How to Create a Home Inventory

How to Create a Home Inventory

December 13th, 2018 :: Martinson Agency LLC :: Chaska, MN

The idea of creating a home inventory can be daunting. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), 59% of consumers do not have an inventory list of their possessions, 27% do not have photos of their property, 28% do not have a backup copy in a secure location and 59% have not updated their inventories in over a year. 

There are many reasons why homeowners and renters should spend time creating an inventory. First, you can be more confident that you have the proper amount of coverage by having a list of what you own and how much it might cost to replace. Second, if you need to file a claim, having a properly documented inventory will make the process much simpler. Finally, if you are a victim of a burglary an inventory can greatly increase your chances of recovering your belongings.

Tips For Creating Your Home Inventory
The main thing to remember when creating your home inventory is to take your time and not get overwhelmed. Being detailed and accurate is far more important than speed.

Here are some tips to help you start — and finish — your home inventory.

  • Instead of looking at your entire home at once, cut the job into manageable sections. Start with one area of your home, such as your kitchen or a single closet.
  • Break belongings down into categories. For example: List your clothes as shirts, skirts, pants ect. Categorize appliances by their function, like cooking or entertainment. This will help you track what you have and haven’t listed.
  • Be descriptive and list details for each item. Color, make, model and price paid are all important if you are trying to replace items that are destroyed or stolen.
  • Record serial numbers on any appliances, firearms, watches or other items.
  • If you own big ticket items such as artwork, jewelry or collectibles consider having them appraised. You can then list the values in your home inventory. Values can vary greatly over time and establishing current worth will help you avoid being underinsured. Some items (such as a diamond ring) may require a special rider to improve coverage limits.
  • Be sure to take pictures or shoot video of the items as you create your inventory. The higher the value of the item the more detailed you should be. 
  • Keep your list updated. You should be actively removing old items that have been discarded and adding new purchases or gifts that you have received.
  • Make sure that you have a copy of your list backed up securely. Using a mobile app or a website is a great way to make sure it won’t be lost or destroyed.

It can be a little time consuming to create initially but once you have your inventory complete it is a simple matter of keeping it updated. At minimum review your inventory annually. Be sure to consult with a licensed independent insurance agent at Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN!

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

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

Website: www.martinsonagency.com

Safe Driving in Winter Weather

Safe Driving in Winter Weather

December 7th, 2018 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Millions of Americans will be traveling this holiday  season, and if it’s anything like previous years, a lot of that travel will be on the road. Last year, AAA estimated that more than 100 million Americans were planning a trip of more than 50 miles during the holidays—and that was just between December 23rd and January 1st. 

Of course, winter weather creates a unique set of challenges on local roadways, too. So even if you’re not headed out of town, these safety tips can help you make it through the season safely. 

Make Sure Your Car Is Ready
Before winter arrives, and before any long trip, give your car a thorough check-up. Do wipers need to be replaced? Are your fluid levels where they should be? How’s the radiator and cooling system? 

If you live in an area (or visit one often) where temperatures regularly drop below 45 degrees, it’s a good idea to get a set of winter tires—they’re better suited for the cold than all-season tires, because they’re designed to provide the best traction and handling in ice and snow. Whatever you’re driving on, however, make sure your tires are inflated properly and that they have enough tread. 

Your car should have an emergency kit, too. Pack it with jumper cables, blankets, a first-aid kit, flares, food and water, a flashlight and other safety gear. A shovel and cat litter or sand are nice to have as well; they can provide traction should you get stuck. 

Before You Leave
If you’re going on a trip, make sure you check weather conditions along your route and take printed maps—you might not always have cell reception. Let someone know your itinerary, so if you don’t arrive on time, officials know where to look for you. 

Every time you drive somewhere, even if it’s just a quick trip to the store, clear snow and ice off your car; it can be a hazard to other drivers. And don’t forget to clear your headlights and other lights. 

When You’re On The Road
Are roads snowy or icy? Take it slow. Take it slow. Take it slow. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, and make sure you leave extra room between your vehicle and others. Watch for ice patches on bridges, overpasses and shady spots. And remember, having four-wheel or all-wheel drive does not mean your car will stop (or steer) better on ice. 

