LICA Policyholders Earn Dividend For 2014

LICA7.5% Dividend Issued For 2014

Midwest Insurance Group’s United Fire policyholders participating in the Wisconsin and Illinois state chapters of the Land Improvement Contractors Association (LICA) have earned a 7.5 percent policyholder dividend on premium paid for the 2014-2015 policy period  as part of their commitment to safe and profitable construction, soil, and water conservation practices. Dividend checks have been mailed to us for distribution to policyholders.

About United Fire’s state LICA insurance program

LICA members are licensed contractors in the landscaping and earth movement industries.  The LICA insurance program through United Fire offers broadened liability, property, tools, equipment and auto coverages at reduced group rates.   In addition, LICA members qualify for annual safety group dividends on premium and are eligible for  discounts on equipment, financing and fuel purchases through companies such as Caterpillar, Case and IMC.

Contact Midwest Insurance Group for more information on becoming a LICA member.

 

Fall Home Maintenance

Your Guide to Fall Home Maintenance

Fall Home MaintenanceFall is upon us!

Today is the first day of the fall season and if you’re like me, you might be thinking to yourself, “Maybe I should actually start working on fall home maintenance before the first snowfall this year.”

Now that you’ve thought about it, you’ve taken that first crucial step! Next, you’ve got to make that list of all of the things you plan to do … then put that list in the drawer by the phone, with all of the other lists and junk you throw in there when you’re cleaning off your countertops.

In all seriousness, good fall home maintenance will save you in the long run on home repairs and energy costs by helping you catch small problems before they become big ones.

Midwest Insurance Group has put together a list of some tried and true tasks to put on your fall home maintenance list. See the end of this post for a downloadable list to start checking off.

Always check with the manufacturer before performing work and hire a contractor for the work that you’re uncomfortable performing yourself.  See the end of this post for a downloadable list

Fall Home Maintenance – Outside of the Home

  • Drain your hoses and in-ground sprinkler systems to prevent damage from freezing. If possible, lay hoses out on an incline to help with drainage. If you’ve got an air compressor and an adapter, you can speed this process up.
  • To prevent freezing and cracking of outdoor spigots, turn off the water supply for the outside and let any water drain out. You can also take the extra step of wrapping the spigot with pipe insulation.
  • Check your doors, windows and siding for damage, holes or cracks and shrunken weather stripping or putty. Any place on a home where two different building materials meet (ex: where siding meets the concrete foundation) should be checked to prevent further damage from winter weather.
  • Check all vents for debris and clear them.
  • Look for worn out painted surfaces and water damage. Treat or repaint as necessary.
  • Drain or run the gas out of your lawn equipment and run antifreeze through your pressure washer. If you’ve got a riding lawn mower, disconnect the battery and bring it inside for the winter. The cost of getting your small engine up and running after leaving old gas in the tank over the winter can cost you upwards of $100. While you’re at it, make sure your snow blower still starts up and give it an oil change and any needed maintenance.

Fall Home Maintenance - Cracked Driveway

  • Check your driveway for cracks and make repairs as necessary to keep those cracks from getting larger from ice.
  • Hire someone to clean out your chimney and have your wood burning stove pipes inspected
  • Clean the leaves and debris out of your gutters and tighten any loose brackets. If you’re uncomfortable with the height you’ll be work at, hire a professional
  • Have a professional inspect your roof for damaged shingles and possible leaks.
  • If your window screens are in need of repair, now is as good a time as any to make repairs.
  • Clean your garage and check the weather strip on the bottom of your garage door. If the weather strip is stiff or cracked, replace it. A tight seal will help to keep the wind and mice out of your garage.Fall Home Maintenance - Raking
  • Rake the leaves.
  • Apply a fall fertilizer to your lawn.
  • Make spring planting in the easier by cleaning up your landscape in the fall. Now is also a good time to trim back shrubs, bushes and dead tree limbs.
  • Wash your windows inside and out.
  • Clean and store outdoor furniture.

Fall Home Maintenance – Inside the Home

  • Schedule your annual furnace maintenance and duct cleaning and replace your furnace filter.
  • Add a piece of foam insulation behind the wall plate of electrical outlets and light switches located on outside walls. This will help prevent cold drafts.
  • Take a peak up into your attic. If you see any dark spots on the ceiling, you may have a leak in your roof. Any dark spots in your insulation could be a sign of an air leak into your attic.
  • Test your smoke detectors, replace the backup battery and clean the dust off of the covers.
  • Check doors and windows for air leaks and seal them up with caulk or insulation.

Fall Home Maintenance – Don’t forget your autos!

