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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Insurance

As the year draws to a close, many people are already looking forward to the new year.  Whether you see resolutions as a dreaded chore or as an exciting fresh start, they can be helpful. This year, consider fully embracing the world of adulting by making new year’s resolutions for insurance.

Getting your insurance ducks in a row might not be the most glamorous project. But it’s crucial for your long-term financial stability.

Here at Lake Region Insurance Agency, we take insurance seriously and want to help our customers wherever we can. Don’t let anything take you by surprise in 2021. After the craziness of 2020, preparation and planning are more important than ever. 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Insurance Shouldn’t Be That Way

You probably don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about insurance plans and policies. You might prefer to avoid it all together. But the truth is, if you ignore your coverage, you could end up with significant problems.

Get ready for the upcoming year with our top new year’s resolutions for insurance. You’ll be able to rest assured that you have the coverage you need.

New year's resolutions for insurance help you start the year right.

1. Figure Out What You Already Have

For many people, one of the key priorities for next year is to declutter, streamline, and minimize. But you can’t do this until you go through everything you currently have.

Why not extend this idea to your insurance by examining your current policies? Dig out your statements and take an hour or so to clarify what coverage you have in place, making a note of premiums, limits, and deductibles. That way, if you need to shop for a new policy, you can make sure you are getting the very best deal.

Better yet, set a time to meet with your insurance agent to review everything. They will help you find redundancies and gaps so that you can adjust your policies as needed.

2. Inventory and Document

The notion of doing a full, whole-house inventory can be overwhelming. But it is a vital part of your new year’s resolutions for insurance. 

If you are a victim of a fire, flood, storm, or natural disaster, the aftermath will be stressful. The forms and paperwork that come with filing an insurance claim can feel overwhelming when you are reeling from a loss.

With an up-to-date home inventory, you can significantly reduce the stress that comes with this process. Set aside some time, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and power through this job.

Make an inventory of all your household items in case you need to file a claim.

Don’t skimp on your inventory. Include anything that you would want to cover in an insurance claim. Go room by room and create a digital document that lists all pertinent items.

Alternatively, making a video inventory is a great option. It can be a relatively quick project, and you can store a copy off-site or in the cloud. Ideally, you will have an inventory list and a video. 

Make sure you include as much detail as possible. For big-ticket items, note when you purchased them and for how much. The more work you do now, the easier it will be if you need to make a claim.

3. Change Your Habits

Most resolutions involve establishing new habits, and this can also apply to your new year’s resolutions for insurance. Many people have behaviors or practices that boost their chances of needing to make an insurance claim. 

For example, do you tend to leave the kitchen while something is on the stove? Maybe you decide to do a quick chore like moving laundry to the dryer and then get sidetracked folding clothes. Soon, something could be burning. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the top reason for home fires and injuries. Something as simple as supervising the stove could keep you safe and reduce the risk of a fire. 

Avoid kitchen fires by staying close to the stove while cooking.

Some other habits that can lead to insurance claims include:

  • Leaving keys in a vehicle
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving while impaired
  • Speeding

Working to change these dangerous habits will help you avoid an auto insurance claim or having your rates increase due to a ticket.

4. Increase Your Chances of A Deal

Your credit score can have a significant impact on your eligibility for good insurance deals and policies. With this in mind, improving your credit score should be one of your top new year’s resolutions for insurance. 

Many factors go into your credit score, and they are under your control. Some of the most critical considerations are bankruptcies, debt load, missed payments, and the length of your credit history. 

Make it a new year’s goal to get a copy of your credit report. You legally have the right to claim a report from each major reporting agency once every year. TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian each have a file that contributes to your credit score. 

Take time to examine your file so that you can dispute any errors and identify areas you need to improve. Improving your credit score may have a tremendous impact on your insurance rates.

5. Consider Umbrella Insurance

Once you have taken care of your major policies – life, auto, and home – it can be a good idea to invest in an umbrella policy. This plan is sort of a ‘catch-all’ policy designed to cover a wide range of circumstances. In a sense, it offers an extra layer of protection to your existing policies.

Umbrella policies can be useful for extreme situations that exceed the limits of your other policies. For example, if your dog gets out and bites someone, the medical and legal costs could surpass your homeowners’ policy limits. An umbrella policy can cover the difference, giving you significant protection.

How Can We Help?

The team at Lake Region Insurance Agency has the experience and expertise to help you make and keep your insurance resolutions. As independent agents, we can search for the perfect policy from a variety of providers.

We take time to get to know our clients well so that we can help them find all the coverage they need to protect themselves. If you are ready for this level of service, let’s connect. We have offices in New London, Willmar, and Cokato, MN. Give us a call or stop in to get started.

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Your Safety Guide For Older Drivers

Driving is a form of independence, and older drivers usually want to keep that autonomy as long as possible. But, as with all freedoms, there are responsibilities attached. The first week of December brings us Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. So it’s a perfect time to visit this topic.

If your driving habits are changing, contact Lake Region Insurance Agency today for a free policy review. Perhaps you are driving less frequently or have eliminated a vehicle. Our team can make sure you aren’t paying more than necessary for your insurance.

Older Drivers Bring Experience and New Challenges

By the time a person reaches their seventies, they have likely been driving for more than half a century. That is a lot of practice and muscle memory built up. Compared to younger motorists, older drivers more often follow safe behaviors on the road, such as:

  • They are more likely to wear a seat belt.
  • They are less likely to drink and drive.
  • They are less likely to drive in bad weather.
  • They are less likely to speed.

These habits certainly help to keep mature drivers safe on the road. But, as people age, other risk factors begin to arise, including:

  • Failing Eyesight
  • Failing Hearing
  • Slower Reflexes
  • Taking Medications
  • Dementia

These issues likely contribute to the fact that older drivers are more likely to die in car crashes than middle-aged motorists. Because of these concerns, many states have different license requirements for mature drivers. The most common change is an increase in vision screenings and more frequent renewals.

