6 Tips to Keep you Swimming Safely

When the temperature finally heats up in Minnesota, all you can think about is cooling off at the local pool or even at one of our local lakes. Just remember: Where there’s water, there’s risk.

MN Swimming Safety Tips

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t jump in (carefully) and have some fun with family and friends. It just means you should keep these safety tips in mind any time you swim in Minnesota:

  1. Don’t go it alone. Swim only in designated areas, with a lifeguard if possible, and use the buddy system – even adults shouldn’t swim when no one else is around. As for children, they should never be left unattended in or near the water or supervised by another child.
  2. Mind the rules. If an area forbids diving or is closed for swimming, that means it’s unsafe to do so. Save yourself a trip to the hospital and follow all posted rules and warnings.
  3. Keep away from drains. In a pool or spa, a drain’s powerful suction can trap children and adults. Be sure everyone knows to keep their distance. The same goes for riptides and currents if you’re in an open body of water.
  4. Know how to respond. When someone is missing, especially a child, always check the water first. Learn CPR and other skills that can save lives.
  5. Use common sense. Don’t use drugs or alcohol during water activities. Do have life jackets for inexperienced swimmers, and keep plenty of sunscreen and water on hand to help everyone beat the heat.
  6. Alert a lifeguard if you see someone struggling. Alternately, you could throw the person a floating object or reach out with a long object.

With a little caution, and a whole lot of supervision, you can help ensure your day at the pool or lake goes swimmingly. Have fun getting wet!

Car Wash – Preserving Your Car’s Value

Clean Your Way to a Longer-Lasting Car

Motor vehicle corrosion is a billion-dollar problem in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration. And, no wonder. Road salt, tree sap, mud, pollution and even dead bugs and bird poop all contribute to a year-round assault on your vehicle here in the Twin Cities, potentially leading to serious damage and pre-mature aging.

Safety is also an issue. Grime across your windshield and windows restricts visibility in all directions, and even a light coating of dust or pollen can impair your vision, especially at night or when driving into the sun’s glare.

Rosemount Car Wash

That’s why we here at Sentinel Assurance Group encourage you to visit your local car wash regularly. Washing your car removes dirt, residues and pollutants that degrade your paint finish and corrode the underlying metal. It’s like anti-aging cosmetics for your automobile!

But, is hand washing at home or visiting a commercial car wash your best bet? While both lead to a clean vehicle, you’ll cut your water usage in half by going to a commercial facility and help keep toxins and soap away from street drains, which can lead to local waterways. As a bonus, some commercial facilities recycle their water. 

No matter which method you choose, these five tips will help you get the most out of your car-cleaning routine:

  1. Wash often. The longer tree sap, dead bugs and other gunk sit atop your paint, the more damage they can cause.
  2. Avoid abrasive soaps, cloths and sponges that can grind dirt deeper into your paint finish.
  3. Wash the undercarriage thoroughly to help prevent rust, especially after driving on road salt in the winter.
  4. Don’t forget the headlights. When you’re driving at night, in the rain or through an unfamiliar neighborhood, you want every lumen of illumination you can muster.
  5. Consider eco-friendly car soaps, such as biodegradable or waterless products, to help lighten the environmental impact of washing your car more often.

And, when you’re all done? Finish up with a good waxing to give your car extra protection and shine.

If you’re in the Rosemount or South Metro area, visit our favorite locally owned, automatic and self-service car wash at Rosemount Car Spa!

6 Tips to Keep you Swimming Safely

6 Tips to Keep you Swimming Safely

When the temperature finally heats up in Minnesota, all you can think about is cooling off at the local pool or even at one of our local lakes. Just remember: Where there’s water, there’s risk. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t jump in (carefully) and have some fun with...

Car Wash – Preserving Your Car’s Value

Car Wash – Preserving Your Car’s Value

Clean Your Way to a Longer-Lasting Car Motor vehicle corrosion is a billion-dollar problem in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration. And, no wonder. Road salt, tree sap, mud, pollution and even dead bugs and bird poop all contribute to a...

Get the Most out of your RV this Summer

Get the Most out of your RV this Summer

There’s nothing quite like taking a road trip in an RV. Whether you’re headed to somewhere nearby in Minnesota or somewhere across the country this summer, we at Sentinel Assurance Group want you to get the most out of your travels. But before we get to travel tips...

