News & Press

Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety TipsKeep Holidays Happy | 11 Safety Tips

Holiday safety is an issue that sparks reason to be concerned at this time of year, as families gather, parties are scheduled and travel booms. Take precautions to ensure your family remains safe, injury-free and happy this holiday season! Here are eleven often over-looked safety tips!

1. Inspect electrical decorations for damage before use. 
Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.

2. Do not overload electrical outlets. 
Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are a common cause of holiday fires. Avoid overloading outlets and plug only one high-wattage into each outlet at a time.

3. Never connect more than three strings of incandescent lights. 
More than three strands may not only blow a fuse but can also cause a fire.

4. Keep trees fresh by watering daily.
Dry trees are a serious fire hazard.

5. Hang high lights with a buddy. Every year, more than 500,000 people are injured as a result of falling off of ladders. If you’re hanging holiday lights this year, don’t do it alone. Make sure your ladder is level, don’t overreach, and don’t ascend the ladder with your hands full. Consider accessories like ladder jacks and levelers for additional safety.

6. Use battery-operated candles. 
Candles start almost half of home decoration fires (NFPA).

7. Keep combustibles at least three feet from heat sources. 
A heat source that was too close to the decoration was a factor in half of home fires that began with decorations (NFPA).

8. Protect cords from damage. 
To avoid shock or fire hazards, cords should never be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces such as doors and windows, placed under rugs, located near heat sources, or attached by nails or staples.

9. Check decorations for certification label.
Decorations not bearing a label from an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETL) have not been tested for safety and could be hazardous.

10. Stay in the kitchen when something is cooking. 
Unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of home cooking fires (NFPA).

11. Turn off, unplug, and extinguish all decorations when going to sleep or leaving the house. 
Unattended candles are the cause of one in five home candle fires. Half of home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am (NFPA).

Concerned about what your insurance would cover in the case of a holiday accident? Discuss them with one of our insurance advisers and contact us here.

holiday drinking liability

Holiday Drinking & Social Host Liability


With the holiday season quickly approaching, there will be a number of holiday parties over the next few months hosted by workplaces, family and friends. Did you know when alcohol is involved, the host has specific responsibilities to keep everyone safe called Social Host Liability?

Be a Responsible Party Host When Serving Alcohol
Whether hosting a New Years Eve party, a high school or college reunion after Thanksgiving or possibly a Super Bowl party in your home, if you plan to serve alcohol, it is important to take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you are covered with the proper insurance.

Social host liability is the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest in nearly every jurisdiction and can vary depending on the state. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.

While a social host is generally not liable for injuries sustained by a drunken guest (as they are also negligent), the host can be held liable for third parties, and may even be liable for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car.

Before planning a party in your home, it is important to speak with your insurance agent or company representative about your homeowner’s coverage and any exclusions, conditions or limitations your policy might have for this kind of risk. Homeowners insurance usually provides some liquor liability coverage, but it is typically limited to $100,000 to $300,000, depending on the policy, which might not be enough.

Most importantly, whether you are hanging out with a small group of friends for cocktails or throwing a big family bash, remember that a good host is a responsible host, and takes steps to ensure guests get home safely if they have been drinking.

Tips to Protect Yourself and Guests
If you plan to serve alcohol at a party, here are some tips from the Insurance Information Institute to promote safe alcohol consumption and reduce your social host liability exposure:

  • Understand your state laws. Before sending out party invitations, familiarize yourself with your state’s social host liability laws. All states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors or to a visibly intoxicated person (“VIP”).
  • Consider venues other than your home. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks.
  • Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by party-goers. Make sure the bartender has specific training in this area.
  • Promote Designated Driving. Require guests to choose a designated driver who can drive other guests home.
  • Be responsible. As the host or hostess, don’t drink more than you should so you can gauge your guests’ sobriety.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  • Do not pressure guests to drink. Also, don’t rush to refill their glasses when they are empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Know when to stop. The NFL stops serving beer at halftime at football games for a reason. Make sure to have water, coffee or other options available.
  • Make sure guests are safe. If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home. No exceptions!

If you are planning a holiday party this season and want to talk with one of our insurance advisers to see if you’re appropriately covered, contact us here.

Giving Thanks | Happy Thanksgiving

In this season of thanks, we have many reasons to be grateful.