But wait, there’s more!   Your home isn’t the only thing you should prepare for blustery winter weather. Making sure that your autos are prepared may spare you severe winter headaches or even spare your life! Here is a list of some common maintenance tasks to help minimize winter problems:

Fall Home Maintenance – Automobiles

  • Take your car in for a tune-up.
  • Every two years, your cooling system should be flushed and new antifreeze added. If you can’t remember when you last had this done, now is a good time.
  • Have your battery and charging system tested.
  • Make sure your heater and blower motor are working properly.Fall Home Maintenance - Preparing Your Auto
  • Inspect and replace your windshield wipers. Consider ‘ice free’ wipers.
  • Start purchasing windshield washer fluid rated for freezing temperatures.
  • Check with your auto manufacturer for recommendations on winter oil weights.
  • Have your brakes inspected or serviced.
  • Check your tire tread depth. A good rule of thumb if you’ll be driving on snow covered roads this winter is to replacement your tires at 5/32” tread depth left. At that level or less, you’re taking a big risk!
  • Along with your standard items like jumper cables, put together an emergency kit for the trunk of your car including a shovel, road flares or signs, a flashlight, windshield scraper, hat & gloves and even a bag of sand for traction if you get stuck. Disposable heat packs are another great item along with some food, bottled water and blankets in case you find yourself stranded in a winter storm.

Fall Home Maintenance Now you have few things to work on over the next couple of months to reduce the chances of winter damage to your home to help to ensure safer driving through the snow. Remember: Always consult the manufacturer and if you’re unsure, a little money spent on your local contractor now may save you a lot this winter and spring.

Download the printable Fall Home Maintenance Checklist here.

Insurance for a Teen Driver

Curb the Cost of Insuring Your Teen Driver

Teen Driver 3

Teen Drivers Greatly Affect Your Rates

If your teenager is preparing to get behind the wheel, you may want to consider your options as to the best way to insure them. The statistics show that teen drivers aged 16-19 have a much higher likelihood to be involved in a car accident than other age groups. In turn, it can be quite pricey to insure your teen driver. Here are some helpful hints and tips to keep your premium low and protect your teen from unsafe driving practices.

Policy Options

There are some options when it comes to insuring your teen driver. However, rather than creating a separate policy (which tends to be the more expensive option) consider adding your teen driver as an additional driver to your existing auto policy. Not only will this option keep your teen safe, but it will also save you money.

Another way to keep costs down is by assigning which vehicle your teen will drive. It is important to keep in mind that the newer the car, the more expensive the coverage will be. Talk to your agent about which vehicle will be the cheapest vehicle on your policy to assign your teen driver to.

Deductible Considerations

Auto deductibles will typically range from $250 to $1,000. By increasing your deductible, you’ll only be using your insurance policy for larger repairs and paying out of pocket for smaller dings and chips. However, the increased deductibles can mean big savings.  Keep in mind, if you lease or finance your car, the leasing company may insist on having a deductible of $500.

Ask for the Student Discount

Good grades don’t just get you into college; they can also qualify your student for a rate discount. If your teen driver maintains a 3.0 GPA, they will typically qualify for the discount! In order to help motivate your teen driver, make driving a privilege that’s dependent on good grades.

Teen Driver 2Weigh Your Buying Decision

Purchasing a new car for your teen driver with the latest in safety is understandable. However it may be better to purchase a safe, used car for your premiums sake. Prior to purchasing an auto, Midwest Insurance Group is happy to give you an insurance quote to better help you with your buying decision.

 

Set Your Expectation for Safety

In order to keep your teen driver’s insurance premium constant, it’s best that he or she maintain a clean driving record. To help reduce accidents consider these tips:

Teen Driver 1

  • Restrict nighttime driving
  • Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle
  • Ban cell phone use regardless if your state’s laws are more lenient
  • Establish driving-area limits
  • Set a curfew
  • Talk to your teen driver about drinking and driving
  • Insist on seat belt use for everyone in the vehicle
  • Ride with your teen driver to make sure they are still using the safety habits learned in driver’s education
  • Set a good example for your teen driver by being a responsible driver yourself!

Minimize Distracted Driving

You may not be able to change son or daughter’s status as a teen driver; there are many ways in which they can maintain their good driver standing. In order to minimize their risk, teen drivers need to minimize their distractions. Some ways to do that is by:

  • Only driving with one person in the car for their first year
  • Ban the use of electronics, texts and phone calls can wait!

The use of cell phones while driving is extremely dangerous, and recently it has been put into law. In 28 states, and the District of Columbia, teen drivers are prohibited from using their cell phones while driving. Also many states have laws designating the number of passengers young drivers are allowed to have. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure you and your teen driver are aware and understand the regulations in your state, county and city.

 

 

 

Insuring a College Student

Insuring a college student: Finding the right coverage for a college student can be a challenge. 

StudentWhat every parent should know: Hauling your child off to college is a landmark in your child’s future. The collegiate stepping stone is momentous and sets precedence for years to come. Unfortunately, most parents and children are unaware of their updated or new insurance needs during this chaotic time.

 

Protecting Your Student’s Belongings:

Dorm rooms are a new and exciting place for your son or daughter. However it’s imperative that you speak with your agent regarding the rules and various limitations your coverage may have concerning the valuables your child will be housing in their dorm room. Generally, homeowner’s policies will consider a dorm room an extension of your home. However, when insuring a college student who has a vast amount of electronics, furniture or various other high valued items – you may want to consider purchasing additional coverage. Although your daughter’s or son’s belongings may be covered while living in a dorm room, if your child lives in an apartment or off campus, your homeowners insurance will not cover their possessions. Purchasing renters insurance is a simple but valuable asset when it comes to added protection, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, prices range from only $15 to $30 per month. In addition to covering possessions, renters insurance will provide liability coverage, just in case anyone is injured in the residence.

