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Preventing Water Damage When Out of Town

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the second most common homeowners’ insurance claim is water damage to houses.  Leaking pipes and appliances, and damage caused by storms and  freezing conditions cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage every year. If a pipe leaks or bursts while you are on vacations, water can destroy carpets and furniture and even compromise the structural integrity of your walls or foundation.  Before leaving your home for more than a few days, prep your house so you won’t come home to a big, expensive mess. Here are some steps to take before you head out of town.

Step 1: Check your home for leaks before you leave.  Look at the pipes under all sinks, and check your water heater for cracks and rust.  The seals around your windows must be in good condition, and check that there are no dislodged or damaged shingles on your roof.  Re caulk seals and replace shingles if needed.

Step 2: Inspect the hoses that connect to major appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerator ice-makers.  Make sure there are no kinks; replace any old or damaged hoses.

Step 3: Clear all the debris out of your rain gutters, and check the downspouts for any blockages. {Better off doing this in the Fall before the cold comes.}

Step 4: Examine your sump pump and check that it is in good condition and clear of debris by filling the sump pit and running the pump.  Listen to the motor for strange sounds and watch that the water is going outside.  Install a battery-powered backup source in case there is a power outage while you are gone.

Step 5: Insulate exposed pipes to keep them from freezing in the winter.  Hardware stores sell foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves that fit right over the pipes.  Protect outdoor spigots by removing any hoses and covering the spigots with bib protectors. Leave the heat on low while you are gone to also prevent freezing pipes. {Do you have a Nest thermostat? You can control temperature from a distance with that!}

Step 6: Ask someone to check your house periodically while you are gone.  Show where the thermostat is to ensure the heat is always on in the winter.  Show where the water main is located in case a pipe leaks or bursts.  The water main shut-off valve is usually in a home’s basement, garage or outdoors near the foundation.

Step 7: Turn off the water at the main if there is no one to check your house. Drain the pipes to keep them from bursting in freezing weather by running the water and flushing the toilets after you shut off the water. Leave the cupboards under sinks open while you are gone to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.

We hope these tips make you feel more comfortable when traveling to your warm weather destinations this winter!

 

Getting your Home ready to sell Checklist

Here in Minnesota, we aGetting your Home ready to sellre slowly nearing Spring and that means that the hot spring real estate market is just around the corner.  The Parade of Homes will be starting in February and that is typically when people start to consider if they want to sell their home!  Selling your home is definitely one of the most stressful life events one goes through as an adult!  Anything that you can do to make that process more simple, is always welcome!

Since we know how stressful this can be firsthand, having all gone through it ourselves at least once, we sat down with Real Estate expert, Sara Anderson of Keller Williams Preferred Realty, and are doing a new video series sharing her knowledge and advice on how to best handle the home selling process!

Also, as part of our series with Sara, she is graciously giving away a free Home Staging Consultation with her expert Stager ($200 value)!  You do not need to be considering selling to use her service, she is great at giving paint color advice, where to put your furniture, or how to make simple updates to any room in your home!

How to Enter: Simply request our Free Home Selling Checklist here: https://mysentinels.com/home-selling-checklist-download/ and you will be automatically entered!  We will announce the winner on our blog here after our video series concludes.

Here is Part 1 of our video series!  We will share each video for the next few weeks here on our blog, but you can also always view the series on our YouTube Channel as well as on our social media.

New Year Checklist

 

It’s here! A new year, a new chapter, a new beginning. And how does this affect the insurance world, you ask? This is the perfect time to get all your ducks in a row with your insurance policies.

Let’s start with your homeowner’s policy. Your insurance agent would need to know about any updates in your home.  Did you finish your basement? Did you re-do your kitchen? Maybe you got a security system, a big screen tv, or added a pool. Regardless how big or small, these are things that you need to get noted on your policy.  Your policy then will have the correct value listed so you can get the coverage you need.

