<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1602061480087256&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

R&R Insurance Blog

Most Common, and Preventable, Home Claim | Tree Damage

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Tree damage claim

 

One of the most common, and usually preventable claims, we see year round is tree damage to homes and cars.  Occasionally, poorly maintained trees can cause injury to people or pets. And lets not forget when a poorly maintained tree on your property falls onto your neighbors house ... it makes those neighborhood block parties a little “interesting”! 

These claims can be not only dangerous, but also costly.  Preventative tree care should be part of your overall home maintenance program. 

  1. Landscape care in the Fall
    • Prune unruly branches (leave the larger ones to the professionals!)
    • Inspect trees for dying limbs, insect damage, or signs of disease
    • Nourish trees with water and mulch
    • Plant new trees in the Fall
  2. Do not build new structures near or around a tree - it can damage tree roots and growth space
  3. Monitor and observe trees over time
    • Get a guide for identifying types of trees and potential disease 
    • Have an ISA-Certified arborist visit your property for an assessment on the health of your trees
  4. Choose the right trees for your property
    • How tall and wide will the tree become?
    • How fast will the tree grow?
    • Does it lose leaves in the winter?

In Fall, it is also important watch for leaves that fall on your driveway or street - wet leaves become a slip and/or driving hazard.

Enjoy the beauty that nature offers with a well landscaped yard.  It also keeps you, and your neighbors, safe!

Topics: Personal Insurance

Summer Boat Rental: What You Need to Know

Posted by Jenna Moehrke

iStock-951416356Have you thought about renting a boat on a hot summer day? Do you own a boat and want to make some extra money by renting it out? If the answer is “yes,” there are a few things you need to know first.

I recently came across a website for boat rentals where you can either rent a boat, or rent out your boat for a fee. Being an insurance agent, it had me thinking about coverage for these types of situations and I did some further investigating. My concerns were right—I found the statement from the boat rental company explaining that they do not offer any insurance coverage.

If you are renting a boat…

  • Each insurance company has its own restrictions on the type, size and horsepower of boats that they provide coverage to. Depending on the type and size of the boat, there may be no coverage at all from your insurance policy if something were to happen.
  • Check with your agent before renting the boat to make sure the boat fits within their guidelines

If you’re planning on renting out or chartering your boat for a fee…

  • Renting out a boat or chartering it for a fee is typically excluded from your homeowners or watercraft insurance policy.
  • You would need a special policy to cover the risk, because it’s considered a business exposure since you’re receiving compensation for it. Without one, there may be no coverage in an accident.
  • It’s best to talk with your agent before you decide to rent or charter it. They can help you get the type of policy you would need for this exposure.

More and more websites and apps are popping up every day for vacation home and boat rentals. They can be an inexpensive and fun way to spend your summer, but you want to make sure you’re not opening yourself up to a potential coverage gap. If you’re planning on providing any type of service or rental for a fee, make sure to contact your agent to get the right policy put in place.

Contact a KnowledgeBroker for more information!

Topics: Personal Insurance

A Review of Online Reviews

Posted by Tammy Cross

IiStock-1128818327 don’t know how many of you like online reviews—I know I do. A huge benefit of the internet is having so many businesses available to research and review with just the click of a mouse. Everything from contractors and restaurants, to vacation destinations and new cars. You name it…you can find it. Years ago, the only thing you could rely on was word of mouth or a good referral from a friend or relative. 

At R&R Insurance, we’re proud to say our best source of new business clients still comes from our customer referrals.  We can’t thank you enough for those, and want to you know that we take pride in assisting everyone that we work with.

Recently, we had prospective clients question why we would place them with a certain insurance company. (For those of you who don’t know, R&R Insurance is an independent agency. This means, unlike companies like State Farm, American Family, Allstate, etc., we represent many insurance companies. It’s not a one size fits all proposition.) The family was concerned that with the hundreds of reviews on this particular insurance company, not 100% of them were positive. I’ve always felt that negative reviews on an insurance company were a reflection on not only the insurance company, but the insurance agent and yes, the client. Let me explain why I say all three.

