Cleaning up after Mother Nature

Throughout the years during Minnesota’s stormy season, severe thunderstorms/tornados have been strong enough to cause many homeowners major damage resulting in costly repairs. The storms rip through neighborhoods with their high winds knocking down power lines, uprooting trees, pelting down hail, and flooding walkways and lower levels.  Once the storms have passed, the signs of their destruction can prove to be devastating for some homeowners.   Depending on the severity of the storm, it may be necessary for you to repair or even replace significant parts of the home such as the roof due to damage from hail, lightning, or downed trees. Since the roof of the home protects your family and your belongings from all elements of nature, it is the most important part of the home.

Although you may have encountered the same storm as your neighbor, chances are you will not have the same type of damage. Some damage to the roof is obvious such as shingles being torn or stripped off as a result of exposure to brutal gusts of wind, or it becomes the resting place for a downed tree. However, more often than not roof damage is not easily detected. Damage can also occur when large hail pours down on the roof which causes inner damage (bruising) of the granule layers that eventually leave the shingles exposed to the rays of the sun. This will cause serious deterioration of the shingle at an increased rate and ultimately shorten the lifespan of the roof. If you have been through a severe storm and fear that you may have damages to your home, contact your agent. Prolonging the necessary repairs could cause greater damage to the roof and even affect the interior of the home and personal items. Not to mention, with some insurance companies the longer you wait to file a claim, the more likely your claim will be denied.

Roof Claim Process:

    • Initial Contact with Agent – After contacting your agent, you will be notified by the insurance claims department.  You will then be contacted by an adjuster who will assess the damage, take photos, and then provide your insurance company with a copy of the cost for repairs an estimate.
    • Search For a Contractor - You will need to search for a contractor to do the work, best to get more than one estimate. Make sure that you are looking for quality from a reputable company.
    • Hire a Contractor – After choosing the best estimate, you should research their business background before you hire the contractor. Ask for references from people you know, make sure they are licensed, and find out how long they have been in business
    • Inspect Repairs – Prior to signing off on the work, make sure the work is completed to your satisfaction and according to the contract.
    • Notify your Agent of Repair – when your claim has been settled, the claims department does not update your records. You could also be entitled to credits which could lower your premium.

Tips on Settlement:

  • If your home like many others has the mortgage secured by a bank, a settlement check may be made out to the insured and the bank. This assures the bank that proper repairs have been made to your home to return it to the normal condition to protect its value. You may want to notify your bank to find out how your contractor will be paid, and any other information you should know before the work is started.
  • When filing a claim on a home that has no mortgage, make sure to notify your agent of any change in Mortgagee that will speed up the process and avoid errors when your settlement check is issued.
  • If you decide to take the settlement check without considering repairing damages, and the same thing happens down the road, your claim for similar damages may be denied.

Are There Wedding Bells in Your Future?

wedding-couple-boquePlanning a large event such as a wedding can take months or even years to organize. When you finally make the announcement, there is much more ahead. The guest list must be prepared, invitations need to be ordered and mailed out, the dress must be designed and fitted, tux rentals and fittings, getting in touch with caterers, musicians, photographers, searching for the perfect reception hall, plan out travel for out of town guests, transportation, etc. Not only are the arrangements required some time in advance of the big day, but deposits may be required at the time you schedule them. While the average cost of a small wedding can range between $10,000-30,000, more extravagant weddings can easily exceed $30,000. Since we all know that nothing is ever perfect at any wedding, and a disaster is not uncommon, $30,000 is a lot of money to invest in an event that does not go as planned. There are countless YouTube videos, and photos of horrifying wedding disasters shown on the internet all around the country. Limo drivers bail out at the last minute, caterers go out of business, your reception hall is double booked, dresses get damaged or are not ready in time, the weather does not cooperate, gifts may even be stolen.

A Wedding Protection Plan Can Be The Answer

A wedding Insurance policy, like auto or homeowner’s insurance, will protect your investment in the event of an unfortunate disaster. With the right insurance protection, you can be reimbursed for most of your losses. There are some things that are not covered under your wedding insurance policy. You can also take out additional coverage for some of the things that are not covered.

