Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Rutledge Group Continues Learning with COSE

Friday, August 14th, 2015

As a Board Member of the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) in Cleveland and in an effort yo continually improve the quality of service provided to the customers of the Rutledge Group, Deborah Rutledge and other members of the Rutledge Group attended a meeting yesterday regarding how to bring in and best utilize people in the workplace.

The event’s primary speaker was Todd Johnson from Gallup. On top of talking about how workers eventually lead to long term profits and stocks rising, Johnson told the gathered crowd that the right people need to be the exact right fit for a job in order to get the most out of them. One example he explained was the mistake of promoting a good worker to a management position, even if that worker does not have management skills.

Most importantly, Rutledge and the other members of the Rutledge Group were reminded how important meaningful relationships with customers is to having success. Relationships allow business owners to know what customers need and how to best get them what they need.

Overall, the event was informative and will help the Rutledge Group serve its customers better in the future.

Rutledge Group Among the Army of Believers

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

On Friday, August 31, the Army of Believers held their Eighth Annual Scholarship Luncheon, and as a supporter of schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District Deborah Rutledge was on hand at the function.

Rutledge acts as the Chair of the Finance Committee of the Transformation Alliance, a group that is dedicated to the mission of increasing the number of quality district and charter schools in the city. As part of her involvement with the organization, Rutledge has worked with people in the within the District like CEO Eric S. Gordon. With that being the case, she wanted to be at the event to show her continued support.

The luncheon was held at the Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Cleveland and played host to over six hundred supporters, including students, families and other supporters. Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge was set to be in attendance but was unable to be on hand due to congressional duties.

During the event, 16 scholarships were handed out to help students further their education, including the first two to receive the Samuel G. Lucarelli Scholarshp.

Throughout the luncheon, a number of people took the stage and spoke on behalf of the CMSD students. Even though Congresswoman Fudge couldn’t be present on the dais, she recorded her speech and had it played for the crowd.

Gordon introduced the speakers throughout the day and spoke as well. ON top of updating the crowd on what was happening within the District, he introduced a new plan to keep students in school. The initiative targets students who have had attendance issues and reminds them that it is not too late to come back. The initiative is called the Get2SchoolCLE program and is running on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Deborah Rutledge Presents Awards to Local Small Business Owners

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Earlier in the week, the Uptown Business Association met to honor small business owners from the Cleveland area. Deborah Rutledge, acting as President of the UBA, helped introduce these men and women as the program progressed.

Small business owners from the Uptown business district– University Circle to Fairfax, Hough to Shaker Heights and beyond – gathered on the campus of Case Western Reserve University to celebrate the achievements of other business owners from the area. This was the third annual installment of the event and it welcomed owners of new businesses as well as more established entrepreneurs.

“The Uptown Business Association values this combination of new and old,” Deborah Rutledge said in her opening address during the event. “When we created this awards program three years ago, we wanted to make sure we highlighted business owners who have maintained a presence in one of the Uptown neighborhoods over the years, as well as those who took a risk not so long ago.”

This year’s crop of winners was a diverse crowd, aside from how recently their doors had opened. From collaborations between hip-hop groups and sustainable food providers and yoga studios, the field of winners was wide and varied.

Cleveland Yoga Uptown received the Best New Start-Up Award for its commitment to the neighborhood and providing a number of classes and workshops to a growing community of yoga enthusiasts.

“The studio sees hundreds of yoga students each week and holds 34 weekly classes in its hot studio,” Rutledge said. “In addition to their classes, Cleveland Yoga holds workshops and special events that appeal to a wide range of interest and support the community in a more holistic and balanced life.”

The award for the Best Multi-Generational or Family-Owned Business went to Jenna Juredine of the Barking Spider. Her late father, Martin Juredine, opened the tavern in 1986; and today the establishment continues to provide music a few days out of the week and all free of charge. The Barking Spider plays host to local artists in various genres, making it a prime location for live music.