7 Things Nobody Tells you About Homeowners Insurance

7 Things Nobody Tells you About Homeowners Insurance

Congrats! You’re a homeowner. Or, maybe you’re touring houses for sale and about to be a homeowner. Either way, welcome. Welcome to a stream of never-ending projects, fun surprises and a place to call your own. We all know houses keep us busy, so it makes sense that...

Do you need Rental Car Coverage?

Do you need Rental Car Coverage?

Do I need to buy rental car insurance? The trip you’ve been planning is finally here. After a long flight, you collect your luggage and head to the rental car counter. As you review the paperwork, the agent asks, “Do you want insurance on the car?” You frantically try...

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist It would be amazing if all you needed to prep your home for fall was to hang a wreath and light a bunch of pumpkin spiced candles. While yes, those are a crucial part of getting ready for the change of seasons, there are more...

College-Bound Students

College-Bound Students

What Insurance Follows Your College-Bound Student Congratulations your child is off to college, way to go parents!  This is an exciting time of year but also comes with a lot of questions. When it comes to insurance; let’s talk about what coverages follow your student...

Get the Most out of your RV this Summer

There’s nothing quite like taking a road trip in an RV. Whether you’re headed to somewhere nearby in Minnesota or somewhere across the country this summer, we at Sentinel Assurance Group want you to get the most out of your travels.

But before we get to travel tips and how to find the best places to stay, we want to remind you about safety. As with any vehicle, maintenance is important. After all, even though you can hang out in your RV if it breaks down, who wants to spend their road trip on the side of the road? We encourage you to visit one of our carrier’s sites: www.safeco.com and click on the “Insurance 101” tab. The “Consumer Tips” section has a wealth of information on RV safety.

With that said, it’s time to hit the road!

General travel tips

  • Have a plan (and maps or a GPS). One of the reasons you’re traveling in an RV, no doubt, is for the adventure. But while the freedom to go wherever you want can be exciting, getting lost isn’t (at least for most people). You’ll cut down on frustration if you know where you’re headed.
  • Pack the right things. We’ve all forgotten to pack something while going on vacation. And buying new items at your destination can add up. So make a packing list, and remember that it’s not all about clothes and toiletries. Don’t forget your favorite road music or DVDs to watch at night. And if you’ve got kids with you, be sure to pack games and other things to entertain them.
  • But don’t pack everything. Of course, just because you have an RV doesn’t mean you should bring all of your possessions on vacation with you.
  • Be prepared for anything. You should have a first-aid kit in the RV, as well as some tools for smaller repairs. And if you’re traveling a long distance, why not bring some local items from your hometown to give as gifts when you make new friends?
  • Limit the driving. It’s tiring enough driving a car hundreds of miles a day, let alone an RV, so give yourself plenty of rest and don’t overdo the driving.

Want to bring your car?

Taking a car along with your RV can give you a lot more flexibility on your vacation. But it can also make the driving more stressful, so keep that in mind. According to towingworld.com, there are three main options to bring your car with you:

  • A trailer: This of course, allows you to raise the car completely off the ground. They’re generally more expensive than other options, but keep wear and tear to a minimum for your car.
  • A tow dolly: This lifts the front wheels of the car off the ground. They’re useful if you can’t tow your car with all four wheels down, and can be easily used for front-wheel drive vehicles without another device to make it towable.
  • A tow bar: The most popular choice, because of its convenience. It’s the option with the least amount of equipment, and usually the least expensive; it also takes up less space than dollies and trailers. Note that not all cars can be towed with four wheels on the ground, so check your manufacturer’s recommendations.

    Where to stay

    If you’re looking for a campground or RV park, you’re in luck – there are seemingly endless options across the country. But how do you know which ones are good or safe? Plenty of online resources have information on various parks, including the ones below:

    Wherever you stay, you’ll want to take some steps to prevent crime. RVs can be inviting targets for thieves, because they usually contain more valuables than cars. Always lock your doors when you’re away from the RV and keep valuables out of sight or locked away. If you’re parked for the night in a non-camping area, such as a parking lot, try to stay in a well-lit area and keep the door facing the light. Finally, try to make fuel or convenience store stops during the day, if possible.

