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Author Archives: Kuhl Insurance

  1. Will Your Insurance Cover an Accident While Driving it for a Delivery Job?

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    If you use your personal vehicle for deliveries, will you get a generous tip or a substantial bill for your damaged vehicle?

    In the current world of social distancing and self-quarantining, delivery app services are in high demand. If you decided to supplement your income by becoming a delivery driver, do you and your car have insurance coverage if you have an accident while you’re making a delivery?

    Here are a few tips to help prevent paying out of pocket if you have an auto accident while making deliveries.

    1. Don’t assume personal auto insurance automatically provides coverage.
      • Some insurance carriers do permit their policyholders to deliver food but it’s usually only if they’re employed by one eatery. Most standard personal auto and umbrella policies include exclusionary language against delivery of goods or persons for public delivery app services like Uber Eats, GrubHub, and DoorDash. The exclusion language usually references an auto being held out to the public as a means of transportation (of people or property) for which the driver/policyholder will be paid for that transportation. This includes, but is not limited to, any period of time the driver is logged into a transportation network platform, whether or not a passenger or meal is being transported in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
    2. Call your insurance agent. Let them know you’re using your vehicle to make deliveries. Ask your agent if your current auto insurance covers your delivery exposure. If it doesn’t, find out. if delivery coverage can be added to your policy.
    3. Contact your delivery company. Find out what insurance coverage is required and if they offer insurance coverage. But be careful! Some delivery apps will provide coverage only if you have food in your car but not while driving to the restaurant. Also, in the event of a loss, some delivery app companies will only “pay in excess.” This means your own underlying insurance policy will have to respond to a claim before the delivery app company’s excess/secondary policy responds.
    4. Inquire about a commercial auto insurance policy. Call your insurance agent about a commercial auto policy If you feel you’re not covered adequately under your personal auto insurance policy or with your delivery app company.

    So, before you hop into your car to make that next delivery, be sure to call your insurance agent to make sure you and your vehicle are protected!

  2. Tips for Creating a Secure Password

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    The safest passwords are the ones you can never remember. But what makes a password strong? What combination of characters can keep your information secure? What combination of characters can keep your information secure?

    Whether you want your email and social media passwords to be harder to guess or you need your company’s data and information to be even more protected, try these to create the strongest passwords possible.

    1. Create a password that’s a least eight character long. The longer it is, the more secure it is.
    2. Don’t use personal information. You’ve seen all the movies, so you know that when a hacker is trying to gain access to someone’s accounts, they start with the most basic options. Avoid names, birth dates, anniversaries, initials, etc.
    3. Don’t use simple words or phrases. If any of your passwords are things like “password,” “1224,” or “abcd, ” your information isn’t as secure as it should be.
    4. Don’t use words that can be found in the dictionary. If it’s a real word, it’s easier for hackers to guess.
    5. Use a combination of letters numbers, and symbols. Let’s say your password is eight characters. If it is just letters, just numbers or just symbols, it’s unlikely that someone correctly. But, if your password is eight characters which include numbers, symbols, and mixed case letters, there are 30,000 times as many possible combinations – which makes your password much harder to decipher.
    6. Create acronyms from information. To incorporate letters, numbers and symbols, make an acronym from a piece of information that’s easy to remember. For example, if you started your job on March 3, 2014, a potential password could be, “MwaiM32014!” to represent, “my work anniversary is March 3, 2014.”
    7. Use a different password for every account. Most people use the same password for every account they access, simply because it’s easy to remember. But, what happens if someone realizes what password you’re using? Suddenly, they know how to log in to all of your accounts and access all of your secure information.
    8. If you change your passwords regularly, make them significantly different. If you’re updating your password, make sure it’s a different variation from what you used before.
    9. Don’t share your passwords or leave them on notes out in the open. When you’re changing your passwords regularly and using unique ones for every account, they can be hard to remember. It can be tempting to jot them down on a sticky note next to your computer. But if you’re in the office on your computer in a public place, it’s easier for people walking by to compromise your accounts.
    10. Consider a password manager. With as many accounts we have to have logins for, finding a way to remember and keep track of all the passwords can be overwhelming. A password manager is a great tool to store all of your passwords where you only have to remember one password – the password to login, and you have a secure place to store all the other passwords you use.
  3. Life Insurance 101

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    When someone in your immediate family dies, the emotional toll can be almost unbearable. And the financial toll can make it even worse.