The award for the Best Nonprofit-Local Business Relationship category went to two groups bonded by vegetables. Deejay Doc Harrill’s Fresh Camp and Bon Appetit came together recently to form a partnership that brought fresh food to children in the camp and purchased fresh food from local community gardens.

The final award for Uptown Business Association Champion was awarded to Mark Balogh and Ben Williams Jr., of the Coffee House University Circle and Ben’s Auto Body Specialists, respectively. These two men have been active in running the UBA while working in the neighborhood.

“Mark and his coffee house are fixtures in the University Circle community,” she said. “Ben Williams Jr., of Ben’s Auto Body Specialist in the Fairfax neighborhood, remain as passionate about supporting local businesses and connecting with one another as he did the day he signed up to volunteer with the UBA. Ben’s always willing to lend a helping hand and goes the extra mile to help everyone on their various car questions and concerns.”

Finally, the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Leadership award was awarded to Sara Mierke.

After all the awards were handed out, a few of the students from the Fresh Camp performed original songs in order to close out the event and show just some of the fruits of the labor going on with small businesses in the area.

Magic Johnson Adds Life Insurance Co. to Empire

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Retired basketball superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnsonjust added a $14.5 billion life insurance company to his growing business and sports empire, Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE).

On Tuesday, MJE, which Johnson founded in 1987, said it completed its planned acquisition for a “majority, controlling interest” in EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, which manages $14.5 billion in annuities, life insurance and other financial products.

Read more.

How to Avoid Contractor Fraud

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Home projects should end in positive results, but things can go very wrong if you hire a fraudulent or unqualified contractor. Use the following advice to help avoid a nightmare.

Where to Start
Get names of reputable contractors from your agent, insurance company, neighbors, homeowners association, the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General’s office and/or a specialized consumer organization. Contact multiple contractors for comparison purposes.

All About Estimates
Tell contractors you are getting several estimates and ask if they can complete the work by a certain date. This will eliminate some prospects. Don’t allow a contractor to inspect your property if you’re not home. Personally watch while the contractor conducts the inspection. Ask the contractor if he has liability and workers’ compensation insurance that covers him and anyone else he will bring to the job site. Get the policy number and agency name. Call the agency to verify, and ask for a liability certificate of insurance. As a customer of the contractor, this should be free. Inquire about warranties on work. Get references for recent work, and call them to ask about issues and if they would use the contractor again. Look at the work if possible.

You’ve Chosen A Contractor. Now What?
Get the terms and conditions of the project in writing. Include details on specific supplies being used and who will purchase and deliver them. Include an estimated completion date (accounting for weather with outdoor projects) and a price-deduction schedule if the work takes longer than promised. Make sure the contractor will get the necessary permits in his name. Avoid signing the contract until you have fully reviewed it and/or shown it to a legal representative or knowledgeable source.

About Payments
Pay the contractor by check or credit card rather than in cash so you have documentation of all payments. Don’t pay for work up front. Try to pay only when the work is done. If you agree to pay portions in stages, make the bulk of the payment at the project’s end, after passing inspections.

The Most Important Rule
Insist on a written estimate before agreeing to repairs, and put all details discussed here in writing. Sources: Ohio Department of Insurance, PIAA instructor Ted Kinney, CIC, CPCU, ARM.

Beware of Fly-by-Night Contractors
After storms roll out, contractors often roll in, knocking on doors to offer repair and roofing services. While you may be eager to get your home back in order, exercise caution as you make your decision.

Watch Out: Seven Warning Signs
The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) Advises Consumers to be wary of anyone who: uses high-pressure tactics Is not registered with Ohio’s Secretary of State Suggests you don’t contact your insurer Asks you to give them Power of Attorney so they can negotiate with the insurance company Provides an estimate substantially higher than other estimates Asks you to sign a contract before it is fully completed (“I’ll fill in the rest later”) Requires cash for a down payment Note: If you believe a home-repair contractor has defrauded you or encouraged you to file a false insurance claim, call ODI’s Fraud and Enforcement Division at (800) 686-1527.

