Avoid Parking Lot Accidents

5 Ways to Avoid Parking Lot Fender Benders in the Metro Milwaukee area

We love the convenience of parking lots in front of our favorite stores in Oak Creek, New Berlin, Shorewood, Milwaukee, etc., but they can be hazardous places.  When people are driving too fast, backing out of spots without looking, and cutting across the parking lot.

That behavior just so happens to be the cause of many a door ding and irritated driver. Even worse, careless behavior can cause a collision or injury. Let’s all slow down and follow these five tips to make parking lots safer for everyone:

  1. Don’t Speed
    Speeding decreases the amount of time you have to react when a child runs out in front of you, another driver stops suddenly, or a car begins backing out unexpectedly. Is a collision – or even a fatality – really worth the price of getting to your destination 30 seconds sooner?
  2. Use Your Eyes – and Mirrors and Cameras
    Lookout for perils at all times, even if the lot seems empty. When you’re pulling into a spot, watch for doors being opened. When backing out, look all around, in your mirrors and in your rear-view camera, and proceed slowly.
  3. Give Yourself – and Others – Some Space
    Parking in between the lines and in a spot sized for your vehicle may help to minimize dings and scratches. Better yet, park in a less-crowded area of the parking lot and enjoy the extra stroll into the store – just don’t park where you feel unsafe. Always park away from stray carts.
  4. Expect the Unexpected
    Assume things will happen. That someone will dart out in front of you or that someone backing out of his/her spot won’t see you backing out of yours. When you’re on guard, you’re better prepared for those who aren’t.
  5. Be Respectful
    A little kindness goes a long way in a parking lot. So stop for pedestrians, don’t cause traffic jams waiting for a spot and, above all, don’t lose your cool.

Remember, stay alert! Many times the slow speed of a parking lot will cause people to pay less attention and to start multi-tasking while driving.   If you’re actually watching for dangers, you have a better chance of avoiding them. Call us, 414-744-6614, at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee to make sure you are properly protected before an incident does occur.

Tornado Truths

Tornado truths that can help you stay safe

Tornadoes have caused severe and irreparable damage to tens of thousands of Americans and their property in recent years.  Although you can never control the weather or the outcome of a destructive storm, there are steps you can take to help you and your family remain protected in the event of a tornado. Those steps of action begin with knowing the facts.

Here are a few tornado truths that could help keep you and those you love safe:

When indoors, shut all windows and doors. Do not leave them open in an attempt to follow the mythical need to “pressurize” your home because the result would more likely be debris flying through the window and causing severe harm, or wind pressure working to lift the roof off the house from the inside.

If you are inside your home or other structure, retreat to the lowest level (a basement is ideal) or the room closest to the middle of the home or farthest from windows and doors. Do not seek a “corner” of the structure for your retreat; instead, go to the center-most point, away from windows and anything heavy that could fall on your head.

If you’re outdoors, find the lowest spot, such as a ditch, and lie flat on your stomach, covering the back of your head with your hands.  Do not follow the myth of seeking shelter underneath a bridge or overpass because it could collapse on top of you or large debris and winds could come rushing underneath and potentially sweep you up into the tornado itself.

If you are in a vehicle, abandon the vehicle and try to find shelter in a structure or outdoors in a low place where you should lay stomach-down and cover the back of your head with your hands. Most importantly, do not attempt to drive away from the storm unless it’s very obviously far away and moving in the opposite direction.

Do not take shelter near a road and expect the tornado to miss you. Some myths say that tornadoes will reverse their directions when nearing a road or foothill, but a tornado doesn’t discriminate and will keep on its path.

Use head gear, if available. Head protection can be the number-one most important factor in remaining protected from flying debris—indoors or outdoors—so know where bike, football, batting, boxing and other helmets are in the house, and make them easily accessible.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee we want to help you know the tornado truths that will help keep you and your family safe. For more tornado safety tips, visit the Storm Prediction Center’s comprehensive guide at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html.

 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!

Protection during a Hailstorm

Staying safe on the road during a hailstorm

It may sound surprising, but there are approximately 3,000 hailstorms in the United States each year. The size of hail can widely vary – from pea size to softball size. When it starts building up size, hail can cause severe damage to your dwelling, vehicle damage, bodily harm, and even death. On average, each year hailstorms cause over $1 billion in damage to property, approximately 1,500 injuries, and 80 deaths.  Hail is a main driver of homeowners insurance rates in Wisconsin as well.

