Dangers of Distracted Driving

Dangers of Distracted Driving

February 10th, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

The dangers of driving drunk are well documented. Over the last few years, there have been many campaigns aimed at raising awareness about driving under the influence. Designated drivers, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” and “Drink responsibly” are now mainstays of media and social consciousness and intoxicated drivers are heavily fined and penalized.

Yet there is another behavior that:

  • Is six times more likely to cause an accident than DWI
  • Makes you 23 times more likely to crash
  • Is the same as driving blind for at least five seconds (the time it takes a car going 55 mph to travel the length of a football field)
  • Is being practiced by approximately 800,000 drivers at any given time

And the results of this behavior are horrific. This behavior:

  • Causes nearly 25% of all car accidents
  • Results in 1.6 million accidents and 300,00 injuries every year
  • Causes 11 teenage deaths every day

This behavior is distracted driving. Distracted driving includes but is not limited to: texting, tweeting, using snap chat, changing songs, talking on the phone and eating. These activities can always wait until you arrive at your destination. Put the phone down. It can save a life.

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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Super Bowl LI: Four Myths About The Big Game

Super Bowl LI: Four Myths About The Big Game

February 5th, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, let’s look at four of the most common myths surrounding the big game.

The Marketing Misconceptions

The Super Bowl is known as one of the biggest events of the year in advertising. However, Advertising Age explains that there are a lot of myths about advertising during the big game. The news provider explained that broadcast advertising is not the only way to gain some visibility, as one company carried out a campaign on the web ─ without purchasing a $4 million ad spot ─ and reached 10 million individuals by becoming a part of the conversation. Even small businesses can capitalize on the event, not just large ones.

Right Down The Drain

TIME Magazine explained that some people believe the “flush effect” myth, which is the belief that everyone in the country will flush their toilet at the same exact moment during halftime, and that this will strain the nation’s water supply. Interestingly, TIME Magazine points out that research in various cities has proven that water use peaks during breaks in the game.

Plenty of Beer, But Not The Most

Americans might believe the big game would be the biggest day of the year for beer purchases, and for good reason. However, this is false. The Nielsen Co., a ratings and research firm, lists this event in February as the eighth-biggest day for beer sales, behind other days including Independence Day, Labor Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and Easter.

Stock Market Predictor

One theory states that the Super Bowl can predict the stock market’s performance for the coming year. As ridiculous as it sounds, there is some evidence to back this theory up. The “Super Bowl Indicator” states that if a team from the old American Football League (AFL) wins, the stock market will go down; if a team from the old National Football League (NFL) wins, the markets will go up. The Super Bowl indicator has been accurate roughly 80% of the time!

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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Supporting Your Local Businesses

Supporting Your Local Businesses

January 9th, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Small businesses are among the most important components of the American economy, both on local and national levels.

Consider the following statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration, an entity devoted to supporting entrepreneurs:

  • Small businesses outnumbered large ones by a margin of 28.8 million to 18,600 in 2013.
  • More than 99 percent of all companies that have employees in the U.S. are small businesses.
  • Small businesses are responsible for more than half of the total export value.
  • Between 1992 and 2013, small businesses created 63.3 percent of net new jobs.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at why you should consider shopping at your local retailers.

Support The Local Economy

While entrepreneurs have a massive impact on the national level, their greatest value is often found in the local areas they reside. For example, if you were to shop at a major, multi-national chain, much of their profits will go back to shareholders in other states. On the other hand, small business revenues and profits will often be funneled back into their local economies via the salaries of employees from the area, vendor relationships within the community and more. PV Local First, a nonprofit advocacy group supporting independent businesses, states that local companies are more likely to purchase and sell goods from other entities in their areas.

Higher Quality

Small businesses are also rarely involved in mass-production activities, especially when talking about local retailers. This means that you will be able to purchase more artisanal, higher-quality goods in many situations. If the small local business is a re-seller, then you will be supporting artisans, craft makers, cooks and other professionals in your area as well.

Indirect Philanthropy

When you shop local, the philanthropic and charitable groups in your area are more likely to thrive. Sustainable Connections, a nonprofit that focuses on green initiatives, states that small businesses donate 250 percent more to nonprofit organizations than larger, national chains. These funds, which you will be fueling when shopping local, can go a long way toward making tangible differences in the lives of your neighbors.

Be A Part Of The Movement

American Express, the credit card company that started Small Business Saturday, estimates that $14.3 billion was spent in 2014, and 95 million Americans shopped local during 2015’s iteration of the event. Do not miss your chance to show your support for your community’s companies and entrepreneurs!

If you are looking to make an insurance purchase please contact Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN and remember, SHOP SMALL!

