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Do I Need Separate RV Insurance?

One of the most exciting luxuries we insure is RV’s, or Recreational Vehicles. You may find yourself wondering about the logistics; do you need separate RV insurance, or does it fall under auto insurance?

Or perhaps homeowners insurance would be similar because technically, you can live in an RV. We at Lake River Insurance Agency have seen and insured it all, including the mythical RV.

It’s not just the uses of RVs that are unique. The recreational vehicle industry manufactures several types of RVs and motorhomes for personal enjoyment. There are classes of motorhomes often based on the type of transportation offered. Each of those variants creates a need that an insurance policy can cover in case of damage.  

Our goal as independent agents is to provide you with a policy that will allow you peace of mind. We offer policies for home, auto, health, and so much more. Contact us today for a free quote! 

Do I Need Separate RV Insurance?

A car park roof falling on to an RV parked in someone's driveway. I man is stressed and surprised this as happened. To cover accidents like this, you need separate RV insurance.

The short answer to this question is a definite yes. Recreational vehicles are unique because they are a combination of home and auto and have several uses. They can also be a permanent home or a full-time motorhome. 

According to Camp Addict, there are several recreational vehicles, and each presents its own insurance needs. 

Types of Recreational Vehicles

Motorhomes classes A-C

A parked motorhome with a blue paint job.

  • Class A: Best for full-time living and what you may think of like a tour bus – 28 – 45 feet in length/weighs 22,000 to 55,000 pounds
  • Class B: RV components that are added to a van body

           – 19 – 27 feet in length/weighs 8,000 to 14,5000 pounds

  • Class C: RV built on a cutaway chassis, meaning the nose of a van and an RV body. 

           – 24 – 36 feet in length/weighs 10,000 to 14,500 pounds

RV trailers 

A campfire going at a campsite with a pop up trailer.

  • Bumper pull 
  • Pop-up
  • Teardrop 
  • Travel trailers (think rockstar tour bus)
  • Hybrid 
  • 5th Wheel 

Toy hauler RV

An open toy hauler with the ramp extended.

  • Any RV that includes a garage

Truck camper 

A shot of behind a white truck with a truck camper installed in the bed of the truck.

  • A recreational vehicle that may be carried in the bed of a pickup truck. Also known as a slide-in or cab-over.

Something they all have in common is that in every state in the United States, the need for separate RV insurance is mandatory. The type of recreational vehicle/motorhome you own can hold weight in what you need in a policy. 

RVs cannot be placed under auto insurance because you can live in them. They can also not be placed under home insurance because they are a vehicle. That is the exact reason why you need a separate policy for an RV.  

You can add additional coverage for all the bells and whistles available with an RV/motorhome. Or, you can write items such as awnings, slideouts, and electronics into a policy so you and your possessions are covered against the unforeseen. 

Insuring RV/motorhome extras is very much like insuring family heirlooms, home businesses, or other valuables you may own. At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we write policies that offer full protection. 

The purchase of an RV or motorhome is an investment in the recreation of you and your family. Having the proper insurance coverage for your investment is smart and will protect your purchase so you can enjoy it for many years. 

Ensuring a Good Time

A father and sun smiling in front of their RV at a campsite.

Lake Region Insurance Agency is not affiliated with a corporate insurance agency. Thus we have the freedom to work with our clients’ unique needs. When ensuring luxury purchases such as a recreational vehicle, we write the policy to serve the holder.

In this way, we show our love for writing policies, beneficial to each of our clients specifically. Questions often asked when you sit down with an agent include: 

  • How often will the RV/motor home be used? Is it brought out once a year for the family camping trip, or do you live in it?
  • When not in use, is your RV exposed to extreme weather?
  • Where are you bringing your RV/motorhome? Is there wildlife that would damage it, or is there a possibility of theft where you will be?
  • If your RV is a full-time residence for you, what portions of the inside will need to be insured? Items like valuables, electronics, pets, etc., should be considered. 
  • Should you be pulling your RV instead of driving it, are you bringing it to places with insurance for incidents on their property?
  • What size deductible would you like to have for your policy? A deductible would be the amount a client pays out of pocket before insurance pays their portion. Policies can be either high or low deductible. 

There are so many other considerations to mull over, but that is why we are here. We at Lake Region Insurance are not the only ones who believe RVs should be insured separately. 

No one uses their campers/RVs the same way, which is why your policy should be written uniquely for you. We don’t want you to pay for features you don’t use or for you to be without the protection you need. 

It would be best to create an insurance policy to serve you and not hinder you, especially when needed. 

King of the Road for Those in Need of Separate RV Insurance

For over 50 years, Lake Region Insurance Agency has been in the game of protecting our community. We believe that each policy should be written specifically for the client to meet their unique needs. If you need separate RV insurance, then look no further!

We want to work with you to create a policy that will serve you and your family in your travels. 

We at Lake Region Insurance Agency offer several types of insurance coverage, and each policy is different. 

We stay away from becoming affiliated with corporate or national chains to offer the best service possible. We do not place pressure on clients to purchase an overpriced policy that doesn’t meet their needs. 

We are also not chained to campaigns or promotions. Our model also lends us the freedom to put the client in control of their policy. 

You will find us in New London, Willmar, and Cokato in Minnesota. We invite you to come in and speak to one of our agents to create the ultimate policy for you. Stop in today, or visit our site for a free quote; we look forward to meeting you!

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8 Tips To Get Your Car Ready for Summer

Always give yourself something to look forward to. The snow will soon melt, and the roads will be more inviting for driving adventures. Plan to get your car ready for summer!

The cold deters many drivers from doing vehicle maintenance during the wintertime. Keep an eye on the forecast to take advantage of warmer spring days to follow these eight car preparation tips.

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we want to help you get your car ready for summer by affirming you have the insurance you need. Contact one of our independent agents today to ensure your policy is road-ready.

Get Your Car Ready For Summer Adventures

A couple on a road trip smiling and looking at a map.

Warmer seasons are welcome after our cold Minnesota winter, but summertime can be hard on cars. The air conditioner must combat our heat and humidity. The tires expand, and the belts can wear more. Before summer arrives, it’s a good idea to give your car care from the ground up.