Safe Practices for Aging Drivers

Eye exams might be more frequent for older drivers.

To stay safe while driving as you age, here are some health concerns to consider:

Eyesight

Make sure to get your vision checked every year. If you need glasses or contact lenses, always wear them while driving. And consider prescription sunglasses for sunny days if you notice your eyes becoming more sensitive to light as you get older.

If you ever notice fuzzy or double vision, see a doctor right away and do not drive until you get their approval.

Hearing

Many older drivers suffer from hearing loss, leading to unsafe driving situations. See a hearing specialist each year to ensure that you can hear sirens, trains, and horns while driving.

Medications

Any time your doctor prescribes a new medication for you, ask if you can safely drive while taking the prescription. Many medicines can lead to sleepiness or dizziness, making it unsafe for you to operate a vehicle.

Mental Confusion

Forgetfulness frequently increases with age. But if you find that you have a hard time remembering where you are going, it’s time to talk with your doctor. Confusion while you are on the road leads to mistakes that can be deadly.

How To Know When It’s Time To Turn In Your Keys

Most drivers know that they will have to give up their keys someday. But that knowledge doesn’t make it easier to accept the loss of independence.

Older drivers do not want to lose independence.

Recent data shows that more than 8000 traffic-related deaths involve older drivers. And adults age 75 and over are more likely to sustain injuries in a car accident, as well. So, knowing when it’s time to stop driving can be, literally, a matter of life and death.

Here are some signs that it may be time to stop driving:

  • You’ve had several near misses or crashes in a short time.
  • You’re getting lost going to places that are familiar to you.
  • You feel overwhelmed by road signs and the activity around you.
  • You’re accumulating dents from poor parking.
  • You take medications that make you tired.
  • Your doctor or family members express concerns about your driving.

Alternatives to Driving

Many people who don’t drive rely on family and friends for transportation. Of course, this option isn’t the same as driving yourself, but it is probably safer. And the odds are that you have several people who are willing and able to help.

If you do not have someone available to help with driving, taxis and ride-sharing services can be an excellent option. And some communities also have senior buses that take a group of older adults to the grocery store regularly. Some churches offer this option, too.

Online shopping and delivery can be the perfect way to get what you need without relying on others for transportation. Most major retailers offer this service.

How To Talk with Someone About Their Driving

Talking with a loved one about their driving can be difficult.

Many adults have to navigate this change with their parents or other loved ones. They are watching for signs that a person’s driving habits are no longer safe. Situations like the following raise enormous red flags:

  • Your grandfather confuses the brake pedal with the gas pedal and runs into the garage door. 
  • Your mother experiences decreased mobility and ‘helps’ her foot from one pedal to the other by lifting her leg with her hand. She hasn’t caused an accident yet. 
  • Your elderly uncle misjudges the distance between his car and a building and scrapes his door.

Whether it’s the ability to stay focused, to move quickly between pedals, or something else, diminished driving skills result in accidents. And if you are worried, you need to speak up to the person.

Nobody wants to have this conversation. Be gentle and stick to the facts. Explain which actions and behaviors you find worrisome. Talk through the potential consequences with the person and encourage them to make the choice while they are still in control. If they cause an accident, they may have no say in the matter.

Many older drivers are more open to the idea of stopping driving if it comes from their doctor. Ask your loved one to discuss any potential barriers to safe driving with their physician. 

While You’re on the Road, We’ve Got You Covered

Whether you’re ready to hang up your license or plan on driving for years to come, we are here to serve. With auto, home, life, and health insurance plans, our team has something for everyone.

Our offices in Cokato, New London, and Willmar, MN, have friendly agents ready to help. Contact Lake Region Insurance Agency today for a free review of all your policy needs. 

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Prevent Drunk Driving This Holiday Season

As we head into the winter season, thoughts turn to frivolity, festivity, and seeing family and friends. Parties are a significant part of the holidays, but they also can be the prime scene for too much imbibing. Knowing how to prevent drunk driving is the key to celebrating safely.

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, our job is to help you protect you and your loved ones. Through comprehensive insurance policies, we offer you the coverage you need for peace of mind. And we encourage you to stay safe this holiday season by following these crucial tips.

An Urgent Crisis

Recent statistics show that there are over 10,000 fatalities caused by drunk driving each year. More than 10,000 families each year experience this horrific loss. As well as earning you a criminal record, drunk driving can cause untold heartbreak and devastation. 

What Counts As Drunk Driving?

In the state of Minnesota, as in most other states across America, a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above constitutes drunk driving. If a driver is younger than 21, there is no tolerance at all. If you are not yet 21 and are driving with any alcohol in your system, it will count as a drunk driving incident.

Blood alcohol content determines drunk driving legal consequences.

Different places use varied terminology to mean the same thing:

  • Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired – DWI
  • Driving Under the Influence – DUI
  • Impaired Driving

No matter what your state calls it, these are all phrases that mean driving drunk. And they all lead to significant trouble.

What Are the Consequences of Driving While Impaired?

With someone dying every 50 minutes as a result of drunk driving, the primary consequences are self-explanatory. When you drink, your cognitive ability and response times become significantly compromised. You become a hazard behind the wheel.

As well as the moral and safety issues, the legal ramifications of drinking and driving can be life-altering. You could lose your license for a while or even permanently. 

This loss will have a significant impact on your daily life since you’ll lose a lot of freedom and flexibility when you can’t drive. Most drivers find themselves with very high insurance rates following a conviction if they can get insurance at all. 

In addition, a conviction will likely come with fines and maybe even a jail sentence. And it could cost you your job and future employment prospects. Professional and personal damage to your reputation is also a likely consequence.

A drunk driving arrest carries significant consequences.

How Do I Know If Someone Is Driving Drunk?

