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

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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

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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

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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!

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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?

 

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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.

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What Type of Insurance Should I Have for My Small Business?

As a small business owner, there are plenty of things to think about; one of them being insurance. A question that many business owners ask themselves is “what type of insurance should I have for my (small) business?”. The answer to that is a bit complex, but we found an easy-to-read article from “Forbes” that lists and explains some of the different types of insurance it might be wise to have including;

  1. General Liability Insurance

    • is a policy in which the business receives both defense and damages if you, your employees, or the products/services caused (or allegedly caused) Bodily Injury or Property Damage to a third-party. Even if you are a home-based business, you need liability insurance.
  2. Property Insurance

    • is a great idea if you own your building or if the business has personal property, which could include; office equipment, computers, inventory or tools. They need to be protected in the case of  a fire, vandalism, theft, smoke damage etc.
  3. Business Owner’s Policy (BOP)

    • would include all required coverage a business owner would need. More times than none a BOP will include business interruption insurance, property insurance, vehicle coverage, liability insurance, and crime insurance.
  4. Commercial Auto Insurance

    • is only needed if you have a company vehicle. This insurance will protect vehicles that carry employees, products, or equipment. The vehicles themselves will be insured from damage and collisions. If the company doesn’t have vehicles, but the employees drive their own cars (for company business), then you should have Non-Owned Auto Liability.
  5. Worker’s Compensation

    • provides insurance to employees that are injured on the job. It provides wage replacement and benefits (medical) to those injured while working. This also provides protection to the employer because the employee then gives up his right to sue.
  6. Professional Liability Insurance

    • is also known as “Errors and Omissions Insurance”. It provides defense and damages for failure to or improperly rendering professional services.
  7. Directors and Officers Insurance

    • will protect the directors and officers of a company if they ever find themselves in a legal situation (if the action was a direct result of their actions on the job). The insurance can cover the costs or damages lost as a result of a lawsuit.
  8. Data Breach

    • is a great type of insurance for companies if they store non-public information about their employees or their clients. It will protect you against loss.
  9. Homeowner’s Insurance

    • can protect against damages to the home and items inside the home. It can also protect against accidents that happen at your home.
  10. Renter’s Insurance

    • is coverage that protects against damage to the physical property, contents of the property, and personal injury within the property.
  11. Life Insurance

    • will ensure that the insurer pays a certain amount of money to your beneficiary upon your death. Many say that it provides them with peace of mind. It allows you to know that your loved ones will not be burdened with financial problems at the time of your death.
  12. Personal Automobile Insurance

    • can provide you with dual function. It can protect your vehicle against physical damage resulting from a crash and it can protect you against bodily injury that also resulted from a crash.
  13. Personal Umbrella Insurance

    • can provide additional coverage on top of all the coverage you already have. It is generally used only when liabiltiy on other policies has been exhausted.

To read the full article titled “13 Types of Insurance a Small Business Owner Should Have”, CLICK HERE.

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St. Paul, MN Insurance Tips for the Winter

As much as we hate to admit it, Winter will be here before we know it. Today was a good reminder on how quickly the weather changes in Minnesota. Have questions about some of your vehicles’ insurance for the Winter? Check out the tips below for help!

Boat Insurance

Is it really necessary to have insurance on your boat when it’s in the garage for the Winter months? Most insurance agencies suggest that if you are worried or concerned about fire or theft; then it is probably a good idea to keep your boat policy the same.

RV Insurance

RVs are much like boats as far as insurance goes in the Winter. Although it is rare for someone to use their RV in the Winter, many insurance agents agree that it is important to keep your RV insurance policy the same; especially if you are concerned about fire or theft.

Car Insurance

There are few things you should think about for your car insurance in the Winter months.

