Category Archives: Uncategorized

When Water Goes Where It Shouldn’t

Even a small leak can become a major problem.  The below tips should help uncover some potential water problems down the road and help keep your property dry.

Check appliance hoses.  Replace rubber hoses with steel-braided hoses. This is a low cost fix that can save thousands in water damage.

Broken tiles in the shower can allow water to leak into the walls or on the floor. Replace cracked tiles and re-grout/re-caulk when needed.

Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when you are home.  If a leak occurs, you can turn the appliance off right away.

When on vacation, turn off the main water supply to your house.

Keep storm drains near your house clear of leaves.

Install a gutter guard.  This can prevent a drain clog and helps water to be carried away from the house.

These are just a few tips to help water stay where it should be!

Boat Winterization

Tucking your boat in for the winter?

 For boat enthusiasts everywhere, the end of boating season can be disappointing because on-the-water adventures are ending and the task of winterization is beginning.

Taking the time to protect your watercraft through the winter requires an investment of time, labor, and money. While winterization is an absolute imperative that can help prevent damage, think of the process not as a chore, but a chance to dream about next spring when you’ll be ready to go boating on Little Muskego, Pewaukee Lake, etc.

To help you get started, we at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee have compiled two essential steps to follow.

1. Find the best storage place indoors or outdoors

  • If possible, find a place to have your boat spend the winter out of water and well out of the way of inclement weather.
  • If you are storing your boat outdoors, check on the level of security. For example: Is it a locked facility? Are there cameras?

2. Be thorough in winterizing or find a pro

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, the steps to winterizing your boat can be easily found via many online resources. Your boat’s owner’s manual also could be a great help, as most will include detailed winterization instructions.

Regardless where you get the details, you will ensure a better start next boating season if you follow a comprehensive checklist to get your boat ready for winter.

If you’re opting out of the do-it-yourself category and instead trusting the pros, you’ll want to find a shop that specializes in winterization. Get an appointment well in advance of the assault of inclement weather. To find the best option, consider getting a reference from a fellow boating enthusiast.

However you choose to prepare your prized watercraft for the frigid days of winter, we at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee hope you enjoy the cooler season as you await the return of spring!

Heading to Sturgis?

Motorcycle trips

Whether you’re taking your Harley and heading across country, or just hitting the Wisconsin back roads, we want you to be safe this summer. Here are a few top tips:

No one’s too old to wear a helmet

The bottom line, a motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is 40% more likely to sustain a fatal head injury in a crash than a rider with a helmet.* Wear other protective gear as well: heavy leather or synthetic gloves, long pants and jacket, and over-the-ankle leather boots.

In a crash, the SUV wins

When cars and motorcycles collide, it’s usually because the driver of the car failed to see the cyclist. With more SUVs on the road, it’s even more critical to take extra steps to become more visible. Use your headlamps—both night and day—and wear yellow, red, or orange jackets to make yourself easy to see. Make a point of positioning yourself in your lane for visibility.

New Gear? Update your policy

Some companies (Safeco for instance) offer special coverage for custom parts and equipment—but you have to make sure each piece of equipment is listed on your policy and/or that you have receipts. Any time you buy new leathers or customize your bike, call the Insurance Center of Milwaukee at 414-744-6614 or email info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com before you head out on the highway.

Shovel Snow Safely

Shovel snow safely this winter

Winter is here, and with it comes many traditions and activities: Holiday celebrations with loved ones in Bay View Milwaukee, skiing at the local ski hill, fireplace-lit living rooms, homemade batches of soup… …and shoveling snow.

If you live somewhere in Wisconsin when snow storms hit and your driveway/sidewalks are covered with the cold white stuff, you might want to just stay inside. But if your work and personal commitments make that impossible, you’ll need to dig out the snow shovel to make sure it’s handy before the snow flies!

For many people across Wisconsin, snow shoveling will be both a reality and a necessity this winter. At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we want to ensure your efforts will get you on your way while also keeping you safe, so here are some snow-shoveling tips offered by the Boston Herald:
• Warm-up! Never jump right into an activity. Start by cleaning off your car.
• Place your hands a good distance apart on the shovel – it helps with leverage.
• Never bend at your waist.
• Push the snow when you can.
• Scoop smaller loads of snow.
• Use your legs, core and arms to help scoop and throw snow.
• Always step in the direction you throw snow to avoid excessive twisting on your lower back.

If snow shoveling is on your winter task list, we at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee wish you both a clear sidewalk and a healthy body.

Winter Storms

Winter Storms Ahead: Are You Ready?

We admit it. As insurance professionals, our picture of winter isn’t always cozy. Winter storms mean traffic jams, hillsides turning to sheets of ice, and cars sliding around like hockey pucks. Cold temperatures can cause pipes to burst, ice damming on your roof, and other damage. Heating your home with fireplaces and space heaters can increase the risk of fire.

A picture-perfect winter requires a few precautions

Here are a few tips to help reduce weather-related hassles this winter.