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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Why Kevin McCallister Wasn’t Covered By Liability Insurance

Why Kevin McCallister Wasn’t Covered By Liability Insurance

December 29th, 2016 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

One of the most beloved holiday movies of all time is “Home Alone,” and the protagonist, Kevin McCallister, is certainly an iconic character in the hearts and minds of viewers everywhere. The whimsical, yet sometimes aggressive plot of the movie yields plenty of lessons from a parenting perspective. But consider the repercussions regarding home ownership and insurance.

Unfortunately, with all of the stunts Kevin McCallister pulled, he and his absent family would not have been covered by liability insurance, at least not in their home state of Illinois.

Coal for the McCallister’s

One might think that the “wet bandits” Harry and Marv, portrayed by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern respectively, would be completely in the wrong given the fact that they were trying to break into a home and unwittingly encountered a very resourceful child who defended himself. However, in spite of Kevin’s youth – and his seemingly justifiable position when he terrorized Harry and Marv to protect his home, he is acting in such a way that could nullify any protection through liability insurance.

As AllLaw.com, a website devoted to legal matters, explains, Harry and Marv actually could have sued the McCallister’s for the immense range of injuries they suffered, and the family would have had to pay up. In the words of the website: “In most states, property owners must refrain from engaging in willful conduct that causes injuries to trespassers.” 

So, because Kevin was operating in a willful fashion to injure the intruders, he would almost certainly be liable for their injuries. While this exception does not pertain to all states and insurance policies, the Staver Law Group, an Illinois-based legal firm, explains that Chicago and its suburbs, including Kevin’s village, does. If you have liability insurance, you will want to ensure that you understand the implications related to trespassers.

Lessons Learned

Simply put, you should never create hazards that would injure or even kill trespassers. You can and often will be held accountable for their injuries, despite the fact that you are trying to protect your home and they are trying to steal from it or damage it. It is a strange, yet common exception in homeowner liability insurance. But it’s an important one to deter individuals from purposefully causing harm rather than simply calling the police.  Make sure you understand the entirety of your liability coverage within your homeowner’s policy, and never take law enforcement matters into your own hands.

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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Preparing Your Car For Winter

Preparing Your Car For Winter

November 30th, 2016 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Your automobile is likely one of your most valuable possessions, and you need to ensure it is kept in optimal working order at all times. With winter fast approaching now is a good time to prepare your car for the change in seasons.

Here are a few winterization tips to help keep your vehicle performing well this winter:

General Check-Up

Consumer Reports, an organization devoted to consumer information, states that certain diagnostic checks must be completed, including a thorough test of the battery. Extreme cold temperatures can quickly deplete a battery, so make sure it is in good shape. The nonprofit also suggested checking all fluids, notably oil, and the heating and cooling systems for any irregularities, damages, shortages or otherwise. A quick tune up at your local service center will generally take care of these matters.

Tires, Brakes & Brake Pads

If you live in an area that gets a lot of precipitation, you may want to invest in some winter tires and have them installed soon. These tires not only offer the quiet and fuel-efficient ride of those made for all seasons, but can provide you with that extra traction necessary to drive in slick conditions. If you choose to keep your all-season tires, check the treads to ensure they are not too worn. You should also be sure to check your brakes and brake pads for functionality and wear.

Visibility

To help to maintain visibility even while the salt, snow and other hazards pound on the glass, it is advised to get a windshield treatment. This can be done at your auto body shop, or at home with a variety of windshield solutions. Along with that, DMV.org, a website devoted to automobile related matters, suggests making sure your windshield wipers are in good shape, your defrosting system is fully functional and your windshield washer fluid is full. The DMV also recommends using a windshield washer fluid that contains anti-freeze for maximum effectiveness.

Emergency Prep

Extreme conditions can develop into emergency situations even if you take all of the necessary precautions. We urge winter drivers to keep blankets, boots, water, flares, a flashlight, engine coolant, washer fluid and engine oil in their vehicles at all times during the winter. The best way to avoid a disaster is prepare for it.

We all know that vehicles need year-round maintenance. You are probably asking “what does this have to do with my insurance?” Keep in mind that your driving record is one of the biggest factors when determining your rate. Preparing for winter will improve the odds that you avoid an accident. Please call the Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN for all of your personal and commercial insurance needs!

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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Five Things to Know When Building a Home

Five Things to Know When Building a Home

November 9th, 2016 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Building a new home can be just as stressful as it is exciting. If you properly plan out the project and try to avoid mistakes, you can ensure the house stays within your budget and desired timeline. Here are five things you should know before setting out to build a new home:

1. Average Costs

Home Advisor, a website devoted to housing news and tips, estimates that it costs an average of $305,372 to build a home, with most individuals spending between $178,010 and $466,493. The website says that the number of stories, square footage, appliances, design and fixtures will impact the final price.

