Tag Archives: homeowners coverage

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring Maintenance for Your Home

 When springtime rolls around in the Milwaukee area, almost everyone thinks of cleaning. We probably need to do a little more of that, after all, but there’s something even more important to keep in mind: home maintenance.

When it’s time to set your clocks ahead for daylight-saving time (March 12, 2017) and change the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, give your home a checkup too. Here are some suggestions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Interior and appliances

  • Check the basement and/or crawlspace for any signs of standing water or dripping.
  • Pull your dryer out and clean the exhaust hose and vent (lint found here is a common cause of house fires).
  • Vacuum refrigerator/freezer coils for efficiency.
  • Clean exhaust fan outlets and screens.
  • Check all air filters and replace, if necessary.

 Roof, siding, windows

  • Check for damage to your roof
  • Go into the attic. If there is visible moisture or discoloration, your roof might be leaking.
  • Examine the paint on your siding and trim. If it is peeling, you might need new paint to protect against the effects of weather.
  • Check for leaks around window and door sills. Improving your seals can lower your energy bills.

Yard and exterior

  • Check for signs of rodents and other pests.
  • Clean debris from gutters and downspouts, and make sure they are draining away from the home.
  • Trim overhanging tree branches and shrubs away from your house.

Remember, winter weather can cause significant damage that is easy to spot, but it often results in wear and tear that homeowners can miss if they aren’t looking closely. It’s well worth it to spend a little time on home maintenance this spring, so that wear and tear doesn’t turn into something more serious.

Grilling Safety

Summers mean backyard grilling – safely!

Just like hamburgers, brats, and hot dogs, a sizzling grill is a symbol of summer and grilling isn’t just about great food. Backyard barbecues often create treasured memories with friends and family.

Keep in mind, however, that when you grill, you’re literally playing with fire. Many people learn this the hard way, suffering damage to their homes or even serious injuries in grilling accidents.

Prevent grilling accidents by taking some simple precautions. The tips below can help ensure that you cook only your burgers — and not your house — the next time you fire up the grill.

TIPS FOR ALL GRILLS

Your grill, whether gas or charcoal, should be on a level surface outdoors, away from anything that could be ignited by flames (bushes, fences, house, deck, etc.).

NEVER use a grill indoors. Odorless carbon monoxide fumes could kill you.

Keep your grill clean and well-maintained. Check parts regularly to determine if replacements are needed.

Never leave a hot grill unattended or let children play near it.

CHARCOAL GRILL TIPS

From Kingsford.com

Do not add lighter fluid directly to hot coals. The flame could travel up the stream of fluid and burn you.

Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire.

Use flame-retardant mitts and long-handled barbecue tongs, as coals can reach up to 1,000 degrees.

To dispose of coals, allow the ashes to cool for at least 48 hours before disposal in a non-combustible container. If you cannot wait 48 hours, carefully place coals individually in a can of sand or bucket of water.

GAS GRILL TIPS

From the National Fire Protection Association

Check your grill’s hoses for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If you have a leak, and it will not stop after the grill and gas is turned off, call the fire department. If the leak stops when the grill and gas are turned off, have your grill serviced by a professional.

If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Do not keep a filled propane tank in a hot car or trunk. When getting containers refilled, make that your last stop before going home.

Store propane tanks in an upright position, and never indoors.

From all of us at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, happy grilling, and stay safe this summer!

Identity Theft

Your Identity Belongs to You.
Protect It!

 The Bureau of Justice indicates that 17.6 Americans (about 7% of people 16 or older) were victims of identity theft in 2014.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics – Victims of Identity Theft, 2014 the victim characteristics are:

“More females (9.2 million) were victims of identity theft than males (8.3 millions). Among racial groups, whites experienced identity theft at higher rates (8%) than blacks (5%), other races (6%), or Hispanics (5%). Victims ages 25 to 64 (8%) had the highest rate of identity theft, compared to all age groups. Persons in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more had the highest prevalence of identity theft (11%), compared to those in all other income brackets.”

The smartest way to protect yourself from identity theft is to prevent it from happening to you by keeping close tabs on your social security number and financial accounts. However, if your identity is stolen, you’ll be able to lessen problems by acting quickly.

 

  • Call your credit card companies immediately. Explain what happened, and ask where to send a copy of the police report.
  • Call and report to the police. Make several copies of police report.
  • Complete a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Theft Affidavit and FTC report (call 1-887-ID-THEFT to request the forms).
  • Call your bank. They can place an alert on your Driver’s License number and Social Security Number, and freeze your account.
  • Call fraud units of credit report agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

 

Fortunately, identity theft protection is available as an endorsement on most homeowners’ policies at a small cost ($15-$25 per year). The coverage reimburses certain expenses associated with identity recovery. Customers can also get guidance on how to protect themselves from ID theft before it happens and may receive assistance with identity restoration.

If you’re interested in learning more, call the Insurance Center of Milwaukee at 414-744-6614 or e-mail info@InsuranceCenterMilwaukee.com

Jewelry Protection

Have some new jewelry in the house? Protect it!

Valentine’s Day is near and love is in the air. Well, love and a few other things, such as chocolates, candle-lit dinners, candy hearts that say “Be Mine” – and, of course, jewelry.

It’s exciting to receive jewelry from a loved one — or to give it as a gift.  If you’re lucky enough to have some new jewelry in your Wisconsin home this Valentine’s Day, you should take a few minutes to think about something you probably don’t find exciting or romantic: insurance.

Don’t know where to turn? Don’t worry. At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we think it is exciting to help our customers protect what’s most important to them — so we’re ready to help and can answer your questions.