     You’ve got a summer full of fun ahead in your RV. We wish we were coming with you! Here’s hoping for smooth and safe travels. And don’t forget, we can help you get the right insurance coverage for your RV (and everything else). Give us a call today!

     

     

     

    7 Things Nobody Tells you About Homeowners Insurance

    Congrats! You’re a homeowner. Or, maybe you’re touring houses for sale and about to be a homeowner. Either way, welcome. Welcome to a stream of never-ending projects, fun surprises and a place to call your own. We all know houses keep us busy, so it makes sense that your homeowners insurance isn’t something you dwell on.  And besides the initial set up of your homeowners insurance, why should you dwell on it?

    Well, in some cases you may be underinsured or even missing out on potential discounts! So, we’ve rounded up seven things you may not know about your homeowners insurance coverages:

    1. It’s a good idea to start with an independent insurance agent

    Buying a bath mat online is convenient, but buying insurance is a bit more complicated than a bath mat. A local independent insurance agent will help you with an “insurance checkup”. This will evaluate any home updates and coverages to help you avoid potential gaps. They can also help you compare quotes from multiple insurance carriers to fit your specific situation.

    2. Your homeowners insurance policy may not cover water damage

    This can be devastating! Most polices only cover certain types of water damage. Water damage that originates from inside your house or from a storm-created opening is typically covered by homeowners insurance. However, this often excludes floodwater, broken water mains, and other water-related damages. Before storm season hits, it’s important to know what’s covered and if you should consider purchasing separate flood insurance.

    3. Your policy has exclusions and special limits, and you need to know what they are

    It’s easy to buy and forget about your insurance. But, every insurance policy has exclusions, like floods and earthquakes. Your policy may also include special limits on items such as jewelry, trailers and watercraft on your property. Exclusions are listed throughout your policy. A good way to understand your policy’s exclusions is to review it with your local independent insurance agent. They can break it down for you to make sure you avoid potential gaps in your coverage.

    4. Tell your agent about updates and changes to your house

    You buy your house, you buy insurance, they send you a packet, and then you don’t think about it again. But, now let’s say you’ve lived in your home for a few years. Maybe you renovated your kitchen, or put on a new roof. Or, maybe you added a central alarm system. Updates like this can change the value and rebuilding cost of your home. If you don’t update your policy and tell your agent, you may be underinsured and might be missing out on a possible discount for your new alarm system.

    Coverages like guaranteed home replacement cost may be greatly effected as time goes on. Some coverages may even be void.

    5. Maintaining a personal home inventory may help your claims process

    The last thing you want to think about after your home suffers a devastating loss is, what did I have in there? An easy way to create and maintain a personal home inventory is to take pictures of each room of your house every year. This may help jog your memory about what was inside your house. This is important to keep updated since homes seem to accumulate more and more things as time goes on…

    6. Your coverage amount may not be the same as the cost of your house or the market value

    There is a big misconception that your homeowners insurance coverage amount is the same as what you paid for your house. That is wrong! If your house needs to be rebuilt you may need coverage for debris removal, materials, and labor. Which, in some cases, exceeds the amount you paid for your house or the market value. It’s also important to note that both the market value of your home and the cost to rebuild will vary greatly.

    7. Cheapest is not always best

    Comparison shopping is in our blood. And, if you’re a self-proclaimed frugal shopper you’ve likely found that sometimes, you get what you pay for. Similarly, when comparing insurance quotes the cost may not be the best indicator of the best fit for you. You need to ask yourself is the insurance company financially sound? What is their claims service like? Are they a stable company?

    We know owning a home can certainly be hard, but we don’t think your homeowners insurance should be. To learn more about our homeowners insurance coverages, give us a call today!

    The content of this article is from Auto-Owners Blog.

    Do you need Rental Car Coverage?

    Do I need to buy rental car insurance?rental car insurance

    The trip you’ve been planning is finally here. After a long flight, you collect your luggage and head to the rental car counter. As you review the paperwork, the agent asks, “Do you want insurance on the car?”