    Today, one-third of all families would be impacted by the loss of their primary wage earner in just one month – meaning the effect would be almost instantaneous. But luckily, there’s a way to make sure your family has all they need to move on without you. And while it may seem too soon to start thinking about the unthinkable, it’s never too soon to start living with peace of mind – the peach of mind that comes from knowing your family will be taken care of.

    What is life insurance?

    In the simplest terms, life insurance is a way to plan for your family after you die. It’s a contract with an insurance company, in which you pay a premium, and in exchange, they agree to pay your family a set amount upon your death.

    Why do I need life insurance?

    Life insurance can cover your medical, funeral and burial expenses. It can pay off any outstanding debts you may have. It can replace your income so your family doesn’t experience any financial stress. And it can help them pursue their dreams even after you’re gone – college, open a business, buying a house. It can help them do all of the things you planned to take care of.

    Are there different types of life insurance?

    Yes. You can be covered by term or whole life insurance, or you may be offered life insurance through your employer.

    What is term life insurance?

    Term life insurance gives you protection for a specific amount of time. You can choose to have coverage for a term of 10, 20, or 30 years.

    What is whole life insurance?

    As the name implies, whole life insurance is life insurance coverage that lasts for your whole life – starting on the day you purchase a policy.

    I have life insurance through my work, is that enough?

    In some cases, yes. In other cases, no. If you need more life insurance coverage than your employer s able to provide, you may want supplemental protection to make sure your family has all they need to face the future without you.

    How much life insurance do I need?

    The amount of life insurance needed will vary from person to person. Professional financial planners estimate that you should have between seven and ten times your income as a rule of thumb. But, ultimately, it depends on the amount of money you’d like your family to receive in the event of our passing.

    Is life insurance expensive?

    Life insurance is much more affordable than most people think. On average, coverage can cost between $30 to $60 a month.

    When should I start considering life insurance?

    It’s never too soon. Even if no one is financially dependent on you right now, if you’re young, healthy and have a good family health history, you could be rewarded with the best rates. But if you wait, and then find yourself affected by an illness or disease, you won’t be eligible for life insurance for quite some time, possibly never. That’s why it makes sense to make the decision early, so you can live with one less worry.

    Who should I talk to about life insurance?

    Us! We can get to know you and your needs, and we can help determine the type and the amount that’s right for you. To start a conversation about life insurance, give us a call today!

  4. Independence Day

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    Americans will celebrate Independence Day with parades, barbecues, and fireworks in their own backyards – except in Illinois and three other states.

    Illinois is one of just four states that ban residents from using or purchasing fireworks other than novelty items such as sparklers, small noisemakers and smoke bombs.

    Firework users in Illinois can expect hefty penalties if caught. Possession, transportation, or use of illegal fireworks is a class A misdemeanor with fines up to $2,500 or 1 year in prison, although law enforcement often ignores violators unless they really annoy the neighbors.

    Massachusetts, Vermont, and Ohio are the only other states that impose severe pyrotechnic restrictions. Ohioans are allowed to purchase fireworks but may not light them off. Massachusetts residents may not use any pyrotechnic device, including sparklers.

    Based on data provided by hospitals across Illinois, the state fire marshal’s office reported 148 fireworks-related injuries throughout the state during the four-week period including the 4th of July 2017 (data from 2018 is not yet available), down from 181 in 2016. Causing the most injuries (32) were mortars, followed by “unknown” fireworks, which injured 28 people, then wire/wood core (18), and roman candles and bottle rockets, which accounted for 16 injuries each.

    Most injuries affected hands (51) and eyes (34). Head/face injuries accounted for 28 injury reports. Second-degree burns accounted for 49 of the injuries, followed by first-degree burns at 28. There were 16 reports of dismemberment/amputation.

    A total of 137 people were hospitalized as a result of fireworks-related injuries.

    Sparklers

    Sparklers may make for a Facebook worthy Fourth of July photo, but parents should remember to keep an eye on kids during and after they handle the pretty, but dangerous hand-held fireworks.

    The fiery sticks can reach up to 2,000°F when ignited, hot enough to cause severe skin burns and catch flammable clothing on fire.

