A Look Back at 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, we are grateful for loyal clients like you and for another year in business. We wish you and yours the best in 2019!

Here's what we will remember most from 2018:

This Spring we celebrated some of our Young Artists by handing out awards and backpacks full of art supplies.  We also were busy with claims from early spring storm damage and calls from farmers concerned they wouldn't get their crops planted.

398c4b71-91fb-4b80-8211-754f6006d06f.jpg

These three visited the office regularly this Summer.  We helped clients insure their new homes, worried every time there was a severe thunderstorm warning and saw many clients and their families at the fair.

We celebrated Halloween this Fall by dressing up as insurance claims.  We spread holiday cheer by donating turkeys to the Alden Food Shelf, giving cash donations to the Alden Area Community Foundation, the Freeborn County Communities Foundation and to the Holiday Lights fund in Albert Lea. 

In 2019 we look forward to:

Helping more people with their insurance needs.

Celebrating 20 years in business!

Beneficial policy updates and enhancements for our clients.

Having our new neighbor Leach Law move in.

The excitement of the Governor's Fishing Opener coming to town.

Living in, working in and enjoying our community!


Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.
— Bill Vaughn

Happy Halloween

IMG_4861.jpg

This year, the office dressed up as perils for Halloween.

Fire (Sara Christianson) – Something that produces a spark, flame or glow. Hostile fire is a fire that is burning where it shouldn’t – like your living room curtains! Damage from hostile fire is covered under the fire peril.

Lightning (Sarah Hensley) – Naturally occurring electricity that directly damages something or a fire caused by lightning are both covered under the lightning peril. Common claims from lighting strikes include damage to electronics and appliances.

Water and Sewer Backup (Brady Gooden) – When water or water-borne materials back up into your home through sewers, drains, a sump pump, or similar equipment. Coverage for this peril is not automatically included and must be added to a policy.

Full Glass Coverage

Summer in Minnesota means road construction. I know, I know, it’s my favorite thing too.  Driving through road construction areas increases the chance that a rocks or stones are flying out of trucks and into our windshields.

Full Glass Coverage is available on any vehicle that carries comprehensive coverage.  The coverage gives you a $0 deductible for repairs or replacement of your windshield (or other auto window glass).

Repairing the chip most often means that a crack will not develop and replacing the entire windshield will not be required.  Sometimes, the damage is significant, or a crack quickly develops and a full replacement is necessary.

If you notice a rock chip or crack, contact us and we will arrange for it to get taken care of!

 

Photo by holisticmonkey on Foter.com / CC BY

10 Steps To Take After a Car Accident

Here are 10 steps to take after you get into a car accident.

1. If there are injuries, call 9-1-1 immediately. Otherwise, contact the police department to file an accident report.
2. Stay calm
3. Get contact and insurance information from the involved parties
4. Collect witness names and numbers
5. Call for a tow – either through your Roadside Assistance provider or a local towing company
6. If you can safely do so, photograph any damage
7. Don’t offer an opinion regarding who was at fault for the accident
8. Discuss accident details only with the police or your insurance agent
9. Don’t leave the scene until instructed by police
10. Call your insurance agent to file a claim.


Stay safe on the road everyone!

Entrepreneur Essentials: Business Auto Coverage

In this video, Sarah touches on the aspects of business auto coverage. Depending on your situation, your liability limits may need to be higher. For example, driving on and east coast business trip coming from the mid-west. 

Entrepreneur Essentials: Home Based Business

You may think that your home office is low risk and therefore it does not need special consideration. However, there may be exclusions within your homeowner's policy and may not cover your business exposures. In this video, Sarah speaks about home based business and their special situation.

Entrepreneur Essentials: Professional Liability Coverage

This video in the Entrepreneur Essential video series is on the topic of professional liability coverage. Enjoy!

Professional Liability

•     Errors and Omissions

•     Harm that results from mistakes or failure to perform

•     Missed contract deadlines

•     Inadvertently use a copyrighted image in marketing

•     Anything you don’t intentionally do

 

Entrepreneur Essentials: Business Interruption Coverage

Business Interruption coverage protects business owners in the case of a fire for example. Each business is different, some may be able to be back up running within a week or more, and others a few days. Watch the video to see how business interruption can help! Below is a short summary of the topics covered in this video.

Business Interruption

•     Compensates for lost business due to a disaster

•     What happens if your property is destroyed in a claim?

•     How fast can you be back operating?

•     If you need a commercial kitchen – how many of those are in your city?  What cost will you need to pay to have a temporary space?

•     What about your products – if you lost your organic, seasonal ingredient like rhubarb for the frozen pies you sell, and need to replace what burned up in the fire how much do you have to pay to source that ingredient?  Or, do you not have the product to sell until there is organic rhubarb available to you again.

•     If you are a consultant who commutes to the company headquarters, you probably need a day to replace your laptop, download your files from the cloud and can get back to work.

•     Very business dependent.

Entrepreneur Essentials: Property & Liability

Welcome to the next video in this series! We are glad you are here. Below is a short summary of the video if you prefer to read about the topics Sarah discusses in the video above.

Property

o Necessary whether owned or leased location

o Insure your space AND your stuff

o Equipment to have business function

 o Post its and pens to production machines – what do you need to be reimbursed for if you have a claim?