 

Next up, did your husband give you a ring upgrade for Christmas? Or maybe you inherited some jewelry or a coin collection. These things need to have a separate policy from your homeowners’ policy and you want to make sure they are insured should something happen to them!

Lastly, your auto policy or policies.  Maybe you have a new driver in your home or have added some additional drivers.  Make sure your agent knows about all the latest developments on that front as well.

Can you see how it’s best to check in at least yearly with your agent?  They can ask numerous questions that will refresh your memory of any changes in your life.

Feel free to reach out to see if there are any things we can help you with, we are here to help!

Sentinel Assurance {651-237-5180}

 

 

2018 The Year in Review

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is wrapping up and coming to a close. We wanted to dedicate a post to tell you about our year and let you know how much we appreciate our community, our families, and our clients.

This year, our owner, Danielle welcomed two employees to join her team.  Suzanne started in January, Amy in May. Together they help with customer service, marketing, operations and community involvement. And so it goes, we are more than co-workers, we are friends.   Together we definitely share the bond of being wives, moms and a team of hard-working women that want Sentinel Assurance to succeed and grow!

Another big change was moving from Apple Valley to a larger space in downtown Rosemount.  We are front and center here, adjacent to Rosemount Floral.  This building has tons of history and we are told that over 4200 cars drive by our office space daily.  That’s a lot of eyes on us on a daily basis! If that’s you, feel free to pop in and say hello…we love that.

To celebrate our move, we hosted a grand opening at our office in October.  So many people came out to see the space and wish us well! We are beyond blessed to be a part of such a tight, welcoming community here in Rosemount.

 

 

Feel free to find us on Facebook and Instagram.  We post up to date information on insurance and our accounts give you a peek into a day in the life here in our office.  We have been known to post a few videos on Facebook as well, people find them entertaining 😛.

Overall, we had a busy year with lots of changes here at Sentinel Assurance.  We have learned a lot, grown a ton and experienced such joy from each other and from YOU! Most importantly, we look forward to what is to come and we believe, “The Best is Yet to Come”!

Is Your Home Insured to Replacement Costs?

If you lost your home in a fire, how much would it cost to rebuild it? The answer may be different than you think. And if your home isn’t insured to its full replacement cost, your homeowners policy may not cover the full cost for you to rebuild it in the event of a covered loss.

Rebuilding costs could differ from what you paid for your home and be more than its current market value – what it would sell for today – especially in areas where the value of real estate has changed. A replacement estimate includes costs to rebuild your home component by component. Current costs for labor, materials and contractor fees may influence the replacement cost of your house.

It’s important to have a current estimate for your home’s replacement cost, one that reflects any significant improvements that you have made to the house. For example, if you installed a central air conditioner or finished your basement after you took out your insurance policy and never updated the replacement cost, your home might not be fully covered in the event that you need to completely rebuild following a covered loss.

Here are some steps that you can take:

  • Talk to your agent about the dwelling coverage on your homeowners insurance policy.
  • Talk to your agent who have tools to help estimate your home’s replacement cost.
  • Check in on your home’s replacement cost yearly, especially after making improvements to your home. Remember, even small improvements can affect the cost to rebuild your home.

Making sure that your home is insured to its full estimated replacement cost is another way to help protect your home and the things you’ve worked hard to build.

We are here to help. Let us know if you need to update your policy to full estimated replacement cost.

Grand Opening Party – October 2018

Sentinel Assurance was proud to host our Grand Opening event at our new office space in Rosemount, MN. The event was hosted and held on October 11, 2018.  It was our grand opening to show off our new office space!  It started with a ribbon cutting ceremony with the officials of the city of Rosemount. Next we received our first dollar from the mayor of the city of Rosemount. Finer Meats & Eats brought lots of amazing, comfort food straight from their food truck.  It wouldn’t be a party without lots of sweets and wine as well!

 

 

 

We wanted to share a few pics of the party and those involved.  We are thankful for all of you that were able to come out and celebrate with us.  We are also so thankful for the friends and family that support our business! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! 😘

 

Top Reasons to Check Your Insurance

Insurance.  Love it or hate it, when life happens … you are glad you, your family, your home and your belongings covered.  Sometimes it can be an afterthought, so here are a few times that you need to check and/or update your insurance.

