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

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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!

12 Claims of Christmas

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1. Partridge in a Pear Tree

Your partridge and your pear tree both perished in yesterday’s record breaking blizzard.
In fact, part of your once vibrant and healthy pear tree is now in your neighbor's living
room.
 

Your neighbor would turn in a claim to their insurance company. Because the tree
was healthy and blew into their home because of a blizzard, you are not
considered at fault. Give them a fruitcake. It’ll make them feel better.

2. Turtle Doves

The Turtles Doves, a local bluegrass band, is booked for the community New Year’s Eve
celebration. An ice storm of epic proportions hits your town starting at noon and the
celebration is cancelled. Your community group has paid the band a non-refundable
booking fee and now the show literally cannot go on.
 

With event insurance, this weather event could be insured against. Expenses that
the community group already paid, such as the band fee, ballroom rental fee and
catering bills could be reimbursed.

3. French Hens

Three French hens escaped the barn at French Hen Farm, AGAIN. The hens tried to
cross the road. Two made it across. The third French hen was hit by a car and the
headlight and grill were damaged.
 

The driver of the car should contact the owner of French Hen Farm. The farmer
has a responsibility to make a reasonable attempt to keep his animals off the road
and away from cars. The insurance policy for French Hen Farm should pay for
damages to the car.

4. Calling Birds

These calling birds really use up the phone plan fast when they’re planning their
Christmas festivities and menu plans. Rose was talking to her sister while baking
gingerbread and her phone accidentally fell into the oven and no longer works.
 

Some homeowner’s insurance policies have an option to include coverage for cell
phones. Be sure to check with your agent to find out if you can insure your phone
on your policy.

5. Gold Rings

Gloria got a pretty emerald and gold ring for Christmas. When she was out for New
Year’s Eve and showing off her new ring, she noticed one of the emeralds was
missing… 

If Gloria had called her insurance agent to add the ring to Inland Marine coverage
with a $0 deductible, the missing emerald would be covered, and Gloria wouldn’t
pay a deductible for the replacement stone. If she neglected to call her agent, the
replacement emerald would be subject to the policy deductible because it would
be considered personal property.

6. Geese a-Laying

It becomes apparent that these are not just regular geese when they begin laying golden
eggs…
 

High value livestock and farm animals (like Registered cattle, Registered horses
or geese that lay golden eggs) can be scheduled on a policy to have lower
deductibles and increased coverages. Special policies are also available for
injury or mortality.

7. Swans a-Swimming

In December in Minnesota, there’s not many swans swimming or people boating.
 

Some companies offer special boat coverage and pricing for the winter months
when the boat is in storage. Call your agent to see if this is an option on your
policy.

8. Maids a-Milking

Your milking maids get injured from a herd of cows trampling them. Now you not only have no one to milk the cows, but you also have to pay for the injuries that your eight maids endured. 

Do you have work comp coverage for your employees?  It would pay for their injuries, medical expenses and lost wages.  Farm Extra Expense coverage within your farm policy would allow you to pay for interim farm help until the eight maids are able to get back to work.

9.  Ladies Dancing

The annual Christmas Cookie Exchange at Ella’s included some extra strong egg nog.  After exchanging cookies, the ladies turned up the music and decided to dance.  It was all fun and games until Dixie fell and hurt her ankle and had to be taken to the ER for x-rays.  

When Dixie checked into the ER, she reports that the fall happened at Ella’s house.  Since Dixie was injured away from her home, her medical insurance company will request that Ella’s home insurance company pay the first medical expenses that she incurred.

10. Lords a-Leaping

Your five grandkids, all under age five, stayed overnight stay during Christmas break.  Lots of playing and leaping on the furniture ensued.  In the midst of the leaping, Grandma’s glass of red wine got knocked over leaving a horrible stain in the middle of the room, on the white carpet. 

With Special Form coverage on your policy, a professional cleaning company could be brought into see if the stain could be removed.  If not, the policy would pay for the carpet in that area to be replaced.

11.     Pipers Piping

You’re expecting houseguests for the holiday and are busy washing sheets and towels for all the extra people.  While you’re out finishing your Christmas shopping, the pipe to the washer bursts and damages the flooring of your laundry room.

Sudden or accidental discharge of water is a covered claim on most homeowner’s policies.  If you had this coverage, repair and/or replacement of your floor would be covered by your insurance company.

Increasing Car Insurance Premiums in Minnesota

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If your auto insurance policy has recently renewed, you’re probably paying more than you did at this time last year.  Most auto insurance companies across the nation are following this trend.   And, Minnesota car insurance premiums aren’t the only ones on the rise. In fact, auto premiums have generally been increasing since 2012 across the United States. 

