Tag Archives: Homeowners Insurance

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!

Fall Home Safety

Household safety tips change with the season

As days get shorter and nights get longer, our habits begin to change. Most of us typically spend more time at home and less time outside. That usually means resuming favorite fall pastimes like watching football games and drinking hot cocoa on the sidelines of our little ones’ soccer games.

Arriving along with the season of autumn is a host of safety hazards we didn’t have to think about over the summer, creating the need for a little extra vigilance. As the temperatures drop and you settle in for the approaching cold spell, consider the following pointers for ensuring you and your family stay not just warm, but also safe!

Warm up carefully. All types of heating units can be dangerous. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, secure it with a screen to prevent sparks, and make sure the fire is completely out before you retire for the night. In addition, make sure a qualified chimney sweep inspects and cleans your fireplace flue once per year. If you depend on your home’s furnace, make sure it has been inspected before you start to use it again. If you have any space heaters, make sure they are in good working order (no frayed cords) and out of the reach of children.

Enjoy ambiance safely. If you use candles to add a warm glow to a cold night, make sure they are safely out of reach of children, can’t be overturned by pets, and are not close to flammable items such as blankets, paper, or furniture. If you’re known for falling asleep before heading to bed, extinguish all candles early in the night to avoid an unsafe, all-night burning situation.

Exercise yard safety. If you’re going to be pruning trees and shrubs, hanging Halloween decorations, raking leaves, or engaging in other yard activities, use caution: be careful on ladders, avoid power lines, and put away yard tools when you’re finished.

Be grounded. Have weather-friendly shoes and boots handy for the whole family. This is the season for slippery driveways and walkways. Without proper footwear, you can find yourself on your back or in the hospital.

At the Insurance Center of Milwaukee, we wish you a fabulous fall season!

Contact Us!

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!

Preparing for College

Insurance Tips for Back-to-School Time

College is expensive enough without finding out that an accident or theft isn’t covered under your current insurance policies. As you get your children ready to head off to school, there’s one vital item to add to your list – a review of your insurance coverage. It’s important to keep in mind that policy language varies from state to state, and there are never “one-size-fits-all” situations, but below is a general guide. If you have questions about Wisconsin policies, or want to go over your insurance needs, don’t hesitate to contact us!

HOMEOWNERS (may vary by state and individual policy)

  • Coverage of personal property: Most homeowners policies provide 10% of Coverage C (Personal Property) for property owned by an insured that is at a residence other than the insured’s.  For example, if the contents of a policyholder’s home are insured for $100,000, a student’s property up to $10,000 would be covered if living in a dormitory – provided the damage is caused by a covered peril and the student meets the definition of an insured.
  • Liability coverage: There usually is an exclusion for damage to property rented to an insured, so generally damage to a dorm room or apartment would not be covered.  See your specific policy language for details.
  • Ensuring adequate coverage:  Contact us to get specific answers and information about Wisconsin coverage. It’s a great idea to create an inventory of the items your student is taking to school by keeping photos and/or receipts.
  • Renters insurance: For apartments or houses off-campus, renters insurance is strongly recommended if a particular homeowners policy does not cover a student’s personal property. Certain items, such as jewelry or expensive electronics, may require special coverage, or a “rider.”  Landlord policies generally only cover the structure, not the possessions of renters.

AUTO (may vary by state and individual policy)

  • Coverage without a car at school: If your student will continue to drive while at home on school breaks, they should continue to be listed on your auto policy. If they are attending school more than 100 miles from home, and are not taking a vehicle with them, he/she may qualify for a distant-student discount.
  • Coverage with a car at school: In most instances, a car registered to parents and listed on their policy will be covered if used by a student (listed as a driver) while away at school, however, you should check with your insurance company to make sure. And note that a change to the principal location of the vehicle could result in a change in premium.
  • Driving a friend’s car at school: Students generally would be covered while driving a friend’s car if the students are listed on their own policy or their parents’ policy and do not have regular use of the vehicle. The coverage would likely be secondary in this case, as the carrier for the friend’s vehicle likely would be the primary coverage.
  • Coverage discounts: In addition to the possible distant-student discount mentioned above, students may qualify for a good-student discount. To qualify, most insurance carriers require that a student be enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited college or university and meet certain academic qualifications (typically a 3.0 GPA).

Going away to school is an exciting time for students and their parents. Making sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage can help you protect your assets as you invest in your child’s future. We’re happy to discuss your coverage and options — just give us a call (414-744-6614), email (info@insurancecentermilwaukee.com), or stop at our office!

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!

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!

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

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!