Storm Damage Prevention Tips from Farmers Union Insurance Agency

Protect Yourself Before the Storm Hits: Weather Tips from Your Minnesota Insurance Agent

Here at Farmers Union Insurance Agency, we believe in helping you understand your policy better, so you know what to expect when a storm hits and for what you will be held responsible.  Many homeowners – especially new homeowners – don’t give a lot of thought to their insurance coverage until the wind picks up.  Spend a few minutes reviewing these common causes of damage and how you can help protect your home from Mother Nature’s worst… in Minnesota and across the country.

Wind

Tornadoes are devastating, of course, but gusty days and straight-line winds actually account for more claims than confirmed tornadoes.  Make sure your home is in good repair and your landscaping is kept up to prevent damage.  Remove weak branches before they fall on the house, use bark instead of landscaping rock that can damage windows, and store lawn furniture safely out of the wind when it’s not in use.

Hail

Large or small, hail can leave a mark.  Whether your car is parked outside during a storm or your roof takes a beating, inspect your property after a hail storm.  If you notice dents or cracks, you’ll want to call your Farmers Union Insurance Agent immediately.

Water

It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between water backup and flood damage.  Water backup is when water and other materials come into your home through the sump pump, sewers, drains or related equipment.  Many home insurance policies provide water backup coverage, but will limit how much could be paid.  Higher limits might be available at an increased cost.

Learn more about safeguarding your home from storms here.

The majority of homeowner’s insurance policies do not protect you in case of flood damage.  With flooding, water can enter through windows, doors, and cracks in the foundation.  If you live in a flood zone or have concerns about flooding, as your local Farmers Union Insurance Agent whether you have the proper coverage.

Home Inventory

You can’t control the weather, but you can be prepared when a storm strikes.  One of the best things you can do as a homeowner is to prepare a record of your belongings before a storm hits.  A home inventory is a listing of your belongings that you can reference if you have to make a claim.  You may want to store your inventory online, so you can access it from anywhere, any time.  You can also download an app for that now!

Keep your home inventory updated as you make improvements to your property.  Review it with your Farmers Union Insurance Agent because it can help you identify property that may need additional coverage, such as antiques, specialized equipment, or a new patio or deck.

If you’re worried about the possibility of storm damage, speak with your Farmers Union Insurance Agent, or check out more Prevention Connection topics from our 2017 Premier company partner, SECURA Insurance.

Thanks to SECURA for contributing to the content of this blog.

 

What You Need to Know About Car Rental Insurance from Farmers Union Insurance Agency, St. Paul, MN

Are you looking into car rental for your summer vacation?  Review your Auto insurance coverage before you go.  Don’t wait until you reach the car rental counter, where you might feel pressured to make a quick decision and buy extra coverage.  Do your homework ahead of time and figure out if you need the car rental company’s insurance.

Does My Car Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

Your Auto insurance typically provides the same kind of coverage offered by the car rental company.  Some Auto policies, for example, include liability coverage for rental cars.  If you have physical damage as part of your coverage, that will apply to your rental as well.

If you have collision coverage or comprehensive coverage, you’ve probably covered most of your bases.  But car rental companies have a way of adding extra fees that go beyond traditional coverage.  Before traveling, check your policy and call your local Farmers Union Insurance Agent to make sure you understand what’s covered on your Auto policy and what isn’t.  Find out if your policy:

  1.  Extends to rental cars
  2. Covers car rental company fees, such as administrative fees, towing, and loss of use while the vehicle is being repaired
  3. Covers diminished value claims
  4. Covers the rental car’s full value in case the car is totaled
  5. Includes coverage if the car is being valet parked or in the custody of a valet service

If you have a coverage gap, talk to your Farmers Union Insurance Agent about how you can stay protected on your trip.