This information brought to you by The Rutledge Group, a proud member of Professional Independent Agents Association of Ohio, Inc.

Identity Protection Tips

Monday, June 15th, 2015

How do I protect my identity?

What is identity theft insurance?

Identity theft insurance provides reimbursement for expenses you have to pay to fight identity fraud and restore your name and credit. Depending on the policy, it can include:

  • Expense reimbursement related to medical identity or tax ID fraud
  • Travel expenses
  • New government IDs
  • Lost wages
  • Attorney fees
  • Resolution services to restore your credit
  • Counseling from identity theft specialists
  • Loan application fees if you have to reapply following rejection of an original loan application due to identity fraud

Do I need insurance? I thought the bank pays for unauthorized credit-card purchases.

If the only form of payment you use is your credit card, your liability for unauthorized charges is normally limited to a specific dollar amount. While the bank may cover that amount, YOU will pay the costs and invest time to restore your credit, recover lost funds and seek legal counsel if needed. Identity theft also often affects your eligibility for large purchases and loans.

What will it cost me?

Identity theft insurance can often be added to your homeowners policy for less than $50 a year for limits up to $50,000. The price varies depending on the services offered and the limit selected.

How can I deter identity theft?

1  Use passwords eight characters long with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation. Change passwords often, and don’t use the same one for each site.

2   Shred all documents containing sensitive information (such as credit card, medical and bank statements, checks, and other personal records or mail).

3  Don’t carry your social security card, birth certificate or passport with you.

4   Take credit card and ATM receipts with you.

5  Review bank statements monthly and credit reports at least annually (in Ohio you are entitled to one free credit report every year from the three main credit bureaus).

6   When shopping online, use authenticated websites, and check that the page is secure.  Look for the padlock on your browser’s status bar and make sure the URL starts with “https.”

7  Keep personal information, like address, phone number or full name, off of social media sites.

Feb. 2015


You can experience fraud without knowing it.

Are you prepared?

You take steps to deter identity theft, but you are still at risk when you do business with another entity, including stores, banks and even government offices. If they experience a data breach, you are exposed.

There is an inexpensive way to protect yourself in case your identity is stolen. Consider identity theft insurance. It’s worth the investment.

Call us to learn your options.

Feb. 2015


“This information brought to you by (your agency name), a proud member of Professional Independent Agents Association of Ohio, Inc.”

Insurance and Rental Vehicles: What You Need to Know

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Insuring a rental vehicle: what do I really need?

Car rental insurance is something many of us don’t think about until we get to the rental counter. There we often just guess, wondering if we really need the coverage they offer.

Don’t leave your decisions to guesswork. The truth is you probably don’t need everything they’re selling. Here’s our advice.

Step 1. What coverage do you have?

Your first step is easy. Call us to clarify what your auto insurance covers and whether it extends to a rental car, truck or trailer. Just as important, ask what your policy doesn’t cover.

Tell us if you plan to rent a vehicle for vacation, business or moving things. Your existing coverage might be adequate. Some personal auto policies don’t cover vacation rentals but do cover rentals if your car is being repaired due to an accident. If you’re renting for business, your employer’s policy might already cover you.

If you rent vehicles frequently, consider a rental car endorsement. This could save you money over time.

Step 2. Know what to expect at the rental counter

Whether you’re renting a car, truck or trailer, most rental companies will offer you a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) to cover collision damage to the rented vehicle.

CDW isn’t insurance. It’s a waiver stating the rental company will waive the rental contract provision that makes you liable for:

  • Losing or damaging the vehicle while you are renting it, whether or not it’s your fault
  • The cost to repair or replace the vehicle
  • The loss of income to the rental company while the rental vehicle is being repaired

If you say yes to CDW, the rental company takes on your liability. The waiver can be voided under some circumstances. Find out what they are.