The truth is that you cannot always tell if a driver is impaired. But there are a few warning signs that can alert you to a problem. If you see any of these while on the road, call the police to report it:

  • A driver who is drifting, weaving, or making overly wide turns
  • A driver who narrowly misses another vehicle
  • A driver on the wrong side of the road
  • A driver with very delayed responses at stop signs or stop lights

If you are riding in a car, and your driver is exhibiting any signs of impairment, ask them to pull over. Get out right away to keep yourself safe.

How Can I Prevent Drunk Driving?

Impaired drivers rarely recognize that they shouldn’t be driving. Alcohol naturally reduces inhibitions and hinders decision-making. So to prevent drunk driving, the key is to act and plan before anyone has a drink.

Use taxis or ride-sharing services when drinking.

  • Always name a designated driver. One of the best ways to prevent drunk driving is to plan who will be the sober driver. Do this before heading out on the town. By having a designated driver selected well in advance, you avoid the temptation to drive at the end of the night. Instead, the plan is already in place, and everyone knows their role.
  • Plan to use a ride-sharing service. If you know you plan to imbibe, don’t take your vehicle out at all. Instead, use a ride-sharing service from door to door so that there is no chance for you to consider driving once you are drinking.
  • Protect those around you. If you see someone who was drinking head for their car, you need to take action. Take their keys from them if necessary to help ensure that they do not drive away. They may be angry right then, but it is better than the alternative. Never get into a vehicle with anyone who has been drinking. Refusing to ride with them not only protects you, but it also can make them reconsider their ability to drive.
  • Always report your suspicions. If you suspect there is a drunk driver on the road, call the police. Provide as much information as possible, including location, travel direction, car make and color, and license plate number.
  • Offer alcohol-free options. If you are hosting a party, you can do your part to reduce the risks and help prevent drunk driving. Ensure that there are plenty of alcohol-free options to help your guests make the right decision and stay safe. Have space available for people to sleep if needed.
  • Pay attention to other dangers. Alcohol isn’t the only substance that impairs drivers. Marijuana is legal in many states, and driving under its influence is just as dangerous and illegal.

Lake Region Insurance Agency Works to Keep You Safe

Here at  Lake Region Insurance Agency, we want to help you stay safe on the roads. Drinking and driving can have serious, life-altering consequences, so please be careful this holiday season.

We also want to help protect you by offering a wide range of insurance policies to cover you, your family, and your belongings. Our independent agents work in Cokato, Wilmar, and New London, MN. Call or stop in to see us for a free insurance review.

Enjoy your holiday season safely and securely. No celebration is worth risking your life or someone else’s. Make a plan, pay attention, and get home safe.

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Will a Car Accident Raise My Insurance Rates?

If you’ve been in a fender bender or other collision, you may wonder, “Does a car accident raise my insurance rates?” While it’s possible that a serious accident could increase your costs, not every incident will do so.

Lake Region Insurance Agency is ready to help you secure the best insurance policies at prices that fit your budget. 

Our independent agents in New London, Cokato, and Wilmar, MN, offer high-end service and small-town values. Contact us today to enjoy a free policy review, and we’ll make sure to find the coverage that’s right for you.

How Do Companies Determine Auto Premiums?

As with any coverage, car insurance rates revolve around risk. The more risk an insurance company takes on, the higher the premiums rise. 

Several factors go into setting your auto insurance rates. Some are under your control, and others are not. The top rate influencers include:

  • Value of Your Car The age, condition, make, and model of your car impact its value. And the value helps determine the cost to insure the vehicle. Something with a higher value to replace or repair will carry a higher premium.
  • Policy Type – Every state requires vehicle owners to carry a liability policy. It helps to protect you if there is a car accident where you are at fault. If you add comprehensive coverage, you’ll pay a higher rate. This insurance covers your repairs, property damage, and medical expenses you incur, regardless of who was at fault. It also kicks in if someone steals your car or if it sustains damage due to fire, vandalism, or natural disasters. If you owe on a car loan, your lender will require you to carry comprehensive insurance.

Your type of policy helps determine your premium.

  • Deductible – The deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before the insurance carrier pays your claim. Lower deductibles lead to higher premiums and vice versa.
  • Location – If you’re insuring a car in a place with high crime rates, hazardous roads, or icy weather, you may have to pay higher premiums. The same is true of densely-populated areas.
  • Driving record – If you’ve had previous accidents or moving violations, you probably will pay higher premiums than someone with a squeaky clean driving record. Speeding tickets can impact your insurance rates if you’ve gotten several within three years.
  • Age A driver’s age is one of the most significant factors in determining auto insurance rates. Young drivers require the highest premiums of any age group. People ages 16 to 25 can pay up to four times as much for insurance than their more mature counterparts.
  • Gender Teenage boys and young men are, statistically, riskier drivers. Because of this fact, insurance companies mitigate their risks by charging these drivers significantly higher premiums. Once a man turns 25, his premiums will drop if he has kept a clean driving record.

With so many factors in the mix, it’s no wonder there is confusion about how much an accident can impact your costs.

Do Car Accidents Raise My Insurance Rates? 

Car accidents don't always make your rates go up.

Not all car accidents are created equal. Obviously, a bumper tap in a parking lot does less costly damage than a head-on collision.

If you bump another car from behind, or you lightly scratch an adjacent vehicle in the parking lot, take a deep breath. You may be in the clear for insurance rate hikes if your accident claim is minor. 

When you know that you’ve damaged another car, make every effort to contact the other driver. You’ll need to exchange insurance information and get repair estimates. If the repair costs come in below your deductible amount, it might make sense to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket rather than filing a claim.

In more severe collisions, the insurance companies will view the police report and any related evidence, like videos, photos, or witness statements. They’ll determine fault, which could include more than one driver, and look at all the costs incurred because of the accident.

The insurance carrier will decide whether your rates will increase after processing your claim.

Your Driving Record Matters

If you are filing your first-ever claim, the carrier may not give you a higher premium. Remember, they set these based on risk. 

If you have a stellar driving record otherwise, a first claim may not impact your rates. Again, the severity of the accident will also be a factor. Any accident claims that you file stay on your record for three years, even if you were not at fault.