If you’re caught in a storm that seems like it’s too much for you to handle, seek refuge as soon as you can. Sometimes it’s best not to drive in snow and ice at all—if it looks bad out there, stay home!

If Your Vehicle Becomes Disabled or You Get in an Accident
Car trouble and accidents affect thousands of people every winter. If your vehicle is disabled, be sure to stay with it. Run your engine and heater for short intervals, and open one of your windows slightly to prevent carbon monoxide build-up. Light two flares (remember that vehicle emergency kit? Now’s the time to use it) and place one a safe distance from both the front and rear of your vehicle. Note your location with mile posts, exit numbers or cross streets and call the authorities or a tow truck. 

If you’re in a crash, be careful—the after math of a car accident can be a dangerous, especially in winter when visibility might be reduced and conditions might be slick. Check everyone involved for injuries and call 911 if necessary. After minor accidents, have everyone pull well off the road. Put out flares and turn on your hazard lights. 

When you can’t move your car, stay inside unless traffic is completely clear. It’s far better for another vehicle to hit your car, even with you in it, than to hit you directly. 

Wherever you may be headed this winter, we hope you enjoy the season with friends and family. Here’s to healthy and happy holidays!

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

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

Website: www.martinsonagency.com


Holiday Decoration Safety

Holiday Decoration Safety

November 20th, 2018 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

As the holiday season approaches, many of us decorate our homes with lights and other fixtures to show our excitement. We at the Martinson Agency in Chaska, with the help of our friends at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) would like to provide you with tips for decorating your home safely.

The CPSC estimates that annually, almost 15,000 people are treated by the emergency room due to injuries pertaining to holiday decorations. This comes out to roughly 250 injuries per day during the months of November and December. A few reasons for these injuries were fires, falls and strains.

Falls accounted for 41% of decorating injuries. This could mean falling from a ladder, tripping over a cord or any other fall relating to holiday decorations. So how do we avoid falling?

  • As they say in sports, father time is undefeated. If you’re getting older or simply losing some of your athleticism maybe it is time to stay off the roof and let a professional help you out. HIRE SOMEONE!!!
  • If you insist on “DIY” make sure to have a spotter while you are working. Someone needs to able to help in case of an emergency.
  • While placing decorations, make sure to keep a clear walkway so your guests have a clear path to your front door.

The two most common reasons for fires during the holiday season are Christmas trees and candles. (Shocking, we know.) Roughly 1,200 fires were started due to candles and 100 fires started due to Christmas trees. So what can we do to prevent this?

  • If you are setting up a Christmas tree in your home, make sure to keep it away from heat sources such as fireplaces, vents and radiators.
  • If you are purchasing an artificial tree, look for something that is fire resistant. This will be listed on the label/box. It DOES NOT mean that the tree cannot catch on fire but rather that it is more resistant to it.
  • With regards to candles, keep them burning within your sight. Also please be sure to extinguish them before you leave the room. (Do not burn candles while you sleep!)
  • Always keep candles on a steady and heat resistant surface.

Holiday season is a great time of the year and decorating your home is an exciting part of it. Please keep in mind that safety is the most important factor. Follow these tips to help ensure an injury free holiday. If you have any questions or are interested in finding out how your insurance relates to this issue please contact Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN today!

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

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

Website: www.martinsonagency.com

What To Do After An Accident

What To Do After An Accident

November 9th, 2018 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Being involved in an auto accident can be a trying experience – physically, emotionally and financially. Knowing the proper steps to take in the immediate aftermath of a crash can help ease the stress that is sure to follow. Here are five steps to take if you find yourself involved in an accident.

1. Assess The Situation

Auto accidents can range greatly in severity from a simple fender bender to those involving serious injuries and/or property damage. An important first step is to take a moment, calm yourself and assess the situation. Take note of the following:

  • Are you hurt?
  • Does anyone else appear to be hurt?
  • Are you currently in a dangerous situation?
  • Are there any witnesses?

These are all questions that you need to ask yourself before you do anything else.

2. Contact The Authorities

For the sake of safety and to help ensure that your insurance claim is processed smoothly, you want to contact the authorities and get them in route as soon as possible. Some drivers don’t react very well to being involved in an accident and in this age of road rage, it is not a good idea to confront the other drivers involved. Wait for police!