1. Get The Tires Ready to Roll

Change the snow tires off your car. Their construction doesn’t hold up well in the summer heat, so switch to all-season or summer tires.

A rule of thumb is to swap when temperatures reach the mid-40s °F. In our area, this usually happens from mid-March to mid-April.

If you have a mechanic do this, the shop should inflate the tires to their correct air pressure. You’ll want to confirm the air pressure about once a week throughout the summer.

Look in the driver-side door jamb for the recommended pounds per square inch (psi). It’s best to check the air pressure in the morning before driving.

Keeping the tires at their target pressure extends their life, improves fuel efficiency, and helps prevent blowouts.

2. Spring Clean Your Car

The Minnesota Department of Transportation uses mostly salt in its work to clear snow and ice from our winter highways. At temperatures below 15 °F, they also add other chemicals.

After winter driving, clean all this grime from your car. Get your car ready for summer with a thorough washing of the wheel wells and undercarriage.

After months of driving with dirty boots, clean the mats and vacuum the interior on a warm spring day. Place the cleaned mats in their proper spots to be sure they don’t interfere with safe driving.

3. Prepare the Wiper Blades for Summer Rain

windshield wipers on a car

Do you notice smudges not entirely clearing from the windshield after washing your car? Inspect the wiper blades to see if they need replacing.

Winter conditions wear out wiper blades and drain the wiper fluid from its use removing ice from the windshield. Summer wipers are made differently and better suited to handle the sun and heat.

Being able to see clearly keeps you safer on the road. Installing new summer wiper blades and filling up your windshield washing fluid will get your car ready for summer driving. There are even summer formulas that work better against bugs.

4. Stay Cool with A/C for You and Coolant for Your Car

You know summer’s coming when you finally get to turn the dial from heating to air conditioning! Run the A/C to feel if it’s blowing cold air and check for unusual sounds or smells. Note anything unexpected in case the system needs professional attention.

If the coolant levels are too low, your engine may overheat. When the motor hasn’t been running, check the coolant level in the overflow reservoir, or have a pro take a look at its level and chemicals mix.

Get your car ready to stay cool this summer. Keep you and your passengers cool with functioning air conditioning. Keep your car’s engine from overheating with the right quality and quantity of coolant.

5. Change the Oil

Depending on the oil your car uses, it’ll be due for a change every 3500 to 5000 miles. Refer to your owner’s manual for which kind your car needs and how often to change it.

During summer driving, check the oil level about once a week when the engine is cool in the morning. Dusty roads can clog the oil filter, so consider changing that at your midsummer oil change.

6. Lights, Brakes, and Battery Included

If an automotive shop changes your oil, they’ll also likely check your lights. You can do this yourself too with the help of another person. Change any burned-out bulbs.

Look in your owner’s manual for recommendations on professional brake inspections. Take your car in if you hear sounds when braking or if it’s taking longer to stop. It may be time for replacements.

Manufacturers intend modern batteries to be maintenance-free. An older battery may have corrosion around the terminals. You can clean this with a toothbrush and baking soda. If it returns, it’s likely time to replace the battery.

7. Swap Winter Gear For Summer Supplies

Just as you change your winter tires and wipers, change your emergency winter gear out for summer travel supplies. It’s almost time to store the snow shovel and sand and break out the bug spray!

Baby wipes come in handy whether you have young passengers or not. Towels serve you well if you make a fun summer pit stop to wade in a stream. They’ll also become a picnic blanket if you get an ice cream treat.

Even with good air conditioning, summer driving can be warm. It’s handy to keep some water bottles in your travel pack to stay hydrated.

Some items can’t handle the heat. Put insect deterrents and temperature-sensitive medications like Epi-Pens in a grab-and-go bag to bring with you.

8. Confirm Your Insurance

This spring, get your car ready for summer. You’ll enjoy summertime driving with the peace of mind preparation brings!

Confirm that your registration and insurance paperwork is current and present in your glovebox. Call us at Lake Region Insurance Agency for a free insurance review and quote. We want to be part of your pit crew preparing for summer driving!

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How to Avoid Roofing Scams

Imagine someone from a roofing company comes to the door and tells you they noticed a hole in your roof. Understandably, many people would suddenly worry about their roof and agree to let them “check it out.” Unfortunately, this can be a costly response. Learning to avoid roofing scams is an important step for homeowners.

Education is a large piece of the Lake Region Insurance Agency ethos. The more you learn about your home and your insurance, the better you can protect your hard work. 

Our team helps you insure everything from your car to your business, and we do it with integrity and clarity. Call or stop by one of our Greater Minnesota offices to get a free insurance quote and review.

Stay on Your Toes to Avoid Roofing Scams 

Unfortunately, not every service provider has the best intentions. Many shady practices exist that prey on a homeowner’s fears. The following are five tactics that some contractors use and how to avoid these scams.

1. “I See Damage”

Some companies train their employees to approach other homeowners in a neighborhood where they are working. These employees may knock on your door and tell you that while working on another roof, they spotted damage on yours.

They will oh-so-kindly offer to do you a favor by going up to take a look. Once this Good Samaritan contractor comes down, they will tell you that there is, in fact, damage. 

Shady roofing companies will tell you they spotted damage on your roof while working on one nearby.

There are two significant problems with this. First, you have no way of knowing if there is damage unless you go up to look, which isn’t safe. Second, they may very well have caused damage themselves while they were up there. 

Their next step is to pressure you into getting your roof fixed ASAP, by their team, of course. The pressure will increase if you decline the contractor or tell them that you need to think about it. 

To protect yourself from this tactic, do not allow anyone onto your roof who shows up unsolicited. Ever. 

Instead, hire a reputable company to do a roof inspection each year or after a storm. With this habit, you will know what shape your roof is in and if there are any potential problems. You also will develop a relationship with a roofer you can trust.

2. “Unforeseen Circumstances”

Another popular scam in the roofing world relies on the dreaded “unforeseen circumstances.” A contractor will begin a job at an agreed-on price, usually a strangely low price, and then the following will happen:

  • They inform you that the damage is worse than they initially thought.
  • They tell you that the amount and cost of materials are going to be significantly more. 

They will present this scenario as urgent and ask you for money, or else their crew will have to stop work on your roof. This scene can strike terror in the hearts of homeowners, and they end up forking over the cash.

