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

Landscaping & Hardscaping Your Home

 

With winter behind us, this is the best time of year to update the outside of your home! These updates can include landscaping and hardscaping. Both will create an oasis, up the curb appeal, and increase the value of your home. This post will help you determine the difference and which items you need to let your insurance agent know about.

 

Landscaping is the soft, growing stuff like perennial flowers, shrubs, succulents, and trees. Softscape is living; hardscape is not. Hardscaping your yard can include outdoor dining, fireplaces, walkways, decorative stairs, decks, and even water elements. Adding a hardscape design to your yard using natural materials both increases property values and spaces in your home to be enjoyed during the seasons.

Hardscapes are considered “other structures”.  They are usually pricier in cost and add significant value to your home, you definitely want your agent to know about them. Give us a call, we can walk you through it all! 651-237-5180

Affordable Ways to Spruce Up Your Home for Spring

Spring is around the corner and if you are feeling as though your home needs a little more than a thorough spring cleaning, we have some tips for you!

There are so many ways to add some life to your home which can make you feel as though you are living in a totally different house.

The number one way is through paint! Painting a bathroom or your kitchen cabinets can really transform a space and instantly make it look brighter and cleaner.  Start with a room or two to keep yourself motivated and not overwhelmed.  Bright colors or white/neutrals are your best route.

 

 

Next up is some greenery.  Not only on the outside of your home, but bring some houseplants in.  Decorating with fresh flowers or bowls of fruit can really cheer up a corner and unify the look of freshness.  Baskets are a great way to clear and store clutter. Even hanging them on the wall can add interest thats fresh and creative. IKEA has plants both faux and real, at a fraction of the price.

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few more to consider:

Changing out lamps, lampshades, and/or lighting quickly changes any room.

Change knobs/hardware on drawers, cabinets, and dressers.

Paint furniture such as end tables, night stands, or kitchen chairs.

Switch your bedding and towels to white or a bright color.

Get new outlet and light switch plates.

Add extra seating outside, such as a small cafe table/chairs.

Upgrade any landscaping and add potted plants and flowers to your front steps or porch.

That doesn’t seem that hard to tackle, right?  We hope these tips have been helpful to you and you transform your home into the space of your dreams!

Happy Spring!

 

 

What should I do if I have a claim?

 

 

 

You’ve just been involved in an auto accident. The most important thing is your safety. If you are injured , please call for emergency help right away.  Here are some additional steps to help you file a claim on your auto insurance:

  • Call for emergency assistance if needed.
  • Once all parties are safe it’s helpful to take pictures of the damage and exchange insurance and driver information.
  • Next call your agent whether you are at fault or not
  • Follow the directions your agent gives you to provide all documentation related to the accident and file your claim. You may need a police report.
  • Keep copies of all your documentation and bills related to the accident. Jot down detailed notes following conversations about the accident. You need to know who you spoke with and what they said, at what date and time, and how to contact the person.
  • Find out from your agent:
    • Time limitations for filing your claims and submitting bills.
    • Time limitations for resolving claim disputes.
    • When you can expect the insurance company to contact you.
    • Whether you need estimates for the damages.
    • Whether your policy covers a rental car while your car is being repaired and how much it covers.

 

Next we will cover the steps to take to file a claim on your homeowner’s insurance:

  • Report any crime to the police if its due to a burglary or a theft
  • Phone your insurance professional immediately
  • Have the insurance adjuster inspect the damage
  • Make any temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your home or items in it
  • Prepare a list of lost or damaged articles
  • If you need to relocate, save your receipts, some of those costs may be reimbursed

We hope this has helped you navigate the claims’ process and answered any of the questions you may have had.  If we can be of further help, feel free to give us a call here at Sentinel Assurance at 651-237-5180.

 

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!