What is Covered:

  • Problems with your reception site – The site becomes unavailable at the last minute, damage to the site, or it closes down prior to your wedding date.
  • Weather –Covers rescheduling the event due to weather preventing main people from getting to the wedding (Bride, Groom, Parents, majority of Guests).
  • Vendors – Covers any cancellations or now shows such as caterers, musicians, photographers, etc.
  • Sickness or Injury – If the bride or groom, or any of the essential parties become ill or injured and the Wedding needs to be postponed.

What is not Covered:

  • A change of heart – If the bride or groom back out, there is no coverage.
  • Jewelry such as watches, gemstones, jewels on clothing.
  • Lost or damaged engagement ring

Extra Coverage:

  • Photos -Some policies will cover you if your photos are lost or damaged, or if the photographer fails to appear as scheduled they will rehire a photographer. Some policies will even pay to re-stage the wedding so the photos can be taken or retaken.
  • Gifts – Coverage pays to repair or replace gifts that are lost, stolen, or damaged even if they were mailed.
  • Wedding Gown – Replaces the cost of the dress in the even it becomes lost or damaged.
  • Personal Liability: Covers bodily injury or property damage caused by an accident at the wedding.

You wouldn’t hesitate to insure your brand new home or a new vehicle to protect your investment, so why take a chance on the most important investment of your life. When you begin to plan out your wedding and start working on a budget, speak with an Insurance Advisor today.

Summertime Boating & Swimming Safety

Boat InsuranceWith summer in full swing, it’s time once again to take that trip to the cabin, get the dock out and put the boats back on the water.  At this time of year in Minnesota so many people look forward to spending a day on the boat fishing, going for a swim, water skiing, or just riding around on the lake on a nice sunny day.  With so many boats on the water, safety is the main concern regardless of the water sport.   Unfortunately accidents on the water happen more frequently than we realize.  In 2014 alone there were about 50 reported accidents involving boats which included capsizing, collisions with other water crafts, water skiing/boarding accidents, and sinking.  Some of these accidents were considered to be an estimated $2,000 in property damage with injuries, and 14 of those reported resulted in fatalities.

Many people with lakeshore property will usually insure their property with general liability insurance.  Keep in mind that a general liability for a lakefront property will not cover damages due to injuries or other lawsuits arising from boat use, or other water craft.  Since lake shore properties are always at risk for accidents due to drowning, injuries from diving off docks in shallow water, and other injuries that tend to happen while on the water, separate coverage is necessary.

Although insurance is not required for some boats/docks in Minnesota, it is a good idea to remember that they can be expensive to repair or replace, and damages relating to personal injury from an accident can skyrocket.  The policies vary depending on what coverages you are looking for.  Some policies will cover personal property on the boat if it should capsize.  Others will cover the cost of injury, lost items, motor repair, and repairs to any permanently attached items in the boat.  Some additional coverage typically includes physical damage, uninsured bodily injury, fuel spill/wreckage removal, personal items, emergency assistance, etc.  There are many insurance riders to consider so check with your agent to find out your options for coverages relating to docks, swim rafts, other watercraft.  Regardless of the type of insurance you choose, remember to always be safe on the water.

Safety precautions include avoiding accidents involving other boaters/swimmers, preventing damage to your property, and common courtesy in and around the lake.

To avoid accidents involving other boaters/swimmers:

  • Wear Life Jacket (the law requires children under the age of 10 to wear a life jacket)
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings as you would driving on the road
  • Pay attention to other boaters, use caution near beaches and boat launches
  • Never leave your boat unattended when not attached to your dock

Tips to Prevent loss:

  • Secure boat to dock
  • When not in use, secure motor, remove items that can be easily blown out of the boat (poles, personal items, keys, etc.)
  • Do not go over the occupancy capacity limit of the boat
  • Be sure to have oars in case of a stalled motor
  • Make sure your dock meets regulations and is not a hazard
  • Always be cautious in shallow water – watch for rocks and debris

Tips for Common Courtesy:

  • Use caution near cabins along the shoreline they usually have a swimming area near the dock
  • When boating passed docks, slow the speed of the boat, use caution
  • Be attentive to others who may be in the water or on the docks.
  • Respect signs posted for wake zones, and shallow water.
  • Maintain control of your boat in inclement weather

When considering the length of time you spend on the lake during the summer and the number of accidents that occur each year on the water, insurance gives you peace of mind to know that you are covered in the event of a loss.