Do not agree to new or changed invoices without seeing receipts for materials.

To make sure you don’t end up in this situation, get at least three bids from highly-rated roofers before choosing a contractor. Read through the contract carefully to ensure that it is very detailed and thorough, without vague language.

If a contractor says there is an increased materials cost, ask to see their receipts before paying a new invoice. If they can’t produce receipts, or they don’t match the invoice, don’t pay.

3. “No Deductible”

Watch out for a roofing company that tells you they will pay your deductible or that your roof will be free because insurance covers it. This is a scam. Close the door. Walk away. Do not agree to anything with this company.

Disreputable roofers will lure homeowners with a “no deductible” scheme. They tell the owners that the company will pay the deductible and handle everything with their insurance company. 

Then they give you a lower bill to pay while submitting a second, much higher bill to the insurance company. This situation is fraud, plain and simple. And even though you aren’t trying to be fraudulent, you can get in trouble if this comes to light.

To avoid roofing scams like this one, always talk with your insurance agent for clarity about your policy. 

4. “That Was Quite a Storm!”

Storm chasers are not just thrill-seekers who want to see a tornado up close. Some roofing companies fall under this label, too, and not for good reasons.

A common roofing scam is to canvas a neighborhood after a storm, telling homeowners that their roofs sustained major damage. In a panic, many people agree to have these companies do repairs or replacements. Sadly, many times there is no significant harm, and the homeowner ends up paying for nothing. 

Avoid roofing scams by getting multiple quotes from reputable companies.

Of course, storms often do a lot of damage to homes and roofs. Hail damage alone can account for up to $14 million each year. The trick is knowing how to discern what you really need.

After a storm, or any time you suspect damage to your roof, call your insurance agent first. Then reach out to well-reviewed roofers who are fully licensed and bonded to get at least three estimates.

The truth is that after a significant weather event, reputable roofing companies are hard at work for their clients. They don’t have time to wander through neighborhoods looking for jobs. Again, unsolicited inspections or quotes are a huge red flag.

Protect Your Interests

Here are the best ways to protect your home and wallet from roofing scammers:

  • Never allow any unsolicited contractor into your home or onto your roof.
  • Read reviews and ask for referrals from people you trust.
  • Invest in an annual roof inspection and keep up on necessary maintenance.
  • Call your insurance agent with any questions or if anything doesn’t sound right to you.

Always trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, or you have internal alarms sounding, you are probably correct in your instincts. There are plenty of excellent companies who work with integrity, so you should never feel pressured to work with a scam artist.

Lake Region Is on Your Side

Our Lake Region team works hard to find a homeowners policy that meets your needs. We are independent agents who do not have to sell only one company’s insurance plans. We search through all possible options to find the right fit for your home.

With offices located in Willmar, New London, and Cokato, Minnesota, we work in the communities that we serve. Stop by one of our offices today or visit the website to request a free quote

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The Importance of Builders’ Risk Insurance

If you’re in construction, you know how to cover all the bases to ensure a job well done. But you also carry risks that are unique to your work. Make sure you protect yourself with the addition of builders’ risk insurance. 

Seasoned builders understand that strange and unexpected events can occur when building or remodeling for a client. Challenges like extreme weather, stolen materials, and unforeseen delays can kill your timeline and cost money. 

While builders’ risk insurance won’t stop these setbacks, it can offer some peace of mind in a stressful situation. With adequate coverage in place, you have protection when issues arise.

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we take pride in working with our area’s builders. It’s an honor and an investment in our community to help protect our neighbors. Contact us today for a free quote and to discuss how you can protect your bottom line

What Is Builders’ Risk Insurance?

Also called “course of construction insurance,” a builders’ risk plan is a specific type of property policy for those in construction. It typically covers materials and property during construction and renovation projects. The policyholder can receive reimbursement for the physical loss of these items due to a covered event.

The construction business is highly variable from contractor to contractor, and no two construction projects are the same. Your insurance agent will help you create a unique policy for your project’s needs. A customized builders’ risk plan gives you the coverage you require without charging you for items that don’t apply to your situation. 

Builders' risk insurance protects your bottom line.

Some of the typical events that can trigger a builders’ risk claim include:

  • Theft 
  • Vandalism
  • Natural Disaster (“Act of God”)
  • Explosion or Fire
  • Material Damage in Transit

Theft is the most likely situation that builders face. Materials and equipment valued at about one billion dollars disappear from construction sites every year. So having as much coverage as possible is crucial for protecting your investment and livelihood.

Besides covering the materials, your policy may cover “soft expenses” such as loss of income and debris removal.

Typically, you will choose between policies that cover ground-up construction, installation, or renovation. Be sure to spend time with your agent going over all of your needs and concerns to get the best policy for your protection.

They will likely discuss several questions with you before setting up your policy: 

  • What types of exposure will your site have at each phase of work?
  • Do you have scaffolding?
  • Will valuable documents, such as blueprints, be on-site?
  • Is the project residential or commercial?

Many variables come into play with this type of insurance. Your agent will help you choose a policy to cover what you need.

Not Just for the Builder

If you have any stake in a construction or remodeling project, you may be eligible to buy builders’ risk insurance. It’s actually not only for the builder, and many people don’t realize that.

Homeowners should consider builders' risk insurance for new construction.

Talk with your insurance agent about this protection if you are in any of the following roles:

  • Builder
  • Architect
  • Homeowner
  • Investor
  • Lender
  • Subcontractor

It is always better to be safe than sorry, and looking into your eligibility for a builders’ risk policy is a smart move. If you are eligible to purchase coverage, you will appreciate the protection and peace of mind.

Why Do Homeowners Need Builders’ Risk Policies?

If you are in the process of watching your new house taking shape, congratulations! New construction is the perfect way to get exactly what you want in a home.

It’s important to know that your homeowner’s insurance likely will not cover the structure until it is complete. During construction, theft, vandalism, or a sudden wind storm could cause damage and loss that has no coverage.

Check with your contractor to find out what level of insurance they carry and what it covers. In most situations, it’s wise for the homeowner to also buy a policy to ensure sufficient protection.