3. Exchange Insurance Information

Once it is safe to do so, exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved. The police will also be asking for this information to fill out their report so this is a good time collect it yourself. Your insurance company will need this information when you call to file your claim. (HINT: We always suggest taking photos of the other drivers ID as well as their insurance cards. This is always easier than trying to quickly write down all of this information!)

4. Document What Happened

To help speed up your insurance claim as well as to protect yourself legally you want to document the accident as much as you can. If possible, gather contact information from as many witnesses as you can and ensure they speak with the police when they arrive. Many cases turn into a he-said/she-said scenario and having corroborating accounts can be vital during the claims process. Take as many pictures as you can. Start with wide shots trying to capture as much of the scene as possible. Be sure to include skid marks, road signs and damage to all of the vehicles involved.

5. Call Your Insurance Agent

It doesn’t matter if you feel that you were at fault or not, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Your insurance company is going to require an accident report and other documentation in order to process your claim. We always suggest that you get in touch with your agent first so we can help walk you through the claims process. We can help answer any questions that you may have prior to filing a claim.

The odds of having a car accident at some point in your lifetime are rather high. Knowing what to do at the scene of an accident will help you protect your rights and help the claim process go as smoothly as possible. If you have any questions or are interested in an auto quote please contact Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN today!

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

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

Website: www.martinsonagency.com

The Reality of Drowsy Driving

The Reality of Drowsy Driving

November 1st, 2018 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

It was 8:00 PM on a Friday night in Chaska, Minnesota. Chad had just finished working a 70 hour week. He was exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home and get some sleep. He was about three blocks from home when he pulled up to a red light. Next thing he knew a police officer was tapping on his window telling him he sat through a green light. Chad had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Sleeping while driving is becoming more of an issue and is garnering more national attention. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that 100,000 police-reported crashes per year are caused simply by driver fatigue. This results in roughly 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than $12.5 BILLION in monetary losses. Crashes related to drowsiness are most common in young men and adults with children.

Certain states have started to pay more attention to sleepless driving. New Jersey has even stiffened their laws with regards to dozing and driving. A driver that has gone without sleep in 24 hours is considered to be driving recklessly. It is a little known fact that depending on your insurance carrier, this could be thought of as worse than drunk driving.

Preventing a sleep-related crash is actually pretty simple. Don’t drive if you’re sleep deprived. If you’ve been up all night or feel exhausted, it isn’t the smartest idea to get behind the wheel. Next, try to avoid driving late at night. This is when a large portion of sleep-related crashes take place. Finally, if you’re going to be on a long drive, consume some caffeine. A coffee, soda or even an energy drink can help keep you alert.

Sleep-related crashes are becoming more and more common. Make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel. Not only will driving safely save you money on auto insurance, it could save your life!

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

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com

Website: www.martinsonagency.com

7 Relevant Insurance Terms for You

7 Relevant Insurance Terms for You

October 6th, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Insurance has its own vocabulary. Some words and phrases may be unfamiliar even to those who have long owned insurance coverage. To help recognize key insurance topics, here are seven relevant insurance terms:

Deductible
A deductible is the amount of money that a policyholder must pay before his or her plan’s benefits kick in. For example, if a policy has a $500 deductible, you will have to pay $500 out of pocket after making a claim before the insurance policy would provide coverage.

Umbrella Coverage
Umbrella coverage is additional liability insurance that operates in conjunction with a primary policy such as a personal automobile or homeowners insurance policy. In general, umbrella coverage protects against major claims and lawsuits that exceed your primary coverage limits. Umbrella coverage also is available for commercial insurance policies.

Limit
In insurance, a limit is the maximum amount of insurance that can be paid for a covered loss. In most cases, this refers to a single claim, but may also apply to a policy period (such as a year).

Replacement Cost

Replacement cost is a method of valuation in insurance policies that refers to the cost of replacing an item damaged. Replacement cost refers to the specific cost to get a new or similar item in the marketplace at a certain point in time, without deducting for depreciation – up to your maximum coverage limits.

Loss of Use
Loss of use refers to the additional expenses incurred by a change in situation that an insurance policy covers. For example, if your home is damaged and an insurance claim was filed, expenses related to a change in lifestyle, like eating out because your kitchen is unusable, can be considered expenses related to loss of use.