One of the most frightening places to be during a hailstorm is on the road in your car. Obviously your vehicle is at great risk of damage, but even more importantly, you are in danger in the event you can’t see well enough to drive or your windows are broken by the power of the storm.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we want to ensure you, your loved ones, and your vehicles stay safe this hail season. Here are some pointers for navigating a hailstorm while on the roads in in Southeastern Wisconsin.

 

  • Make sure you have a blanket in your car at all times. It can help protect you from glass injuries in the event the hail breaks your windows or windshield.
  • Turn on your low-beam headlights, and slow down.
  • Make sure you have more distance than usual in front of you so you have ample space to brake if necessary.
  • Turn on the local weather radio station to stay apprised of the status of storms.
  • If there is enough space on the shoulder of the road, pull over.
  • If there is a covered shelter to pull underneath, do so; this will reduce the damage sustained by your vehicle.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we hope you stay hailstorm-free this 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 and we will get quotes, from the 12 insurance companies that we have available, tailored for your needs. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

College Graduation – Insurance Tips

Protect your college grad with the right insurance

College graduation is an exciting time for students and their parents alike.  While the graduate is focused on job offers and first-job jitters, it’s a time of major transitions and it’s essential to prepare for what comes next.

One area new college graduates need to address is insurance.  At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we know insurance can be a confusing topic.  We also know that seemingly small missed details can result in very large losses.  We want to ensure your college graduate is protected before heading out into the real world, so we have compiled the following pointers.

 

  • Review your family’s current insurance. The first step when considering insurance for your new graduate is evaluating the coverage you have currently.  Make an appointment with your agent, who can advise on whether it’s appropriate given the pending changes, and whether it will cover your son or daughter.
  • Know the law. Most states require drivers to have auto insurance, and most of those have minimum policy limit requirements.  Consult with your agent, to make sure they are covered adequately.
  • Read your lease. Many apartment, condominium and home rental properties require tenants to maintain renter’s insurance, which covers the contents of the home in the event of a robbery, fire, liability claim, or specified other losses. Make sure you know the terms of your son or daughter’s new lease.
  • Don’t end up liable. Any renter or owner is exposed to liability risk. To ensure there is adequate coverage in the event someone gets injured on your son or daughter’s property, speak with your agent about liability insurance.
  • Don’t gamble! Never go without. It’s simple: your son or daughter should always have insurance in place. Be sure to discuss with your agent what types they need.

We, at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, congratulate you on the graduation of your daughter or son!  Please contact us with any questions at 414-744-6614.

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.

Spring Cleaning Tips from Insurance Center of Milwaukee

Spring is a time for new beginnings, so cleaning and organization around the house are very popular this time of year. If you’re ready to tackle that monumental chore, read on for some helpful information. (And if you’re so tidy and organized throughout the year that spring cleaning isn’t a big chore for you, well, keep that to yourself! Unless you want your friends and neighbors to be jealous.)

Focus on one room at a time. Deciding to clean or organize your entire home can become overwhelming. If you focus on just one area or room, then move to another only when you’re finished, you’ll likely work more efficiently.  Take pictures with your cell phone to document any unusual items for insurance purposes.

Follow the six-month rule. Generally, if you haven’t used something in six months (with the exception of seasonal items), it’s a good idea to consider throwing it away or donating it.

Don’t forget the kitchen. Just like other rooms, your kitchen likely has things that haven’t been used in some time — and this includes food in the refrigerator or freezer. Give those appliances a thorough cleaning and get rid of anything you won’t be eating.

Set yourself up for success. Paper clutter is something we all could probably cut back on pretty easily. Setting up a few recycling bins throughout the house gives you a convenient alternative to just setting that old magazine or paperwork down somewhere and watching the pile grow.

Make some money! A spring cleaning garage sale is a tradition for many homeowners, and can be a great way to bring in some extra income. Talk about a win-win situation — you get rid of stuff you don’t need, and someone pays you for it!

Stay safe. When you’re cleaning or maintaining your home, be mindful of the physical risks involved. Avoid prolonged repetitive motions. Use ladders, lawnmowers and other dangerous tools with caution.

Contact Us!  For further questions and assistance, please contact the Insurance Center of Milwaukee at 414-744-6614 or info@InsuranceCenterMilwaukee.com

Reduce Car Accident Risk

3 Easy Ways to Reduce the Risk of a Car Crash

Spring is right around the corner, and the warmer weather often prompts people in Southeastern Wisconsin to hop in their cars for weekend road trips.

Unfortunately, too many of those trips will end up being memorable for the wrong reasons, due to accidents and other risks that drivers face each time they hit the road.