Winter-proof your car with good snow tires, new wiper blades, antifreeze, and emergency road supplies.

Keep your attic cool to help prevent ice dams. Insulate the attic floor and make sure it is well-ventilated.

Do not overload circuits with holiday decorations or space heaters.

When winter storms hit, be smart

If you do not have to drive, stay put. If you must drive, make sure you’ve winterized your car and have a full tank of gas.

When the air is cold, keep bath and kitchen cabinet doors open so warm air can circulate around pipes under sinks. If pipes do freeze, let them thaw normally—they’ll be less likely to burst.

And if the power is out, make sure you avoid leaving candles or fireplaces burning unattended. If you use a portable generator, follow the instructions and do not use it indoors.

Know what your insurance covers

We want to help you rest easy.  You will be more relaxed when you know you have prepared your property to lessen the chance of winter storm damage. Check your insurance policy to see what is covered and to confirm the deductible you have chosen.

If you have any questions about your coverage, call us at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee and we will help you review your options.

Boating Season

Periodically, our agency gets calls from clients after a fun weekend on the water takes a turn for the worse. Often, these accidents could have been prevented with just a few simple precautions. Here are a few tips we like – courtesy of our partners at Safeco.

Life Preservers Aren’t Just for Kids. It’s not enough to just have life jackets on board — wear them! In an accident, people rarely have time to reach for a life jacket. This rule applies to children AND adults – more people in their 30s die in boating accidents than any other age group. Today, you can even get vests for your water-loving dog!

Watch the Back of the Boat. Carbon monoxide kills in minutes. So tell your passengers where your exhaust pipes are located and turn off your engine when people are in the water, and don’t let passengers “ski” or “teak-surf” by holding on to the back of the boat. Carbon monoxide detectors are standard on most new boats; older boats have devices available typically for less than $100.

Alcohol and Boating Don’t Mix. More than 50 percent of drowning’s result from boating incidents involving alcohol. You don’t drink and drive, so don’t drink and boat.

Boats Need TLC Too. When you’re out on the water, make sure your gas tanks are vented and bilges are free of vapors, oil, waste and grease. Carry a charged fire extinguisher. Have your boat’s operating systems checked yearly by a certified marine technician. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons also offer free vessel safety checks.

Experience Counts! The U.S. Coast Guard says that operator errors account for 70 percent of all boating accidents. Make sure anyone who drives your boat is properly trained. You can also earn boat insurance discounts from Safeco and other insurers if you complete a safety course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.

Sites for Information:

Coast Guard: www.uscgboating.org    Coast Guard Auxiliary: nws.cgaux.org/

Safeco tips: www.safeco.com/insurance-101/consumer-tips/your-boat

Call the Insurance Center of Milwaukee at 414-744-6614 or e-mail info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com for more info on boat policies.

Preparing for Winter Weather

Fall is quickly slipping away, but there’s still time to get ready for winter weather. Extreme cold is always a possibility here in the Milwaukee area, so we at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee have compiled some tips to help you stay safe and limit damage.

Preparing your home

  • Perform basic winter maintenance — insulate your attic, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and insulate water pipes that run along outer walls. When temperatures drop, keep the cabinets under sinks open to allow warmer air in.
  • If you use a fireplace or wood stove, have the chimney or flue inspected each year. Make sure your house has working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and test them monthly.
  • Check your emergency supplies and ensure that you have adequate food and water, along with a battery-powered radio, in the event of an extended power outage.
  • Never use gas-powered generators or barbecue grills indoors. These can allow deadly carbon monoxide to build up.

Preparing your car

  • Have your vehicle serviced according to manufacturer recommendations. Check the antifreeze level.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full, which helps avoid ice in the fuel tank.
  • Replace wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
  • Make sure your tires are in good shape and have the proper air pressure.
  • Check to confirm your battery has a good charge, your heater and defroster are working well, and that your emergency lights are functional.

Preparing yourself

  • Always wear temperature-appropriate clothing, such as hats, gloves, scarves, etc. Remove any wet clothing immediately. And keep spare clothing or a blanket in your car trunk throughout winter in case you are stranded.
  • Stay hydrated. You might think this is more important when it’s warm outside, but it’s just as vital in winter.
  • Be mindful of physical exertion and the amount of time you’re spending outdoors. Shoveling snow is hard work, so don’t overdo it!

Winter is a lot of fun, and we’re looking forward to snowmobiling and skiing as much as you are. So get your house, car, and body ready, so you can have a great season!

Contact Us!

 At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 414-744-6614 or send us a note at info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com  We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Motorcycle Safety

A different season means different dangers for motorcyclists

 Fall is a wonderful time to be outside on your bike, thanks to the crisp, cool weather and changing colors of the landscape. Staying safe on the road in autumn requires some special precautions. We at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee want you to be around to enjoy the beauty of the open road, even in the Fall, so we’ve put together some great tips for you.