The insurance company should absolutely be at the top of the list here. Whatever scenario occurs (positive or negative), if a client feels compelled enough to tell the world about it, it’s important and should be addressed accordingly by the company. However, insurance by its very nature is a legal contract between the insured and the insurance company.  Not every claim that transpires, or every billing transaction that is processed can be guaranteed to go the way a client hopes.

Second, the insurance agent / agency needs to be held accountable as well. As an agent, they should be communicating to their insured on a very regular basis to minimize the possibility of surprises or unknowns. For example, we follow-up on all of our home & auto claims within 48 hours just to make sure things are going the way we think they should.  And if something is not covered, we try our best to be direct with our clients from the very beginning – explaining the situation, talking through possible outcomes, and providing solutions.

Lastly, are clients. While R&R and our carrier partners value being held to high standards, there are instances when clients have an expectation that is unfortunately unrealistic. And as many of us know from experience, accidents with our personal property can be incredibly emotional and cause a heightened sense of both positive and negative feelings. However, even in those cases, a great agency should be able to clearly explain what happened so their client feels more comfortable with the end result.

So, quite honestly online reviews are awesome!  And we live in world where they are readily available and should assist us in the decision making process.  But, if you do read an unfavorable review, please take a moment to consider if you have all the information needed to make the very best decision for you and your family.  And before you pull the trigger to make a change, make sure you are comfortable with the business you are working with. If you feel like the relationship is strong and they listen to your needs, then you will be off to a great start.  

Topics: Personal Insurance

10 Tips to Prevent Chimney Fires

Posted by the knowledge brokers

house on fireWhether we're ready for it or not, winter weather is upon us. And with colder temps comes an obvious increase in the use of fireplaces. For many of us, our fireplaces/chimneys haven't been touched in months. However, chimneys account for 75% of home heating fires - meaning homeowners should actively maintain and follow the necessary upkeep.

Property Casualty 360 provides the following tips to prevent chimney fires in your home.

  1. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year by a professional, and more than that if creosote builds up on the chimney walls more rapidly.
  2. Consider installing a stainless steel liner that will withstand even the highest temperatures and will keep the embers contained.
  3. Watch out for soot buildup. Soot is softer than creosote, but is also flammable and should be cleaned up regularly. 
  4. Between the professional inspections / cleanings, be sure to check and monitor your wood-burning fireplace for signs of buildup or other problems.
  5. Clean the interior of your fireplace, including the floor, regularly. Sweep or vacuum up cold ashes.
  6. Your chimney has a cap on the top of it with open sides (usually covered in mesh to keep rain, birds, squirrels, and debris out). Make sure this cap is regularly inspected and replaced when necessary.
  7. Check the interior of your fireplace for creosote buildup. It is flammable, therefore too much buildup is a fire hazard and should be cleaned away with a creosote remover as soon as possible. 
  8. Anytime there is smoke indoors from your fireplace, troubleshoot and immediately correct any problems you find. Possible causes are a dirty chimney, soot or creosote buildup, other debris, a sample that isn't open or fully opened, or wood not building completely.
  9. To improve your fireplace's efficiency, you should also consider installing heat-proof glass doors to protect against heat loss and a fan or blower to direct heat into the room.
  10. If possible, burn hardwoods like oak, maple, ash, and birch. These woods burn hot and long, are cleaner to handle, and have less pitched sap. They also tend to leave less creosote buildup but can be more expensive.

Looking for additional safety tips for your home? Contact a KnowledgeBroker at R&R Insurance.

Topics: Personal Insurance

Small Tips to Prevent Large Claims: Dryer Sheets for Winterizing Vehicles

Posted by Tammy Cross

Small Tips to Prevent Large Claims: Dryer Sheets for Winterizing Vehicles

iStock-541268154With Labor Day behind us and cooler temps in the future, it's time to think about storing those summer toys. From convertibles and boats, to motorcycles and jet-skis, unfortunately certain vehicles just aren't suited for Wisconsin winters. Below is a small tip for winterizing your car that can save you from a big claim next summer.