Reduce the likelihood of another costly incident by remembering to:

  • Observe the Speed Limit
  • Drive Defensively
  • Always Wear Your Seatbelt
  • Never Drive Distracted

Distracted driving is treacherous.

Accident Forgiveness and No-Fault Insurance

Some insurance providers offer accident forgiveness or no-fault insurance. A no-fault policy covers medical expenses incurred by either party, no matter who is at fault. Your premiums may still increase after an accident, depending on the size and scope of the claim.

You also might be eligible for an accident forgiveness policy for your vehicle. You’ll likely pay a higher premium or extra fee for this coverage. But your rates won’t elevate if you file an accident claim, no matter who’s at fault.

It’s smart to look into all your policy options when insuring your car. If you’ve had a prior accident, you may save money in the long run by purchasing an accident forgiveness policy.

Let’s Save You Some Money

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we know that the worst can happen no matter how careful or cautious you are. Trust our independent agents to help you shop the market for the best rates possible. We serve our customers, not the insurance companies.

Our clients are also our neighbors, so we serve Greater Minnesota with pride and care. We’ve been a trusted insurance partner for decades, and our values guide all of our interactions with clients.

Call or stop in for a free coverage review and a quote for the policies that meet your needs. Our team is eager to help.

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4 Reasons You Need an Annual Insurance Review

When you think about insurance, it’s unlikely you consider an annual insurance review. Most people choose a policy, set the payments on auto-withdrawal, and then don’t think of it again. But a yearly checkup is quite important for your financial security. 

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, our independent insurance agents are here to serve you. From choosing a plan to fine-tuning your needs each year, our team has you covered. Call today to schedule a free annual review of your policies. 

If you’ve never thought about a yearly check-in with your insurance agent, here are four reasons to schedule it now.

1. Peace of Mind

Worrying and wondering about your coverage isn’t how you want to spend your time. And yet, if you have children, a home, a business, or any valuable assets, you probably worry from time to time. With an annual insurance review, you can go to sleep at night, knowing that you have sufficient protection in place. 

Not only that, but you also will have planned for unexpected trouble in advance. A yearly review can ensure that you have someone ready to work on your behalf if a problem strikes. Trying to put pieces into place once an issue arises or a disaster hits doesn’t serve you. Make sure you have the coverage you require now.

2. Life Changes 

Having a child is a good reason to check your insurance coverage.

So much can happen in a year. You may have had a child or bought a house. Maybe you paid off your vehicles or purchased a business. All of these are reasons to sit down and comb through your insurance policies. 

For example, let’s say you get a better-paying job and move into a bigger home with a higher value and mortgage. And imagine that a new neighbor comes to visit and breaks an ankle when they misstep off your front porch. 

You could face a personal liability claim. You need to look at your insurance policies to make sure they will help you cover and maintain your lifestyle.

Some common reasons you might want to add or change your policies include:

  • Marriage or Divorce
  • Buying or Selling Your House
  • Buying or Selling a Rental Property
  • Buying, Starting, or Selling a Business
  • Having or Adopting a Child
  • Buying, Selling, or Paying off Your Car
  • Making a Large Purchase:
    • Boat
    • Snowmobile
    • Valuable Jewelry
    • Fine Art
    • Second Home

3. Save Money 

Policy prices change depending on the coverage they provide. If you skip an annual insurance review, you could be leaving money on the table. 

For example, if you no longer have a car loan, you may want to adjust the coverage to save money. If you need to add new policies for your situation, you might be eligible for multi-policy discounts. These options can offer excellent premium reductions.

Save money with an annual insurance review.

Saving money on premiums isn’t the only benefit to your yearly review. An annual check-in also looks at your deductibles and coverage limits in each policy. 

You may discover that you have a liability limit that won’t come close to replacing your personal property after a disaster. Or you could find that you have policies with really high deductibles that would be hard to meet. Your agent will examine these different pieces to find the plan that makes the most financial sense for your situation.

4. Fill the Coverage Gaps

Just as an annual physical helps you ward off many medical problems, a yearly policy review helps avoid insurance problems.

Many people mistakenly think that their homeowners policy covers much more than it does. They assume that any trouble that comes up with their house will fall under this plan. Unfortunately, they can be in for a terrible surprise if something happens outside of this coverage.

For example, assets and liabilities related to a home-based business may not fall under the protection of a homeowners plan. But many entrepreneurs don’t realize that.

Creating the habit of reviewing your insurance helps your agent suggest the best policies for you. With regular check-ins, they can advise you when it is a good time to add, combine, or remove coverage.

Preparing for an Annual Insurance Review

Insurance review each year

Even if you have nothing prepared, it’s still worth scheduling time for a yearly insurance checkup. Your agent will walk you through your needs and current coverage to help determine if any gaps exist.

But if you are someone who doesn’t mind a little homework, here are some tips to consider as you get ready for your review:

  • Gather information on your assets. Bring a list of your vehicles’ makes, models, and years. Put together an inventory of the high-value items you own, such as jewelry or a boat. Have a general idea of your home’s worth and remaining mortgage. 
  • Be comfortable asking questions. The insurance industry has a lot of specialized jargon that can be confusing. Never hesitate to ask what something means or how it will serve you. And you’re free to ask a question as many times as needed to feel confident in the answer.
  • Determine a general idea of your monthly budget for premiums. This information can help your agent find policies that align with what you are comfortable spending.
  • Be ready to discuss any significant life changes that have happened or that you anticipate happening in the next year.

Schedule a Review Today

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we have been serving our Greater Minnesota neighbors for 50 years. With offices in Willmar, New London, and Cokato, MN, we offer convenient locations for you to stop by for a review. 

Our independent agents do not have ties to any particular insurance company or product. We search through all available options to find the one that meets your unique needs. Working with your situation and budget in mind, we help you find sufficient coverage.

We offer free reviews and quotes, so don’t hesitate to reach out and get connected. We can’t wait to help you have the peace of mind that your insurance will give you.