    It is recommended keeping a bucket of water nearby to dispose of the sparkler once it goes out instead of tossing it to the ground. The hot temperature can still remain on the stick after the fire goes out. There are also alternatives to the metal sparklers, like bamboo sparklers, which don’t stay hot after they’re burned, decreasing the risk of burn-related injuries.

    In 2016, there was an estimated 900 emergency room visits (nation-wide) related to sparklers, where 400 of those were children aged 0-4.

  5. Summer Pool Safety Tips

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    Swimming pools are great places for family fun. But it’s important to ensure everyone follow some simple safety steps to stay safer in and around the water.

    NEVER leave a child unattended in or near water

    Always watch children when they’re in or near water, and never leave them unattended. Designate an official Water Watcher, an adult tasked with supervising children in the water. That should be their only task – they shouldn’t be reading, texting or playing games on their phone. Have a phone close by at all times in case you need to call for help, and if a child is missing, check the pool first.

    Even if a lifeguard is present, parents and caregivers should still take the responsibility of being a designated Water Watcher. When any lifeguard chair is empty, the remaining lifeguards may not be able to see the entire pool and when lifeguards are seated in low chairs, their view can be blocked by patrons in the pool.

    Teach children how to swim

    Swimming is not only fun, it’s a lifesaving skill. Enroll children in swimming lessons; there are many free or reduced-cost options available from your local YMCA, USA Swimming chapter or Parks and Recreation Department.

    Teach children to stay away from drains

    Do not play or swim near drains or suction outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools, and never enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken or missing drain cover. Children’s hair, limbs, jewelry or bathing suits can get stuck in a drain or suction opening. When using a spa, be sure to locate the emergency vacuum shutoff before getting in the water.

    Ensure all pools – both in your backyard and any public pool – have compliant drain covers

    Virginia Graeme Baker, after whom the Pool and Spa Safety Act is named, died from drowning due to a suction entrapment from a faulty drain cover. All public pools and spas must have drain gates or covers that meet safety standards to avoid incidents like the one that took Graeme’s life. Powerful suction from a pool or spa drain can even trap an adult.

    Install pool barriers, covers and alarms on and around your pool

    Proper fences, barriers, alarms and covers can be lifesaving devices. A fence of at least four feet in height should surround the pool or spa on all sides and should not be climbable for children. The water should only be accessible through a self-closing, self-latching gate. Teach children to never try to climb over the gate or fence. Install a door alarm from the house to the pool area, and keep pool and spa covers in working order.

    Know how to perform CPR on children and adults

    Often, bystanders are the first to aid a drowning victim, so learning CR can help save a life. And once you’re CPR certified, make sure to keep your certification current. CPR classes are available through many hospitals, community centers, or by contacting the American Red Cross

  6. Hello, Summer!

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    Nearly 43 million Americans will start their summers on a high note with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. This long holiday weekend, marking the unofficial start of summer vacation season, will see the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes back in 2000. Overall, an additional 1.5 million more people will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways compared with last year, a 3.6% increase.

    Despite gas prices inching close to the $3 mark, the majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23rd and Friday, May 24th in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.

    AAA expects to be called on to rescue more than 353,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip.

    Driving/Traveling in Illinois? Remember Scott’s Law! Plenty of attention has been paid to Scott’s law in recent weeks, and this weekend will be no exception. The law requires drivers to slow down and move over one lane, if possible, when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle, or any vehicle with flashing lights. Violators of Scott’s Law can be fined up to $10,000 and, if injury, death or property damage occurs, enhanced penalties are applied.

  7. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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    For many of us, driving is something we do every day. Driving may feel so routine that we feel we can do other things while driving, such as eating, talking/texting on the phone, changing the radio station, applying makeup, reading directions on your GPS, or adjusting the temperature in the vehicle. However, doing any one of these things distracts you from driving.

    April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 3,166 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017. That means every day at least 9 people die and 100 more are injured in distracted driving related crashes.

    Distracted driving is an epidemic across the country. Every day you hear ‘distracted driving is killing people,’ and it is, but people still continue to do it. Here are some staggering statistics associated with distracted driving:

    • More than 2 in 3 drivers (70%) report talking on a cell phone while driving within the past 30 days. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (31%) report doing this fairly often or regularly.
    • More than 2 in 5 drivers (42%) admit to reading a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days, while 12% report doing this fairly often or regularly.
    • Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32%) admit to typing or sending a text or email over the past months, while 8% say they do so fairly often or regularly.

