Your Yearly Insurance Checklist

Content provided by SECURA Insurance

As we slowly approach the end of the year, it’s important to consider next year’s expenses and insurance needs. With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s recommended to take some time to consider an insurance review. It’s a quick and important investment in your financial security.

Homeowners

Ideally, you’ve kept your insurance agent up-to-date on any significant home improvements you’ve made in the last year, but take a moment to review anything you might have forgotten. Consider whether any life changes or home business practices could impact your insurance, too. 

  • Significant home improvements, such as a kitchen remodel, bathroom, or addition that could impact your home value
  • The entire roof of your home was replaced
  • New safety features such as a sprinkler or alarm system
  • New swimming pool, wood-burning unit, or a dog
  • A new boat, camper, snowmobile, ATV, or other recreational vehicles
  • New jewelry that was acquired which may need to be scheduled on the policy
  • Any business conducted from your residence
  • Any tenants or short-term rental practices

Now is also a good time to update your home inventory with any notable purchase (jewelry, furniture, antiques, art, electronics, etc.) you made in the last year. If your household inventory has significantly increased in value, you may want to adjust the limits on your policy.

Drivers and Families

Changes in your personal life or family structure can impact your home and car insurance needs. Review the following list and identify any changes that occurred in the past year:

  • New driver in the house
  • Child left the house/went to college
  • New car
  • New job that changes your regular driving habits

Ask your insurer if any cost savings are available if you sign up for auto-pay or pay in biannual instead of monthly installments. Review your deductible too. If you have a good emergency fund, you may feel comfortable increasing your deductible in exchange for lower rates on your insurance premiums.

Careful Cooking – Inside and Out

For many people, more time at home means more time at the stove or grill. While cooking can bring plenty of pleasure, it can also increase the risk of fire. Indeed, cooking is the number one cause of home fires [1].

Whether you find yourself at the stove or grill, there are important precautions you should take to help keep yourself, your family and your property safe.

Indoors
Sparkle and shine. Keeping your kitchen clean is an important first step. Build up of crumbs and grease can fuel a fire. Clean appliances regularly, as well as the exhaust hood and duct over the stove, and wipe up spills as soon as they happen.
Appliance check. Take a close look at your toaster, coffee maker and electric skillet for signs of wear and overheating, such as melting, cracks or discoloration of cords or plastic surfaces.
On overload. Don’t overload electrical outlets with countertop appliances, which can cause overheating.
Three-feet rule. A good rule of thumb is to keep anything flammable three feet from the heat; that includes oven mitts, dishtowels and decorative items.
Close encounters. Always keep an eye on what’s cooking and never leave the room while something’s simmering, sautéing, steaming, baking or broiling.
Smother it. If what you’re cooking on the stove catches fire, if it’s safe to do so, slide a lid over the pan from the side and turn off the stove. If it happens in the oven, turn off the heat. If there’s a fire in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug or turn off the unit.

Outdoors
On the level. It’s important that the grill is stable, so keep it on a level surface. Only grill outdoors, and far away from your house. Charcoal grills emit carbon monoxide fumes, which can be deadly. Additionally, never move the grill when it’s hot or walk away from cooking food.
Light right. If you’re using a charcoal grill, only use lighter fluid designed for charcoal. And don’t add lighter fluid once the fire has started.
Stop and go. For a gas grill, if it doesn’t ignite, turn off the gas. Keep the grill open for five minutes before trying to light it again. If the burners go out while you’re cooking, turn the gas valves off and wait five minutes before relighting.
At arm’s length. Protect yourself when you’re cooking by using long, flame retardant mitts that reach far up your arm and utensils with long handles that are designed for grilling. Consider also wearing a heavy apron.
Splatter matter. Putting a heat-resistant grill pad or splatter mat underneath the grill can protect your deck floor from grease that may escape the grill.
Cool, then cover. The grill should be completely cool before you cover it for storing. Note that it can remain hot up to an hour after use.

You might also consider installing a central station reporting fire alarm; this important system will detect a fire and contact firefighting authorities. Not only is this superior protection for your home and family, but it will bring you savings on your Kemper homeowners insurance too. Ask your agent about it.

