Take a look through your home and start thinking, “How would I replace this in case it was lost or damaged?” While renter’s and home insurance will cover many costs, there are some things that may not be covered entirely. Valuable items coverage is additional coverage you can purchase to insure items outside of the normal scope of your homeowner’s insurance. You can add this as a part of your homeowner’s or renter’s policy or make it a stand-alone personal articles floater policy to specifically schedule these items. Our staff will be more than happy to help you navigate this decision.
With Valentine’s Day coming up (and all the shiny new things we hope it brings for you), we figured it would be the perfect time to remind you of a few other things that can be covered by valuable items coverage.
- Jewelry – This one goes without saying, but any nice jewelry should be insured. The insurance will offer broad coverage including theft and lost items, which is especially important for smaller items (like rings).
- Collectibles – Do you have a fine art collection? What about that special baseball card collection? Items that will appreciate in value and are one of a kind should have coverage of their own. An appraiser can help determine what your collection is worth, helping your agent assess your coverage needs.
- Electronics – You should already have a home inventory (if you don’t read our guide to creating one here), but think about each computer, television, tablet, and other electronic devices in your home. If the total value of all of those items is more than what your coverage already includes for replacements, you need to add more coverage.
- Sports and hunting equipment – If you are a hunter, avid angler or cyclist, you know how much money you put into the sport. You also know how upset you would be if you could not pay to replace the gear, if the worst should happen. A valuable items policy would alleviate this.
- Expensive hobby items – Do you do photography? Play an instrument? Have a crafting or art studio? Think about getting coverage for these things, which will make it easier to get back up and working after a disaster.
We hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day with all of the people you love, and look forward to your call on February 15 to get coverage for all of your new things!
We are well into winter, so you may think you have your winter driving routine down to a T. Preparation is key, though, so make sure you have the following things in your car in case of a winter weather emergency:
- Sturdy ice scraper. The worst feeling is going to clean off your car in the morning, and breaking your dollar store scraper, so invest in a one that will last more than a season or two. As a bonus, many have snow brushes, as well.
- Warm things. Throw an extra blanket, pair of gloves, and sweater in the trunk. In case of an emergency, you may have to change into dry gloves – remember, the cold can turn dangerous very quickly, stay warm.
- Emergency flares. These should already be in your emergency car kit, but if they are not, get some now. Visibility may be decreased during a storm, making them more crucial.
- Collapsible shovel. These handy inventions collapse down to about a foot, making them a compact solution to a potentially large problem.
- Rock salt, sand, or kitty litter. Either of these will help your tires gain traction if they are stuck in the snow. As an added benefit, the bag will add a few pounds of extra weight in the trunk, which also helps increase traction.
- Personal care products. Water, nonperishable snacks, a cell phone charger, a flashlight, and a basic first aid kit should stay in your car year-round, but especially in winter (when it may take longer for an emergency crew or tow truck to reach you) they become critically important.
- Standard car kit. Things like jumper cables, a tow chain (or rope), small tool kit, and extra windshield wiper fluid can help you do minor repairs on your own – saving time and money. YouTube is a surprisingly good resource for learning basic mechanical skills, like changing a tire or jumping a battery, so settle in with some hot cocoa and teach yourself something new. While you’re at it, reread our tips on driving in the winter.
We hope the rest of your winter is accident free, and you don’t need anything in this kit, but keeping these things in your car can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major tragedy.
The days are short. The air is cold. And, roads are often slick with rain, snow, or ice.
While most people know what to do to try to avoid an accident, many don’t know what to do after one. It’s vital knowledge to have, because the aftermath of a crash can be just as dangerous as the crash itself — especially when it’s cold and snowy.
Here are five things to do (or not do) if you’re in an accident this winter to help keep yourself and others safe:
- Make sure everyone’s OK — then get off the road if you can. The safety of everyone involved in a crash is the first concern, of course. So, check on the occupants of each vehicle and call for emergency assistance if it’s needed. Then, if the vehicles are drivable, get them off the road as soon – and as carefully – as possible.
- Stay in your car if you can’t safely move away. If you can’t get your car off the road, but you can get off the road, wait until there’s no traffic around and then move well out of the way. Otherwise, stay in the car so you’re protected from other vehicles.
- Stay visible — and warm. Turn on your hazard lights and put up road flares so other vehicles know something is wrong. Grab your vehicle emergency kit (you have one, right?) for blankets and extra clothing. If you’ve run off the road and you’re still in your car, make sure nothing is blocking your exhaust pipe. Otherwise carbon monoxide may build up.