Your family status changes: If you’re marrying, expecting a baby, or adopting a child, you’ll want to protect your growing family with adequate life insurance and disability income insurance. Losing a family member through death or divorce should also prompt a policy review.

Your children grow up: When you have a new teen driver, adequate auto insurance is a must. You may be eligible for discounts.  If your student is leaving for college or has recently graduated, it’s a good time to consider personal property, liability, and renters insurance for the new living arrangements.

You’re moving or remodeling: Whenever your address changes, review your homeowners insurance to make sure the new property is adequately protected. It’s also a good time to update your home inventory – whether you’re adding items such as new furniture or scaling back for a move to a smaller home. Also, be sure to update your coverage if you renovate your current home or make updates.

You’re starting a business: If you are going to rent office space or open a home-based business, include a thorough insurance review in your start-up plans. Depending on the size of your business, you may have to consider property and liability, commercial vehicle, and workers’ compensation coverage, as well as a health care plan for employees. If you’re a sole proprietor working from home, be sure to review your homeowners plan to see that your business and equipment are fully covered.

Sentinel Assurance has you covered, let us know of any updates, or simply if you are unsure on what you need for coverage. We are here for you and can help. 651-237-5180 for a free quote.

Back to School, Back to Basics-Umbrella Policy

It’s back to school time!  It’s that time of year where you buy school supplies and new shoes and make sure everyone has all they need and prep yourself for a new routine.  We love the crisp weather and fall sweaters.  We want to talk about something that will make sure you have all the things YOU need. If something were to happen to you and your family or someone else at your home, would you be covered?

Before you roll your eyes or fade away because this info is bland or boring, I promise to keep it short and simple.

An umbrella policy is a type of insurance that adds an extra layer of protection for you and your assets when you need coverage that exceeds the limits of your homeowners or auto insurance. For example, if you’re at fault for a multiple-vehicle accident, medical bills and property damages could quickly add up to more than your auto insurance will cover. If you’re sued for the difference, your savings, your home and even your future wages could be at stake!

You can protect yourself from a situation like this with a personal liability umbrella policy. For a few hundred dollars a year, an umbrella policy can increase your liability coverage from the standard $500,000 to $5 million. Talk with us here at Sentinel Assurance to determine the type of insurance coverage that’s right for you and your family.

See? We kept it short and sweet and that’s our process here…let us know if you want a quote on an umbrella policy, we will keep that short and sweet too!

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Tips for your Summer RoadTrip

We hate to break it to you, but August is upon us.  Summer is going to near it’s end before you know it and the end of August seems to be the time that most Minnesotans plan their family vacations.  It’s also becoming more popular to drive than fly to a destination for many reasons.  We thought it would be helpful to give you some tips and tricks to planning and perfecting your road trip.

1. Clean your car before and during your trip.

Go ahead, leave the napkins and gum wrappers under your seat. Leave the receipts from your last business-related drive in the glove box. Don’t sweat the dog hair in the back bed … but you’ll be sorry. A few days into your trip, when the old gum wrappers are joined by new fast food wrappers, when the glove box starts overflowing with hotel receipts and local maps, when dog hair starts sticking to your luggage and your gear, you’ll rue the day you failed to pull out the Shop-Vac.

As your trip proceeds, take time every couple of days to purge your car. Even if you can tolerate some chaos, the accumulated junk and minor filth will start to drive you mad in the close quarters that define a road trip.

2. Check your vehicle.

About a week before you leave for a long road trip, have your mechanic check your car’s fluid levels, brakes, tires and anything else that could cause problems. Be sure your spare tire is fully inflated and that you have jumper cables and extra wiper fluid on hand.

3. Have a loose plan.

If you overschedule your road trip, you’re almost guaranteed to find yourself slogging the last few miles long after you had intended to be asleep, trying to cancel one hotel reservation so you can pay for another well short of your originally planned destination.