Things to consider when insuring jewelry:

You may need to purchase additional coverage. Your home policy covers valuable items such as jewelry, but there are limits/exclusions.  If the cost of replacing your jewelry exceeds that limit, you will want to purchase scheduled personal property coverage. You can check your policy or give us a call at 414-744-6614.

An advantage of scheduling a piece of jewelry is the deductible. Scheduled jewelry can have a different deductible than the rest of your policy.  As always, this impacts your policy premium, so take a look at your deductibles whenever you make a change to your policy.

Do you need an appraisal? You may need to have an independent appraisal if the insurance company requires it.  It is best to have one on file even if they don’t require one.

What kind of coverage is offered? You’ll want to determine if items are covered no matter where they are, whether in Wisconsin or on an international trip, and if the policy has replacement cost.

Pictures can be helpful. Lost or stolen pieces of jewelry sometimes can be recreated if the jeweler has a good photograph available.

Is the value of your jewelry mainly sentimental? If the answer is “yes,” you might consider foregoing insurance. Talk to us at 414-744-6614 before making that decision. That’s why we’re here.

Of course, it’s important to store your jewelry securely when it’s not in use; a safe in your home or a safe-deposit box is best. We want your jewelry to be replaced if it’s lost or stolen, but we’d rather have your sentimental and valuable pieces stay with you and your family.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we hope your Valentine’s Day is awesome!

Contact Us!

For further questions and assistance, please contact us at 414-744-6614 or info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com

Check for Storm Damage

How to Check Your Property for Damage After a Storm

 When a big storm hits in Franklin, New Berlin, Milwaukee, etc. you hunker down inside, relying on your home to protect you and your family. Once that storm passes, it’s time to repay the favor — identifying damage and protecting your home from further issues.

The National Storm Damage Center has a number of resources and tips for homeowners. Here are three major things the agency (and the agents at Insurance Center of Milwaukee) – recommends you check after a storm:

1. Your roof: If you see missing shingles on your roof or if you notice leaking inside or out, it’s a good idea to have a qualified inspector come assess the situation.

2. Your exterior: Aluminum/Vinyl siding, brick and stucco are all vulnerable to storm damage. You’ll want to look for cracking, chipping or dings in the siding, and for holes in stucco. Look closely and at different times of the day. Some homeowners don’t notice damage until it’s too late to file a claim, and different lighting can reveal damage you didn’t see before.

3. Trees: According to the National Storm Damage Center, fallen trees and limbs cause more than $1 billion in damage annually. Check roofs, vehicles, fences, etc. for fallen limbs that may have caused damage or could pose a risk. Clean up what you are safely able to clean and rely on a reputable tree removal service to handle the rest. Depending on the circumstances, your homeowners insurance policy may help with tree removal and damage repair costs – if you experience a covered loss, that is.

A few more helpful tips:

Keep trees well maintained and trimmed. Keep limbs a safe distance from your home.

Know your insurance. Take a look at your policy so you know what’s covered, what your limits and deductibles are, etc. This will prevent any surprises during the claims process.

Take pictures. Photographs can help you show the cause and extent of any storm damage that occurs.

Of course, if you’ve suffered damage from a major storm, don’t hesitate to call us at the Insurance Center of Milwaukee at 414-744-6614 for help with an insurance claim or with finding a professional property inspector.

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!

Home Insurance Value

How Much Coverage do I Need to Rebuild My Home?

Imagine how devastating it would be to lose your home in a fire.  Now imagine having to chip in $30,000 from your own pocket to be able to rebuild it completely because you didn’t have the correct amount of insurance.

Selecting the proper amount of coverage is one of the most important decisions you can make with your homeowners insurance policy.  Without proper limits, you may not have enough coverage to rebuild after a total loss.  You want to make sure that the amount of the insurance on your home is equal to the reconstruction value.  This is called “insurance to value.”  Below are some explanations and tips to help you make the right choices for your needs — and remember, if you need help, we’re just a phone call away (414-744-6614)!

What is insurance to value?

Insurance to value is the relationship between the amount of coverage selected (typically listed as “Coverage A” or “Dwelling Coverage” on your policy declarations page) and the amount required to rebuild your home – simply put, Coverage vs Reconstruction Value.  Insuring your home for anything less than 100% insurance to reconstruction value could mean you wouldn’t have enough coverage to replace your home in the event of a total loss.  At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we have access to a computer program (that is updated quarterly) to help determine the proper amount of insurance for your house located anywhere in Wisconsin!

Why is the cost to rebuild different from the market value?

A home’s market value reflects current economic conditions, school districts, the value and location of the land, and other factors unrelated to reconstruction cost.  The cost to rebuild your home is based only on the cost of materials and labor in your area.  Think of it this way – where ever you build a 1500 square foot home in SE Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Greenfield, Shorewood, etc.), it will cost about the same for the labor and materials even though the market value could be drastically different.  That is why it is important that you insure your home based on its reconstruction cost, NOT its current market value.

Why is reconstruction more expensive than new construction?

New home builders typically build many homes at once, and solicit bids from various sub-contractors to receive the best pricing. Their business model is based on economies of scale. For example, they may purchase 100 windows at one time, securing a lower “per window” cost. These economies of scale don’t exist when building (or rebuilding) a single home.  During reconstruction the contractor has to be careful not to damage the existing landscaping and may have to work around features in the interior of the house as well.

How can I make sure I have the correct amount of insurance?

Provide detailed information at time of purchase to be sure that you receive a thorough and accurate quote and don’t forget to tell your agent about any changes or improvements that you make to your home.