You can take control of your next trip, whether it’s heading up north or across town, by following these simple rules:

1.      Pay attention. Do you know how many drivers around the U.S. are using cell phones or other electronic devices right now – this very second? If you are reading this during the daytime, the answer is approximately 660,000, estimates the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Anything that distracts you increases your risk of a crash. Our #1 distraction – our mobile phones!  Here’s another reason to avoid distractions: If you’re completely alert, you have a better chance of steering clear of that distracted person.

2.      Stay sober. One bad decision can change lives forever, and driving under the influence is an extraordinarily bad decision. Nearly 15,000 people died in 2012 in crashes involving impaired drivers, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). So get a designated driver — or better yet, be a designated driver.

3.      Slow down. Crashes caused by excessive speed cause more than 10,000 deaths a year on average, the NSC estimates. Interestingly, you are most at risk on roads where the speed limit is 55 mph or below, probably because of speed disparities between speeders and non-speeders and the likelihood that drivers feel that they can multitask at lower speeds. Please remember, the posted speed limit isn’t always the best speed to travel. Depending on conditions (like today in Milwaukee), going slower might be the safest option.

Improving safety on the roads isn’t rocket science. A little common sense can make a big difference for you, your passengers, and your fellow drivers. So be alert and be safe out there on the roads in Oak Creek, Franklin, Greenfield, Milwaukee, or wherever you live.

Why an Independent Agent?

Why an Independent Agent?

Not all insurance agents are the same! Choosing the right one can make a big difference – in price, service, and value.

With some agencies, you get one insurance company that sells one brand of insurance. With an independent insurance agency like the Insurance Center of Milwaukee you get choices.

Why? Because independent insurance agencies, like Insurance Center of Milwaukee, represent a number of different insurance companies to compare coverage and prices to find the best possible value for your individual circumstances. As independent agents, we are members of the Metro Milwaukee community, and we’re committed to doing business face-to-face and being your advocate in times of need.

Serving Oak Creek, Franklin, New Berlin, Shorewood, West Allis, Greenfield, Greendale, Cudahy, South Milwaukee, Hales Corners, etc. – all of Southeastern Wisconsin.  Here are a few reasons why the Insurance Center of Milwaukee should be your first and last stop when looking for insurance.

  • We work for you when you have a claim.
  • We are not stuck with any one company. This means you don’t have to change agencies as your insurance and service needs change.
  • We are your consultants, working with you as you determine your needs.
  • We are value-hunters who look after your pocketbook in finding the best combination of price, coverage, and service.
  • We offer one-stop shopping for a full range of products, including home, renters, auto, motorcycle, business, and life insurance.
  • We can review your coverage to keep up with your changing insurance needs.
  • We are committed to customer satisfaction – it’s the key to our livelihood.
  • We treat you like a person, not a number.
  • We are licensed professionals with strong customer and community ties.

There is a difference in insurance agencies. To find out how our independent insurance agency can help you find the right insurance coverage, please give us a call today at 414-744-6614.

Should I Purchase Umbrella Insurance?

Do I need Umbrella Coverage?

In today’s economy, everyone is pinching pennies.  So why worry about umbrella coverage?  Shouldn’t a home and auto policy leave you adequately covered?

Unfortunately, we live in a world of lawsuits.  Large damages can be awarded and have long-term financial impact.  Those lawsuits can come from unlikely sources, such as our children or our furry friends.

For instance, Herschel is a much-loved, rather timid labradoodle who enjoys taking naps on the driveway while his owner mows the lawn.  Herschel watched as his neighbor, a 39 year old man, showed off his rollerblading skills to his kids.  The man wiped out on the sidewalk in front of Herschel’s house and broke his leg.  He required surgery, costing around $35,000 in medical costs and $18,000 in lost wages.

Fair or not, the man brought a lawsuit against Herschel’s owner, suing for $220,000 in damages.  He alleged that Herschel had caused the accident by getting in his way.  However, Herschel’s owner was lucky–a jury vindicated Herschel. Lawsuits such as these can easily exceed the limits on a homeowner’s policy, leaving the insured responsible for the remainder.  An umbrella policy would prevent that by providing an extra $1 million to $5 million in coverage, depending on the limit that you select.

There are numerous ways to have a liability claim.   According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with half of those occurring on the owner’s property.  Children can mistakenly hurt someone on the playground or you could be in a bad car accident.  All are potential claims.

Do you need an umbrella policy?  Only you know the value of your assets that you want to protect.

Protect what you love!  Call us to talk about your umbrella options today at 414-744-6614!