Exclusions In a Builders’ Risk Policy

As with any insurance plan, a builders’ risk insurance policy will have items or events that do not have coverage. You may need to consider separate riders or plans.

Generally, standard builder policies do not cover the following:

  • Machinery and Equipment
  • Injuries 
  • Employee Theft
  • Subcontractors
  • Other People’s Property
  • Earthquake Damage
  • Your Vehicle
  • Workmanship and Professional Liability

Make sure you discuss all of your needs with your insurance agent. In most cases, you likely need liability and workers’ compensation plans in place, too. Construction is too risky of an undertaking to leave yourself unprotected.

Builders' risk insurance doesn't cover injuries. Talk to you agent about workers compensation.

One thing to clarify before buying a policy is whether or not it will cover your tools. Different providers vary in what protection they offer for tools. Some do not include them at all in a builders’ risk insurance plan. Others provide coverage for tools that are on the insured site. 

Talk with your independent insurance agent to make sure you have sufficient protection for your situation.

Let’s See How We Can Serve You

Our Lake Region Insurance Agency clients are our neighbors. It’s an honor to serve the Greater Minnesota community by meeting their insurance needs.

From individuals to businesses, we have policies that fit the bill. We look forward to learning about you as we create a policy that will give you confidence. 

For over 50 years, Lake Region has provided personalized insurance options to our community. As independent agents, we can give our clients service without an agenda. Our team does not have to select policies only from one provider. We can search hundreds of choices to find the right plan for you.

Your home, auto, business, and health deserve all the protection possible. When you work with our agents, you get high-quality service and unparalleled expertise.

With offices in New London, Willmar, and Cokato, MN, we are readily available to meet your insurance needs. Please stop by one of our locations or our website today to get a free quote. We look forward to hearing from you.  

 

 

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How to Choose Self-Employed Health Insurance

You equip yourself for your work through training and tools of many kinds. But it’s crucial that you also include self-employed health insurance in your toolbox for business success. Keeping yourself healthy is key to having a thriving business.

Being self-employed and creating your work is a joy for many people. But it also means that you wear many hats, including figuring out medical insurance. The independent agents at Lake Region Insurance Agency can help you find the coverage that best suits your needs.

Visit one of our offices in New London, Willmar, or Cokato, MN. Or call us for a free insurance review and quote. We are eager to help you choose a self-employed health insurance policy that will meet your priorities and support your plans.

First Things First: Self-Employed or Small Employer?

It’s important to determine if you truly fall under the self-employed designation or if you are a small employer. 

You are self-employed in your business if you bring in income but don’t have employees. Small employers have at least one employee other than the owner. Small businesses with employees should consider group health insurance to cover everyone.

Hiring 1099 independent contractors doesn’t affect your self-employed status. But once you hire a W2 employee, you are a small employer.

Self-employed business owners can buy a policy through the individual Health Insurance Marketplace®. There you’ll find medical coverage that supports you and your family while you run your business.

Self-Employed Health Insurance Choices

Self-employed health insurance is crucial to running a successful solo business.

When you need to select a healthcare plan as a self-employed individual, you have a few options. 

For those who qualify, the Health Insurance Marketplace can offer an affordable way to purchase coverage. Income requirements apply for those wanting to shop on the Marketplace. Your independent agent can help you navigate this to see if you qualify for assistance with premiums.

You also can buy medical insurance directly from a provider without going through the Marketplace. Generally, this process requires less paperwork and moves a little more quickly. But it doesn’t take advantage of Marketplace discounts that may be available.

Plans typically come in bronze, silver, and gold levels. Each level has a different balance between monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. 

For example, bronze-level plans will have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket expenses. Gold plans are the other way around. There are caps on the amount you have to pay each year outside of your premiums. 

Out-of-pocket costs can include any of the following:

  • Copayments for Office Visits 
  • Prescription Costs
  • Deductible
  • Coinsurance Fees (After Meeting the Deductible)

Identify Your Priorities When Choosing a Plan

Workplaces pre-select a few plans for their employees to choose from each year. However, as a self-employed business owner, you have significantly more choices. You can consider policies from any provider that offers coverage in your state.

When you need to select a plan, there are a lot of factors to consider:

  • How much can you afford each month for premiums?
  • Do you need insurance only for yourself or for your whole family?
  • Are there specific doctors you want to be able to see?
  • Do you need coverage for certain medications?
  • How often do you typically go to the doctor?

Consider how much coverage you need for things like prescriptions.

Answering these questions with your insurance agent will help them guide you to a plan that meets your needs. They can help you find appropriate coverage that fits your budget.

How Do Marketplace Subsidies Work?

If you shop the Marketplace for a plan, you may find that you are eligible for subsidies that lower your premiums. You will need to estimate your income for the upcoming year to determine eligibility. Your previous year’s tax return can provide you with a reasonable financial forecast for your application. 

Subsidies generally are available for individuals and households earning up to 400% of the poverty level. The actual dollar amount shifts from year to year based on the government’s poverty threshold. And the limits depend on the number of people in your household. Your agent can help you with this information.

If your estimate ends up being lower than your actual earnings, you may have to pay back some or all of the subsidy. If it turns out to be high, extra premium tax credits could lower your tax bill. Check with your tax professional for guidance about this.

When to Enroll In Self-Employed Health Insurance

The open enrollment period for choosing medical insurance is November 1 to December 15 each fall. If you do not select a plan during this window, then you probably have to wait until the following year to enroll.

Don't miss open enrollment to get your self-employed health insurance.

However, some life changes create the opportunity to enroll at other times in the year. Qualifying life events allow you to use a special enrollment period. These situations include:

  • Getting Married 
  • A Divorce that Results In Loss of Coverage
  • Having a Baby
  • Aging Out of Your Parents’ Plan
  • Loss of Job-Based Coverage

If you’re seeking medical coverage unexpectedly, reach out to the Lake Region team for assistance. They can help you determine your eligibility and find the healthcare plan that fits your needs.

Protecting Yourself Is Critical

Some business owners are tempted to skip buying self-employed health insurance for themselves. But this isn’t a good choice for several reasons.

First, your state may have mandates in place for owning coverage. Ignoring those could have consequences.

More importantly, however, you leave yourself at significant financial risk if you forego medical coverage. In a medical emergency or other healthcare need, you could end up with enormous bills. Having insurance in place offers you peace of mind and financial protection.