2. Staying Within Budget

US News & World Report states that one of the major mistakes that leads to overspending is not having a detailed plan. When a highly detailed plan is not in place before the outset of the project, the budget is highly likely to be overshot before completion. The source also urges consumers to consider their mortgage costs over the entire term when establishing a budget.

3. Know The Important Role Players

Maverick Custom Homes, a business that assists in home construction, explains that the key players in any project will include the homeowner, real estate agent, construction manager, the bank, designers, civil engineers, contractors and inspectors. The only way the house will be built flawlessly and within budget is if all of these players are chosen carefully and work toward a common goal every step of the way. Make sure you are coordinating and keeping everyone on track.

4. Know The Essential Steps in Construction

You should have an idea of how a construction project flows before you begin building. This knowledge will help to guide your decision making in a more accurate fashion. Some of the steps include:

  • Readying the land for building
  • Framing the structure
  • Handling primary plumbing and electrical work
  • Inspecting after each major component of the project is completed

5. Advanced Planning

Some of the more important components of planning could get left out of the equation, which can end up causing you major headaches down the road. Consider the following before the project begins:

  • HVAC systems of choice
  • Which rooms will have what purposes
  • How much natural light can used

Following this guidance will help you ensure that the home is comfortable and up to your standards when the project is complete.

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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To Flu Shot or Not to Flu Shot?

To Flu Shot or Not to Flu Shot?

November 4th, 2016 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Flu shots and other vaccinations have been sources of perpetual controversy throughout the past several years, which might make it difficult to decide whether you should get one.

Some individuals have been led to believe there are significant adverse effects associated with the flu shot, but many of these ideas have been proven to be falsehoods by the academic and medical communities. First, keep in mind that the flu is a very dangerous virus that can even kill people in some situations, and the symptoms can last between three and seven days.

Harvard University’s Medical School states someone cannot contract the flu from the shot despite what some may believe. The idea that the flu shot is not necessary for otherwise healthy individuals, or that the vaccination is made with harmful and dangerous chemicals, is completely false.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government entity devoted to population health management, mentions that no one should wait until the flu season is in full swing to get a vaccination, as it will spread quickly. Flu season typically begins between October and November, then becomes more active in December and January, peaking in February. It is worth noting that these periods will vary by region.

Getting vaccinated at a clinic, pharmacy or primary care physician’s office in mid- to late-October is recommended, and shots should be administered every year. The CDC states all healthy Americans need to be vaccinated even if they are not fearful of their own health.

Another government office, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, affirms one of the biggest reasons why all individuals need to get their flu vaccination is to leverage something called “herd immunity.”

In short, this term describes a community getting vaccinated to prevent the flu – as well as other diseases and illnesses – from spreading throughout their area and impacting individuals who are more susceptible to severe symptoms, including children and the elderly.

Ensuring Safe Use 

The CDC does note some flu shots will not be safe for certain individuals, typically young children, pregnant women, individuals who suffer from chronic health problems and people who have certain allergies. If you are not sure whether you are fit to take the flu vaccine, consult with your primary care physician to find out for certain.

Now, it is worth noting the flu can be extremely dangerous if you do have underlying health conditions. If your primary care physician decides you should not get vaccinated this flu season, take care to protect your health and avoid the prospect of contracting the sickness. This can be done by washing your hands every time you go outside, avoiding touching your face, not going into public areas when an outbreak occurs and more.

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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Halloween Driving Safety Tips

Halloween Driving Safety Tips

October 27th, 2016 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Help protect trick-or-treaters by following these driving safety tips on Halloween. Be especially careful between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm, when roads and neighborhoods are at peak activity.

  • Drive slowly, and don’t pass stopped vehicles. The driver might be dropping off children.
  • Park your mobile phone. Avoid distractions by waiting until you’ve stopped to call, text, or surf. Get more mobile phone safety tips.
  • Watch for children darting into the street. Kids can cross the street anywhere, and most young pedestrian deaths happen in places other than intersections.
  • Yield to young pedestrians. Children might not stop, either because they don’t see your vehicle approaching or don’t know how to safely cross the street.
  • Communicate with other drivers. Always use your turn signals. And if you have to pull over to drop off or pick up your kids, turn on your hazard lights.

Keep Your Own “Trick-or-Treater” Safe!

  • Teach them how to safely cross streets. They should look both ways and cross only at corners and crosswalks.
  • Consider indoor community Halloween programs for younger kids. Some communities also offer to help you inspect your kids’ treats to make sure they’re safe to eat.
  • Brighten them up. Give them flashlights and glow sticks, and/or use reflective tape on their costumes, so drivers can see them.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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Why Choose an Independent Agent?

Why Choose an Independent Agent?