    What if you can’t stop driving distracted? Aside from having to pay a hefty fine, being ticketed for distracted driving will also drive up a motorist’s auto insurance premiums by an average 16%, or about $226 a year. Of course, the premium penalties charged to distracted driving offenders varies from one state to another.

    You can certainly bet that premium penalties charged to distracted drivers will only accelerate further and faster down the road, especially if fatalities and injuries related to the unfortunate practice continue to tick upward.

  8. Important Home Maintenance Tasks You Don’t Want to Forget To Do This Spring

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    You’re stocked up on cleaning supplies, the windows are open and you’ve officially retired your winter coat. Hello spring!

    However, spring home maintenance goes beyond deep cleaning and organizing. Work your way through this checklist to make sure your home is ready for the change in seasons.

    Check the Insulation in Your Attic – and Install More if Needed

    If you have an unfinished attic, pop your head up there and take a look around. You should see insulation up there between the beams, and there should be at least six inches of it everywhere (more if you live in the norther part of the United States). If there’s inadequate insulation up there – or the insulation appears to be damaged – install new insulation.

    Automate Your Thermostat

    One of the easiest things you can do to instantly start saving money on your heating and cooling bills is to get an automated thermostat. These smart thermostats will learn when you are home and make sure the home is at a comfortable setting during those hours. Check with your utility provider to see what offers are out there to offset the initial cost.

    Change ALL Your Air Filters

    Replace the air filter(s) in your HVAC system, to keep it running more efficiently. Old filters have reduced air flow forcing your equipment to work harder. This causes parts like fans and blowers to wear faster, especially after a cold winter.

    Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

    You can eliminate more than 70% of service calls with this simple cleaning step. Do it twice a year or more if you have shedding pets. Their fur clogs up the coils fast. Condenser coils are located on the back of the fridge across the bottom. When the coils are clogged with dirt and dust, they can’t efficiently release heat. Clean the coils with a coil cleaning brush and vacuum. A coil cleaning brush does a thorough job and will easily pay for itself. The refrigerator coil brush is bendable to fit in tight areas. They can be used for cleaning your dehumidifier and air conditioner coils, too.

    Clean Your Gutters

    Gutters are an integral piece of your home’s well being. They serve to control the flow of rainwater to protect your roof, walls, foundation and landscape. A gutter clogged with leaves, sticks and other debris can cause a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home. Contractors say gunked-up gutters also make nice homes for pests, rodents, mold and honeycombs from bee infestations.

    Clean Out Your Dryer Lint Vent

    Corral those lint bunnies. Because before you know it, they multiply like rabbits. Dryer lint is extremely flammable if you let it build up in your vents.

    Maintain Your Sump Pump

    Sump pumps on the whole are quite reliable. But as with any other important piece of equipment, regular maintenance is always a good idea. Spend a few minutes every couple of months, when heavy rains are forecast and in early spring to ensure reliable sump pump operation.

    • Ensure the sump pump didn’t trip the GFCI outlet it’s plugged into.
    • Ensure the pump itself is standing upright. Vibrations during operation can cause it to fall or tilt onto one side. This can jam the float arm so it can’t activate the pump.
    • Periodically pour a bucket of water into the pit to make sure the pump starts automatically and the water drains quickly once the pump is on.
    • Physically remove a submersible pump from the pit and clean the grate on the bottom. The sucking action of the pump can pull small stones into the grate, blocking the inlet or damaging the pump over time.
    • Ensure the outlet pipes are tightly joined together and draining out at least 20 feet away from your foundation.
    • Make sure the vent hole in the discharge pipe is clear.

    Flush Your Water Heater

    Regularly flushing out your water heater is an important task. It gets rid of the gunk and mineral deposits that accumulate and will help your hot water heater run more efficiently as well as prolong its life. Depending on your model, aim to flush your water heater every one to three years. However, if your heater is old and has never been flushed, it may be better to call a professional to get advice specific to your situation. Or, if you are not comfortable with the steps, err on the side of caution.