- If you’re stranded, stay put. Running off the road in a remote area is scary, but resist the urge to try to walk for help. You risk getting lost, especially during a storm, if you set off on foot.
- See a crash? Don’t always stop to help. Being a Good Samaritan could cause more problems than it solves. So, if those involved aren’t in immediate danger, call 911, and let the professionals help with medical aid and traffic control.
It’s not always easy, but keeping a cool head after an accident will do more than help everyone get through a stressful situation — it will help keep everyone safer, too.
And, remember, if something does happen on the road this winter, your agent is here to help with your auto accident claim. If you’re unsure whether you’re carrying the right coverage, call now before it’s too late!
Winter in St. Louis is certainly here. With the many recent snowstorms, we thought it would be a great time for a refresher course on driving in the snow.
- Take your time. Apply the gas and brakes more slowly than you do normally. This is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids, according to AAA.
- Think about the hills. Don’t stop on the incline of an icy hill – you may not have the traction and inertia to make it up, creating a traffic nightmare for anyone behind you. Additionally, don’t try to power up hills, it will only make your wheels spin.
- Drive slowly. This may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t get in a hurry. Build extra travel time into your commute or plans, and, again, take your time.
- Mind other cars. On dry pavement, your following distance should be around three to four seconds. In the snow, there should be between eight and ten seconds between cars.
- Know how to slide. If you do start to slide on ice, turn your front wheels in the same direction that the rear of the vehicle is sliding – for instance, if the back of your car slides to the left, turn the wheel to the left.
- Stay home. If you don’t have to be out in a snow storm, just wait it out. Road crews and plows will be there soon enough to clear the roads, so enjoy the scenery and relax.
While we wish for a milder winter, we hope you will be prepared for any more snow we get this season.
It’s hard to think of a worse start to a winter day than turning on the faucet and … nothing. Maybe there’s a trickle of water, but it’s clear you have a frozen pipe. So, what now? Here are some smart tips to help you prevent or address what could easily become a very messy and expensive situation:
- See to your outdoor water lines: Before cold weather arrives, drain water sprinkler and swimming pool supply lines, and remove, drain and store outdoor hoses. If possible, close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs, and open the outside hose bibs for draining. Keep them open so any remaining water can expand without breaking the pipe. If you can’t shut off the water from the inside, pick up some foam faucet covers.
- Keep your home warm: Maintain an interior temperature of at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even when you’re sleeping or not at home. Seal any drafts and leave interior doors open to help keep an even temperature from room to room.
- Tend to those pipes: Leave the cabinet doors open in the kitchen and bathroom so your pipes aren’t shut off from the warm air. You can also insulate your pipes with sleeves, heat tape, or heat cable. Insulation is especially important in unheated areas, such as your attic, basement, garage or crawl space, and for pipes running along exterior walls. During severe cold spells, you may want to leave all faucets, both hot and cold, running at a slight trickle.
- Call in a professional: Frozen water in your pipes can cause them to burst, meaning you’ll have a mess on your hands once that water unthaws. So, act quickly to shut off your main water supply, and call in a licensed plumber to see to the situation.
Finally, be sure to touch base with us to check whether you’re covered for the damage a frozen pipe may cause. We’re happy to answer all of your policy questions this winter, and beyond.
Christmas trees are a beloved holiday tradition, but they can pose a fire risk. On average, says the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the country respond to more than 200 blazes related to holiday trees each year.
Despite how much we support our local firefighting heroes, we hope they won’t have a reason to show up at your doorstep this holiday season. So, here are our common-sense suggestions for enjoying a Christmas tree safely:
- If you opt for an artificial tree, be sure it has a flame-retardant label or certification. If you’re picking out a live tree, forgo the one with brownish needles that are falling out – it’s too dry. Instead choose one with fresh, green needles that don’t fall out even when you shake the limb.
- Place your live tree in water as soon as possible, using about a quart of water per each inch of stem diameter. Before you do, however, make a fresh cut from the stem bottom – straight across – to help the tree get water. Replenish the water regularly.
- Situate the tree so you can still access the exits in the room and keep it at least three feet away from open flames or heat sources, such as your fireplace or radiator.
- Now it’s time for the best part – trimming the tree. Choose lights and other decorations labeled as flame retardant, and make sure your lights don’t have frayed or worn wires. Leaving the house or going to sleep? Be sure to unplug those lights.
- It’s always a chore – and somewhat of a bummer – to take down the tree each year, but do so sooner rather than later, especially with a live tree. Otherwise you prolong your risk of a fire. Check for tree recycling options in your area for responsible disposal.