1U.S. Fire Administration
Sources: U.S. Fire Administration; City of Olean, NY; Insurance Information Institute; Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association
This material is for general informational purposes only. All statements are subject to the terms, exclusions and conditions of the applicable policy. In all instances,
current policy contract language prevails. Products, services and discounts referenced herein are not available in all states or in all underwriting companies.
Coverage is subject to individual policyholders meeting our underwriting qualifications and state availability.

Insurance Commissioner Shares Tips to Help Wisconsinites Protect Against and Deal with Extreme Winter Weather

January 17, 2020 by the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance

Madison, Wis. — Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable is urging Wisconsinites to take proactive steps to protect themselves and their property from damage as more extreme winter weather hits the state this weekend.

“A few simple steps before you go to bed at night can protect your home, your family, and your bank account,” said Insurance Commissioner Afable. “We’re so accustomed to cold temperatures and snowfall in Wisconsin that it can be easy to forget that severe weather can real havoc on our homes and communities. Driving a little more cautiously during icy conditions or opening you cupboards to protect the pipes in your home can make a big difference in protecting you and your family.”

OCI is sharing the following tips with Wisconsin residents ahead of the more freezing temperatures and icy conditions:

Home and Office Tips

Ice dams can form when melting snow runs down the slope of the roof and refreezes near the edge. Over time, water accumulates behind the ice dam and may seep into a home or business causing damage. In frigid temperatures, ice can form inside pipes causing water pipes to burst.

Protect yourself and your property:

·         Set your furnace to a sufficient heat level to keep pipes warm.

·         Open cupboard doors so heat can reach pipes. 

·         If your pipes burst, turn off the main water shut-off or the valve to the frozen pipe.

·         Dry the area to prevent potential mold problems.

·         Remove snow from the bottom portion of your roof using a “roof rake” or push broom. (Do not climb on the roof or chip ice away, which may cause damage to shingles and pose the risk of a fall.)

·         Keep the attic well ventilated and insulated from the rest of the house to minimize the amount of heat rising to the roof.

·         In general, water coming from the top down— such as ice dam seepage behind drywall— is covered by a standard homeowner’s policy. Water coming from the bottom up— such as an overflowing river or ground water seepage— requires a separate flood insurance policy. Your homeowner’s insurance may provide coverage for ice damage, but a roof already in poor condition may affect that coverage. Check your homeowner’s policy or talk to your agent to be sure you have adequate coverage and for information regarding any specific endorsements or riders.

Automobile Tips

When roads are covered with ice, snow, or slush even the most seasoned Wisconsin driver can find themselves slipping and sliding.  Winter hazards also include limited visibility during snowstorms, deer running into the road, and black ice. 

Protect yourself and your automobile:

·         Maintain a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you. Use care and drive slowly – if conditions are dangerous, consider waiting before getting on the road.

·         Never drink and drive.

·         Keep an emergency road kit, warm clothes, blankets, and a fully charged cellphone in your vehicle.

·         Find out the latest road conditions by going to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website at www.511wi.gov, by calling 511, or by checking the 511 smartphone app.

·         Review your auto insurance policy for any limitations in coverage. For example, consumers who carry collision insurance without comprehensive coverage are not covered in the event of damage to vehicles as a result of hail, wind, or flooding. Additionally, make sure your coverage is adequate for your needs.

If you are in an automobile accident, remember the following tips:

·         Call the police.

·         Obtain information such as the names, addresses, telephone numbers, insurance information, and license numbers of all persons involved in the accident, as well as contact information for all witnesses.

·         Record the time, date, location, road conditions, make and year of the vehicles involved, insurance information, apparent damage and injuries and your version of what happened.

·         Call your insurance agent. Make sure to have your policy number and other relevant information on hand. Also be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company and ask your agent what documents, forms, and data you’ll need to file a claim.

·         Take notes each time you talk to your insurance company, agent, lawyers, police, or anyone else involved in the situation. Write down dates, times, names and what you talked about, as well as any decisions or promises made.

·         Save any receipts and bills, including those from a car rental or hotel room if the accident happens outside of your town.

Consumers with an insurance question or complaint can call 1-800-236-8517 or visit https://ociaccess.oci.wi.gov/complaints/public/ to file a complaint online.