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What Does a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy Cover?

A personal liability umbrella policy is an additional insurance plan you can purchase. It is supplemental and doesn’t stand alone as an insurance package. Instead, it protects you against expenses that your homeowners or auto insurance policies don’t cover. 

This includes damages beyond the maximum your other coverage will pay. It also covers some situations that don’t fall under a standard policy, such as the expense of a lawsuit. 

Don’t leave your financial security to chance. Find out about the options available to you and get a free quote from Lake Region Insurance Agency today.

Why Would I Need an Umbrella Policy? 

Umbrella insurance coverage starts where your other policies end. It can protect you if a car accident or other incident creates damage that outpaces what your plan covers. Expenses can stack up quickly and leave you buried in debt if you don’t have adequate insurance.

Here is a sample scenario:

You are on your way home from the airport. It starts to rain, and then it turns to freezing rain. You try to find a safe place to park, but your car slides and swipes three vehicles. Naturally, one of them is a Lamborghini.

Luckily, you have auto insurance, right? 

In most situations, your auto insurance is going to do a great job of covering you. Your run-of-the-mill fender benders typically don’t rack up astronomical damages. But every policy has limits. 

While it might seem impossible to do hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, it actually isn’t that hard. Depending on the value of items and vehicles damaged, or if there are injuries, one accident can put you over the limit.

If your auto insurance has a $300,000 limit, but you’re held responsible for $500,000 worth of damage, you are accountable for the other $200,000. That amount will sink most people, and you could end up losing your assets.

Now, let’s run that again with an umbrella policy in place: 

The weather is awful. You lose traction and slide into the parked vehicles, including the Lamborghini.

Your auto insurance kicks in to cover the damage, and you pay your deductible. The insurance company pays out $300,000, and your umbrella policy picks up the rest.

This scenario helps you protect your life savings because you don’t have a judgment hanging over you. You can move on with your life.

A personal liability umbrella policy also helps protect you in the case of a lawsuit. For example, if someone falls on your steps and sustains an injury, they might sue you. If your dog gets in a fight with the neighbor’s dog or bites the neighbor, they could bring charges. 

Umbrella insurance can pay the medical bills of the person who fell down your steps. It can compensate your neighbor for his dog’s lost show earnings. And it can help you protect your personal assets in the case of a judgment against you.

I’m Not a Millionaire. Do I Really Need More Insurance? 

Many people go their whole lives without filing a homeowner’s insurance claim, having a severe accident, or getting sued. Others figure that if they don’t have considerable assets, they don’t need to worry about lawsuits.

Yes, the chances of being named in a suit are relatively small. But the financial consequences can be devastating.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • No matter the size of your life’s savings, it could be wiped out if you lose a lawsuit.
  • Even if you win the legal battle, you may be responsible for fees to defend yourself. Legal defense costs can run into the tens of thousands of dollars or more.
  • If you have no assets currently, the court can still attach a judgment to your future earnings. 
  • Personal liability umbrella insurance can cover unusual circumstances that you would not typically carry coverage for, such as renting a jet ski.
  • Umbrella insurance covers libel and slander.

There are plenty of situations that may increase your risk of being named in a lawsuit. For example, you and your assets may be at higher risk if you:

  • Own a rental property
  • Coach a children’s sports team
  • Volunteer at a nonprofit
  • Hunt
  • Participate in contact sports
  • Own particular breeds of dog
  • Own a trampoline or swimming pool
  • Have significant assets
  • Have high potential earnings – Liability judgments can attach to future income.

What Doesn’t Umbrella Insurance Cover? 

Umbrella policies cover your liability. That means they pay the cost of other people’s losses if you are responsible for it. 

But they don’t cover your losses. For example, if a burst pipe floods your apartment, an umbrella policy won’t pay for damage to your things. But if the water ruins your downstairs neighbor’s items, an umbrella policy can kick in.

Your umbrella policy will not come into play until after your homeowners or auto insurance pays. It also won’t eliminate your deductible on those policies. 

This plan also won’t pay out for damage you cause intentionally. If you throw a brick through your neighbor’s window, the repercussions of that will be yours alone. Your homeowner’ insurance will also refuse to pay in this type of circumstance. 

A personal umbrella liability policy also excludes any liability you incur performing business or professional activities. You need a business liability policy to meet that need.

How Much Insurance Do I Need?

Just as with any insurance decision, there is no one-size-fits-all personal umbrella insurance plan. You will need to work with your independent broker to determine the best extra liability coverage for you. By looking at your budget and total assets, your agent can help you settle on an appropriate amount of coverage.

Talk to Lake Region About a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy

This type of insurance plan is an inexpensive way to give yourself a sense of security. You can feel confident and prepared for almost any liability circumstance. Contact Lake Region Insurance Agency today and find out how you can have this peace of mind.

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Dealing with Aggressive Drivers on the Road

Tailgating. Spontaneous swerves in no-passing zones. Flashing the high beams. Leaning on the horn and flipping a one-finger salute. Running red lights or jumping stop signs. When dealing with aggressive drivers, you are likely to encounter these behaviors and more.

Protecting yourself on the road takes effort and planning. Be sure you have coverage in place in case the worst happens, and you find yourself in an accident. The Lake Region Insurance Agency independent agents are here to help.

Visit our website today for a free quote and insurance review. We’ll make sure you can breathe easy no matter what or who you encounter on the roads of Greater Minnesota.

Alarming Aggressive Driving Statistics

Here is a stark reality check. The vast majority of car crashes are due to human error. And about a third of those are a result of road rage.

Incidents involving angry horn honks, sudden lane changes, rude hand gestures, and cursing are far too common. Even more concerning, almost 40% of these incidents involve firearms.

With those aggressive driving statistics, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of at least some of this behavior. In fact, statistics indicate you may have even dished a little of it out, as well. 

Having a game plan for dealing with aggressive drivers and managing frustration while driving is crucial. This planning can help keep you and others safe. Working through a highly-charged moment on the road requires some thought ahead of time. The temptation to engage with an aggressive driver can be strong, but with preparation, you can navigate it carefully.