Liability

o Customer trips and falls on stairs or slip and falls on ice outside your store

Entrepreneur Essentials: Introduction

We have launched this video series in order to help new entrepreneurs, especially, to learn about what insurance coverage they need to have. In the following few posts, Sarah will be covering 7 topics that entrepreneurs should have knowledge on. Stay tuned for the next post and let us know what you think in the comments!

Farmers look to diversify during a time of shrinking profit margins, but at what cost?

By: Brady Gooden

As we enter the sixth year of declining or flat prices, ag producers continue looking for additional ways to increase revenue.  Even with three consecutive years of record or near-record yields for many local producers, operations continue to face shrinking profit margins.  What will happen if prices continue to stay flat and production slips to average or below average yields?  Hoping to combat this reality, many producers have looked to diversify their operation as a  way to increase revenues.  Diversification often involves using the tools and equipment at their immediate disposal.  Custom spraying, custom manure hauling, custom grain hauling, custom planting, custom harvesting, custom tillage, custom livestock feeding…custom, custom, custom. 

What’s the problem then?  If the proper steps are taken, absolutely nothing.  Increasing revenue with a minimal increase to expenses or wear and tear on equipment is a fantastic way to improve the bottom line.  Taking the proper steps is the key to protecting yourself, however.  Sure, it would be great to spray the neighbors’ 500 acres twice per season at $5 or $6 per acre, but what does your farm liability company think of that?  More than likely, they are not automatically providing coverage for overspray or drift while custom applicating.  However, if you contact them, many companies WILL provide the coverage for an additional premium.  You might even be surprised to find out how inexpensive it really is. 

State or federal regulations are another thing to consider.  Do you need your commercial applicators license if you start custom spraying?  Putting your semi-tractor and trailer to work during the slow months is an extremely popular idea among producers, but what needs to be done to haul for others?  This one is usually a bit more complicated and the costs can add up a little faster.  Federal motor filings, commercial truck insurance, cargo insurance, truck authority…all things that need to be considered.  These items can certainly add up, to the point where it may not make sense to pursue custom hauling, unless you’re going to do a lot of it.  But again, some larger ag insurers are willing to take on these risks for an additional premium.  

The cost for additional licensing or insurance may be very reasonable, or may be prohibitive, depending on what you are doing.  However, it pales in comparison to what it might cost a producer that fails to go through the proper steps.  Let’s say Farmer John decides to start custom hauling grain for a couple of his neighbors.  He thinks, “I’ve got $3 million worth of liability coverage between my vehicle policy and my umbrella, I’ll be fine.”  What if Farmer John gets into an accident and seriously injures or kills someone?  Well, if he’s custom hauling and his company doesn’t know about it, there’s a chance his liability coverage is going to be $0 at the time of a claim.  So, then what happens?  If Farmer John doesn’t have the money in the bank to cover the judgements against him, he’s likely going to have to sell the farm.  This is a nightmare scenario, and something that could have been avoided with a call to his insurance agent. 

This is not to say producers should avoid taking on custom work.  As stated before, it’s a FANTASTIC way to increase revenue at what’s usually a small additional cost to the operation or wear and tear on equipment.  But, producers need to make sure they are asking the proper questions beforehand and not leaving themselves and their operations exposed to unnecessary risks.  More than likely, the resources to properly conduct custom operations are readily available to all producers.  If there is a question regarding licensing, filings, or regulations, call your attorney.  If you have insurance related questions, call your agent.  These are key members of your business team and they are in your corner willing to help.

Fire Prevention: Tips to Stay Safe This Fire Season

Fire Prevention.jpg

When someone mentions fire season – your mind may go to summertime drought and forest fires. But there’s another type of fire season, one that we’re right in the middle of. Home electrical fires peak between December through March and occur primarily in the hours of 12:00 AM and 6:00 AM. 

While electrical fires account for just one portion of the 1,345,500 fires in the United States in 2015, those fires resulted in $14.3 billion dollars of damage. Cooking fires account for over 50% of fires followed by heating related fires at nearly 11%. 

It’s wise to follow the simple recommendations below and protect yourself from becoming a victim of fire.

 

To Reduce Risk of Cooking Fires:

  • Keep a pan lid or cooking sheet nearby to cover the pan if it catches on fire.
  • Place your grill at least 3’ from siding, deck railings, eaves and overhanging branches
  • Keep boxes, papers and other packaging materials away from the stovetop

To Reduce Risk of Electrical Fires:

  • Plug in only one heat producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, microwave, space heater) into a wall outlet at a time.
  •  Use extension cords only temporarily and never use an extension cord with a heat-producing appliance.
  • Check your electrical cords. If they are cracked or damaged, replace them. Don’t try to repair them.

To Reduce Risk of Heating Fires:

  • Never use an oven to heat your home.
  • Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year by a professional.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside at least 10 feet from your home and any nearby buildings.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from any heat source like fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters.

General Tips

  • Choose interconnected smoke alarms, so when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Put smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Put alarms on every level of the home.
  •  Make sure your smoke alarms work. Your family is not safe if they can’t hear the smoke alarms.
  • Test smoke alarms every month and replace 9-volt smoke alarm batteries at least once every year.
  • Smoke alarms do not last forever. Get new smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • When you hear a smoke alarm, you may have less than 2 minutes to get everyone outside and safe.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms at test them at least once a month.

Please, stay safe this fire season!