Contact Insurance Advisors for free Minnesota Boat Insurance quotes

Are you Covered for Long/Short Term Disability?

Disability InsuranceFortunately for America, the unemployment rate has been gradually decreasing since 2009. This means more jobs are becoming available as the job market continues to grow.  However, with the economy still on the rebound from the economic downturn even the middle class are finding it hard to make ends meet and it has become necessary to survive on more than one income. Families throughout the nation have struggled with finances at one time or another due to loss of income. When life takes an unexpected turn and you can no longer work, it can quickly interrupt a well maintained budget and even deplete an ample savings account.

Being out of work is not something we take into consideration too often so we rarely prepare for it. Some companies offer benefit packages to their employees that include paid time off, but depending on the size of the company they may not offer short or long-term leave. If you become pregnant, sustain injuries outside of work that require healing, or if you are suddenly diagnosed with an illness, your paid time off may not be sufficient for the time off necessary for your recovery. If you have used all of your paid time off and still need time to heal, you not only lose a paycheck but you could lose your job depending on your situation. As with many employers, benefits become available based on the length of your employment and may not be available immediately. If the company that you work for does not offer unpaid leave, or if you need longer than the typical 6 weeks offered, the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) allows up to 12 weeks unpaid leave. There are certain requirements to be eligible for FMLA benefits, for the employee and the employer. Some small businesses are exempt from this program due to the number of people they employ.  You can contact Human Resources at your place of business to find out more, or see the eligibility guidelines which are available at the U.S Department of labor website.

Although there are federal programs available such as Social Security and parts of Social Security which include Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance, these programs are not immediate assistance. To become eligible for these programs as with the FMLA program, you must meet certain criteria. There are several factors considered when applying for Social Security Benefits and some cases take months or even years to be approved. If you are disabled for more than a year and unable to work, you can apply for these programs but you are still not guaranteed approval. The decision is ultimately based on whether or not the applicant is able to work or may become able to find other employment with the disability. It can be a very long process during which time you have little to no income. Unfortunately Minnesota is not one the few states in this country to offer short-term disability benefits that would grant the applicant a paid leave.

To ensure that you are not left without an income due to the inability to work, there are ways to prepare for the unexpected. Just as you would prepare for your future with life insurance, or protection for your possessions with homeowners insurance, Disability Insurance will protect your income. Disability insurance is also known as disability income insurance, or income protection, which entitles you to a portion of your monthly income if you become disabled and are unable to perform the duties of your job. Only about one-third of America’s working population currently has disability insurance. That means that more than 70 million people in the United States are at risk for financial hardships from missing work due to pregnancies, illness, and permanent disabilities. A Disability Insurance policy could replace most of your monthly income depending on what policy you choose. Since we rely heavily on our earned income for our expenses and daily life, there is no better feeling than knowing you will still be able to get by if you are temporarily unable to work.

Types of Disability Policies:

  • Individual Policies are purchased by an individual whose employer does not provide benefits. Premiums vary depending on what level of insurance you choose. Policies that provide a larger monthly benefit will be higher. There are other factors to consider as well such as the length of time that benefits will be issued, the coverage based on type of illness, etc.,
  • High-limit Policies are designed to keep monthly benefits above 65% of income.  This coverage is issued in addition to group coverage. With high-limit disability insurance, benefits can be anywhere from an additional $2,000 to $100,000 per month.

When Considering the Level of Disability Insurance:

  • Decide the amount of the monthly benefit you need
  • Decide how long you want the benefits to continue
  • Decide how soon you will need it to start
  • Decide what supplemental benefits you will need
  • Figure out what premium you can afford
  • Will you need Short or Long-term disability benefits

Contact one of our insurance agents for more information and a free quote.

Minnesota Road Construction

Road Work & Potholes

Road Work Ahead SignWhat causes more headaches than rush hour traffic? Well, how about rush hour traffic with road construction on every corner. Welcome back to Minnesota’s construction season. Roads all across the State are put through the test each year with every cold winter they endure. This is the reason for the construction season. Some of the repairs are due to normal wear, some due to work in progress from prior projects, with the majority due to pothole damage and resurface work.

