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

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

LeBron James: Insuring His Financial Future

LeBron James: Insuring His Financial Future

June 1st, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Tonight is the beginning of the 2017 NBA Finals and LeBron James is just four wins away from his 4th NBA Championship. Before winning MVP awards, breaking NBA records, and winning NBA titles, LeBron was a highly publicized high school athlete. Like many top ranked high school seniors he was scheduled to play in the 2003 McDonalds All-American Game.

LeBron was a virtual lock to be the number one pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. His initial contract would pay him 13 million dollars over three years. Because of this, he purchased a 10 million dollar insurance policy ensuring that if he suffered a career ending injury he would be compensated for potential wage loss. All-Star Game director Bob Geoghan believed this to be a smart decision stating “If I was him, I’d probably want the same thing. While the chances are slim that he would [suffer] a career ending injury, it’s something to think about.”

LeBron James and his representatives made sure to protect his financial future with an insurance policy. Make sure you do the same. Auto, home, and life insurance can help ensure that your financial future is protected. Call the Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN to learn more today!

To find out how more celebrities and athletes have protected themselves click here … Popular Celebs Insure More Than Cars and Houses

Phone: (952) 314-4400

Email: amartinson@aibme.com

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How to Dial Up Safety When You Light Up the Grill

How to Dial Up Safety When You Light Up the Grill

April 20th, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Summer is right around the corner and millions of Americans will be enjoying some of the tastes of the season this year by firing up the grill. However, whether due to inattention or inexperience, many of these outdoor cooking plans will quite literally go up in smoke.

Grilling accidents are among the more common causes of household fires that take place each year in the United States. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 8,900 home fires occur annually, stemming from the use of grills, hibachis and barbecues.

These incidents can also lead to serious burns, frequently requiring medical attention. In 2014, as an example, approximately 16,600 people had to be sent to emergency rooms due to injuries involving grills, based on NFPA’s data. ​And while Americans grill year-round, most fires happen between May and August.

With proper preparation and understanding of how to grill safely, however, these accidents can remain isolated incidents. The NFPA and U.S. Fire Administration have tons of tips on the best practices for safe grilling. These four are perhaps the most important of them all.

Open the lid prior to turning on your grill:

If you own a propane grill, open up the grill cover before lighting it. Propane is highly flammable, so when you dial up the nozzle and the lid is closed, it creates a pressurized atmosphere that could result in a fire once the burners are lit. Keeping the lid open allows the gas to safely dissipate. Afterward, it’s safe to close.

Position your grill away from standing structures:

Hibachis, barbecues and grills should always be used in the outdoors, but there’s more to it than that. Ideally, you should position the grill so that it’s at least three feet removed from standing structures, like patios, porches, terraces or the side of your home. This ensures that if a fire does occur, the flames don’t spread. According to the NFPA’s statistics, nearly 30% of all grilling fires happen on porches and/or exterior balconies.

Wait several minutes to relight:

Windy conditions can sometimes cause a grill’s flame to go out. But instead of relighting immediately, give it a good five minutes to ensure that the propane in the air has had enough time to disperse. Hannah Storm, long-time sports anchor for NBC Sports and ESPN, learned the importance of why you should wait the hard way when her grill exploded upon relighting the burners.

Clean your grill after each use:

Regardless of your meat preferences, they all contain oils that collect over time on the grill’s grates. Try to get into the habit of scrubbing the grates down every time you use them. This helps ensure that your food will cook more evenly and it also reduces the chances of grease-related fires. Real Simple Magazine has a checklist you can use for tips on deep cleaning.

Be sure to check out the NFPA’s website for additional tips on grilling safety this summer. Call the Martinson Agency in Chaska, MN with any home insurance related questions that you may have today!

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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