Additional Living Expense
Additional living expenses refers to any cost associated with maintaining a normal standard of living in a situation involving an insurance claim and is a common form of coverage in a homeowners policy. If, for example, your home is damaged by fire and is unlivable, the cost of a hotel would fall under the classification of additional living expense.

Ordinance or Law Coverage
Ordinance coverage, also known as law coverage, refers to additional expenses incurred by work that must be completed due to changes in local laws or ordinances. For example, inadequate fireproofing,
out-of-date HVAC systems, or use of asbestos may not comply with current building codes. This typically requires extra costs in rebuilding.

Why Insurance Terms Matter
For those not in the business, insurance can seem a little overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Knowing the terms used in policy documents can make it easier for you to understand your insurance coverage options for the risks that may affect you.

Martinson Agency LLC – Chaska, MN

(952) 314-4400

The Importance of Personal Umbrella Coverage

The Importance of Personal Umbrella Coverage

September 3rd, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Your auto and homeowners insurance policies are designed to keep you protected, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Unfortunately, bodily injury and damages from a bad at-fault accident can quickly exhaust the liability limits of your standard insurance policy.

A personal umbrella policy is an extra layer of protection that goes above the normal homeowners and auto insurance liability limits. It provides higher limits and broader coverage, and can help pay legal defense costs you may incur after your basic insurance policy limits are exhausted.

Here are a few reasons why you should look into purchasing a personal umbrella policy:

  1. Protects your assets. Having a personal umbrella policy helps ensure your assets—your car, home, investments, retirement accounts, checking and savings accounts, and even your future income—are protected in case of an unforeseen accident that exceeds your auto or homeowners limits.
  2. Better protects you. You are protected for incidents that you might not even consider, such as if you are liable for injuries while renting a boat or Jet Ski, or even driving a car provided by your employer.
  3. Offers peace of mind. An umbrella policy provides peace of mind that you, your loved ones, and your assets are protected against large lawsuits.
  4. Covers legal fees. The costs of legal defense can be staggering and must be paid even if you win. A personal umbrella policy can help offset these costs without draining your savings.

If you haven’t considered the added protection of an umbrella policy give our office a call so we can answer any questions that you may have. In most cases an umbrella policy is the most affordable coverage you can buy. Don’t leave your insurance to luck! Call Martinson Agency today!

Martinson Agency LLC – Chaska, MN

(952) 314-4400

Helpful Fender Bender Tips

Helpful Fender Bender Tips

August 4th, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

If you’ve experienced a minor car accident, you’re not alone. Of the 5.6 million police-reported automobile accidents in 2012, 70 percent resulted in property damage, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Despite the common nature of fender benders, it may be hard to remember what to do when one happens to you. After all, traffic incidents can be chaotic, stressful, and scary, even if no one is injured.

Adding to the potential for confusion, fender benders can take place anywhere. That means you may experience a minor car accident in a parking lot, in a driveway, on a quiet side street, or on the freeway in rush hour traffic.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are involved in a fender bender:

  1. Stop.

First and foremost, stop the car. If you’ve just had a minor accident, it’s not necessary to leave the cars where they are, says Cars.com. Instead, pull off the road and focus on getting to safety. Once you’re out of the line of traffic, turn on your hazard lights. If you can’t move your car without damaging it further, you might have to leave it where it is, but be sure to turn on your hazard lights.

Remember: Though laws differ from state to state, in most places it’s against the law to drive away without stopping after an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault… and hit-and-run penalties may be severe.

  1. Call the police.

Once you’ve pulled over to the side of the road, call 911 and report the accident. Even if no one has been injured, a police officer acts as a neutral third party and may produce a report that could help you with your insurance claim.

  1. Take pictures.

While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, take pictures of the scene. Document any damage to your car, as well as the other driver’s vehicle. You may also want to take a few shots of the location where the accident took place, as well as any witnesses or other people involved.