  1. Do you own a vehicle that you don’t drive in the winter; such as a classic car?
    • You can save hundreds if you reduce the coverage of the car (or cars) that are parked for the Winter.
    • For example, if you lower your coverage to something like “Comprehensive”, then your vehicle will still be covered for storm damage, fire, theft, and vandalism.
  2. Getting roadside assistance might be a good idea.
    • It is a common occurrence to see a car in a ditch, especially with the Winters we have in Minnesota. Avoid the expensive towing bills by purchasing an inexpensive roadside coverage plan for your auto policy.
  3. Increase your coverage.
    • Add comprehensive and/or collision coverage.
    • Since risk levels often increase in the Winter months, it may be a good idea to increase your coverage.

Motorcycle Insurance

  1. Increase your motorcycle deductibles in the Winter Months, it will save you money. Considering your motorcycle isn’t being driven in the Winter, the risk for damage is almost non-existent.
  2. For the Winter months, remove the medical coverage you have on your motorcycle.

These ideas may not be for everybody, but we think for the average Minnesotan these St. Paul, MN insurance tips for the Winter are good ideas to keep in mind.

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Don’t Let Your Halloween Party Become a Real Haunted House

At Farmers Union Insurance Agency, we want to help you stay safe preparing for and during the Halloween season.  Thanks to our company partner, Secura Insurance, for these helpful tips.

Don’t Let Your Halloween Party Become a Real Haunted House

The most frightening part of Halloween might be the dangerous situations that can occur in preparation for the holiday.  Whether it’s when carving jack-o’-lanterns, creating costumes, or having beverages, Halloween risks are all around.  Here are some tips to stay safe:

Carve the Pumpkin, Not Your Hand

“Each Halloween, hand surgeons treat patients with cuts, or more severe injuries of the tendons, arteries, or nerves because of carving mishaps,” says the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

Today, jack-o’-lantern kits are available in place of using a kitchen knife to slice your pumpkin.  Injuries still are possible with any tool, so make sure you’re working in a clear, well-lit area and watching where you put your hands.  Also, try using battery-operated candles to illuminate your pumpkin instead of open flames to avoid fire risk.

Dress Up As a Doctor, Don’t Visit One

Though you may win first place in the costume contest with an elaborate setup, make sure you’re not putting yourself in harm’s way.  Loose and baggy material makes it easier to trip or get caught on objects, creating a falling hazard.  Think about fire-retardant outfits and non-toxic makeup for your own safety.

Arrrr You Sure You Need More Rum?

Halloween events typically draw large crowds and may welcome irresponsible adults.  There’s no need to become Captain Morgan just because you’re in a pirate costume – if you’re consuming alcohol, be sure to drink in moderation and be smart.  If you’re hosting the party, make sure your guests have a sober ride home.  Halloween drunk driving statistics are scary:

  • In 2010, 41% of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night involved a driver or a motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher.
  • An estimated 41 million children will be out trick-or-treating this year, and they’re not always visible while crossing streets or walking along roads.
  • Most people know their state’s blood-alcohol driving limit.  But do you know how many drinks it takes for you to get there? Refer to a BAC calculator like this one: http://dui.drivinglaws.org/calc.php

Farmers Union Insurance Agency urges you to remember to consider these basic precautions and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.  For more safety tips for you and your family, visit Secura’s Blog.

 

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10 Things You Should Never Do While Driving

10 Things You Should Never Do While Driving

From Drive-Safely.net.

Farmers Union Insurance Agency is all about preventing accidents and reducing risk to you, your property, and your loved ones when you are driving.  Be sure to share this with your loved ones, especially young people in your house who just started driving, and get into good driving habits.

 

10 Things You Should Never Do While Driving

Driving can be dangerous business.  Every year, a shocking number of people lost their life or are severely injured while traveling in vehicles.  Unfortunately, most people think of driving as a boring yet necessary task.  Instead of paying attention to what they’re doing behind the wheel and what is going on around them, these drivers engage in a number of dangerous activities.  How many of the following ten dangerous things you should never do while driving do you do?