Lake Region Is Ready to Help

Being your own boss offers tremendous freedom and benefits. So make sure you protect yourself by choosing self-employed health insurance. Reach out to Lake Region Insurance Agency to get started. Our expert team of independent agents can help you find a plan that meets your needs and gives you the protection you deserve. 

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7 Ways to Protect Your Heart Health

Every February, we honor American Heart Month, but what is the significance of bringing awareness to this cause? Heart disease kills more people in the US than any other illness, accident, or condition. Continued attention is necessary to educate the public about what you can do to protect your heart health. 

Lake Region Insurance Agency knows the importance of protection in all areas. We assist clients with insurance options for health, life, home, and auto. Affordable and comprehensive health insurance is one of the key pieces of personal wellness, so reach out to us for a quote. 

Protect Your Heart Health Every Day

Cardiovascular disease claims a life in the United States every 36 seconds. But this devastating number can change for the better when we establish new, healthier habits. To help you live your healthiest life, consider these seven ways you can protect your heart health. 

1. Move At Least 30-60 Minutes Each Day

A woman power walking for heart health.
For many with busy lives, spending two hours at the gym is unrealistic. However, the goal is to have 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week. You can break this down to best fit your schedule, aiming for 30 minutes of brisk physical activity a day. This level of activity includes a fast walk or bike ride.

Even short bursts of exercise broken up throughout the day are sufficient to meet the goal. Also, to help with bone health and muscle strength, remember to include two sessions of strength exercise every week. Regular strength training over time will help to maintain normal blood pressure. 

If you are active and participate in vigorous aerobic activity such as running, you can see heart benefits if you reach 75 minutes each week. Consider adding a yoga practice for the added stress reduction benefits that will also help to protect your heart health. 

2. Please Quit Smoking

The best health change you can make to protect your heart health is to quit smoking. Avoiding secondhand smoke is also critical to keeping your heart, lungs, and entire body healthy.

Smoking reduces the oxygen in your blood, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. These effects make it harder for the heart to do its job. The great news is the heart can recover. One year after quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease drops to half of that of a smoker. 

3. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet

Healthy fruits and vegetables in a heart shaped bowl.
Your food choices play a tremendous role in protecting your heart health. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes all have heart-protection benefits. Beans, peas, and other legumes help lower your bad cholesterol thanks to their high fiber content. 

Eating less red meat is another way to protect your heart. Make it easy by choosing poultry or fish options a few times a week. If you are ready to explore vegetarian food, there are plenty of meat substitutes now available. You can still enjoy great flavors without red meat.

Avoid processed foods and focus on fresh produce in your food choices. You can reduce your heart disease risk by adding just one serving each of fruits and vegetables into your diet. 

4. Get Sufficient Sleep

Sleep has many health benefits:

  • Mental Health Support
  • Healthy Weight Maintenance
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Lower Cholesterol

For the best heart health, strive for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Establish a regular sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed at the same time daily. Avoid screens for at least an hour before you want to sleep. Keep your bedroom dark and cool to promote a restful night.

If you are worried about sleep apnea, be sure to seek a medical evaluation. Sleep apnea can significantly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. The common signs include loud snoring, breaks in breathing during sleep, or waking up feeling the need to gasp for air. You can manage sleep apnea with a CPAP device that keeps the airways open while you sleep. 

5. Find a Way to Manage Your Stress

A woman meditating for heart health.
Stress management is one of the most important things you can do to protect your heart health. We can’t control all of the things that cause stress. But we can learn how to respond to them in a healthy way. Avoid coping with stress through unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking, or overeating. 

Find healthy alternatives to stress management, such as exercise and yoga. Or establish a meditation routine through the use of an app or website. Hobbies such as reading, journaling, cooking, or creating art are helpful, too. 

6. Go to Your Doctor Regularly

Don’t skip your yearly physical with your doctor, and be sure to talk to them if you have concerns about heart disease. Take time to learn about any family history of heart disease and share this information with your physician. 

As part of your exam, your doctor should check for high blood pressure and cholesterol since both contribute to heart disease. These conditions are manageable with lifestyle adjustments and appropriate medication.

You may also want to discuss a weight management program with your physician to keep your BMI in an ideal range. Your doctor may suggest a cardiac diet or creative ways to include exercise into your daily life to help get you to a healthy weight.

7. Treat Yourself to Some Chocolate 

A woman eating dark chocolate for the heart health benefits and smiling.
If you feel like you need a lot of restrictions to protect your heart health, hang on. There is also chocolate. 

Dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao can lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke in reasonable amounts. A bite or two a day is plenty to reap the benefits. Overindulging will create the opposite effect. 

Chocolate may dilate the blood vessels to prevent plaque build-up in the arteries. And it has antioxidants to help fight inflammation in the heart and throughout the body. So don’t worry about treating yourself to the right, heart-healthy dessert a few days a week. 

Where Can I Get More Information on Health and Life Insurance? 

Paper cut outs of a family being held safely in someone's hands.
Whether you need health insurance or other coverage, Lake Region Insurance Agency can help you find the right plan. We are a team of independent agents with three locations to serve Greater Minnesota. 

Contact us or stop by our offices in Willmar, Cokato, or New London, MN, to discuss how we can help you today.

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A Guide to Buying Life Insurance for Kids

It is uncomfortable to think about life insurance coverage for children. However, parents should be aware of why it is a wise choice. Purchasing life insurance for kids offers financial benefits that will serve children as they grow. 

If you are considering purchasing life insurance, work with a trusted agent. At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we offer a wide range of policy options to meet your needs. Call or visit our offices in Cokato, New London, and Willmar, MN, to get started.

We are proud to serve our clients in Greater Minnesota as independent agents. We can help you with all of your insurance needs, including life insurance for children.  

What Is Life Insurance for Kids?

A young family sitting on their couch and reading books to their young children.
Parents, grandparents, and other relatives often purchase children’s life insurance to protect a child’s financial future. There are significant benefits to getting a policy in place early in a child’s life.

Individual life insurance for kids comes as a whole life policy. It is a permanent plan that can stay in place throughout their life, rather than only for a set term. It also has a cash value that typically grows over time.