No matter if you have a clean driving record, obey all traffic signs, and are a Minnesota Nice driver on the roads, your auto insurance premium may still be increasing.  Here’s why:

 

More Distractions

  • ·Distracted driving claims are huge factors in auto rates:

o   60% of teen crashes involve distracted driving according to AAA.

o   The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that every day, 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.

More Fatalities

  • An upward trend in fatal car accidents is expected once all the data for 2016 is processed.  The National Safety Council expects fatal accident to have risen by some 6% year in 2016; the highest number of total of fatalities since 2007.

More Data

  • Costs of repairs to diverse types of vehicles, how well vehicles stand up to accidents, rates of accidents in various parts of the country, etc. are all monitored closely by insurance companies.

More Severe Weather

  • Weather affects more than just homeowner’s insurance. Disasters such as hail storms, floods, tornadoes, etc. ends up costing millions in car damages which auto insurers cover through comprehensive insurance.
  • Even though we may have had a mild weather year in Minnesota, if your insurance company has policies and claims in other states, the expense gets spread around to all policy holders.
  • The insurance companies are indeed paying out (and losing) more for comprehensive claims than they have in over a decade. The hurricanes in the southern states have been a significant factor in the recent increases.

 

Looking forward, we need to hope for a mild storm season across the United States. Hurricane Matthew cost the insurers billions in 2016, and the hurricanes that hit Texas (Harvey) and Florida (Irma) this year are not helping the insurers out very much.

Calmer weather isn’t the only thing that needs to happen to keep auto rates in check.  There is also going to need to be a reduction in the amount of accidents on the roads.

 

The list above may make you feel as if your auto premiums are completely out of your control.  But, there are some things you can do:

  • Keep your eyes on the road.  Keep your mind on driving.  Keep your hands on the wheel.

o   Turn off your phone or notifications when in the car

o   Place your phone in the backseat or in a spot that you cannot reach while you’re at the wheel.

  • Reduce or eliminate other distractions while driving

o   If a child needs your attention, pull over before handing them their snack.

o   Don’t eat or drink while driving.

 

·         If you’re 55+ years of age – take a Driver Improvement Course and save 10% on your auto insurance.  Visit the Minnesota Safety Center to learn more and enroll today. 

·         New driver in the household?  Consider the Teen Crash Prevention Skills course for them.

 

Casazza, Craig. “Why Are Car Insurance Rates Still Going Up?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23    May 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/ccasazza/2017/05/23/why-are-car-insurance-rates-still          going-up/2/#74474d1d347a.

Rented, leased and borrowed machinery – are you covered?

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With harvest in full swing in Minnesota, it is crucial to keep your equipment functioning properly, especially during a late harvest like the one we’re experiencing. What if you have a breakdown that forces your combine to be in the shop for a week?  What if you need a specific piece of machinery to perform fall tillage, but would rather lease it? Rented, leased or borrowed machinery comes into play for many reasons. Would you be covered for all the unknowns during harvest? Well, we are here to help explain the different coverages.  Here are seven frequently asked questions with some very important information to know:

1.      Is rented, leased or borrowed machinery included on your policy?  Or, do you need to call your agent to add it?  That depends on the company and type of policy you have.  Some policies automatically include that coverage and others only include the coverage if you specifically list the equipment at the time it’s borrowed, rented or leased.

 

2.      If it’s included, is there a limit to the amount of time you can rent, lease or borrow it?  That, too, depends on the policy.  Some companies allow 30 or 60 days of use.  Other companies may not have any time limit.

 

3.      Is there a limit to the value of rented, leased or borrowed machinery you can have?  It’s likely that there will be a limit to the value that’s automatically included, like $100,000.  With the values of combines and tractors today, that limit wouldn’t be enough for those items.  But, if you’re renting a skid loader or tillage equipment, that limit may be sufficient.

 

4.      What deductible will be applied if there is a claim?  Policy deductible will most likely apply.  Certain policies may allow for a lower deductible to be applied.

 

5.      Is Special Form coverage extended to the rented, leased or borrowed machinery?  No, Special Form isn’t automatically applied.  This is especially important during harvest when ingesting a rock into a borrowed combine could mean lots of damage that your insurance policy may not pay for without the correct coverage.  Rock ingestion would only be covered under Special Form coverage.

 

6.      What might NOT be covered?  Motor vehicles (cars or pickups) or recreational vehicles like Rangers are not eligible to be covered by rented, leased or borrowed equipment.  Rented, leased or borrowed machinery primarily pertains to tractors, combines and other farm implements.

 

As always, if you have any other questions, we are just one phone call away and would love to help you with your questions. Contact us at 507-473-4900!

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