Our relationship with friends and clients like you is one of the reasons why we are so thankful, and there are so many more...

"I am thankful for so many things, but especially for my entire family including my grandchildren whose smiles can brighten any day. Always thankful to have a warm place to sleep and plenty of food on the table!" - Carol Morgan, CISR, Service Director and Certified Safety Director

"I am so thankful for my family, friends and coworkers, every day!" - Karen Gillmann, Claims Coordinator

"I am thankful for my children and my family. I am grateful for all I have been provided with and given, our home, my animals, and our health, Today, and every day, for the joy and grace that life brings." - Jennifer Fountain, Personal Insurance Agency Partner"I am thankful to have a loving family and a close-knit group of friends, I know not everyone gets to have that and I really treasure mine. I am also so thankful for my husband Vince who is my best friend and our son Teddy who makes me laugh every single day." - Rachael Galea, Business Insurance Agency Partner

"I feel very fortunate and am thankful for so many things, but mostly for my family and friends, especially my grandson, Raymond.  No matter how stressful things might, he can always make me smile." - Dianne Hoffman, Senior Account Manager

"This time of year always makes me thankful for my parents adopting me. They took me in and made a warm home for a boy stuck in foster care. No matter the arguments we get into, I know they care for me and I’ll never be thankful enough to have them." - Monir Bruckner, Information Technology Intern

"I am so thankful for my family, the best family I could ever want. My two little granddaughters are so sweet, I am so lucky!!! I recently saw a sign: Together We Have Everything! So true! And I also am thankful for my co-workers, I have made such good friends! Life is Beautiful!" - Kim DeEsch, Accounting & Payroll Specialist

"I’m thankful to finally get to spend the holidays with the love of my life after waiting 6 years." - Michael Harrill, Account Manager

"I'm blessed with a loving family and meaningful relationships. I'm grateful for great friends and co-workers, and the caring network of people in my life who are always there for me. I am fortunate for the opportunity to continue learning and loving, for the richness that my work, music and art bring into my life." - Jill Carletti, Design & Communications Director

"During the holidays I am always thankful for time to step away from the chaos of daily life. Time to reflect, to create sweet memories and surround myself with the love of my beautiful family and amazing friends." - Nicole Bolduc, Business Insurance Agency Partner

"I am thankful for the love and support that I receive from cherished family and friends. I am thankful to live in the United States, the freedom it affords me, and the people who defend it. I am also thankful that I have a new ‘home’ here at AMSkier." – Nicol Triano, Business Insurance Agency Partner

"There are so many things in life that I am thankful for.  Most importantly…my beautiful family, wonderful friends and my entire team at AMSkier.  I am truly blessed." - Gretchen Ruddy, Business Insurance Agency Partner

"I am thankful for my entire family, far and near, for friends, old and new, for my co-workers, who, no matter how busy work can be, will always make time to make each other smile." - Fili Schariest, Account Manager

"I’m thankful for the time that we have with loved ones.  Listen to stories of their adventures and remember, a hug goes a long way. " - Ann E. Cosgrove, CISR, Service Director

"At this special time of year, I am thankful and blessed to have my amazing husband, children and grandchildren to spend it with." - Mary Butler, CISR

"I am thankful for a loving and supporting family along with the opportunities I have been blessed with." - Julie Gardas, Personal Assistant

"I feel that I am blessed in every aspect of my life.  My family, my friends, and my work.  I am truly thankful." -  Kim Latsch, Agency Vice-President

"I am thankful for my entire family, and for the relationship I have with each one of them.  I am also very grateful for my health, and the warmth of my home." - Peggy Olson, CIC, CISR, Program Underwriting Manager


Henry, Jeffrey, Aimee
and all the staff at
AMSkier Insurance



Prevent This: Wildfires

Wildland fires destroy business facilities and land every year across the country.  Fire-safe landscaping helps to create an area of defensible space between your business and flammable vegetation.

Fire-damage itself is not the only wildfire-related threat to businesses, but smoke and air quality also pose a threat. To protect your property and others on your property, take the precautions below.