Find Out What Your Credit Card Covers

Some credit cards offer car rental insurance when you pay with your credit card.  This coverage is typically “secondary insurance,” which means it only covers what your primary Auto insurance policy doesn’t cover.  Terms vary by issuer, but typically include coverage for physical damage and theft… but not injury, liability, diminished value, or damage to other vehicles.

Coverage only applies if you decline the rental car company’s insurance and may exclude certain vehicles such as large vans, trucks, and expensive cars.  Coverage may also be excluded in some popular tropical destinations, like Jamaica.

Consider the car rental company’s insurance if:

  • You’re traveling outside the U.S.
  • You’re renting an RV, large van, truck, or specialty car
  • Your primary Auto insurance coverage doesn’t include diminished value or other special conditions listed above.

Be aware you may need to show proof of insurance at the car rental counter.  If you don’t have it, the car rental agency may require that you purchase the insurance they offer before renting you the vehicle.  Rules are different when traveling for business or using a business credit card.  Once again, check with your Farmers Union Insurance Agent to better understand your benefits.

Thanks to our company partner, Secura Insurance, for the content of this blog.  See more helpful insurance insights from Secura Insurance’s blog here, and talk to your local Farmers Union Insurance Agent about insurance coverage with Secura Insurance.

Preventing Ticks On Pets


At Farmers Union Insurance Agency, our pets are part of the family!  Here are some tips to help protect your furry family members from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tickborne diseases.  Vaccines are not available for all the tickborne diseases that dogs can get, and they don’t keep the dogs from bringing ticks into your home.  For these reasons, it’s important to use a tick preventative product on your dog.

Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect.  Signs of tickborne disease may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.

To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pets:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
  • If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.
  • Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tickborne diseases in your area.
  • Reduce tick habitat in your yard.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventatives on your pet.

Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals.  Do not apply any insect acaricides or repellents to your cats without first consulting your veterinarian!

Kill Ticks on Dogs

A pesticide product that kills ticks is known as an acaricide.  Acaricides that can be used on dogs include dusts, impregnated collars, sprays, or topical treatments.  Some acaricides kill the tick on contact.  Others may be absorbed into the bloodstream of a dog and kill ticks that attach and feed.

Pros:

  • Helps to reduce the number of ticks in the environment
  • Prevents tickborne disease

Cons:

  • Tick bites can cause a painful wound and may become infected.
  • When bitten, a dog may become infected with a number of diseases.  This depends on the type of tick, which diseases it is carrying (if any), and how quickly a product kills the feeding tick.

Examples of topically applied products (active ingredients):

  • Fipronil
  • Pyrethroids (permethrin, etc.)
  • Amitraz

Repel Ticks on Dogs

A repellant product may prevent the tick from coming into contact with an animal at all or have anti-feeding effects once the tick comes into contact with the chemical, thus preventing a bite.

Pros:

  • Prevents bit wounds and possible resulting infections
  • Prevents tickborne disease

Cons:

  • Will not reduce the number of ticks in the environment (doesn’t kill ticks)

Examples of topically applied products (active ingredients):

  • Pyrethroids (permethrin, etc.)

 


Additional Resources:

  • Further tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for avoiding ticks on humans can be found HERE.
  • Tips for preventing ticks in your yard can be found HERE.
  • Tips for removing a tick can be found HERE.
  • Symptoms of tickborne illness in humans can be found HERE.

Reference to any commercial entity or product or service on this page should not be construed as an endorsement by Farmers Union Insurance Agency, its products, or its services.  Please consult your veterinarian for the best options for you and your pet’s well-being.

tornado safety

Tornado Safety Tips – Brought to You By Your Insurance Agent St. Paul, MN

Now that Spring is here, it is the perfect time to get prepared for the weather systems that can occur in the warmer months. In this blog post, we will explore Tornado safety tips.