A whole life policy has a set cost, such as $50,000. And it has a specified number of years to pay for the plan. The longer you stretch the payments, the lower the monthly premium. Some parents or grandparents choose to have a short payment time. This smaller window makes for higher premiums, but the owner can give the child a paid-off policy once he or she becomes an adult.

Adults can purchase the policies for children through an agent. And as the policy’s owner, they can transfer it to the child at any time.

A second option for parents who want life insurance for their children is to add a rider to their own policy. That is, if you, as the parent, have a term life insurance plan, you can ask your agent to add your kids to it. 

Adding kids to your existing policy is very inexpensive but has more limited benefits. For example, it will not accrue any cash value.

What Do I Need To Know About Buying Kids’ Life Insurance?

A smiling and laughing family of three.
Purchasing life insurance for a child is relatively uncomplicated. You will complete an insurance application for them, but they are not subject to any medical exams

Once the application is complete, an underwriter will review the paperwork. Generally, you can buy life insurance for kids if they are 17 years old or younger. Speak with an independent agent to get the best policy recommendation for your family. 

Most parents and grandparents choose to transfer ownership once the child reaches adulthood. And some policies automatically shift to the child once they reach a certain age, usually 21 years old.

Why Would I Buy a Life Insurance Policy for a Child?

An insurance agent with paper cut outs symbolizing auto insurance, home insurance, and insurance for kids.
There are several reasons why purchasing a life insurance policy for kids may be a good option for your family. 

  • Investment Vehicle – Many adults purchase life insurance plans for children because of the cash accrual. The younger the child, the higher the premium percentage that goes toward savings. The cash value grows over many years, and the policy owner may cash in or surrender the policy for payment at any point. There is often a surrender fee that applies. The child may choose to cash in their plan to have money available for things like college, their wedding, or a down payment for a home.
  • Tax Benefit – There is a potential tax perk to the plans, as the cash value growth is tax-deferred. That is, the cash value does not count as income until the person withdraws it. Taxes apply only on withdrawals that exceed the premiums paid for the plan. It is best to speak with a tax advisor for specific advice about your circumstances.
  • Lock In Insurability – When you buy a life insurance policy for a child, it ensures that they are insurable for their whole lives. Assuming they keep the policy active, they will not lose that level of coverage. This benefit is critical if they develop a medical condition that would make them uninsurable later in life. It also gives them coverage if they end up with a high-risk job or hobby as an adult. Many careers and hobbies make it difficult for people to get a policy.
  • Funeral Expenses – Finally, the policy will provide funeral and burial coverage in the event of a child’s death. This benefit can alleviate an otherwise significant financial burden to families at the worst time of their life. 

What You May Need to Consider Before Purchasing a Policy

A couple purchasing life insurance for kids.

It is important to look at your savings, budget, and allocation of investments before purchasing life insurance for kids. It is wise to meet with a financial advisor to look at your entire financial picture to know how much you can allocate toward additional insurance options. 

Before you consider buying a life insurance policy for your child, be sure you have sufficient coverage for yourself. Protecting your family’s finances if you pass away needs to be the top priority. Once you have that in place, talk with your insurance agent about available plans for your children.

Let’s Discuss All of Your Life Insurance Options

A parent and child holding a red heart in their hands, symbolizing life insurance for kids.
No matter what type of policy you need, be sure to find an agent you can trust. Lake Region Insurance Agency has been serving Minnesota families for decades.

Whether you need health, auto, home, or life insurance, we can find what you need. As independent agents, we do not have to rely on just one company. We can search through hundreds of policies to find the perfect fit for you. 

Our friendly team will help you secure the right coverage and the peace of mind that it provides. Contact us for a free policy review and quote. You’ll be on your way to financial security for your family.

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How To Avoid Burst Pipes This Winter

Winter can be one of the most fun times of the year in Greater Minnesota, with one exception. Frozen pipes in your house are extraordinarily not fun. They can lead to water damage, plumbing bills, and major inconveniences for the whole family. Learn how to avoid burst pipes this winter so that your home will stay warm and dry.

If disaster does strike, do you have sufficient coverage? Lake Region Insurance Agency is here for you. Contact us today for a free insurance review and quote. We’ll make sure your policies cover all of your treasures.

Why Do Pipes Freeze and Burst?

Do you remember experimenting with ice in grade school? Many school kids have proudly displayed a container misshapen by the water frozen within it. 

Water expands as it freezes, and if that occurs inside your home’s pipes, they could break.

Water in the pipe between the faucet and the ice is under increased pressure as the ice pushes forward. If this force is greater than the integrity of the pipe, the pipe will burst

Burst pipes can also happen without freezing. Tree roots, corrosion, and clogs all have the potential to cause a plumbing failure that leaves you with a gigantic mess. 

What You Can Do To Avoid Burst Pipes

Cover your outdoor faucets to avoid burst pipes.

To avoid burst pipes, make sure you are familiar with the plumbing in your home. Inspect your pipes annually, from where they enter your house to where they disappear behind interior walls. 

Seal any gaps or cracks around pipes coming into your home. Your pipes will stay warmer, and your heating bill will thank you. 

If your plumbing travels through an unheated basement, consider adding an auxiliary heater safe for indoor spaces. You don’t need to create a sauna, but you do need to keep some heat around the pipes. About sixty degrees should be warm enough to keep the water flowing. 

If adding heat isn’t a good option for you, you can use heating tape. This flexible silicone tape wraps around your pipes to keep them warm enough to avoid freezing. It’s important to plug it into a GFCI outlet. Don’t use an extension cord for this.

When it is frigid outside, you can help prevent frozen pipes by leaving a couple of faucets dripping. The constant flow of water, even just a slow drip, can help avoid burst pipes.

For plumbing in a cabinet, such as under the sink, leave the cabinet doors open slightly. The heat from the house will circulate better around the pipes to keep them warm. 

When winter is setting in, and you’re buttoning up outdoors, make sure to disconnect your outside hoses. For extra precaution, add an insulated spigot cover at each exterior faucet. 

How To Identify a Frozen Pipe

Poor water flow can be a sign of frozen pipes.