    You frantically try to remember if your auto insurance policy covers rental cars. And wasn’t there something about rental car coverage in that last email from your credit card company? It seems like you may not need it, but you really can’t remember the details. You end up buying the coverage just to be safe. 

    Did you waste your money? It depends: There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to buying rental car insurance. However, there are a few things to consider that will help you determine if it’s right for you.

    What does the rental car company offer?

    Typically, car rental agencies offer four types of coverage:

    • Collision damage waiver means that the rental car company won’t charge you if the vehicle is damaged or stolen during your rental period. 
    • Supplemental liability protection covers costs to others if you cause an accident in the rental.
    • Personal accident insurance will pay in the event of injury to or death of the rental car’s driver and/or passengers.
    • Personal effects coverage will reimburse you if personal items are stolen from the rental car.

    What kind of coverage do I already have?

    Your personal auto insurance policy will likely provide the same level of coverage for your rental as it does for your own car. This usually includes liability insurance; it can also include collision, comprehensive, and medical payments, depending on your policy. There are exceptions: Some insurers won’t cover rentals in a foreign country or rentals that are being used for business.

    Your credit card may also offer some protection, but the degree of coverage can vary greatly. Coverage is usually secondary, designed to step in and pick up where your auto insurance leaves off. Most cards require that you decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver and use the card to pay for the car rental in full. 

    In addition, your health and life insurance policies may cover your medical costs if you are involved in an accident. If you have homeowners, renters, or condo insurance, you may also have personal property coverage to help repair or replace valuable belongings that are lost, damaged, or stolen from your rental car. Your deductible and policy limits will apply.

    What am I missing?

    Your regular policy may not cover loss of use and diminished value fees if something happens to the rental car. Loss of use is the income that the rental agency loses while the vehicle is being repaired. Diminished value is the calculated reduction in a vehicle’s resale value as the result of an accident. Your credit card may cover these fees, but be aware that they may require documentation that rental agencies can be reluctant to provide.

    Before you take your next trip, call us or your independent insurance agent and verify the coverage available for your destination. Contact your credit card company to find out exactly what is covered when you use your card. Being prepared will help you make an informed decision about buying rental car insurance.

    Umbrella Insurance – What is it and do I need it?

    What is umbrella insurance?

    Life is unpredictable. Common situations like having a teenage driver, owning a pet, posting on social media, or having people visit your home carry a certain amount of risk. An unexpected incident can quickly turn into a lawsuit that costs you thousands of dollars, if not more.

    You don’t have to be a millionaire to be sued like one. If something happens on your property or you are at fault, do you have enough coverage? 

    What does umbrella insurance cover?

    An umbrella policy adds an extra $1 million (or more) of coverage above and beyond your existing policies. Many people only carry $100,000 of liability coverage. Although that sounds like a lot of money, it doesn’t go very far when a serious injury occurs.  Medical bills, lost wages, and other bills can add up quickly.

    That’s why umbrella insurance is so important. It gives you greater peace of mind and protects you against life’s unexpected surprises. 

    Do I need umbrella insurance?

     Umbrella coverage isn’t just for high earners. It’s for everyone, especially if you:

    • Own a home
    • Have regular income
    • Have retirement savings and other assets to protect
    • Entertain guests in your home
    • Have a teenage driver
    • Host sleepovers, children’s parties, carpool children, or allow your teen to babysit
    • Serve on a volunteer board or participate in your HOA
    • Use social media
    • Own rental properties
    • Travel outside the U.S.
    • Own a watercraft, RV, snowmobile, ATV, golf cart, or other “toy”
    • Have pets
    • Own firearms or other recreational weapons

    But doesn’t my home or auto insurance policy cover a loss?

    Unfortunately, home and auto insurance policies don’t protect you against every type of liability.

    Consider these two scenarios:

    1) You hear a juicy piece of gossip about one of your neighbors. You spill the tea to your closest friends at a BBQ and swear them to silence. Unfortunately, your neighbor finds out what you said. You get sued for slander, and it isn’t covered by your homeowners policy.

    2) You go on a vacation to Europe. Instead of taking a tour, you decide to rent a car. You forget to drive on the other side of the road and cause a collision. Someone is injured, but your auto policy doesn’t cover you because you were outside of the U.S. and Canada.