Safety Tips Before a Tornado, Department of Homeland Security

  • Create an Emergency Kit:
    • Water -the rule of thumb is one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.
    • Food – must be non-perishable, enough for at least three daystornado safety
    • Battery Powered / Hand Crank Radio
    • First Aid Kit
    • A Flashlight plus extra batteries
    • A Whistle – so you can signal for help
    • Manual Can Opener
    • Wrench or Pliers – in order to turn off the utilities
  • Follow the weather pattern through the television or through a radio
  • Look for danger signs that could include:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
    • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

Safety Tips During a Tornado, Storm Prediction Center

  • In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you. Head protection, such as a helmet, can boost survivability also.
  • In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.
  • In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building — away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
  • In a mobile home: Get out! Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. Go to one of those shelters, or to a nearby permanent structure, using your tornado evacuation plan. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. This mobile-home safety video from the State of Missouri may be useful in developing your plan.
  • At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or windowless room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down andtornado safety protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
  • In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or another cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
  • In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
  • In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.
  • In a church or theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

Safety Tips After a Tornado

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
  • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.tornado safety
  • Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
  • If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, so that rescuers can locate you.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings and homes until local authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
  • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
  • If your home is without power, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.
insurance agent mn

Key Documents to Track and Store Safely – Advice from Your Local Insurance Agent MN

Insurance Agent MN | Insurance Quotes MN | Insurance Agency MN

Are you stuck with trying to keep track of all of your important documents? Now is the time to keep track of where all of your documents are located. Your local insurance agent MN found this great document from LifeHappens.org, you can use as a starting point. Don’t forget to follow through on moving any of these documents or tasks from your “to do” list to your “it’s done” list!

Document Checklist

~Marvin H. Feldman

insurance agent minneapolis mn

Burglar Proofing Your Windows – Tips From Your Local Insurance Agent Minneapolis MN

In 2015, there were 1.6 million burglaries in the United States. Did you know that 30% of burglars enter the home through an open or unlocked window? Your local insurance agent Minneapolis MN has provided you with some suggestions on how to make your windows safer.

  • Window Bars

    • These will make your home extremely burglar-resistant. Most people go for other options since they beinsurance agent minneapolis mnlieve that they make the house feel more like a jail than a home.
    • Where Can I Buy Them?
  • Reinforced Glass

    • Tempered Glass: is more durable than traditional glass, meaning that it is more difficult to break. As far as reinforced glass goes, tempered glass is one of the least expensive options.
    • Laminated Glass: also known as “safety glass”, consists of a layer of vinyl in between two sheets of glass. In order to break this, a burglar would have to strike the same spot multiple times, therefore make a lot of noise.
  • Plexiglas Windows

    • These windows are ten times stronger than traditional glass but are the same thickness. They are on the more expensive side of things, but “they’re 250 times more impact resistant than safety glass and ten times stronger than acrylic windows” (Erin Raub)
  • insurance agent minneapolis mnWindow Alarms

  • Window Locks

    • Deadbolts and Window Guards can be a simple, affordable, yet highly effective way to burglar proof your windows.
    • Popular Window Locks:

For the full article, click HERE.

Safe Winter Driving Brought to You by Your Insurance Agency Minneapolis MN

Winter driving can be dangerous and scary, especially in northern regions that get a lot of snow and ice. Additional preparations can help make a trip safer, or help motorists deal with an emergency. Read on to discover tips from your local insurance agency Minneapolis MN on how to prevent motor vehicle injuries due to winter storms! 

  • If at all possible, avoid driving while you are fatigued, this will reduce driving risks.
  • Check your tires, battery, and windshield wipers on a regular basis throughout the Winter. insurance agency minneapolis mn
  • You should never use cruise control when driving on any slippery surfaces.
  • It’s always a good idea to keep your gas tank at least half-full in case of an emergency situation.
  • If you are ever in a dangerous situation, stay in your car. Put bright markers on antenna or windows and shine dome light, and, if you run your car, clear exhaust pipe and run it just enough to stay warm.
  • In the Winter it is necessary to know that stopping distances are longer if there is ice or water-covered ice.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • Did you know that children 12 and under are always safer in the back seat?
  • You should never but a rear-facing, or any, in front of an air bag.
  • Don’t forget to buckle-up!  