    • Turn the knob on your water heater’s thermostat to “off”.
    • Turn off the gas line or electricity to the unit.
    • Turn off the cold water supply.
    • Turn on a hot water tap in a sink or tub. This prevents a vacuum from forming in the system while draining the tank.
    • Connect a garden hose to the drainage spigot. Then turn on the spigot and drain the entire tank.
    • Once drained, turn back on the cold water supply to flush the tank. Look for water coming out of the hose to be clear and free of sediment.

    Maintaining your home is the best way to keep the value high and prevent major sudden expenses – but it’s hard to remember when to do things. Happy spring cleaning!

     

  9. Keep These Receipts to Make Insurance Claims Easier

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    Imagine it: A fire has significantly damaged or even destroyed your home. Thankfully, you have a good homeowners insurance policy that will help you replace the replaceable. But, how do you prove how much you’ve lost?

    If you planned ahead, you can just produce the receipt. You can get reimbursed for items without receipts, but having them will make the whole claim process go much more quickly and easily. And do you really need more hassles at a time like this?

    Here’s a list of receipts to keep in a safe place, like a fireproof, waterproof safe or a safety deposit box. Or, scan them and keep them in an electronic file.

    1.  Valuable electronics. Computers, televisions, stereo systems — our electronic devices are often some of the most expensive things we own.
    2. Appliances. These are big-ticket items — refrigerator, range or cooktop, dishwasher, washer/dryer, etc. And if you’ve upgraded since you moved into the home, your receipt may be the only proof that your fridge is a much pricier model than the one that was there before.
    3. Jewelry. The sentimental value behind your jewelry is irreplaceable, but with receipts you can at least get reimbursed for its monetary worth.
    4. Furniture. You may have to completely refurnish a new home. Receipts can expedite the claim process, so you’re not sleeping on the floor.
    5. Sports or hobby equipment. Bikes, skis, power tools, gun collections — depending on the make and model, these can really add up.
    6. Significant home improvements. If you recently upgraded something major in your home (e.g., you gutted the bathroom and added luxury fixtures or you replaced the flooring throughout your home), keep these receipts as well. They may have increased the overall value of your home.

    As a general rule of thumb: If it cost you more than you can afford to lose — keep the receipt.

    What if you can’t find the receipts? Photos of your home and possessions can work as a substitute. Also, appliance manuals and warranties are good proof of ownership because they usually list the model and serial number. Kuhl Insurance offers our clients a service called Clickit, which is a free photo inventory (taken by us, stored by us) to be used in the event of a claim. Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment!

  10. What You Need to Know About Turning the Outdoor Faucet Back On

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    The hose bibb, or spigot, is the faucet located on the outside of your house where you connect a garden hose. In winter, homeowners need to turn off the water to their hose bibbs to prevent flooding.

    Now, it’s almost time to open them so you can water your garden and enjoy the warmer weather!

    Turning the water back on to your outside hose sounds simple enough, but there are some precautions you should take to ensure you don’t end up with water inside your home.

    Some homes have frost proof spigots. Frost proof spigots do not need to be turned on or off in the fall/spring, but the only way to entirely prevent the possibility of leaking is by turning off the water to your spigot, frost proof or not.

    1. First, tighten (close) the wheel/valve on the spigot(s). You may have left them open during the winter, but be sure they are closed as you are about to turn on the water.
    2. Next, locate your water shutoff valve. It is located inside your house, usually in the basement, crawl space or utility room. The valve will be connected to a pipe that leads to the outside where your spigot is connected to your house. If you have more than one spigot, each one will have its own shutoff valve.
    3. Now, open the valve to allow water to flow to the spigot. If you have loosened the bleeder valves to allow water to drain when you shut the water off, tighten them now to help prevent leaks.
    4. Once the water is flowing, make sure there is a fair amount of water coming out, low pressure may mean there is a leak. Go back inside the home while you let the water run, and check for any leaks before you do anything else! Picture this: you’re outside washing the car or watering the garden, while water leaks inside the basement from a pipe you didn’t realize was cracked because it hasn’t been turned on all winter.

    Taking the extra step of going back inside once the water is turned back on can save you a headache later, because pipes and fixtures that have frozen and thawed may not start to leak until full water pressure is re-applied.

    Even while we are busy welcoming spring and the warmer weather, we are here to serve you. For more information, or to speak to one of our personal lines representatives, give our office a call at 309-266-7300.

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