  1. Exchange information.

This may be one of the most important things you do after an accident: exchange information with the other driver. Grab your insurance card, your driver’s license, and your vehicle registration and exchange the following details with the other driver:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Date of birth
  • Driver’s license number and expiration date
  • Insurance company policy numbers and contact information
  • License plate number of the other car
  • Make, model, and year of the other car
  • Contact information of any eyewitnesses

When the police officer arrives, note their name, badge number, phone number, and accident report number. You should also request a copy of the accident report; this may take a couple of days to obtain, but it will be helpful when it comes time to file a claim.

  1. Don’t say too much.

Other than exchanging information, don’t talk to the other driver. Wait until the police arrive and be truthful, while sticking to the facts.

  1. Call your insurance provider.

Contact your insurance provider to report the accident. You’ll be able to speak with a representative about your options and make the best decisions for your situation.

By following these simple steps, you may protect yourself in the case of a minor accident. If you have any questions regarding your accident don’t hesitate to give our office call. Our family can help assist in even the simplest of situations!

Martinson Agency LLC – Chaska, MN – 952-314-4400

Can You Still Pass Driver’s Education?

Can You Still Pass Driver’s Education?

July 21st, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

We all think we know the rules of the road. But you might be surprised to learn that even common driving habits can be unsafe. So take this simple quiz to ensure you’re utilizing the safe driving essentials:

  1. What is a good way to avoid cell phone distractions while driving?
    1. Call your friends to tell them you are driving
    2. Turn your phone off until you are parked
    3. Only answer important calls and texts
  2. A car is in front of you. What is the minimum safe following distance?
    1. 3 seconds
    2. 3 car lengths
    3. 10 feet behind
  3. You are driving on a two lane road with a double solid line. You may pass when:
    1. A vehicle has hazard lights on
    2. You may not pass or change lanes at any time
    3. A vehicle is going 10 MPH under the speed limit
  4. When a driver tailgates you, you should:
    1. Lightly apply brakes
    2. Slow down and move to the right
    3. Speed up
  5. Two cars reach an intersection with stop signs at the same time. Who goes first?
    1. Driver on the right
    2. Driver on the left
    3. Driver turning left
  6. When confronted by an aggressive driver you should:
    1. Gesture for them to slow down
    2. Avoid eye contact
    3. Pull over and stop
  7. You are driving on a multi-lane road and see a stopped emergency vehicle ahead. You should:
    1. Come to a complete stop
    2. Shift lanes and slow down
    3. Slow to half the posted speed limit

Following these driving tips will make the roads a safer place and can also keep your insurance rates in check. If you think you are paying too much and are interested in a free policy review, please give Martinson Agency a call today!

 

ANSWERS:

  1. B
  2. A
  3. B
  4. B
  5. A
  6. B
  7. B

The Importance of Renter’s Insurance

The Importance of Renter’s Insurance

July 7th, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Clients often think they don’t need renters insurance — “Nothing I have is worth that much,” they’ll say, or “I don’t have a lot of stuff.”

That’s how most people think of renter’s coverage: protection for stuff, and nothing more. After all, it’s inexpensive and it doesn’t even cover the structure itself. So how important can it be, especially if you don’t think you have anything valuable to protect? You just have to stop thinking only about “stuff.” Here are three key financial protections a renters policy provides:

Personal Property Coverage:

Wait, doesn’t this mean your stuff? Well, yes. But really, this coverage protects your finances. Even if you don’t think you have anything valuable, take a minute and mentally add up everything you own (note that if you do have any high-value items, such as jewelry or heirlooms, you may need additional coverage). Now imagine how much it would cost to replace it all. It’s probably a higher number than you thought — and that’s why renters insurance is so important.

Personal Liability Protection:

If someone trips and injures themselves in your unit, they could sue you. If your dog bites one of your guests, they could file a law suit as well. Yes, lawsuits happen — even among friends. Renters insurance can help cover legal expenses and even judgments against you. (Some dog breeds may disqualify you from coverage, so be sure to inform your agent of all dogs in the household.)

Loss of Use Coverage:

What would you do if a fire or other issue forced you out of your home? You’d have to find a temporary place to stay, for weeks or even months in some cases — which might cost you more than your normal rent. Loss of use helps cover that and other additional expenses.

Call your local independent agent at the Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN today to compare current coverage options and get all of your questions answered!

Martinson Agency LLC – Chaska, MN

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: jphagen@aibme.com