If you’ve noticed something off-kilter about your plumbing but aren‘t sure if you have a frozen pipe, start investigating. Here are the telltale signs of a problem:

  • You will have little to no water flow when you turn on the faucet. 
  • A frozen pipe is likely to have frost on the outside of it.
  • A strange smell coming from the drain can be an indicator of a problem. Ice can partially block the flow of wastewater out of the house. Gases will build up and create a nasty odor.
  • The pipe may be misshapen due to the increased pressure.

If you have a frozen pipe that hasn’t broken yet, you can take careful steps to thaw it:

  • Turn your hairdryer to the lowest setting and gently heat the pipe. Leave the faucet open, so any steam has a path to escape. 
  • Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe to warm it. 
  • If the pipe is in a location without access to an outlet, try wrapping it in hot, damp towels or a heated rice pack.
  • If you have doubts, hire a professional.

Do not try to thaw the pipe with an open flame or extreme heat. Regardless of the method you choose, do not leave a heat source unattended. 

What To Do If You Have a Burst Pipe

Document all the damage if you have burst pipes.

A burst pipe will pour water like a wide-open faucet. The first thing to do in this situation is to turn off the home’s main water supply. Every person in the house should be familiar with the main water valve. PRO TIP: Be sure to inspect the valve once a year to make sure it isn’t stuck or damaged. 

Once the water is off, open all the faucets and flush the toilets to drain the remaining water.

If you’re handy, you may be able to replace the damaged pipe on your own. If not, contact your favorite plumber.

Make sure to document all the damage for an insurance claim. If possible and safe to do so, get photos or video of the following:

  • The broken pipe or pipes
  • Standing water
  • Damaged furniture and flooring
  • Water stains on walls or the ceiling – Use a tape measure to show the size of the affected areas.
  • Other belongings that sustained damage, such as electronics

How To Clean Up After Water Damage

Once you have your photos and handle the leak, it’s time to address all of the aftermath. And time is of the essence. Water damage can lead to mold and other issues that are harmful to your health.

In the short term, mop up standing water and dry surfaces with towels. Set up fans and open the windows, if possible, to help dry out personal items. You may also rent an industrial fan to work faster.

Your insurance agent will help you handle your claim.

For significant leaks that do tremendous damage, you probably will need to hire a professional team of experts. They will have the tools and know-how to restore your home to pre-flood condition. Your insurance agent can help you find a reputable business. 

Check with your insurance agent before you discard any destroyed items. They are likely to send a team member to take additional photos and gather information for your claim. 

Your agent will walk you through the process to make sure you pay as little as possible out of pocket. Keep them in the loop and reach out with any questions along the way.

Make Sure Your Insurance Has You Covered

Lake Region Insurance Agency can help you take care of your home and all the items in it. Contact us today for a comprehensive policy review to make sure your plans are sufficient. Our agents in Cokato, Willmar, and New London, MN, are ready to help. 

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Your Guide to a Safe Home Office

The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people suddenly to join the work-from-home ranks. And it’s likely that many will continue to do so even after the danger passes. Setting up a safe home office is a top priority for home-based workers, whether they work for themselves or someone else. 

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we know that safety comes partly from your insurance coverage. So we help our customers find the policies they need to protect them at home and elsewhere. Get in touch today for a free insurance review to see how we can assist you.

Safety Considerations in a Home Office

Most people are aware of the health and safety guidelines present in traditional workplace environments. If you work in an office or other business setting, you probably took part in some sort of safety training at one time.  

In your own home, however, it can be easy to take your eye off the ball. The familiar space can allow you to become more comfortable and relaxed, creating a perfect opportunity for an accident. Trips and falls that result in injury are far more common than people often think.

Trips and falls at home are surprisingly common.

Additionally, your employer can have legal repercussions if you are injured, even if the accident takes place in your home. According to OSHA, your employer has a responsibility to ensure your safety by helping you comply with accepted standards. They clarify that this responsibility applies to a workplace “in a designated area in an employee’s home.” 

Ensuring that you are working in a safe home office is not only a benefit for you. It can also be essential for your employer. And if you are self-employed, safety measures are still necessary.

How Can I Set Up a Safe Home Office?

When you prepare your office space, look at your area from the perspective of an employer rather than a homeowner. There are a few crucial areas to consider as you work to ensure a safe home office.

The Environment and Ergonomics

Your workspace needs to be appropriate for your role and the tasks you have to accomplish. If you need to handle any machinery, make sure you have enough room to do so safely. The space should have ample light, be well-ventilated, and provide enough room for you to move around safely.

If you spend hours working at a computer, then a safe home office should include an ergonomic chair and desk. If at all possible, invest in a desk that can raise and lower, as needed. Feet should be flat on the floor when you are sitting, and your arms should be at about a 90-degree angle when typing.

A safe home office includes having an ergonomic chair, desk, and keyboard.

There should also be adequate lighting at your desk so that you can see the screen without needing to squint or strain. Take plenty of breaks from your desk to stretch and move your body. Ideally, you will give yourself a few moments away from the computer about every 30 minutes.

Tripping Hazards

Slips, trips, and falls are surprisingly common causes of injuries suffered in the workplace. This fact holds true even in a home office situation. In fact, your home’s stairs may be one of the biggest hazards to your safety. 

Make sure the floor around your workspace is completely clear and accessible without cords or cables that could cause a fall. Invest in enough storage for products and paperwork so that you do not have things in your way as you walk through your space.

Fire Hazards

A house fire is a significant concern for any homeowner. Fire safety must be a factor when making your plan for a home office. Be sure to include all of these safety tips in your workspace:

  • Keep walkways in your office clear to ensure a quick evacuation.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher in your office. Additional extinguishers should be in the garage and near the kitchen. Learn how to use one.
  • Check that there is a working smoke detector in your office and test it regularly.
  • Know and practice an evacuation plan. This step is critical if your office is not on the ground floor. 
  • Do not smoke or light candles in your home office.

A safe home office should have a functioning fire extinguisher.

Security

Whether you own your own business or work from home for someone else, maintaining a safe home office also includes data security. You must follow best practices for data protection, confidentiality, and customer privacy. It is crucial to have a secure place to store any files and ensure this is only accessible by those with permission.

Your computer will also need protection to maintain the integrity of sensitive data or information. Multi-step authentication and anti-virus software are two vital pieces of home office data safety. 