Be vigilant about visibility

When Fall rolls around, the days are getting shorter, which means your late-afternoon ride can turn into an evening ride very quickly. Carry proper reflective gear, along with replacement bulbs, and any other basic equipment that can help ensure your visibility. Keep in mind that the sun is lower in the sky, so the glare may make it harder for you to see the road – and for other drivers to see you.

Keep cool, but not too cool

In Wisconsin, conditions can change quickly. Even on a warm day, a cold night might be just an hour or two away. So pack your cold-weather gear when you head out, and beware of frost and ice on roadways – particularly on bridges.

Consider the conditions

Roads in the Fall can present a number of dangers. Rain can make roads slick, and standing water can cause you to hydroplane or lose control. Lower temperatures can bring frost, ice, or even snow.  Those beautiful autumn leaves can be a hazard when they start to fall off the trees and onto the road as well.

Beware of deer

Fall also brings an increase in deer activity, so be extra vigilant, particularly in rural areas. Deer tend to be most active around dawn and dusk when visibility can be limited. Pay attention to deer crossing signs and always be alert to your surroundings.

Fall can be one of the best times to ride, but also one of the most dangerous. So take a little extra care and maybe a little extra time. Doing so will help you stay safe while you take in the scenery.

Other safety resources

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (http://www.msf-usa.org) is a great resource to learn more about safety gear and motorcycling in general, as is the American Motorcyclist Association (www.americanmotorcyclist.com). Remember, we’re here to help too! If you have questions about insurance coverage for your bike, or want more safety resources, give us a call at 414-744-6614 or email info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com !

Getting Your Boat Ready for Summer

Get started early to get your boat ready for summer

If you love the water, few things are better than boating season.  Summer just wouldn’t be summer without spending those long, hot days on Pewaukee Lake, Big Muskego, etc., cooling off with a lazy dip in the water, dropping a line in hopes of catching a “big one,” or having an action-packed day of waterskiing and tubing.

Boating is not without its share of pre-summer preparation.  Without making the preparation a priority, it’s easy to find yourself midway through July still on dry land.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we want to ensure you are the first one in line at the boat launch this summer, so here are a few tips for being ahead of the game.

  • Tune it up. It’s always a good idea to have your boat winterized at the end of each season and make sure to get a full tune-up before you hit the lake this summer.  
  • Charge it. Make sure your battery is fully charged.
  • Clear it out. If there is any gas from last season still in your tank, fill it up with fresh gas as well as a stabilizer; this will prevent buildup in the gas lines and injection system.
  • Give it a test. Before you get the boat all the way into the water and off the trailer, lower your motor into the water and make sure it will turn over.
  • Plug it up. Ensure your drain plug is in and the bilge pump is functioning properly.
  • Double- and triple-check. The last thing you want is to get all the way to the lake and realize you don’t have an updated registration or are missing your life vests.  Double check that your documents are updated and that your boat is fully stocked with everything you need.

We at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee wish you a fun-filled and safe boating season!

If you have insurance questions about your boat, please call us at 414-744-6614 or send an email to info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com

Flood Insurance

What you should know about flood insurance

 You’ve probably heard this story before — someone loses a home due to a flood and learns after the fact that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.

At the Insurance center of Milwaukee, we want to talk to you about the risks you may face – before a loss occurs – so you can determine what insurance coverage is appropriate. Spring is a prime season for flooding, so now is a good time to review flood insurance.

In 1968 the U.S. government created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Available to homeowners, renters, and business owners, this insurance often is required to obtain a mortgage in areas at high risk of flooding.  You also might want to look into a policy just for peace of mind, even if you don’t live next to a river that may flood. According to the NFIP, nearly 25% of the program’s claims occur in moderate- to low-risk areas. Check out the questions and answers below to help determine if flood insurance is right for you.

Is flood insurance available in my area?

To participate in the NFIP, a community must adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance with rules regarding construction in certain flood-prone areas. In exchange, the government makes flood insurance available within that community. Most communities in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties participate, but just give us a call at 414-744-6614 and we’ll help you determine if your city participates. You can also visit http://www.fema.gov/fema/csb.shtm

 What does it cover?

The NFIP provides coverage for both the structure and its contents. Coverage for contents is optional in some cases, giving you flexibility in choosing coverage.  Please note that not all structures can be covered (for instance, a building completely over water).

Keep in mind that you typically can’t purchase flood insurance and have it take effect the next day. There is usually a 30-day waiting period. (There are exceptions to this rule however, particularly when the insurance is required by a lender and is purchased during the process of securing a mortgage.) If you think you need flood insurance, don’t wait to buy a policy!

How much does it cost?

As with all insurance policies, the cost of flood insurance varies depending on your situation. If your home or business is in a high-risk area, such as a “special flood hazard area,” your premium naturally will be higher than those in low- or moderate-risk zones. Premiums are based on how old the building is, how many floors it has, the location of its contents, your deductible and more. Renters insurance is typically less expensive, as renters generally insure their belongings and not the building.

Where can I find more information?

As always, we are happy to help you determine your insurance needs. Stop by our office in Bay View or call us at 414-744-6614.