Spring FAQs Answered

Spring FAQ

2019 is a winter we won't soon forget and as we transition to spring, new concerns are emerging.  Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers that will help you navigate the way to spring.

If you have questions specific to your policy, please call our office at 507.473.4900 so that we can help.

Q: Is water and sewer backup included on my policy?  
A: Water and sewer backup is an optional coverage that must be endorsed (added on to) your base homeowners or renter's policy.  

Q: What does water and sewer backup cover? 
A: Damage caused by water that enters the home through sewers, drains and sump systems.  

Q: Is there coverage if my outbuildings (barns, machine shed, etc) collapse due to the weight of ice and snow? 
A: Companies have different ratings for their outbuildings based on age, condition and structural integrity. Generally, there are three categories with 1 being the newest and highest quality with the best coverage and 3 being the oldest, lowest quality with the least amount of coverage available. 

The engineering, building materials, type of construction and ability of a building built in 2018 to withstand various claims scenarios is vastly different than one built in 1940 - therefore the available coverage reflects that.

Outbuildings in categories 1 and 2 have coverage for collapse due to the weight of ice and snow. This coverage would allow the building to be rebuilt to previous specifications. Outbuildings in class 3 do not have coverage for collapse due to the weight of ice and snow.

Q: If my machine shed collapses, is my equipment covered?
A: Any property inside the building would need to be listed on a policy in order for coverage to apply.

Q: Can I get flood insurance?
A: Yes - but it's not available through our agency. You can contact the National Flood Insurance Program Help Line at 800.427.4661 to to get started. To find more information on what and what isn't covered by flood insurance, click here.

Q: What is a flood?
A: Under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) a flood is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land by:

  • The overflow of inland or tidal waters.

  • The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.

  • Mudflows which are proximately caused by flooding, as defined above and are akin to a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas, including your premises, as when earth is carried by a current of water and deposited along the path of the current.

  • The collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or other body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding the cyclical levels which result in flood as defined above.

To qualify as a general and temporary condition, the flood must affect either two or more adjacent properties or two or more acres of land and have a distinct beginning point and ending point. Also, to qualify, the flood waters can only be surface water that covers land that is normally dry.

Q: What can we do to prevent further problems?
A: Although labor intensive and possibly requiring some heavy equipment help, moving the snow away from your foundation is very beneficial. Given the frozen conditions, water will try to get to the house - the only warm and accessible thing around!  

Test your sump pump by putting water into the sump pit and make sure that the pump starts to discharge the water. Ideally the hose will carry the water several feet away from your house.

With the harsh conditions we have experienced this winter, it's important to check to ensure your gutters and spouts are working. It's important to get the ice removed and check for any other clogging or cracking issues. Make sure the water is moving several feet away from your home and consider adding plastic extensions to temporarily move the the water to a variety of places around the house.  

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips it’s turn.”

– Hal Borland

PA$$WORD: Protect your data

PA$$WORD

Protect your personal data by upping your PA$$word game!

Now days with all of our information accessible on the internet, it is easier for hackers to get into our information. If you are like me, I have a hard time remembering different passwords for each of my hundreds of accounts that I have. This includes, but is not limited to bank accounts, retail store accounts, email accounts, etc. I end up using 3 or 4 passwords for all of my accounts, but THIS IS VERY BAD! If someone gets one password that is used on multiple accounts, there is a possibility that the hacker could get even more information about you.

Step Up Your PA$$WORD Game!

  1. Use a longer password. Passwords that are longer and have more components to them are harder for hackers to get. Try to have your passwords 12-16 characters long. I know this seems really long, but I promise it is worth the extra millisecond it takes for you to type those last few characters.

  2. Use special characters. Special characters, numbers and capitalization all help to make your passwords stronger. The more you use, the better off your passwords are.

  3. 1 password for 1 account. Use each password only once.

  4. No personal connection. Your passwords should have no personal connection to you. For example, you should not use the last 4 digits of your social security number, your phone number, pet names, family member names, etc.

  5. Change your passwords regularly. It is best to change your password every 3 months or so. The more frequent that you change your passwords, the safer your personal data is.

  6. Store your passwords in a secure location. If you can memorize all of your passwords, good for you! That is the safest place for your passwords. There are good password management tools online that will keep your passwords in a secure location. For example: Last Pass, Dash Lane, Sticky Password, etc.

Here are a few examples (do not use these passwords as your own):

Good Passwords:

bluebird12SKY!

Tr0ubleBa$$fa11

$tapleP@$$PENCIL

Bad Passwords:

Bethany12

password123

letmein

Beat The Winter Blues!

With all this cold weather that has set in, some of us may be looking for ways to beat the winter blues. Winter can get long with all of these cold days. The Intego Insurance Services staff has put together some of their favorite things to do to beat the wintertime blues. We hope this may spark some ideas and help make your winter days fun. Stay Warm!

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Identity Theft Insurance

Photo from: https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/identity-theft

Photo from: https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/identity-theft

Identity theft insurance is often times included or is an option to include in your homeowners, farm or renter’s policy. These types of claims are ever increasing, this is why some coverage is often automatic on the policy. However, it’s. smart phones, online ordering, online banking, social media among other things that provide opportunities for your identity to be tampered with. ID theft insurance provides you access to a resolution expert who assists in completing paperwork and documentation to resolve the issues from filing a police report to notifying credit bureaus, collection agencies, creditors, etc. that your ID has been compromised. Other means for your identity to be stolen is if critical paperwork is stolen or lost. Theft of documents from a safe or a natural disaster destroying documents are also instances where this coverage may be used. Having assistance to gain emergency access to accounts, assistance in accessing financial records and replacement of the lost documents are all benefits of the coverage. This coverage does not cover direct financial losses you may incur as a result of identity theft (e.g. money stolen from your bank account). It reimburses for the expenses that happen after identity theft occurs those that are listed above as well as things like lost wages (if time off work is required to handle claim), notary and legal fees.

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.

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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

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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.