If you are working for yourself, cyber liability insurance is another critical component to consider. And when working as a remote employee, you still need to adhere to your employer’s requirements and training. Be sure to talk with them about the measures you need to take when working from a home office.

Electrical Hazards

Overloaded electrical circuits can be a major fire risk and could cause an outage that damages your computer or files. Avoid the temptation to use multiple extension cords that could overload your system. If you need to install additional outlets, hire a licensed professional to do the work safely.

A surge protector is essential for protecting your computer equipment. Fuse breakers should have clear labels and be easily accessible. Ensure that you do not have any frayed wires in use and always address electrical concerns right away.

How Can We Help?

The Lake Region independent agents are the friendly experts for your Minnesota insurance needs. We are here to help you find everything you need to protect your home, autos, health, and business. 

With three offices throughout Greater Minnesota, Lake Region Insurance Agency is able to help no matter where you are. Get in touch with the team today for a free insurance review, and make sure that you have sufficient coverage.

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The Importance of a Safety Audit for Your Business

Running and maintaining a business includes the responsibility to keep your employees and workplace safe and secure. A safety audit is an essential process to help you ensure compliance, reduce accidents, and keep everyone safe on-site.

The staff at Lake Region Insurance Agency is here to help you find the right coverage for your business. From liability to workers’ compensation, we offer products that protect you and your company. Call or visit today for a comprehensive insurance review and quote.

What Is a Safety Audit?

A safety audit evaluates your company’s existing safety practices and programs. It systematically assesses the processes you have to determine if there are any gaps in your safety protocols. A safety audit collects data regarding employee training, record-keeping, and workplace processes. 

An audit also can act as a legal buffer if something does go wrong. If you have a workplace accident or injury, proof of consistent safety audits can help mitigate problems. 

An auditor looks at specific areas of a safety program when doing their assessment:

  1. Does it embrace industry best practices and regulatory requirements for compliance?
  2. Is there clear and thorough documentation of safety protocols?
  3. Does employee training happen regularly, and does it empower workers to follow regulations?

A safety audit will look at employee training protocols.

Is This the Same as a Safety Inspection?

A safety audit is not the same as a safety inspection. Facility inspections need to happen more frequently and look for immediate concerns in the workplace. 

A safety inspection focuses on identifying immediate hazards and unsafe practices that may be present in a facility. For example, an inspection may look for dangers such as:

  • Tripping Hazards
  • Fire Safety Concerns
  • Dangerous Substances
  • Incomplete Documentation

So while an audit looks at safety systems for the business as a whole, an inspection looks for immediate and potential concerns.

A Safety Audit Helps Support OSHA Compliance

Fans of the American version of The Office might remember the episode where Michael drives a forklift in the warehouse. He has no training and ends up creating a huge mess and safety problem. 

What is funny on television can put lives in danger in reality. Workplace safety is serious business.

In addition to the impact they have on employees, workplace injuries are also costly to an employer. The private sector has almost three billion non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses each year. This number is staggering, considering how many accidents are preventable.

Office workers need to take safety precautions, too.

Companies must comply with regulations mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Safety audits are a significant part of proving adherence to these rules. Failure to comply can result in fines or even a shutdown of the business.

OSHA compliance officers can show up at a workplace unannounced for an inspection. This may be in response to an employee complaint, repeated insurance claims, or as a follow-up to a previous visit. 

They will look for immediate safety threats, signs of non-compliance, and evidence to support employee concerns. Unless there are catastrophic hazards, the business owner likely will have the opportunity to fix problems before OSHA takes punitive action. 

Consistent safety audits on your part as the owner will help ensure that OSHA doesn’t spot any concerns.

How Often Should I Conduct an Audit?

To truly be useful, a safety audit should happen more than once per year. A regularly-scheduled annual audit may actually be detrimental. 

Knowing that an audit is approaching may cause a sudden escalation in safety measures for that window of time. But then managers relax their standards until the next audit comes around. This behavior does not support workplace safety for employees.

A safety audit helps ensure your staff avoids accidents.

Instead, plan several audits throughout the year so that you can accurately assess your programs and protocols. Depending on the size of your operation, you may want to do a few smaller departmental audits and one business-wide review each year. 

For example, you could do a safety audit on the manufacturing floor at one time. Later you can assess the warehouse and distribution. And at a separate time, review the sales and administrative areas.

How Do I Prepare For A Safety Audit?

First, keep in mind that a safety audit’s purpose is not to penalize you. The goal is to identify the practices and procedures that are working and those that aren’t. Ultimately, an audit serves to keep people safe.

If your staff is following appropriate practices, preparing for an audit shouldn’t be overwhelming. But it may take some time.

Gathering all documentation is one of the most critical pieces. As applicable to your business, the auditor may need to see evidence of:

  • Employee Training
  • Employee Certifications
  • Maintenance of Fire Safety Equipment
  • CPR and First Aid Training
  • Food Handler Training
  • Incident Reports
  • Workers’ Comp Claims

The safety audit team should also review previous audits and any recommended corrections. They need to have access to all regulations at the federal, state, company, and local levels, including documentation and training requirements. 

Safety audits should happen regularly during the year.

Depending on your business, you may have an internal manager who can perform inspections and audits. Or, you might need to hire an outside expert to do the job. And in some instances, you might want to use both options.

In addition to general safety compliance experts, there are also industry-specific people available. For example, the trucking and construction industries may rely on auditors with significant expertise in those sectors.

What Are the Consequences of Skipping an Audit?

Safety audits should be non-negotiable at your workplace. Ignoring this practice makes it far too likely that accidents, illnesses, or injuries will occur. 

And without regular audits, repeat offenses become more common. If your company has too many violations or incidents, you could run the risk of losing your insurance. 

Of course, the most significant consequence of skipping a safety audit is that someone could suffer an injury or even death. There is no way to undo the repercussions of bypassing your audits.

How Can We Help?

Lake Region Insurance Agency has a staff of highly-qualified independent agents. We work hard to protect your hard work.

Your business deserves protection on every level, and we are here to provide it. With team members in New London, Willmar, and Cokato, MN, we can serve you and your business confidently and conveniently. Reach out today to get started.