. However, for peace of mind and privacy's sake, all are best advised to remove their data from the site ASAP.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

All Was Quiet Two Days Before New Year's Day... Except For The Pregnant Cow

At a time when ragging on public employees has grown rampant, it's good to note the good work so many of them do on our behalf.

One could almost say it behooves us to applaud their efforts.

Or is it be-hoofs?

Very late last year, namely December 30th, a young lady named Marciel was feeling a bit down in the dumps, despite being surrounded by wellness.

Seems she'd fallen into a well.

Given that Marciel, who was with child, weighed in at a svelte 1300 pounds getting her out of the well was a tad more involved than throwing her a rope and telling her to start climbing. The lack of opposable thumbs was another handicap.

As you have hopefully surmised by now, Marciel is a cow.

The fire department arrived on scene and, along with members of the sheriffs department, swiftly went to work pumping water out of the well. Marciel, who had been treading water as best a 1300 pound pregnant cow can, was appreciative of this effort, given that it allowed her to stand.

A sheriff's brother, whose profession is a cowboy, was recruited for the task of entering the well and securing a harness around Marciel. He did so with aplomb, no doubt relieved she didn't select that particular moment to go into labor bovine style.

Finally, an hour and forty-five minutes after first arriving on the scene, all parties concerned breathed a sigh of relief as Marciel was lifted out of the well and placed back on solid ground. A quick checkup by the vet, and she was back with the rest of the herd doing what cows do. Namely, eat grass and stand around a lot.

I'm surprised she hasn't been asked to appear on Oprah.

But seriously, thanks to the firefighters and sheriffs who ensured Marciel and the little Marciel will enjoy a happy and healthy 2011.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Balance of Power

This past Saturday evening, as the nation was reeling from what had taken place in Tucson earlier in the day, this writer was at a concert featuring several favorite artists from the 1980s. One of the songs played by the headlining act, a band named Undercover, was from their Balance of Power record. It contains these lyrics:

I can see it's hard to read your eyes.

Your eyes are all prepared to take me for a ride.

Oh my soul upset, I'm so upset, the world come crashing down

The balance of power is all upset and now we're going down

Trust me now, but don't you come too near

Too near is just too close to where we stand right now

I fear it's all upset, degenerate, the world come crashing down

The balance of power is all upset and now we're going down...

An eerie reminder of the madness that had taken place a few hours earlier 450 miles away.

However, the evening was anything but somber. There was a spirit of shared joy reverberating throughout the audience toward the artists, reflected right back again. It was an evening where, as Undercover's leader Joe Taylor commented, one could embrace the notion of neither giving up directly nor giving up by becoming complacent. Life is too precious and fragile to fritter away in such a manner.

It's very much like our mission here at CSE. We, and everyone involved with the company, are a living encouragement to both never give up and never become complacent. Should misfortune befall one of our insureds, we provide the resources to help them get back on their feet. We also remind our insureds to not become complacent in the form of being lax on preventative measures that can make needing our services avoidable. Not that we mind claims, but it's so much better for the insured to not have a need to file one!

We live in an unpredictable world, one where not only can anything happen, but eventually will. It's good to know we're here, ready to help when one of our insureds own balance of power is upset.