If your personal comprehensive and collision insurance cover a rental vehicle, the coverage handles only the cost of damage or replacing the vehicle. It does not cover the income the rental company lost while the vehicle was being repaired – a cost you’d be expected to pay. When in doubt, ODI  suggests you pay for CDW.

Some credit card companies offer CDW-like coverage if you pay with their card. We advise calling the credit card company for details, as offers vary and can be complex.

Other types of insurance

The rental clerk will also offer these coverages:

Liability or Supplemental Liability Insurance. Your personal auto policy probably covers liability while driving a rental. Check with us. Ask if your liability insurance applies if another family member drives the rental.

Personal Effects Insurance. PEI covers damages to or loss of personal belongings in your rental car. Homeowners insurance might cover part of this, but find out the amount covered, what belongings are excluded, and the deductible. Then you can decide if you need PEI.

Personal Accident Insurance. This covers medical and ambulatory costs related to accidental injury or accidental death while renting the vehicle.

For each type of insurance, ODI requires the rental company to give you a factual brochure that explains the insurer’s coverage, exclusions, limitations, provisions, how to file a claim and more. Read this brochure before you decide.

Gather these facts now, and you’ll be able to step up to the rental counter with confidence.

This information brought to you by (your agency name), a proud member of Professional Independent Agents Association of Ohio, Inc.

Sources: Ohio Department of Insurance, PIAA of Ohio

Mrs. Rutledge Goes to Washington, Again

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Recently, Deborah Rutledge made a trip to our nation’s capital for the NSBA Washington Presentation Capitol Hill Visits and met with Senator Rob Portman. Here is a shot of the group before they got down to business.

Deborah Rutledge, NSBA, Washington Presentation Capitol Hill Visits, Sen. Rob Portman.

Deborah Rutledge at NSBA Washington Presentation Capitol Hill Visits meeting Sen. Rob Portman.

New Resources About Identity Theft

Monday, June 1st, 2015

More than 13.1 million Americans were affected by identity theft in 2014, according to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2014 Identity Fraud Study. Educate your clients and prospects about how identity theft insurance can help them untangle from the financial mess and frustration caused if their identities are stolen.
Use our newest consumer content below as if you wrote it yourself. Share it on your website or blog, print the flyer or email the PDF to clients.

Read more.

Winter Driving Tips Everyone Should Know

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Driving in winter’s snowy and icy conditions isn’t so bad. Just take your time, watch out for other drivers and arm yourself and your family members with these helpful tips.

Before You Get in the Car
Safety precautions should start before you get behind the wheel. Take a minute to put an ice scraper, windshield fluid and jumper cables in your vehicles. Make your own car safety kit, with flares, a first-aid kit, blankets, gloves and a small broom for ice and snow removal.

Clean your lights and windshield before you leave the driveway. Don’t just clear a little hole from the front window for visibility. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Install good winter tires and consider studs if needed. Keep the fuel tank at least half full all winter so your engine and heater can be kept running to keep you warm if you do get stuck and help is not available immediately.

When You Are Driving
Make sure your lights are on so other drivers can see you. If the roads are icy, decrease your speed and give yourself plenty of room to stop. Allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock, ease off the brake.

Handle braking according to the kind of brakes you have. For antilock brakes, press the brakes carefully in a steady, sustained movement. You will feel the brakes vibrate and pulse, but keep pressing, as this is normal. If you have non-antilock brakes, such as those in older cars, pump the brakes gently.

Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble. Never use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.

Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads. They freeze before the roads do. Even at temperatures above freezing, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed surfaces like bridges.

Don’t pass snow plows and salt trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and the road in front of their vehicles is probably worse than the road behind.

If You Get Stuck
Don’t spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way, but do not keep the wheels turned as you accelerate. Use a light touch on the gas to ease your car out.

Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels to help get traction. Some people even put their car mats under the tires in a pinch.

Try “rocking” the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first, as rocking can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

Source: CompManagement, Inc. Dec. 2014