Changing Auto Coverage:

Having your son or daughter keep their vehicle at home may not only be safer, but it could save money. If your child moves more than 100 miles away from home, your car insurance premiums could decrease by as much as 30 percent. Contact Midwest Insurance Group to learn more and save money while continuing to preserve your child’s coverage.

Keeping Your Child Healthy While On Campus:

If your child plans on being a full time student, taking 12 hours or more per semester, they likely can stay on your health plan during college. Although these rules and regulations can vary significantly by state, and the coverage could become complicated if your child attends school out-of-state. For instance, you may have a managed care plan, in which the plan can contain geographical parameters. These parameters may hinder your child’s ability to access an in-network health care provider close by. If your child participates in intercollegiate athletics, injuries are a real possibility and your child may not be covered. Before you send your child off to college, be sure to check your policy and the schools policy for athletes. There are a few options if you find your child not having adequate coverage under your plan for any reason. Many universities offer their own health plans, although some have considerably high deductibles and low coverage maximums, while other universities will not offer coverage for any condition present prior to attending school. Otherwise, an individual policy can always be considered. It’s important to know and understand your options prior to an injury occurring, learn more today.

Plan Ahead:

Although no one wants to think of the worse, it is important to find out if your child would be able to finish his or her college degree if something were to happen to you. Another way of insuring a college student is by buying life insurance not only replaces the income you would have been earning, but it would also ensure your child’s ability to complete his or her college education.

Insurance Questions to Ask When You Have College-Aged Children:

  • Will my child’s belongings be covered if his/her dorm is subject to theft, fire or other disasters?
  • Will my child’s belongings be covered if he/she lives in off-campus housing?
  • What happens if he/she gets seriously injured while at school?
  • Can I get a discount on my auto policy if my young driver is away at school and rarely uses the family car?
  • Do I have to change my auto policy if my son or daughter brings the car to school?
  • Will my intercollegiate athlete be covered under my family health plan if he or she is injured during practice or a game?
  • Does my child need to be a full-time student to be covered under my health plan?

Count on Us:

If your child is going off to college, or you’re just curious what coverage you do have, contact us at (262) 646-5777 to learn more. You could save money while maintaining protection for your child while he or she is away from home.

Employee Safety: Tips for your Toolbox Safety Meetings

Employee1Safety meetings with your employees are an integral part of your business.  In conducting periodic safety meetings, you’re helping your employees to do their job more safely, showing that you have concern for their well being and helping your business to manage workers compensation costs.

To get the most out of your safety meetings, it’s best if the whole crew actively participates. How? Try these tips for trainers:

  • Select relevant meeting topics. If you have drill presses, talk about drill press safety. If you are entering confined spaces, talk about respirators and confined space entry. If you notice that spills aren’t being cleaned up promptly, discuss that. If there has been an accident or a near-accident on the job, talk about it. What happened? Where did it happen? How can it be prevented from occurring again? Lifting incorrectly can result in a variety of injuries. Back strain is a very common injury, resulting from the over-stretching of certain muscles. It can be avoided if employees are reminded to practice safe lifting techniques.
  • Employees are a good source for meeting ideas. Encourage your employees to suggest topics—they often know best what and where the dangers are.
  • Once you select a topic, research it. If you want to focus on the safe use of a specific piece of machinery, consult the manufacturer’s operations manual. For handling toxic substances, get a copy of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). To source ready-to-use documents on a variety of safety-related topics, contact your Midwest Insurance Group agent.  Midwest Insurance Group has a wealth of workplace safety literature from industry toolbox talk topics to full, industry-specific employee safety manuals based on OSHA guidelines.
  • Ask questions instead of lecturing. Introduce each new point you want to make by asking the crew a question. Wait a short time to let people think, and then call on volunteers to answer. Use the answers as a springboard for discussion.
  • Ask about personal experience. If you ask a question and no one has an answer, ask if someone has had any personal experience to help the group figure out the answer.
  • Limit the amount of time any one person can talk. If a crewmember is talking too much, invite someone else to speak.
  • Stick to the topic. If the crew’s questions and comments move too far from the topic, tell them that their concerns can be addressed later, either in private conversation or in an upcoming safety meeting. This will also give you ideas for future meeting topics.
  • Assign a crewmember to assist you. Involve a crewmember (or members) in choosing the next topic, and take him or her with you when you do your next “walk-around” safety inspection. You might also ask the person to help lead the next meeting.

Your Midwest Insurance Group agent is ready to assist you in providing materials that will make your toolbox talks and safety meetings beneficial for your business.  Click here to see some of the benefits available to Midwest Insurance Group clients.

For additional safety topics, visit OSHA’s Safety & Health Topic’s webpage.