Tips for Dealing With Aggressive Drivers

You cannot control every driver around you, no matter how conscientious and skilled you are behind the wheel. So how do you stay safe when someone else drives aggressively and unpredictably?

Here are several tips that allow you to go high when others go low. And often, non-action may be the name of the game when it comes to escaping road rage accident-free.

  • Stay out of the way. If a road hog needs their space, give it to them. It’ll be a temporary inconvenience for you and could save your life and ensure your passengers’ safety.
  • Resist the invitation to the crazy dance. You may want to hold your ground and not let the other driver get away with bad behavior. But, challenging a reckless or aggressive driver on the road is dangerous. Speeding up, staying level, or “revenge-passing” only puts you at more risk and escalates a bad situation. Stay in your lane, drive the speed limit, and keep your breathing slow and calm.
  • Keep your eyes ahead. Making eye contact with an angry driver can appear confrontational. We know you’re not a marshmallow, but you also don’t have to prove it. Allow a temporary situation to remain short-lived by keeping your eyes focused on the road.
  • Buckle up. Of course, we know you had your seat belt on before your key hit the ignition, right? Being strapped in when confronted with an aggressive driver provides extra safety. If things get out of hand, and you have to maneuver your car quickly, you have a level of protection in place. Always use your seatbelt and stay safe. Be sure that everyone in your vehicle does the same.
  • Ignore, breathe, and focus. That hand gesture someone just offered? It’s unimportant in the grand scheme of life. Instead of returning the “greeting,” focus on the road. Let them pass while you take several slow, deep breaths. Although you can certainly report them later, you need to remain calm in the moment.
  • Record and report. Once it is safe to do so, it’s okay to pull over and report the car to the authorities. If you have a passenger who can help you record or remember the license plate number, that will be useful information for the police. 
  • Stay put. Remain inside your vehicle when road rage rears its ugly head. Sometimes there is a temptation to get out at a light and deal with the other driver. This rarely, if ever, ends well. Your car is likely the safest place to be, assuming you keep your cool in a sensitive situation.

 

 

Tools to Avoid Raging 

Rush hour traffic, accidents, construction delays, and detours can cause the most level-headed drivers to lose their cool once in a while. So what do you do if you’re the one feeling the rage?

We’ve all had those moments of extreme annoyance. We’re late for an appointment and stuck behind a person driving 10 miles below the speed limit. It’s really difficult to stay calm.

Try out a few of these behind-the-wheel calming techniques, and give the drivers around you the benefit of the doubt.

  • Allow more travel time. If you leave your house a few minutes earlier for an appointment, you’ll have some wiggle room if you get in a gnarly road situation on the way.
  • Play relaxing or enjoyable music. Sing along, loudly and poorly, if necessary.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply. When you feel yourself getting tense, slow down your thoughts, and remind yourself that you’re not alone in your frustration. Getting angry and exploding might give you temporary satisfaction, but could cause real harm and long-term damage to all parties. If you need to pull off the road to walk, stretch, or let off some steam, do that. 

Call Lake Region Insurance Agency

If you’ve been in an accident from dealing with aggressive drivers, call your Lake Region agent right away. We are by your side through each step of your claim for a fair settlement, speedy processing, and quick pay-out. When the road becomes not-so-friendly, your friends at Lake Region can help you get back on track.

If you aren’t sure about your auto coverage, call us today for a free car insurance review and quote. Our friendly agents in Cokato, Willmar, and New London, MN, are here to help. As independent brokers, we can shop from multiple providers to find the best fit for you. 

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The Ins and Outs of Car Insurance for Teen Drivers

Your teenager is learning to drive. It’s both exciting and scary because you want to give them freedom while also keeping them safe. And on the practical side, you now need to think about car insurance for teen drivers. 

Start your new driver’s journey the right way. Call Lake Region Insurance Agency for a free policy review and quote. Our agents in Cokato, New London, and Willmar, MN, are happy to partner with you on this exciting next step.

How to Choose Car Insurance for Teen Drivers

Insuring new drivers can be expensive. They haven’t proven themselves yet, so insurance companies see them as a higher risk. As a result, they charge more to insure teenagers than experienced drivers. 

But rates vary from one company to the next. How do you decide which policy to buy? 

You could search online for hours, comparing policies, and landing on numerous spam email lists. This plan is a time-consuming and potentially frustrating way to get protection.

The better option is to talk with your independent insurance agent. Independent agents can search from a variety of plans and policies. They do the comparing for you, weed out the poor choices, and bring you the best options.

Your agent will help you choose the policy limits that are right for your family. Depending on your budget, you might consider increasing your deductible to lower the monthly premium. Be sure to discuss all of the possible options with your agent. In an accident, if damages exceed the value of your policy, you may be held responsible for the difference. 

You can also think about adding an umbrella insurance policy. Umbrella insurance is an all-purpose, rainy day policy. It could help cover you in the case of a lawsuit for damages beyond what your other insurance policies cover. 

It’s also an excellent idea to include your teenager in conversations with your insurance agent.  They will start to learn about the financial responsibility that goes along with driving and the repercussions for things like speeding tickets.

How to Reduce Teen Driver Insurance Rates for Your Family

There is no shortcut for gaining driving experience. It must come with time. But there are a few things you can do to reduce the expense of new driver insurance.

