Immersion Trip to Haiti with Matt Gray

Matt- School in La Tremblay.JPGOne of our agents, Matt Gray, traveled recently to Haiti on an immersion trip.  We asked him to share his experience in his own words with us as well as all of you.  

The final week of September, I traveled with two others to Haiti for an immersion trip to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.   We didn’t go to “do” anything or to try to build or “fix” anything.   We simply went to see, to listen, to try to understand…

There was a strong spiritual dimension to our time in Haiti.   The trip itself was affiliated with the Maryknoll order of priests and nuns.    A priest showed us his work with churches, schools and clinics.   He took us to a health clinic run by the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by Mother Teresa.   I will never forget this experience:  Inside is a room that contains 44 cribs and in each crib is an infant malnourished.   The infants’ mothers bring their babies to the clinic because they have no food for them and their tiny bodies show signs of starvation. I spent two hours holding and feeding these babies.


Photo of the space that serves as a classroom during the week and church on Sundays

Most of the week, we spent in the capital city of Port au Prince, home to one-third the country’s 11 million people.  The population density is overwhelming – so much traffic and so many people in such a small space.  It seems like every street is lined with people selling their wares, literally on the margins, living from one day to the next.

We also spent time with three nuns in a rural area of Haiti.  These nuns showed us a school where tuition is less than $10 a year.   We also saw two orphanages:  one which houses and schools 53 girls; the other, an orphanage that focuses on orphans with mental illnesses and special needs.   To say that we saw some heartbreaking stuff would be an understatement.


Photo of Director of the orphanage and Matt holding a dress that one of the girls knitted

Throughout our week, we saw people very proud of their history, hardworking. Haitians display their dignity through neatness of dress, shoes that are shined, children in school uniforms.  By appearance alone, one would never know the depth of their struggle with poverty.  In Haiti, it is easy to see that the poor haven’t been dealt a fair hand.   Certainly, life isn’t always fair and sometimes the best that we can do is to admit that we don’t understand.  We don’t have all the answers.

We are connected to a global community.  I believe that part of what it means to be fully human is to live with a greater awareness of those in need, whether they are in Haiti or in our own neighborhoods in the United States.

Matt Gray

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Protect Your Big Day!

Between the deposit, the dress, the rings… well, there’s a lot of things to plan as well as to protect.  Have you thought about wedding insurance?


As with other sizeable investments, you can insure big events, such as your wedding. But, that’s not the only way insurance can play a role in your big day and the events that follow. Here are four tips for insuring your wedding, rings and more:

  1. Big day, big investment – protect it

Of course you want your big day to go off without a hitch. But, you also want to prepare for those pesky “what ifs.” What if the caterer backs out? What if the bride’s dress gets lost in her checked baggage? What if your venue goes out of business?
Event insurance typically covers unexpected issues with the site, weather, vendors and illness or injury, so you aren’t stuck with the tab. For example, if you need to find a new caterer the day before the wedding, your policy may help with the costs.

  1. Say ‘I do’ to covering your rings.

Regardless of the monetary value of your engagement and wedding rings, it’s important to protect your investment — preferably right after you purchase them. We can help. Call us from the jewelry store if you like, and we’ll schedule your new bling on your renters insurance, condo insurance or homeowners insurance.

  1. Cover your bases by covering your gifts.

While you’re dancing the night away, you don’t want someone walking away with your gifts. But, unfortunately, it happens. You may want to consider a policy to protect your gifts. And, of course, you’ll want to include them as part of your home inventory and personal property coverage. Some items, such as collectibles and china, may need scheduled coverage, just like your rings.

  1. Start your honeymoon right.

If your honeymoon costs as much as a car, it may make sense to get travel insurance. Policies can include coverage for trip cancellation or delay, and even medical insurance. says it should cost no more than 8 percent of your trip price.

Whether your wedding is a small family affair or the biggest event of the year, you deserve to have a stress-free day. Let us help you select the insurance coverage you want for your wedding and everything that goes along with it. So, when the big day arrives, all you have to worry about is having a great time!


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Happy National Grandparents Day!

One day late.

But… never too late to honor our grandparents!

For each of us, grandparents can represent something different.  Some cooked us delicious meals.  Some played with us.  Some dropped us off and picked us up from school.  Some told us stories about when and where they grew up.  Some were like a second set of parents for us.

Here at Riskguard Insurance Solutions, Inc., we want to wish you a Happy National Grandparents Day!  Pictured below are Geoff and Irene Herman (Vice President and President of Riskguard) with their lovely grandson.


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Meet the newest employee!

After a long and diligent search, we would like to introduce the newest member of the Riskguard Insurance Solutions, Inc. family.  Our labradoodle has arrived!

So who wants to be the first one to get a quote?


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When a Tree Falls, Could You Be Liable? 5 Ways to Avoid Tree Problems


As we enter into the Fall season and hopefully get some more rain in California this year, it’s time to make sure we’re taking care of our trees.


Trees are pretty amazing. They produce oxygen. They serve as natural air conditioners, both by blocking sunlight and through evaporation. And they even absorb sounds, helping to keep things peaceful.