    In both of these instances, an umbrella policy may have provided coverage to protect you. Without an umbrella policy, your assets, savings, and even your future income could be at risk if you are held legally responsible for a claim.

    Peace of mind costs less than you think.

    For about the cost of a dollar a day, an umbrella policy offers an affordable way to prepare for the unpredictable. Schedule a risk assessment with your independent insurance agent to understand your coverage needs and find out if an umbrella policy is right for you.

    7 Reasons to Choose an Independent Insurance Agent

    Insurance can be complicated.  How do you know you’re making the right decision when it comes to protecting the most important things in your life?  Find out how an Independent Insurance Agent is a simple solution to this!

      We give you more choices and options

      The beauty of working with an independent insurance agent is that we represent many different insurance carriers that offer a wide variety of coverages at varying price points.  We do the work of shopping your quotes around with those different companies to determine which one is the best fit for the types of coverage you need with the best rates for that coverage.  We shop, you save!

      We are industry experts

      Insurance is complicated, let’s be real!  We are licensed and trained in industry verbiage and terminology and are equipped to be able to explain to you, in simple terms, which help you to make informed decisions.  Why go to google and confuser yourself on the different kinds of insurance that are available, when we are just a phone call away?

      We are your advocate

      Since we work for YOU and not the insurance company, we are your advocate!  We will assist with claims, billing or changes your coverage directly with the insurance company.

      We are your neighbor

      We are a small, local business that shares your passion for our community and famillies.  We are woman-owned and have a pusle on the local community and its benefits and challenges.  You won’t sit on hold in a quete, but can walk right into our quaint office in Rosemount.

      We are a one-stop-shop

      With the ability to write with so many different insurance companies, we are able to meet all of your insurance needs.  Everything from Home, Auto, Life & Business coverages, we work with tons of companies that offer a variety of coverages.

      We are your personal advisor

      Insurance isn’t just about finding the cheapest prices.  It’s about making sure that you aren’t suprised by unexpected expenses if a loss were to happen.  Through working one-on-one with you, we listen to meet your specific, unique insurance needs.  

      We are your lifelong advisor

      We love building life long relationships with our customers and often times, they become good friends.  We know that life is ever-evolving and we work with you throughout those stsages.  Everything from buying a home, getting married, growing your family, teen drivers and getting ready for that retirement home.

      Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

      Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

      It would be amazing if all you needed to prep your home for fall was to hang a wreath and light a bunch of pumpkin spiced candles. While yes, those are a crucial part of getting ready for the change of seasons, there are more important (and not exactly fun) preparations that come with being a homeowner. Consider this everything you need to know before your house transitions from hot summer days to cool fall nights…and eventually freezing temperatures.

      1. Clean, or possibly replace, your gutters.

      Real talk: You’re so used to your gutters working properly — and draining thousands of gallons of water from your roof yearly — that you forget they could use a little TLC. If they’re clogged, you can end up with a flooded interior and damaged exterior. So clean them, and if necessary, replace them.

      2. Check for drafts.

      Heat loss through windows is responsible for 25-30 percent of heating energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But it doesn’t have to be that way, because weatherstripping is simple and probably the most cost-effective way to keep heating costs down.

      Pro tip: To check if you have a draft issue, close a door or window on a strip of paper. If the paper slides easily, you need to update your weatherstripping.

      3. Drain your outdoor faucets.

      Say it with me now: “I will turn off all outdoor faucets before winter!” Drain and disconnect all garden hoses from outside spigots to prevent any water freezing. Not doing this can result to pipes bursting, so yeah, do this.

      4. Bring your outdoor furniture in.

      Yes, your furniture is outdoor furniture. No, that does not mean you should test the label by leaving it outside through hurricane-like weather and snowstorms. It cost you money and time to set that outdoor space up, so if you want to get another summer season out of it you should store it in a garage or shed. If you don’t have anywhere to store the items, you should cover it in a waterproof furniture cover.

      5. Fix any cracks in your driveway.

      I know, I know — this seems tedious and is one of those things where you’re like, “eh, it’ll be fine!” But, it could very easily not be fine. When water gets into cracks it freezes, expands, and can make the crack even bigger. Enough small cracks can turn into big cracks, and eventually the concrete can crumble. Plus, uh, you’d probably prefer a driveway without a giant pothole. So, using concrete crack sealer, fill it up and be done with it.