 

  1.  Text/Surf the Web.  Unless you have reflexes that rival that of a jet fighter pilot, you cannot text or surf the web safely  while driving (Farmers Union Insurance Agency reminds you it is also ILLEGAL to do so in Minnesota).  Typing on a little phone or looking at your friend’s latest Facebook status update on the screen means you won’t see the car that just slammed on the brakes in front of you, or the little kid crossing the street.  Leave your phone in your pocket or purse and take it out only once the car is stopped.
  2. Discipline Your Children.  Any parent knows that children become unruly from time to time in the car.  Perhaps it’s because they know their parents are busy and cannot discipline them as easily, but it creates an incredibly dangerous scenario.  If you are disciplining your children while you are supposed to be driving, at least the majority if not all of your attention will be on what’s going on inside the vehicle and not on what’s going on outside.  The better way to handle the situation is to pull over, take care of the behavioral issues, and then continue on your way.
  3. Get Dressed.  Does anyone seriously not get this?  Apparently there are some individuals who are so incredibly busy they cannot possible get dressed before leaving their home and getting into their car.  It’s almost impossible to steer a vehicle and keep your eyes on what’s going on ahead while pulling on a shirt, and you simply cannot keep even one hand on the steering wheel while tying knots or performing other tasks related to dressing.
  4. Apply Makeup/Shave.  Again, doing either of these activities takes your attention from the road, where it should always be while you’re driving.  Putting on eyeliner requires you to literally look up, while shaving requires you to move your head around.  Both activities should be done either before you leave your house or after you get where you’re headed.
  5. Eat a Taco, Ice Cream Cone, or Other Certain Foods.  Some people can manage to eat something simple like a burger while driving.  Tacos are notorious because they’re messy and fall apart when you bite into them, which is too much of a distraction.  Stay away from overly greasy foods as well since the grease can make it difficult to really grip the steering wheel.  Remember that if you do decide to eat behind the wheel, in an emergency situation you must be prepared to throw your food to your front passenger and take the wheel with both hands immediately.
  6. Lean Over to Reach Something. Too often people drop a CD onto the floorboards, need a piece of gum out of their purse that’s sitting in the backseat, or feel the need to go through the glovebox while driving.  Reaching so far to grab something that you lost sight of the vehicle’s surroundings is as bad as placing your hand over your eyes while driving down the road.
  7. Fall Asleep.  Driving while drowsy is incredibly dangerous.  You might think that drinking coffee or an energy drink, rolling down the windows, chewing gum or even blasting loud music will keep you from dozing off, but the sad truth is many people fall asleep at the wheel even while trying these tricks.  If you do feel tired, find somewhere safe to park and get some sleep before continuing on.
  8. Drink Alcohol.  Sadly, some people still don’t get this one.  Alcohol has an effect on your motor skills and judgment, meaning you just plain don’t drive well when buzzed.  If you plan on driving, simply avoid drinking.  If you do drink, have someone drive you home or call a cab.
  9. Steer with Your Knees.  Sometimes you need two hands to do some things, such as driving.  Unfortunately, certain individuals feel the need to perform two-handed tasks while driving, which is why they use their knees to steer.  The only problem is your knees don’t grip the steering wheel and cannot control the car nearly as well.  All it would take is one big pothole to make the car careen out of control.
  10. Have an Emotional Phone Conversation.  In some areas, talking on the phone while driving is illegal.  If you live in an area where it’s not, you should most definitely avoid having an emotionally-charged conversation while driving.  Studies have show that people who are having an in-depth, emotional talk on the phone while behind the wheel actually drive as poorly as people who are legally drunk.

To see the original article, and for more valuable driving tips, see the Drive-Safely.net homepage HERE.

So there you have it.  Seems pretty simple, right?  Common sense might not be as common as you think.  For a complete list of driving rules and regulations in the State of Minnesota, see the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Driver and Vehicle Services MN Driver’s Manual HERE.

And remember, Farmers Union Insurance Agency is your one-stop shop for Auto Insurance, in addition to your Home, Health, Farm, Business, and Life Insurance needs.  Connect with your local Agent HERE.  We look forward to meeting with you!