So You Need (or Want) to Take a Defensive Driving Course

Whether you were caught speeding (or worse), you’re looking for a discount on your car insurance, or you simply want to be a better driver, there are a wide range of defensive driving and driver improvement courses available here in Rosemount and the Twin Cities metro these days and many can be done virtually!

But, which is right for you? Here are five tips to help you decide:

1. Check with your state or municipality. If you’re taking training to avoid a traffic infraction, not just any course will do. You’ll need to take an approved course – ask for a list before signing up.

2. Check with your insurer. The same goes if you’d like to potentially save on your car insurance. Your carrier may only offer a car insurance discount for completing certain courses. Also ask how much your discount will be — this will help when it comes time to choose a course.

3. Choose the type of course. There are online and classroom options, typically ranging from 4-12 hours depending on the course material. And, there are advantages to each. Online courses offer convenience (and sometimes a lower cost), while in-person settings can provide more interaction.

4. Determine how much you want to spend. If you’re trying to avoid a ticket (and a potential increase in your insurance premiums), the cost might not be much of an issue. If you’re taking a course to receive an insurance discount, however, make sure the total discount you’ll receive is greater than the cost of the course.

5. Check out the reviews. Online review sites, such as Yelp, can show you what others thought of a course. Keep in mind, people who felt “forced” to take a course might have a biased opinion, especially compared to someone who took the course willingly. No matter why you’re considering a defensive driving course, we’re happy to help you weigh the pros and cons. The biggest pro being, once you complete your training, you’re likely to be a little more careful the next time you get behind the wheel. And, that always pays off!

Here in Minnesota, St. Cloud State University offers some great in person and virtual class options. You can check them out here: https://www.stcloudstate.edu/continuingstudies/mhsrc/55-plus/classroom.aspx

Once you’ve completed your course, don’t forget to let us know so we can be sure to add it to your policy for your discount!

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!

After School Safety Tips for Parents & Kids

After School Safety Tips for Parents & Kids

This week marks the week that all the kids and teachers head back to school here in Rosemount, MN! You’ve likely already reviewed the basic safety tips for kids who walk or bus to and from school. Those tips, of course, are: Walk with a buddyStay in well-lit...

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7 Tips to Help Keep Student Athletes Safe

7 Tips to Help Keep Student Athletes Safe

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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

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Get the Most out of your RV this Summer

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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.

    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.