Items to Always Have in Your Car – Suggestions From Your Insurance Agency Minneapolis MN

  • Extra hat, mittens, scarves, boots, etc.
  • Flashlight – plus the extra batteries
  • Something to use for traction – sand, cat litter, or strips of carpet all work well
  • Jumper Cables
  • Shovel and ice scraper
  • Blankets – try to have a couple
  • Food – candy and nuts are good high-calorie, non-perishable food options
  • Water

insurance agency minneapolis mnEven with a flashlight, jumper cables, a shovel, an ice scraper, and all that extra food and water; keep in mind that driving in the Winter is very treacherous. And even if you maintain control of your car, not everyone else will. So don’t ever lose your focus on the road, do everything slowly and gently. Remember, in the snow, the tires are always just barely grabbing the road. Accelerate slowly and gently, turn slowly and gently, and brake slowly and gently. To do this, you have to anticipate turns and stops. That means what? Going slowly and leaving plenty of distance between you and other cars. Rapid movements lead to skids and loss of control.

For more resources on driving safe in the winter, check out the links below!

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/SafeDriving.pdf

http://www.cartalk.com/content/winter-driving-tips-7

http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/Departments/SnowIce/SafeWinterDrivingTips.aspx

Minnesota-Insurance-Business-Home-Auto-Insurance-Safety

Stay Bright When Hanging Holiday Lights

At Farmers Union Insurance Agency, we like to provide tips for safety, and it’s especially important to remember safety during the Holidays.  Here are some tips – and an important story – to keep in mind when you’re hanging your Holiday lights, courtesy of our Company Partner, Secura Insurance.

Stay Bright When Hanging Holiday Lights

Shawn Miller was hanging Christmas lights at his mother’s home, decorating the trees that lined her front yard.  As Shawn tossed lights up into the trees, one of the strings hit an overhead power line, sending voltage down into his body.  Miller lost his left hand and suffered other serious injuries in the accident.

Today, he shares his story and speaks out on behalf of the Energy Education Council, a nonprofit dedicated to electrical safety.  Follow these key safety tips for hanging your holiday lights this season:

  1.  Use only lights that are intended for outdoor use.  And use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) extension cord.  GFCIs cut off power instantly, saving you from shock if an electrical problem occurs.
  2.  Wait for a calm, dry day to hang your lights.  It’s too hazardous to be on a ladder during wind, rain, or snow.
  3.  The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that no more than three strands be hooked together unless the directions indicate otherwise.  Be careful not to overload extension cords and power strips either.
  4.  Be aware of your surroundings and stay clear of overhead power lines.
  5.  Don’t staple through cords.  This can damage the internal insulation and lead to fires.  Use zip ties or specially designed light clips.
  6.  Consider alternatives to hanging holiday lights, such as lawn decor, lights in low-level shrubbery, or color-changing flood lights.
  7.  Holiday lights aren’t designed for year-round exposure.  Bring them indoors when the season is over.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in November and December each year, more than 15,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to holiday decorating.  Stay safe so you can enjoy all that the holidays have to offer.

For more helpful tips like these, check out Secura’s Blog.

Happy Holidays from Farmers Union Insurance Agency!

How to Choose the Right Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota Insurance Agent

When purchasing Home, Auto, Business, Life, Farmer & Health Insurance –  finding a good agent or broker to advise you and help you find the right coverage is crucial.

There are different kinds of agents. Some are “captive” which means they can only offer you one insurance company’s products. State Farm, Allstate and other companies use captive agents. Other companies use “independent” agents and brokers to sell their products. Independent agents, like ourselves and brokers can offer you a wider range of options. Insurance is a product where quality matters but it’s very hard to shop and compare insurance policies on your own, it’s often worth having an experienced professional to help you find the right policy and company to suit your specific or specialized needs.

