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}

 

 

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!

Boating in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

 

Known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it is only natural that Minnesota is home to many boaters. If you own a vessel or are thinking of buying one, you should learn as much as possible about MN boat insurance.

With our expertise and knowledge, you are in good hands when shopping for a policy. We can help you decide which type of coverage is best, while also saving you money. This is the best of both worlds.  Typically, however, a homeowner’s insurance policy will only cover damage to your boat that occurs while it is on your property. Further, the amount of coverage offered is typically less than in a boat insurance policy, which can lead to problems if the boat is damaged.

You are required by law to register your boat in the state of Minnesota. There is no way around this. If you take to the water without the proper registration the end result could be a large fine from the authorities. The type of boat, its length, and the expected use of the boat will largely dictate your boat insurance rates. Whether you have a speed boat, a small fishing boat or a yacht will make a big difference in what you pay. In general, boat insurance costs typically range from $300 to $500, on average. When you buy Minnesota boat insurance you will feel much better every time you head for your favorite lake or river. You will know that your boat is protected, meaning that you are financially protected as well.

Minnesota does not require a boating license for boaters, but requires a Watercraft Operator’s Permit for boaters between 12-17 years of age who wish to operate a personal watercraft. The boating laws of the state require that the person operating a boat should not be under the influence of intoxicants.

We hope this helps answer some questions if you are considering buying a boat this summer. If you already own a boat and want to make sure you have the best coverage for your needs, feel free to reach out at 952-479-5781 or email us info@mysentinels.com

Happy Cruising!

 

Open your Cabin Checklist

 

I know, I know.  This winter has been never ending.  You are over it, we are over it.  But, summer will come! And you need to be prepared for that, don’t you?  Well search no further. We’ve compiled a nice little checklist to help you out and keep you on track.

Don’t forget to:

  • Call to turn on any services you shut off over the winter, including electricity, water and trash collection.
  • Check the insurance policies on your lake home and boat. Call Sentinel Assurance to tell us about the new jet ski, boat or wave runner you’d like to insure.
  • Check your boating registration and renew it if necessary. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, watercraft licenses must be renewed every three years.
  • If you plan to put in a dock, and you need help, call your crew a few weeks in advance to see if they’re available.

After a long winter away, you’ll need to be sure that your home is safe to inhabit again before you turn on your water and other systems.

  • Check the furnace and put in a new filter.
  • Check pipes for rust or damage before you turn on your plumbing and water heater. If you’re not sure how to make the call, hire a plumber to do a basic assessment.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of critters. Check screens and windows for holes and gaps and electrical cords for fraying or bite marks.
  • Inspect your deck and eaves for signs of rotting.
  • Test the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Test and replace the batteries in motion sensor lights on the front door, deck and on the way down to the lake.

Whether you’ll spend the whole summer or special weekends at your lake home, you’ll want to be sure it’s stocked with the basics. Run a quick inventory review before heading to the store for replenishments.

  • Go through your pantry and throw out any expired food, as well as anything that looks like it may have been the subject of a critter invasion.
  • Check that you’re stocked up on sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Check the stock of your bathroom toiletries. To save money and stay green buy shampoo, conditioner and body wash in bulk bottles rather than using travel samples.

Next, have fun.

We wish you a great cabin season this summer!

Planning for your Spring home remodel

It’s that time of year! Spring cleaning and warmer temps call for those updates you dreamed of for your home.  If you are hiring a contractor to perform work on your home or property, it is essential to hire a contractor who is both licensed and bonded. When you hire an unlicensed contractor, you are taking significant risks, including that you will be subject to a lawsuit, as well as the potential that any implied warranties afforded by state law will be void.

While the laws for a contractor’s license differs by state, in most cases, a license is required to do any type of skilled labor on another person’s home or property. For instance, an electrician, a plumber, or a drywaller may be required to have a license. Someone performing a variety of tasks may need to obtain a general contractor’s license. The state may impose specific requirements such as minimum education or work experience to obtain a license. The state may also require that the contractor take an examination with different levels of licensing for the right to do different size jobs. In addition, the state may require that the contractor has an active worker’s compensation insurance policy for a license to be issued. In many states, being bonded is also a prerequisite to obtaining a license.

Being bonded is different from being licensed, although the two are sometimes related. When a contractor is bonded, this means he has purchased a surety bond. This is a type of insurance policy that protects a property owner. The bond provides a certain amount of liability protection and if the contractor fails to complete a job as required or contracted, the bond can provide compensation to a property owner.

Typically, for a bond to pay out to a homeowner, the property owner must first win a claim with the state contractor’s board by proving that the contractor failed to perform the required work. The homeowner may also be required to attempt to collect money from the contractor before making a claim against the bond. Whether the bond will be sufficient to pay the claim depends on the size of the bond that the contractor had, and on whether there are other claims against it. The Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) warns customers that the bonds required in Oregon may only provide a limited amount of financial security to property owners because the bonds required are often small compared to the volume of work performed by contractors. However, this may differ in your state and your contractor may sometimes buy a larger bond than is required by law. To determine the amount of protection available to you by hiring a bonded contractor, it is best to speak with a lawyer prior to entering into a construction agreement.

There are important reasons to hire a bonded and licensed contractor. First, since the unlicensed contractor is usually breaking the law by working without a license, there’s a good chance he is also not complying with other laws including permit requirements and inspection requirements. This can result in your project not being up to code, and necessitating repairs or removals if your home is inspected or before your property is sold. Second, it can be much harder to determine if an unlicensed contractor will provide you with quality workmanship since the contractor has not submitted to any examination or review of his knowledge by a licensing board.

Aside from the increased possibility of receiving poor workmanship when you hire an unlicensed contractor, you may also be giving up your right to make warranty claims. While most states impose implied warranties on contractors for bad workmanship, these implied warranty laws often require that the contractor be licensed in order to apply. Furthermore, your state contractor board will not typically help you to make a warranty claim against an unlicensed contractor. So if you are trying to recover at all, you will need to go to civil court. Even if you win in civil court, without a bond, there’s a good chance the unlicensed contractor will not be able to pay your damages.

Another important consideration when hiring an unlicensed contractor is that you could be subject to liability. While the licensed contractor is usually required to have worker’s compensation insurance, someone unlicensed may have no protection from injury at all. If the unlicensed contractor harms himself on your property, you could be subject to a lawsuit and responsible for paying his damages.

Hopefully we’ve equipped you with some information to help you make good choices when hiring a contractor.  Once again, Sentinel Assurance is here to help, let us know if you need a quote or to review your current coverage.


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