      6. Change your filters.

      Found: Another thing in your house that might be costing you more money then it should be. If your filters are clogged, it’s harder to keep your home at the temperature you want it too be which will increase your heating bills. Clean these filters monthly, not just before the fall, and thank me later. FYI: Disposable filters can be vacuumed one time before you replace it, and foam filters can just be vacuumed and not replaced.

      7. Fertilize your lawn.

      You know what they say: The best offense is a good defense. If you want to keep your lawn looking great in the spring and summer, you need to prep it for the fall and winter. Roots are still active when the grass isn’t growing, so applying fertilizer will prevent winter damage. Doing this will also help your lawn turn green faster in the spring, which is crucial, because who wants to look at a sad lawn once it gets nice out?

      8. Test winter equipment.

      Hi, I’m here from the future, where your snow blower isn’t working and you’re stuck inside and can’t get your car out to buy a new one. Seriously, just check it all now and make your life easier later.

      9. Change your batteries.

      Once a year you should be checking to make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices are working. Since you’re already testing everything else out, you might as well add this on.

      College-Bound Students

      What Insurance Follows Your College-Bound Student

      Congratulations your child is off to college, way to go parents!  This is an exciting time of year but also comes with a lot of questions. When it comes to insurance; let’s talk about what coverages follow your student to school.

      Is your child taking a car to school?

      • YES. Let your insurance agent know so you can maintain full coverage, and ask about whether your child qualifies for a good-student discount, which could save on premiums.
      • NO. If your child moves 100 miles or more from home and doesn’t take a car, your carrier may allow you to temporarily exclude coverage for your child-which could decrease your rates significantly.  Just remember to add them back to the policy before they come home for breaks. If, on the other hand, you need to maintain coverage, ask your agent if you’re eligible for a student-away discount.

      Where will they live?

      • On Campus. In many states, unmarried full-time students under the age of 26 are considered resident relatives of your home and should be covered under your home policy; talk to your agent for specifics.
      • In An Apartment.  It’s likely your home policy won’t offer full coverage on permanent items like furniture on electric equipment, so definitely consider a renters policy. It will also include liability coverage-an important protection in the event someone is hurt in the apartment.

      Who’s Paying For School?

      • You. Consider a term life insurance policy for yourself. It could help your child stay in school if something happens to you.
      • Your Child. Talk to your agent about life insurance for your child’s financial future and ask for a Life Insurance Needs Analysis. They may be able to get a lower rate and better coverage. If you are a co-signer on your child’s student loans, a life insurance policy can help add to your financial protection as a co-signer.

      Before your student heads off to college, give us a call, 651-237-5180. Let’s talk about your insurance options and discounts now and for the future.

       

      Safety Tips For Keeping Your Home Safe While You’re Away

      KEEPING THE HOME FRONT SAFE WHILE YOU’RE AWAY Following these simple tips to make sure your home is as safe and inviting when you return fr om vacation as when you left. LEAVE INFORMATION ~ give a neighbor and/or the house and pet sitter the contact information for your service professionals and the name and number for your insurance agent. THat way, if anything goes wrong and you can’t be reached, they can contact the appropriate people. LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE ~ Keep your home from appearing deserted by using timers or smart bulbs. Set timers so your living room and bedroom lights turn on in the evening and go out later at night. Also, consider installing motion sensor lights above all entryways (front door, garage, back door, etc.). CREATE A CHECKLIST ~ Plan ahead and create your own to-do list well before it’s time to pack up and leave. It’ll remind you to pull the plug on electronics, adjust thermostats and turn off the main water supply if you plan to be gone for an extended time. BE SMART ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA ~ It may be tempting to share your exciting vacation plans or wow your friends and family back home with Instagram-worthy pics while you’re away. But recognize that you’re also broadcasting that you’re not home to potential malicious offenders. Save our social sharing for after you’ve returned. Wherever your travel plans take you this summer we hope you found these safety tips helpful. Download a copy of our homefront checklist to help get you started. As always we’re available to answer any questions, call 651-237-5180 or email info@mysentinels.com