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R&R Insurance Blog

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 Brandy Enger

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 Dan Wolfgram

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

How To Prevent Ice Dams

Posted by Dan Wolfgram

iStock-539106517The freeze-thaw combination we experience during winter creates ice dams that will send water down interior walls of your home when it melts. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation etc. A key indication that there is an ice dam problem is the appearance of large icicles hanging from the roof's edge.


Preventing Ice Dams

Ice dams can be prevented by controlling the heat loss from the home.

Immediate action:

  • Remove snow from the roof. You will need a "roof rake" to remove the snow. (View video for demonstration) A push broom can be used as well, but may damage the roofing materials.

Long-term action:

  • Seal up any air leakage between the house and attic space
  • Increase the ceiling/roof insulation

Interior damage should not be repaired until ceilings and walls are dry. In addition, interior repair should be done together with correcting the heat loss problem that created the ice dam or the damage will occur again.

Wisconsin residents, watch the video below or contact knowledgebroker, Dan Wolfgram for more information and more ways to prevent ice dams!

Topics: Personal Insurance, melting snow, water creates ice dam, prevent ice dams, large icicles hanging from roof, preventing ice dams, freeze-thaw combination, ice dams, roof rake

Are you overpaying to be under insured?  Survey says: Yes

Posted by Brandy Enger

Garbage-of-cash.jpgAs a financially successful individual, you have proven yourself to be money savvy – saving when you can and investing wisely.  But are you spending your hard-earned wealth wisely when it comes to insurance?  

Chubb® conducted a survey of more than 600 independent insurance brokers and asked if their clients were over or underinsured with their previous mass-carrier insurance for 21 types of coverage.  The results showed that a non-personalized insurer does not appear to be doing their due diligence when it comes to their client’s financial security.

According to the survey, 63% of independent insurance agents were able to insure a new client properly and keep the annual premium at no more than 5% above the mass-carrier price.  In half the cases, it was less.  

But what were the top areas where clients were overpaying? 

  • Having deductibles that were too low
  • Failing to earn package discounts
  • Not getting premium credits for alarm systems and other loss prevention devices
This is why I continually ask my clients to consider how much they could pay for a loss without significantly affecting their lifestyle, and then provide an estimate on the premium savings they could achieve.  In most cases, the savings can be substantial.

And what about underinsuring?  Coverage for umbrella liability, valuable collections, uninsured/underinsured liability, and rebuilding a damaged home remained the most likely underinsured risks, with a shocking 92% being underinsured in the category of umbrella liability.  This is especially frightening when you consider that in 2008, $29 million was awarded to the family of a four-year-old boy who suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury while riding as a passenger in a vehicle  involved in a head-on collision.

I have personally run into situations that mirror the results of this survey.  I often meet with individuals who are underinsured or incorrectly insured with their current insurance carrier.  Many insurance carriers in the mainstream market simply cannot provide the types of coverage that an affluent individual needs.  These individuals often own assets that could be covered more effectively and for less premium if they were with the proper carrier.

This is why I’m so proud to be an Independent Insurance Agent. Because of the multiple facets that comprise your lifestyle, there are more variables available for adjusting coverage in order to keep you properly insured and not paying too much. And since R&R represents multiple markets, I am confident that one of our luxury insurance carrier partners will be the perfect fit for you and your needs.

10 Questions:  Are You Overpaying to be Underinsured?

Topics: Personal Insurance

Why Am I Paying More for Auto Insurance?

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Have you ever wondered why your auto insurance increases year after year? If you've ever found yourself asking the question, "Why am I paying more for auto insurance," take a look at the graphic below. There are more reasons than you might realize.

Hanover on auto insurance rates.jpg

Contact a KnowledgeBroker for more information about the recent auto trends and to make sure you have the right coverage.

Content provided by Hanover Insurance.

Topics: Personal Insurance