On the other hand, having no plan at all is only recommended for the most hardy souls.

4. Anticipate trouble spots.

Road construction is notorious this time of year.  However, the app named Waze can reroute you and save you lots of time.  Check it out, you won’t be sorry.

5. Preload your phone with entertainment options.

The days of regional radio offering a musical or informational palette that you can’t find anywhere else are almost all but gone, so tapping into the local vibe via radio is far less satisfying than it used to be. That means you’ll want to make sure your phone is set to keep you entertained over the long hours of driving, whether you’re tapping into your own collection of music, streaming tunes via an app like Spotify or Pandora, or listening to your favorite podcasts.

If you’re road tripping in your own car, you probably already have a phone charger that will plug into the console and keep you powered up. If you’re renting a car for your road trip, be sure you have the right technology to plug into whatever power outlet is available in that vehicle (cigarette charger, USB port, etc.).

6. Join a roadside rescue service.

Having that 800-number that immediately ties you in to approved local tow services and mechanics is going to save you a lot of hassle, and also shield you from some of the dangers of the road that none of us wishes to encounter. We highly recommend AAA. Their benefits can be used in so many ways!

7. Have your documents and a clean record.

I don’t know about you, but it sometimes seems like my new insurance card takes days or weeks to get into my glove box. If you are traveling without current documentation of license, registration or insurance, you could be in for a world of hurt if you are pulled over for any reason. Further, you may want to clear up any old traffic and parking tickets before you go; under the right (or perhaps wrong, in this case) circumstances, your car can be impounded for your wayward ways.

8. Seize the moment

Whether you are ahead of schedule or way behind, there is something to be said about breaking away from the plan.  Maybe you wanna stop at that tourist trap, or check into a hotel early and catch a nap….sometimes the best family memories are the unplanned things in life.

Here’s wishing that your road tripping finds you on time and in the right place, even when you least expect it.

The Steps in Handling a Car Accident

Do you have teen drivers in your home?  Maybe you are doing some distracted driving yourself.  An unexpected car accident can leave you feeling a bit scattered. That’s why it’s important to brush up on post-accident procedures. Here are 7 steps guide can help make the moments after an accident less stressful — and the claims process a whole lot smoother.

1.Move to a safe area if you can

If it’s safe to do so and you aren’t seriously injured, move your car out of further harm’s way, like to the shoulder of the road. If moving your car just isn’t possible, flip on your hazards to warn other drivers that your vehicle isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

2.Stop your vehicle and get out

Make sure your car is no longer moving, turn off the engine, shift into park, or set the hand brake if you drive a manual. Take a moment to catch your breath. Check to make sure it’s safe to get out of your car before opening the door.

3.Check on others involved

Check on all the other parties involved, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, to make sure no one is hurt. Call 911 if anyone may be injured. Even a seemingly minor symptom like dizziness should be checked out by a health care professional.

4.Call the police to the scene

Even in minor accidents, a police accident report can prove invaluable when dealing with your car insurance company and other drivers. Cooperate fully, but avoid admitting fault or blaming others while at the scene. Let the police objectively judge events and determine who, if anyone, is at fault in the crash. If the police can’t make it to the scene (which is more likely if there are no injuries), you can file an accident report through your state’s DMV.

5.Gather info

Try to write down as much info as possible in the accident aftermath, including:

  • Driver and passenger names
  • License plate numbers
  • Insurance info
  • Makes and models of all vehicles involved
  • Contact info for any eyewitnesses
  • Location of the accident
  • The name and badge number of any responding police officers

6.Document the scene

If you have a smartphone with a camera, snap some photos of the accident scene. They’ll come in handy during the claim process.

7.File your insurance claim

After step 7, it’s our turn to help. We’ll work with you to get your car repaired as quickly as possible. Call us at 952-479-5781

We sincerely hope this post gives you some tips if you are ever in the situation above. Safe driving!

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