  • Utilize driver education. An experienced professional instructor can reduce new driver stress for your teen and you. And a certificate from a state driver education program may qualify them for a discount on their insurance. 
  • Add them to your insurance instead of getting a separate policy. Some parents want their child to have their own policies. But it is usually less expensive to add your teen to an existing plan instead.
  • Get them a safe car. Does your teen want the newest, fastest car? Of course they do! But combining a new driver with a fast car is both dangerous and expensive. Get them a safe car to drive to save your dollars.
  • Ask your insurance agent about discounts for good grades. Students who focus and learn well tend to be better drivers. And most insurance policies reward good grades with lower rates.
  • Consider some tracking. There are several devices available that will inform you if your teen starts driving dangerously. There is no need to be sneaky, so make sure to tell them about it. Knowing that someone is paying attention might keep them from driving recklessly. 
  • Make sure the policy assigns your teen to the right car. Some vehicles cost more to cover than others. If your insurance policy adds your teen to your most expensive car, your rates will be higher. But, keep in mind that your teen can only drive that specific vehicle. If they have an accident while driving a different car, your insurer might assign penalties and increase your premiums. 

Talk With Your Teen About Safe Driving.

The best insurance plan will take care of damages when they happen, but it’s better to avoid them altogether. 

Talk to your teen driver about these critical safety rules:

  • Don’t text and drive. They’ve heard it before, but keep telling them. Texting while driving causes deadly accidents. Set a good example by tucking your phone away when you’re behind the wheel.
  • Don’t drive tired. People who drive with too little sleep perform a lot like people who drive drunk. Slower reactions from sleep-deprived brains cause many accidents every year.
  • Don’t drink or use other drugs while driving. Of course, you hope your teen isn’t drinking alcohol yet. But the fact remains that many teams do. Create a plan with them to get home safely. Talk to them about choosing a designated driver. Make sure they know that you will come to pick them up at any time to keep them safe.
  • Don’t speed. Speeding is a factor in over 22% of all fatal car crashes. It accounts for more deaths than impaired driving.

Remind your teen about the common sense things they need to do each time they are behind the wheel. Safe habits might be second nature for you. But your new driver may need several reminders before crucial actions become habits. 

  • Slow down in adverse conditions. You know that feeling when your tires lose traction? Your new driver may not have experienced that yet. Talk to them about taking it easy on icy roads and what to do if they start to slide. 
  • Wear your seatbelt. Just do it. Every. Single. Time. 
  • Let faster drivers pass. Remind your teen to avoid engaging with reckless drivers. They should know to let speeders get past them and never try to race another driver.
  • Recognize when conditions are too bad for driving. Winter in Greater Minnesota can be vicious. Have you ever gone through the type of storm that makes you turn off your radio? Then you know that sometimes you just need to stay put until the clouds clear.

Remember, the best way to teach your new driver good habits is to follow them yourself. Make a contract with your teen and be clear about the consequences of breaking it.

Your child is on the road to independence, so let’s keep them covered on their journey. Make sure to call Lake Region Insurance Agency for a comprehensive review. We are experts at helping parents understand car insurance for teen drivers.

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Does My Car Insurance Cover Me In a Rental?

Ahhhh, vacation! You step off the plane, stretch your legs, and get ready for the fun to begin. But first, you have to get your rental car. And when you do, they’ll inevitably ask if you want car insurance for the rental.

If you’re not ready for the question, and your brain is already in vacation mode, you might not know what to say. Do you purchase unnecessary additional insurance and potentially waste valuable money? Or do you decline and risk not having coverage, hoping there’s no damage to the car? 

Avoid that uncertainty and potential extra cost. Be ready to get straight to the fun on your next holiday by contacting Lake Region Insurance Agency. We are the independent agent you need for all of your Minnesota insurance needs. We can make sure you’re covered for every step of your vacation, as well as your daily life.

Should I Pay for Rental Car Insurance from the Rental Agency?

Here’s the thing that rental companies would rather you not know: most car insurance companies cover their drivers when they are in rental cars.

Female Motorist Involved In Car Accident Calling Insurance Company Or Recovery Service

But that doesn’t mean you always have coverage in these situations, so you need to do a little research. Some details will help you decide what to do, including your current level of car insurance coverage and which credit card you use to pay for the rental car. Some credit cards offer coverage when you rent a vehicle. These pieces of information are important to know before you go to the rental agency.

Different Types of Rental Car Insurance

Before you decide whether or not to purchase rental car coverage, you should understand the different types of car insurance. Policies are not all interchangeable, so it’s essential to know what coverage you already have.

Here are some of the typical kinds of car insurance you will see:

  • Liability Protection – This is the most common form of insurance because most states require that every registered car has at least this level of protection. Liability coverage can include both bodily injury and property damage liability. It helps to cover medical or legal costs if you injure another person or damage their property while driving. Sometimes this is called Supplemental Liability Protection by rental car companies because it supplements the coverage you already have with your personal auto insurance.
  • Comprehensive and Collision Damage – This coverage kicks in if there is damage to another vehicle or a stationary object when your car is in an accident. It may also include theft and vandalism. With personal car insurance, this is optional when you own your car outright, so you may or may not have it already.
  • Personal Protection – This coverage may also be called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). It covers medical costs incurred by the driver or passenger due to a car accident. Generally, this coverage is already included if you selected liability in MN, under a personal auto policy.
  • Personal Effects Coverage – This type of insurance will cover reimbursement if any of the renter’s items are stolen out of the vehicle. Many people find this coverage unnecessary because most homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies cover items stolen from a car. But again, check these details ahead of time so that you know what you want to do.

Before You Purchase Rental Car Coverage

When you need to decide if you should purchase additional rental car coverage, find out the following information. It will allow you to make the best decision for your specific situation. For each question, contact your insurance agent to verify coverage.

Do you have full coverage already?

If your personal auto policy includes both comprehensive and collision coverage, then you likely have rental protection for a variety of situations such as:

  • Vandalism
  • Theft of vehicle
  • Damaged windshield
  • Fire
  • Damage from hail or lightning
  • Collision with an animal
  • Damage from hitting another vehicle or a fixed object like a pole or a tree

Be sure to check with your agent. Even if you have full coverage on your personal car, it might not extend to rental vehicles. If this is true for you, consider purchasing the rental car company’s Collision Damage or Loss insurance.

Do you have liability coverage? How much?

If your auto policy includes liability insurance, which it must in most states, you’ll want to know its limits. This coverage kicks in to pay for the other driver’s injuries if you are at fault in an accident.