Believe it or not, dryer sheets and/or moth balls can prevent major rodent damage in your vacant vehicle. A garage will keep your car dry and relatively warm, but will also make your car attractive to rodents. By placing dryer sheets inside the vehicle and engine compartment, you'll combat any rodents that plan to chew their way through wires to make a new home.

REMINDER: It's important to make note of the dryer sheets prior to driving your vehicle! Hang a reminder on your rear-view mirror or on the dashboard so you don't forget!

Topics: Personal Insurance

College Students Need Insurance Too!

Posted by the knowledge brokers

iStock_000048840808_FullInsurance needs are often overlooked for college kids in the hustle and bustle of preparing for college. It's not uncommon for college kids to have thousands of dollars of electronic equipment and a closet bursting with clothes in the dorm rooms, as well as bicycles and instruments.

 

Students living on-campus:
Generally, this coverage is part of the parents’ existing policy and will cover up to 10% of the policy personal property limits for when a student is enrolled on a full-time basis.

Students living off-campus:

Generally, if a student maintains their parents’ address as their primary address and is enrolled as a full-time student, they will continue to be eligible for coverage under their parents’ policy. Students who have established their permanent primary address off-campus and no longer maintain their parent’s address as their primary address, and students who are enrolled only on a part-time basis, will need a separate renters policy to cover their personal belongings. Make sure that your student living off-campus is protected with this low-cost policy.

What about car insurance for the student who is away at college?
If your student is more than 100 miles away from home and does not take a car with them, you will get a discount on your car insurance rate because your vehicles are not being driven by your college student when the student is away at school.

Good Student Discounts:
Students who maintain a grade point average of a 3.0 / "B" or better will qualify with most companies for a "good student discount".

Wisconsin residents interested in a free insurance analysis for their personal insurance, please contact a knowledgebroker.

Topics: Personal Insurance, insurance for college students, renters insurance, collge kids, Students living off campus, student living on campus, college insurance, dorm room

Water Leaks: The Number One Loss When Going on Vacation

Posted by the knowledge brokers

house180% of Homeowners Overlook Costly Water Leak Exposure When Heading on Vacation

A study by Chubb Insurance shows that while on vacation, just 19% of homeowners view internal water leak damage as the most concerning threat to their home, despite the fact that water leaks are a more frequent risk than fire and theft. Homeowners are particularly vulnerable during summer travel season.

According to Chubb, "the time between when a leak occurs and when it is discovered is the single greatest factor in determining the amount of damage. As a result, leaks that occur while you're away result in greater amounts of damage in terms of both cost and severity."

Water damage claims have been rising over the last few years as well. In the last 10 years, the frequency of pipe bursts has nearly doubled. In addition to the increase in leaks, 90% of homeowners rate themselves as "vigilant" at preventative home maintenance, yet only 22% shut off the water main before heading out of town.

Before leaving on your next vacation, here are quick steps to properly protect your property:

  1. Be sure all appliances and hoses are in good working condition
  2. Inspect your sump pump 
  3. Have your gutters cleared of debris
  4. Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house
  5. Install a water leak detection device
  6. Add a yellow tag to your water main shut off valve in case of a water emergency. Click here to receive free tags from us!

To learn more about water leak damage and protecting your home, view the following infographic, "Don't Get Water Logged" or contact a KnowledgeBroker.

Topics: Personal Insurance, Personal Lines, water damage

Home Security for the Holidays

Posted by the knowledge brokers

iStock-641307790Going on vacation or visiting in-laws for the holidays? Here are some great tips to “Home-Alone” proof your house that don't involve leaving a mischievous child to set-up traps and pranks to deter burglars.

1. Get a Quality Deadbolt
A good lock system can deter most people from trying to break into your home. A deadbolt that is certified by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association and the American National Standards Institute, with grades of 1 through 3.