These benefits are great reasons to keep the trees on your property in good shape. Another reason? Unhealthy trees can actually pose great danger to your home and property, as well as to your family and other people.

With these tips from the National Arbor Day Foundation, you can help prevent tree trouble – and potentially save yourself from a home insurance claim:

  1. Inspect trees frequently. The size, color and condition of leaves, and overall leaf cover, are good indicators of a tree’s health. Cavities or dis-figuration can be a warning sign, although they don’t always mean a tree is a hazard. Just keep a close eye on it. Dead branches are a big risk, because they can fall easily. Those that cross or rub can create weak spots.
  2. Plant in an appropriate space. Putting in a tree that will grow to be large? Don’t put it near power or sewer lines, or close to your home. And avoid brittle trees – their limbs are weak and more likely to break and fall. Examples include Silver Maples and Willows.
  3. Prune correctly. Cut outside the branch collar, and prune regularly as trees age. Don’t allow a tree to be topped.
  4. Leave it to an expert. Once a year, have a qualified arborist thoroughly evaluate the trees on your property. An arborist can identify ones that need to come down immediately, as well as those to watch. In particular, trees that have been topped, or that have lost large limbs unexpectedly, could cause trouble. Taking down trees can be very dangerous, so leave it to a professional.
  5. Remember, you’re responsible. Property owners are generally responsible when their hazardous trees cause damage or injury to others. So keep your trees healthy, your space beautiful and your liability low!


5C0B552746When a tree does fall, you may or may not have coverage through your homeowners policy for any damage it may cause.

If you’d like to discuss your coverage, please give us a call today. It may be a good time to think about adding extra liability coverage to your insurance portfolio with an umbrella policy.

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5 Dos and Don’ts When Flying Your Drone

pexels-photo-57544.jpegYou see them in the news, hear stories about them delivering future packages to your door, and maybe you’ve even seen them flying around in your backyard.  Drones are everywhere!  But how much do you know about safety when flying your drone?

Here are 5 essential tips to help keep you and your fellow drone operators educated:

  1. Do know your drone — and your capabilities. Practice your maneuvering skills, including safe landings, in an open field or empty parking lot. You could even join a local club to learn how to fly. Once you do, be sure to stay away from people, wildlife, public events and, yes, your neighbor’s pool party.
  2. Don’t forget to register your drone. In the eyes of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), your drone isn’t a toy. It’s an Unmanned Aircraft System, one you need to register with the agency.
  3. Don’t fly above 400 feet or within 5 miles of an airport. If you do, you’ll violate FAA guidelines.
  4. Do get authorization for commercial use. If you use a drone for commercial purposes, such as taking photos for your real-estate business, you must get FAA authorization Just using a drone for personal recreation? No authorization required.
  5. Do understand the risks. Drones can weigh up to 55 pounds, so there’s the potential for them to cause some serious damage – damage for which you might be liable. However, not all homeowners insurance policies provide liability coverage for hobby or model aircraft. Give us a call to find out what kind of coverage you might have or need.

Hey, we get it. Drones are affordable, fun to fly and have a number of interesting uses, such as aerial photography and video. Just remember to be smart and safe while yours is in the sky. And, if you’re being impacted by someone else’s drone use, it’s best to talk it through.

Stay safe!

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4 Tips to Think About When Insuring a Second Home


It’s summer time!  The season to go out and enjoy a good vacation.  Everyone loves a good getaway and if you’re lucky enough you may be off enjoying that time in your own vacation home.

However, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to protecting your investment in a vacation home, and you definitely want to protect it. We here at Riskguard Insurance Solutions, Inc. can help by making sure you have the insurance coverage you want.

To that end, here are four things that may impact the coverage you choose and how much you’ll pay for it:

  1. Separate Policy: Your seasonal home won’t be part of your primary property policy. It needs its own policy, and you can expect it to be similar to the one for your primary residence. However, you do need to watch out for “named perils” coverage, under which your policy explicitly lists the perils it will cover. If a peril isn’t listed, no coverage. We typically steer homeowners away from this type of coverage, in favor of broader coverage.
  2. Location and Occupancy: The “where” of your vacation home is no doubt among the primary reasons why you bought it. But, it will also impact your insurance costs. Rural areas are hard for emergency responders to reach, and waterfront homes are prone to flooding. These added risks can mean added insurance costs, such as the need for a separate flood policy. If the home is unoccupied or rented for much of the year, there are even more insurance considerations.
  3. Personal Property: Establishing and maintaining a separate inventory of the things you keep at your vacation home will help you select an appropriate level of personal property coverage. If it’s filled with expensive skiing and snowboarding gear, for example, you may need increased coverage or to schedule some of the more valuable items separately.
  4. Extra Liability Protection: If you plan to regularly host guests at your summer or winter retreat, you should consider an umbrella policy, which will help to increase your liability limits in case someone is seriously injured on your property. This can go for invited and uninvited guests alike.

We know you want to relax and enjoy your chosen spot in the sun – or snow. Having the right insurance coverage helps you do just that, so give us a call and let us help.

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