If you only carry the minimum amount of coverage required by the state, you might want to consider increasing it. Or you could purchase the supplemental liability insurance from the rental car company.

Do you have renters or homeowners insurance?

If you’re concerned about theft of your personal belongings, you don’t necessarily need to purchase the rental car company’s Personal Effects insurance. Most people already have a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Both types of insurance cover items stolen from vehicles. As long as the item stolen would be covered in your home, it likely will have coverage in the rental car. But double-check with your insurance agent before you decide about the rental company’s policy.

Sometimes You Need the Rental Agency’s Coverage

It’s a wise choice to buy rental car insurance in some instances:

  • You don’t own a vehicle, so you don’t carry car insurance.
  • Your credit card doesn’t provide any rental car coverage in its perks.
  • Convenience is worth the cost.
  • Your car insurance has low coverage limits.
  • The additional expense is worth the peace of mind it brings to you.
  • You didn’t check coverage with your insurance company before traveling.

Learn More About Car Insurance

At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we are independent agents who are here to serve you. Because we can offer a wide range of products from many companies, we can find the right fit for your insurance needs. Whether you’re planning the trip of a lifetime or need some advice on day-to-day coverage, our team can help. Call or stop by our offices to learn more.

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Stay Safe: Top 5 Winter Driving Tips

Snowy, wet, and icy road conditions are the leading causes of accidents during the winter. Traveling in these conditions can be nerve-wracking and stressful. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that more than 150,000 car accidents happen each year due to icy roads. Learning some winter driving tips can help you stay safe on the road.

Make sure you have the right coverage for your needs in your auto insurance policy. The team at Lake Region Insurance Agency can help you feel confident that you are well-covered.

Hit the Road With These Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving in Minnesota has its risks and concerns. But with awareness and education, you can feel ready to drive safely all year long. Take a look at these five tips.

1. Purchase Winter Tires 

There are a few different types of tires available for vehicles:

  • Summer
  • Winter
  • All-Season

Summer tires have smaller tread because the roads are generally clear and safe to drive on during the summertime. All-season tires have a thicker tread than summer tires and are suitable to use year-round in many parts of the country. 

Winter tires have the most substantial tread and provide the most traction for driving in dicey road conditions. Studded tires are a type of winter tire that has metal studs in the tread for traction on icy roads.

All-season tires have enough tread to provide an adequate grip on maintained roads. They are a safe choice if you live in an urban area where the streets are plowed regularly. 

However, on inconsistently-plowed roads, all-season tires are an unsafe option. For those who live in rural areas or small towns, winter tires are the safest choice. If you opt for studded tires, be sure to check the regulations where you live to know if and when they are legal to use.

2. Pay Attention to Windshield Wipers and Washer Fluid

Snow, ice, and road maintenance chemicals will be attacking your windshield all winter long. Not to mention the dirt, gravel, and grime that splatters up at your car as you drive. In these conditions, your visibility can disappear quickly.  

It is essential to check your windshield wipers at the beginning of the winter season. You want to ensure that they are working well and that the blades are in acceptable condition. Many Minnesota drivers replace their wiper blades each year when winter arrives.

How do you keep your windshield washer fluid from freezing? Making sure the washer fluid tank is full helps you avoid this problem. You can also choose a windshield washer fluid that is specifically for wintertime. Its formula helps prevent it from freezing.

And of course, parking your vehicle in the garage can keep fluids from freezing and help protect your car from the cold weather. Blankets placed over the hood of your vehicle can also help keep everything working correctly.

3. Have Tools for Ice and Snow Removal

Unless your garage is available for parking, winter driving in Minnesota means clearing off your car in the morning before heading to work. A combination snow brush and ice scraper is a great tool to keep in your vehicle. Having one on hand makes it easier to remove all the ice and snow from your car in the morning. 

First, you should brush the snow off all the surface areas of your car. Brush the hood, windows, and roof. Once you have cleaned much of the snow off your vehicle, you can use the ice scraper tool to remove any ice from the windows. 

It is crucial to remove the snow from your car before you start your commute. Snow left on the hood of the vehicle can blow onto the windshield, and snow from the roof can fall onto your windshield when you brake. Both of these problems limit your visibility. Take some extra time in the morning to be thorough when clearing your car.

4. Check Your Car Battery and Antifreeze

Spoiler alert – cars don’t love the cold. One way to ensure that your vehicle will get you from point A to point B all winter long is to check that your battery is in good working condition. If your battery is old, it may not make it through a Minnesota winter. 

According to AAA, your car battery loses up to 60 percent of its power as the temperature drops. Historically, car batteries have had a lifespan of about three to five years. But now, with the increasing usage of electronics in cars, the lifespan of a battery is shrinking. All that phone charging takes a toll on the strength of your battery. 

Antifreeze is vital when it comes to winter driving tips. It keeps the radiator’s water from boiling in the summer and freezing in the winter. If the antifreeze gets too low, it can cause the water in the cooling system to freeze. Once that happens, it can cause cracks in the pipes that will require costly repairs.

Be sure to check your antifreeze level regularly and top it off as needed. It is also critical to have your radiator flushed and cleaned according to your vehicle’s manufacturer recommendations.

5. Keep Up with Car Maintenance

Before hitting the road during the winter, double-check that your vehicle is up-to-date on all of its maintenance. With proper upkeep, your car will experience fewer problems and keep you safer when you’re driving in snow and ice. Keep up with regular oil changes, battery checks, and other routine services.

Common sense goes a long way in making sure you have a safe winter on the road. Keep plenty of gas in the tank, make sure your windows and headlights are clean, and keep fluids topped off.

Following these winter driving tips should help you have a safe season of commuting. The more thorough you prepare, the better.

Lake Region Insurance Agency Can Help

If you need a quote on auto insurance or aren’t sure if you have adequate coverage, reach out to our Lake Region team today. We will work through every detail with you for home, auto, health, and life insurance.