No matter if you trim your tree with popcorn or with heirloom ornaments, we hope it brings the magic of the season alive for you and your loved ones this year.
If you’re like many people, you breathe a sigh of relief once the holidays are over.
Until you get your credit card statement, that is.
From buying gifts to traveling to entertaining, holiday expenses add up quickly — it’s easy to overspend without even realizing it. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some ideas to help keep your spending down and your spirits up.
This goes for almost everything — from gifts to airfare to hotel rooms. Buying gifts over the course of the year means you can take advantage of sales and avoid the last-minute frenzy. Plus, travel prices often rise as the holidays near.
Leave early (or late)
Whether you’re taking a plane, train or automobile, consider traveling on off-peak dates. You’ll often save money doing so, and you may save yourself some hassle, too.
Spread the load
Entertaining can be costly, so ask others for help. Instead of making all the food yourself, have a potluck. And, share the burden when it comes to gifts. Draw names for gift-giving, make a donation on behalf of the entire family, or set limits for gift buying.
Take a different approach
Do you send holiday cards and a letter each year? Consider emailing your letter, posting it on Facebook, or sending postcards instead. Buying gifts online can save both time and money, too, especially if you take advantage of free shipping and gift-wrapping options. You could even do away with physical gifts altogether, because the best gift of all is spending time with family and friends.
The holidays can be stressful enough, so don’t add to that stress by overextending yourself. With a little bit of planning, and maybe a little shift in thinking, you can have a happy — and budget-friendly — season.
Unless you’re headed to a warmer climate for the winter, fall in the Midwest is the time to start preparing your RV for winter (as long as you’re done using it for a while, that is).
The elements can wreak havoc on your RV’s systems and exterior, but with these five RV winterization tips, you can take steps to protect your investment and make sure it’s ready to go in the spring. Before you get started, though, remember to always check the owners’ manuals for both your RV and any appliances inside — and follow those specific instructions.
- Drain and blow out the water lines. Frozen water will do a real number on your RV’s water system. So, clear the lines and drain the tanks, and then add nontoxic (not automotive) antifreeze following the specifications in your manual.
- Clean the interior. You don’t want food to spoil and risk mildew on bedding and clothing, so remove all of it from your RV. You also want to get anything out that will attract animals and insects looking for a cozy winter home. After you clean the interior, open up the cabinets and fridge and leave them that way. Close your blinds to keep the sun out, too.
- Then, tackle the exterior. Clean all surfaces, including tires (which should be properly inflated), and then put on an RV cover if you have one. Make sure awnings are dry before you roll them up, and close all the windows and doors.
- Find a good place to park. After you’ve spent all this time getting your RV protected for winter, don’t park it somewhere unsafe, where a tree could fall on it or high weeds will attract insects.
- Watch the battery. Actually, don’t watch it — disconnect it, particularly if you won’t be driving your RV for at least 30 days.
Bonus tip: While you’re not driving your RV, call us to discuss your insurance coverage. You may be able to save money on your policy if it won’t be on the road for an extended period of time.
Fall is the perfect time to get a few home maintenance tasks done. One that seems to intimidate people (but needs to get done) is cleaning the gutters. You should clean your gutters at least one time a year, and more if you have a lot of trees on your property.
Of course, you could hire a professional service for anywhere between $50 and $250, but you shouldn’t feel scared to take care of the task on your own. There are a few key things to keep in mind, though:
- Dress appropriately. Wear long sleeves and pants, gloves, non-slip shoes, and perhaps a face mask, if you are prone to seasonal allergies.
- Use your ladder safely. Read our guide from earlier this month (INSERT LINK) on how to use your ladder in the safest way possible. Think about investing in standoff stabilizers to help protect the gutter from being damaged.
- Know your roof. If your roof has a very low pitch, it may be easier and safer to work from the roof, rather than a ladder. That being said, only do this if your are very comfortable being on the roof, and never clean when the roof is wet or it is windy.
- Use a scoop. While you could clear everything with your hand, a small shovel will save you time and frustration. You don’t have to get fancy – a kid’s sand shovel or garden shovel will work just fine.
- Think about your lawn. Throwing dirt and dead leaves directly on your grass can cause brown spots and makes it tough to clean up later. Get a tarp or lawn garbage bags for any debris you remove, and keep your lawn looking great.
- Flush it out. After you remove debris, rinse the gutters and rain spout using your garden hose. This will not only help ensure a clear gutter system, but also may point out any potential cracks or holes in the material.
This fall we hope you find time for all those little home tasks that tend to get overlooked – it just may save you money and frustration in the long run.