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

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 Typical College Student’s Insurance Needs

The Typical College Student’s Insurance Needs

June 30th, 2017 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

It’s an exciting and emotional time when a child – err, young adult – heads off to college. And, for many parents, a confusing time in regards to car insurance and personal property coverage. Should college students remain on the family’s auto policy? Do they have coverage for their belongings in the dorms? Let’s take a look at these and other issues to help clear up some of the confusion.

Wheels or No Wheels?

If you’re supporting your college student financially, you can still consider him or her a household member for insurance purposes. Yes, even if your child doesn’t live at home or moves out of state. This means that:

  • If your child takes a car to school, he or she can stay on your auto insurance policy. Be sure to make it known that lending the car to friends is out of the question!
  • If your child leaves the car at home, there’s likely no need for him or her to be listed as a daily driver on your policy. This could reduce your car insurance rates, especially if the school is more than 100 miles away from home.
  • If your child returns home for a weekend or holiday, he or she can still drive under your coverage. However, if your child will be using the car for an extended period, such as during summer break, you should let your independent agent know.

Oftentimes a carrier will offer Good Student Discounts for students who maintain a high GPA, such as 3.0 or above. If you college student is remaining on your auto policy, be sure to talk with your agent about whether this is an option for you. Also be aware that if your student owns a vehicle or you transfer ownership of a vehicle into your student’s name, that vehicle will need to registered and insured in his or her own name. This is a great way to start building your child’s insurance history!

What’s It All Worth?

Car or no car, your student is no doubt taking several thousand dollars’ worth of personal belongings with him or her to college: laptop, tablet, TV, smartphone, gaming equipment, books, wardrobe, luggage, etc. Some lines of study may even require costly gear, such as musical instruments or cameras. Your existing homeowner’s policy should extend some personal property coverage to your student. For example, 10 or 20 percent of your personal property coverage may extend to your student’s dorm stay. So, if you have $100,000 of personal property coverage on your policy, your student has $10,000 or $20,000 worth of coverage. This may even follow your student to a foreign country if he or she is studying abroad for a semester or longer, but be sure to check with your local independent agent. To make it easy to take advantage of this coverage in the event of a covered incident, be sure to:

  • Create an inventory of what your student is taking before he or she heads off to college and what it’s all worth. Include receipts, photos, serial numbers, and as much other information about the items as you can.
  • Itemize any items worth more than $1,000 since, in most cases, there is a cap on how much coverage particular items or types of items receive under your policy. Itemizing the valuables offers broader coverage and also broadens the coverage territory to anywhere in the world.

For students renting a house or apartment off-campus, or even a dorm on-campus, a renter’s insurance policy in their own name is another option. Renter’s policies are oftentimes highly affordable ($10 to $20 a month in some cases) and provide liability and medical payment coverages in addition to personal property.

What About Umbrella Insurance?

An umbrella policy covers all household members. If you have one, it gives your student even more liability protection in auto accidents and other mishaps, according to your policy. It’s normal to be nervous when your kids head off to college. But, there’s no reason to be nervous about whether you’ve handled their insurance needs properly.

Use this primer as a guide but remember that your own insurance coverage may differ depending on your policy, your carrier, and your state. To further put your mind at ease, check in with your local independent agent for regular guidance. Trust me, there is no such thing as too many questions when it comes to keeping your young adult safely insured!

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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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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Taking Inventory of Your Possessions

Taking Inventory of Your Possessions

September 22nd, 2016 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

Individuals who have an accurate and available record of all personal assets will often be able to help mitigate the disruption and stress associated with a loss. While you could certainly do little more than write all of your items down on a piece of paper, you might want to go a bit further than that to have a more useful point of reference for your possessions and to help protect you in the event of a loss.

Notably, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a group devoted to insurance research and information dissemination, points out only about 40 percent of consumers actually keep a proper inventory of their assets.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Before taking inventory, you will need to have the right information about your assets. Consider holding on to receipts, especially for more expensive, prized and longer-lasting items like your furniture, antiques, artwork, jewelry and electronics. Also, try to keep your accounting for new possessions categorized. For example, if you have a computer that you use for work and a television for entertainment, keep those items separate.

Property Management Insider, a publication that focuses on asset management, suggests also keeping track of makes and models from manufacturers, and also label the inventory record for where the item resides at any given moment. More obviously, the news source recommends immediately crossing items off of the list when you sell, dispose of or otherwise eradicate assets.

You can then check your inventory once a month or whenever you add or remove an item to ensure it is timely and accurate on a rolling basis.

Easing The Task

You do not necessarily need to find a big ledger and keep all of your inventory on paper. In fact, this will not be the safest, nor most efficient, way to keep up. It’s a better idea to keep inventory information safe outside of your premises, particularly in digital form. Consider one of these apps for personal property inventory management:

“Sortly”: An organization app specifically built for inventory, and several notable publications such as Forbes and Fast Company praise it.

“Know Your Stuff”: The Know Your Stuff app was made by the Insurance Information Institute. It was created as a free app, which offers a range of special capabilities that improve the visibility of your possessions.

As always, part of maintaining protection for your inventory of assets is the right insurance coverage. For more information on the options that are available to you contact your independent agent 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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