Tag Archives: Milwaukee Insurance Agent

Renters Insurance

The Importance of Renters Insurance

If you live in a rental or apartment, there is a 60% chance that you don’t have the proper insurance. Despite the fact that rented homes are more likely to be burglarized than owner-occupied properties, nearly 60 percent of renters don’t have renters insurance.

Why does it matter?

“If you rent a house or apartment and think that your landlord is financially responsible when there is a fire, theft or other catastrophe—think again,” warns the Insurance Information Institute*. Landlords may have insurance to protect the building, but your landlord’s policy won’t replace your personal possessions. The best way to protect yourself financially against theft, fire, etc. is to buy a renters insurance policy.  Renters insurance can cover your possessions, liability, and additional living expenses. Let’s take a look at these three types of protection:

 Possessions

Standard renters insurance protects your personal belongings against damage from fire, smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, windstorm, water, and other disasters listed in the policy (see the policy for details) – floods are not covered. There are “special form” policies available as well and they cover many more perils than standard “broad form” policies.

To decide how much insurance to buy, you need to know a ballpark value to replace of all your personal possessions—including furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances, dishes, and even towels or bedding (most people insure their “stuff” for $20,000-$100,000). There are two types of settlement options for your possessions if there is a claim:

Actual Cash Value pays to replace your possessions minus an amount for depreciation up to the limit of your policy.

Replacement Cost pays the full cost of replacing your possessions (with no deduction for depreciation), up to the limit of your policy. The price to add replacement cost coverage is minimal, so always ask for replacement cost.

Note that most renters policies offer only limited coverage for items such as jewelry, guns, etc. If you own these items, you may want to supplement your policy with an endorsement. An endorsement is added to the policy providing additional insurance for valuables and covers them for perils not included in your policy such as accidental loss.

Liability

This coverage is not what you typically think about when you think renters insurance.  Renters insurance policies usually provide liability protection in the event you unintentionally cause injury to others or damage their property.  It also pays for damage or injury caused by your pets.  If you are sued, the liability portion of a renters policy may pay for both the cost of defending you in court and for the damages, up to the limit of the policy. Liability limits generally start at about $100,000.

Additional Living Expenses

Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage is typically included in a renters insurance policy. If the home or apartment you are renting is damaged or destroyed and you need to live elsewhere while it is being repaired or rebuilt, renters insurance will cover your additional living expenses—namely the difference between your regular living expenses and the additional costs incurred by having to live away from your home, such as hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals, etc.

A typical renters policy costs $10 – $40 per month. Contact us today at 414-744-6614!

*Insurance Information Institute, September 30, 2009

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.

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