Wildfire Safety Precautions

  • Have several evacuation plans and make sure they’ve been drilled.
  • Have several viable methods to communicate with key staff during a disaster, when cell towers are down. Consider satellite phones.
  • Repair or replace loose or missing roof shingles or tiles.
  • Protect vented openings to attic and crawl spaces with corrosion resistant metal mesh screening (1/8 inch mesh) to minimize the entry of wind-blown embers.
  • Keep the roof and gutters clear of debris.
  • Store firewood and other fuels at least 20 feet away from structures.
  • Use fire-resistant siding materials.
  • Keep areas under decks and porches clear of belongings.
  • Plant shrubs at least 20 feet from any structures and prune regularly.

It’s especially important to consider the spacing and landscaping surrounding your property. Please take the following precautions within the suggested radius of your structures.

Within 30 Feet of Structures

  • Create a defensible space by thinning trees and brush.
  • Provide at least a 10 to 15-foot separation between islands of shrubs and plant groups.
  • Choose oil, wax, and resin-free plants with a high moisture content.
  • Select fire resistant patio furniture and playsets.
  • Mow and water your lawn regularly.
  • Remove dead vegetation.
  • Use rock, mulch, flower beds and gardens as ground cover for bare space and effective firebreaks.

Within 100 Feet of Structures

  • Prune tree branches to a height of at least 8 to 10 feet off the ground.
  • Create breaks in plant life with driveways, walkways, and lawns.
  • Canopies of tall trees should not touch – remove trees if necessary.
  • Remove dense and woody debris.

After analyzing wildfire records spanning 1992-2012, researchers found that human-ignited wildfires accounted for 84 percent of all wildfires, tripling the length of the average fire season and accounting for nearly half of the total acreage burned. In addition, climate change is making our fields, forests and grasslands drier and hotter for longer periods, creating a greater window of opportunity for human-related ignitions to start wildfires. These findings were published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The annual cost of fighting wildfires in the U.S. has exceeded $2 billion in recent years. There cannot be a fire without a spark, and a fire cannot spread or increase in intensity without fuel.

Let’s educate each other and do what is within our control to minimize wildfires and protect each other from their devastating effects.

Prevent This, and other potential disasters.
AMSkier, your Partner in Safety. 

We Have Found Balance

Finding Balance

Finding Balance

By LA Guzda

As parents and educators, we may have had to deal with bullies and the awkwardness of being a teenager. But, thankfully, we didn’t have social media to shine a spotlight on our foibles -preserving them forever in cyberland.

Today, our youths face many of the same rites of passage – popularity, relationships, self-discovery; but also new challenges. Clearly, the opioid epidemic has not escaped our neighborhoods. Maybe it’s easy for you to talk to your kids, maybe it’s not. If you have ever caught yourself saying… “when I was a kid…” then perhaps you might benefit from joining the conversation with our youths, educators and other community members.

A new locally produced video series titled We Have Found Balance has been released to highlight these many issues facing young adults today and open a dialogue between students and adults. The purpose of the series is to help young adults know their voices are being heard and there are resources available to them. And, also to help adults better understand the challenges our youths are facing.

We Have Found BalanceSponsored by AMSkier Insurance, the six-part series features panel discussions from a wide range of experts in the Western Wayne, Wayne Highlands, Forest City Regional and Wallenpaupack school districts, as well as from members of the Chamber of North Poconos Leadership. The experts included teachers, counselors and community organization leaders from these districts.

The video series focuses on several issues central to young adults today. These issues include time management, stress and anxiety, social media, drugs and alcohol and planning for the future beyond high school. The project concludes with a segment dedicated to specific programs that young adults can access to receive counseling and support, such as the Student Assistance Program (SAP).

Each chapter features interviews with different students discussing these topics, each sharing their experiences and concerns, and followed by a panel of experts analyzing the interviews and providing advice and recommendations for ways students can cope with their issues and resources they can access to get help.

The We Have Found Balance project was inspired by the AMSkier Insurance Eat, Sleep, Play webinar.  Wayne Memorial Hospital’s long-time Community Health Manager Donna Decker and Wayne Highlands School District Superintendent, Greg Frigoletto and Wayne County D&A Prevention Specialist Mary Paladino, combined their experiences and passion to gather a team of experts to produce this project. This diverse group of community stakeholders got together with one goal in mind; to make something that would resonate with our community’s students and their parents.

The videos can be viewed at in any order or watched as one video. The webinar that inspired We Have Found Balance as well as links to other informative talk segments can also be found here.