Tips on picking a good insurance agency: 

Get Referrals: Ask friends, co-workers or ask for referrals on social media. Asking for recommendations is better than relying on an ad in the local newspaper. People love to refer people with whom they have had a positive experience. Ask what their experience was in dealing with the agent or broker. Were they responsive; able to answer questions clearly; friendly; knowledgeable? If the person had to file a claim, was the agent or broker helpful?

Ratings: Google, Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media tools can help you gauge good service and quality businesses. These sites can be helpful, but a face-to-face with an agent or broker is one of the best ways of figuring out if they will take good care of you.

Personalized advice:  A good agent or broker will be familiar with the products they’re selling and explain ways you can tailor your coverage to your specific needs, maximize protection and minimize cost. For example, a good agent will suggest ways you can adjust your coverage to take advantage of discounts (or credits) that insurers give for packaged policies.

Instinct and caution:  Consumers occasionally get scammed by people posing as agents who advertise, offer a policy and collect a premium but don’t actually procure a valid insurance policy. Asking good questions, following your instincts and checking license status will help you avoid being scammed.

Questions to ask:

1) How long has your agency been in business?

2) Are you a “captive” or “independent” agent? If independent, how many companies do you represent?

3) If I need to file a claim, what is the process?

 

Minnesota-Insurance-Business-Home-Auto-Insurance-Safety

Guidelines for Keeping Your Home Safe from Burglars

At Farmers Union Insurance Agency, we want to help you manage risk to your Home and Property.  So here are some great guidelines from our Company Partner, Secura Insurance, on how you can keep your home safe from burglars, especially when you’re away for the holidays.

Guidelines for Keeping Your Home Safe from Burglars

You can discourage burglars from targeting your home if you implement security measures based on three things burglars don’t want.

  1.  They don’t want to be seen.
  2.  They don’t want to be heard.
  3.  They don’t want to be slowed down.

While no amount of prevention will discourage determined burglars, you can put roadblocks in their way that may make them decide to skip your home and look for a more attractive opportunity.  Here are a few guidelines:

  • Install exterior lighting around doors and garages; motion detection floods are ideal.
  • Remove or trim shrubs close to your home that could make great hiding places for burglars.
  • Leave lights or a radio on when you leave home.  If you go on a vacation, put them on timers.
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor pick up any mail, newspapers, or sales flyers when you are out of town.  During the winter, hire someone to plow your drive and walkways.
  • Use video surveillance; many systems are inexpensive and are do-it-yourself.
  • Connect to a central station alarm service if your budget will allow.
  • Use deadbolts on your doors – these take longer to defeat.
  • Make sure pins in windows are inserted to prevent prying open if your windows don’t have high quality locking devices.  If your windows are open, keep the opening small to avoid entry.
  • Establish family procedures for locking doors and windows.  Keep your door locked at all times if possible, even when you’re home.
  • Don’t store ladders outdoors where they can be used for entry to upper levels of your home.
  • Don’t leave your vehicle keys in a visible area.
  • Don’t leave purses, wallets, cash, and high-valued items in direct view of your windows or in plain sight.
  • Make sure personal computers and laptops have difficult passwords.  Alpha numeric combinations are the hardest to figure out.  Don’t use your name or address as passwords.
  • Evaluate what you need for fencing around your home.  Stockade closed picket style fencing is usually not good because it closes the view of your property to neighbors.  Some types of fencing can provide a degree of security because of the time it takes for a burglar to deal with it.  Keep in mind, it is one of the easiest security measures to defeat.  Resources might be better spent elsewhere before you consider this option.
  • Get to know your neighbors.  One of your greatest sources of protection is people in your neighborhood who care.

For more helpful tips like these, check out Secura’s Blog at findyouradvantage.net.