October 19th, 2016 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Rather than just a simple policy, you really need comprehensive risk management and a true partner in the process that can fit you with the right coverage at the best value.

More than 38,500 independent insurance agencies operate in the U.S. today, according to the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Instead of being beholden to one insurer – as is the case with exclusive agents – nonaligned agents typically represent several insurers. This allows them to provide a wide variety of valuable insurance options tailored to you and your unique needs.

That’s really just the beginning of why independent agents are valuable.

Greater Satisfaction

According to J.D. Power and Associates, overall satisfaction among customers who patronize small auto insurers is now greater than with large insurance firms. This is notable because smaller auto insurers are typically marketed by independent agents. “Price perception among customers of smaller insurers is likely influenced by the fact that they frequently select their insurer with the help of an independent agent,” said Greg Hoeg, J.D. Power VP of U.S. Insurance Operations. “Smaller insurers benefit from the personal interactions provided by their agency force, including their ability to educate customers about the value their policy provides.”

Speak On Your Behalf

Independent insurance agents’ top concern is the consumer. Your interests are their interests, so if you’re having a problem with your coverage or encounter issues that prevent you from being fully satisfied, they’re ready to go to the plate on your behalf.

One-Stop Shopping

Though there are independent insurance agents who specialize in one type of coverage, they usually deal with multiple products, including renters, homeowners, automobile and commercial insurance. Bundling is a great savings tool, and unaffiliated agents can help you take advantage of this savings by finding you the right “package” of coverages regardless of the carrier.

Confirm Your Insurance is Appropriate

All too often people buy insurance only to learn they’re underinsured when they need to file a claim. This is one of the risks of buying coverage on your own. Independent agents not only help you determine you’re buying the right type of insurance, but also the right amount of coverage.

All of us at the Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN are devoted to our customers. Being a small independent agency ensures that our focus is solely on the client regardless of the product that you are looking to purchase. Simply put, we care about YOU!

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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Should You Fight A Speeding Ticket?

Should You Fight A Speeding Ticket?

October 13th, 2016 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

It’s what everyone hopes to avoid while driving: the dreaded “flashing blues” in their rearview mirror, an indication that someone’s about to be pulled over. Hopefully it isn’t you.

At one point or another, just about everyone drives faster than the posted speed limit. Generally speaking, traffic enforcement officers give motorists some latitude – allowing motorists to drive between 5 and 10 miles per hour faster than what’s allowed for – but anything more than that and a ticket is probably in your future.

There’s no denying that speeding is a significant safety issue. In a poll conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly half of motorists said that they considered speeding to be a problem on the country’s roads. In 2013, nearly 10,000 people died in speeding-related highway accidents, accounting for almost 30% of all crash fatalities. And in most of these incidents, motorists were traveling faster than 55 miles per hour.

The overriding concern as it relates to speeding is that fellow motorists’ safety is threatened when exceeding the posted limit. To discourage the behavior, police officers issue traffic tickets. Usually costing at least $100, the overall amount typically depends on the state and how egregious the offense was, as driving 20 mph over the limit usually carries a more significant fine than going 5 mph over.

A speeding ticket has lasting effects. It can cause auto insurance premiums to increase for motorists who are convicted and attaches points onto one’s driving record. Accumulate too many, and it could result in a license suspension.

Every ticket lists what a driver’s options are should they be cited for speeding. The question is whether you should contest a ticket’s legitimacy or accept the punishment.  Here are a few things to consider:

Have The Facts

If you can establish proof that you were within range of the posted speed limit, then it’s worth your while to put up a fight. Occasionally, a police officer’s radar may be faulty or their memory may be different from yours. If you have corroborating evidence that demonstrates your side of the story, contesting a citation is worthwhile.

Consider The Consequences

When it comes right down to it, the validity of a traffic ticket is your word against theirs. Generally speaking, most courts decide in favor of the police officer, typically because they have proof that confirms their observation. Furthermore, even if you think you have a compelling argument, there’s no guarantee that the judge will decide in your favor. Thus, you can wind up spending hours in court hearings and paying legal fees if you hire legal counsel, on top of the cost of the original ticket citation.

Objectively Assess Your Situation

Most people who speed don’t have a good reason for it. But occasionally, the ends justify the means. For example, you may have been in a situation where you or a family member required immediate medical attention at a hospital. Alternatively, the flow of traffic may be faster than the limit, requiring you to exceed the limit, such as on the highway, for example. Generally speaking, though, there aren’t many excuses for speeding.

It’s in your best interest to adhere to the speed limit as closely as possible, both for the good of your safety and your auto insurance premiums. To learn more about how being a safe driver can lower your auto insurance costs, speak with an agent at Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN today!

Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call today us today!

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

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