2. Get a House-Sitter
Preferably not Kevin McCallister from “Home Alone." Instead, enlist in a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member to stop by, check on the house. It will appear someone is home if their car is in the driveway frequently. =

3. Notify the Post Office
Tell the local Post Office of your plans to travel, and request that they stop sending mail to your house for the duration of your trip. A full mailbox is a huge red flag to burglars looking for a vacant home!

4. Get Electric Light Timers
Place electric light timers in various rooms of your house. Lights will give the appearance that someone is home. If you do this, be sure to notify your neighbors so they don’t mistake the lights for intruders.

5. Hire Someone to Shovel
If you will be gone during snowfall season (which in Wisconsin is very likely), hire someone to shovel your driveway. A driveway that goes un-shoveled for two or three days after a snowstorm is a huge indicator that no one is at home, even if you do all of the above items.

6. Be Careful What You Post on Social Media
While it can be exciting to share an update of the beautiful beach you're sitting on, or the gorgeous snowfall you're enjoying, be careful what you post on social media. If your posts are public (and even if they're private) you could be letting a whole lot of people know your home is empty!

Before you leave on vacation, try to put together a quick checklist of the security measures you want to implement. HINT: all the items on this list should be on it! The list serves as a great reminder right before you leave to have the relaxing and stress-free holiday you deserve!

 

Topics: Personal Insurance

Keep Your Vacation Home Water Tight All Year Long

Posted by the knowledge brokers

iStock-172339213.jpgDid You Know? Water is the top preventable cause of damage to American homes — more than fire and theft. However approximately one in every 55 insured homes has a water/freezing claim each year.

Our friends at Nationwide shared an article about the importance of protecting your vacation home during the offseason.

Seasonal and vacation homes are at greater risk of water damage due to prolonged periods of inoccupancy. Undetected, the amount of water damage from a water leak in a secondary home compared to your primary home can be astronomical. However, with proper maintenance and oversight, you can reduce your risk of experiencing an extremely inconvenient loss from water damage to your secondary home.

Nationwide recommends the following tips to help prevent water damage:

  • Keep your thermostat set at no less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit during winter months.
  • Hire a professional caretaker or contract with a local building contractor to check on your vacation house and make sure the temperature is warm enough to keep pipes from bursting.
  • Consider shutting off the water and draining the plumbing system before leaving your home for extended periods of time.
  • Enhance your central station alarm system to include temperature monitoring. Your alarm company will notify you or your caretaker if the temperature in your house falls below a pre-determined limit.
  • Consider having a wireless and programmable thermostat, such as Nest, installed as a lower cost option for temperature monitoring. This device can communicate the temperature at your vacation home with your smart phone.
  • Consider installing an emergency electrical generator to operate the heating system when the power fails during winter storms.

For more information on properly protecting your vacation home this winter, contact a KnowledgeBroker at R&R Insurance.

Topics: Personal Insurance

Making Big Changes? Don't Forget to Contact Your Insurance Agent

Posted by the knowledge brokers

iStock-539841066.jpgWe recently had a Personal Insurance client report an auto claim to us. After we made sure the client was not injured, we took a deep breath and started the process of submitting a claim. The submission process typically includes gathering details of the accident and getting the appropriate insurance carrier involved.

While submitting the information to the insurance company, we realized that the client’s car involved in the accident was not on their auto insurance policy. Our client was under the impression the car dealership would contact us to add the new car and take off the car they had traded in. Unfortunately, R&R was never contacted.

This is a friendly reminder to you, our valued customer.  If something happens in your life (i.e., you buy something, you sell something, you are considering buying a certain breed of dog, or if you just want to talk about the Packers, Brewers or Bucks), contact R&R and we can talk you through the process. We are not here to sell you coverages you don’t need or want, but we will only provide knowledge to you so you can make great decisions.  That’s just another reason why we are known as The Knowledge Brokers.

Topics: Personal Insurance