During the winter season snow falls, it melts, and the moisture gets trapped under the pavement. The pavement freezes and then thaws, causing it to expand. The drastic change in the road temperatures combined with the warming rays of sun and the expanding pavement causes the surface to crack. With all of the traffic on the roads, the cracked pavement starts to break up and deteriorate rapidly causing potholes. When the roads are being cleaned up after a heavy snowfall, the salt trucks follow up with a layer of salt that is put down to help melt the ice that can accumulate with the subzero temperatures. Salt can get down into the concrete and corrode the steel rebar which will eventually cause greater damage below the surface of the road. Other construction projects are works in progress such as lane additions, drainage/sewer, bridge repairs, or constructing new roadways. Some projects take months to complete, others take years. Since Minnesota has a very long cold winter, it takes a long time for the ground to thaw so that construction can resume which adds to the length of time for each project.

We all must travel at some point and because there is no cure for harsh weather and ageing concrete, there will be no end to construction on our roadways. The cost for the materials used and the time it takes to get the roads repaired weigh heavily on a budget. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a permanent fix for our roads so we continue to face more traffic and longer commutes due to construction. By following three important rules when driving through these construction areas, you can avoid many hazardous situations. Be cautious, be courteous, and be patient.

Remember that citations in construction zones are costly. Use Caution, near and around construction zones to be sure no trucks or workers are in front of you, drive at slower speeds, other drivers, rough roads. Pay attention to your surroundings and be prepared for the road ahead, read signs… Be Courteous, allow other drivers to merge into traffic when possible. Be Patient, map out alternate routes for your commute, or allow more time to reach your destination.

Tips to Prevent Damage To Your Vehicle In Construction Areas:

• Stay a safe distance behind other cars.
• Travel at a safe speed for the road conditions.
• Pay special attention to your tire pressures. This will keep your wheels and your tires from being damaged from the impact of the pothole.
• Do not swerve to avoid potholes, more damage could occur to your wheel if you hit the side of your tire, rather than strait on.

To get an idea of where the roads are under construction, visit Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) Current Roadwork.

April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month

Getting behind the wheel for the first time is one of the most thrilling benefits of growing up. However, there is quite a bit more to obtaining a license than just getting behind the wheel. The reason for driver’s education, behind the wheel training, and the final driver’s exam, is to prepare you for a safe future on the road. Traffic laws are set in place to help avoid mishaps. Some situations cannot be prevented due to weather conditions or an unavoidable collision, but knowing the laws and becoming a safe driver will aid in your safety on the road. When you get your license and are behind the wheel remember that driving is a privilege not a right.

Vehicles have become a very important part of our lives. With so many drivers on the road today, it is very important to stay alert and pay attention to what you have learned in your training or through your experience. Avoid reckless driving by consistently maintaining a reasonable speed, and always be courteous to your fellow drivers. Younger drivers are at a greater risk for accidents due to distractions because they have not yet experienced the many hazardous situations that occur on the roads without warning. Distracted Driving is not limited to younger drivers. There are many drivers who travel to work daily and have routines which are considerably unsafe (reading road maps, eating or drinking, attending to children, use of cell phones, putting on makeup, etc.). This activity increases the potential for accidents. If you take your eyes off the road even for a split second, you could put yourself or others in danger.

Driving in severe weather or during rush hour traffic is already the worst environment for potential accidents. You add to the danger when your mind wanders, you take your eyes off the road reaching for something, or you distract other drivers with reckless driving. For this reason, in Minnesota it is illegal to text or send emails while you are driving, stuck in traffic, or at a stop light. Do your part to make the road a safe and friendly place.

Tips for Drivers:

  • Avoid use of cell phones.
  • Do not search for CDs or radio stations while the vehicle is moving,
  • Map out your route prior to putting your vehicle in drive, and pull over to study a map.
  • If you have food or drink make sure the drink is covered and the food is not something messy.
  • Children need attention, but it is very unsafe to tend to them while driving.
  • Keep your eyes on the road at all times

  Driving Etiquette:

  • Always be prepared to stop at crosswalks or intersections
  • Pass only in passing lane, avoid passing too closely or without signal
  • Yield to drivers who have the right of way
  • Make room for other drivers merging
  • Adhere to speed limits
  • Avoid cell phone use
  • Never tailgate, always allow a reasonable stopping distance

Keep in mind that each year in Minnesota distracted driving is accountable for at least one in four crashes which have resulted in at least 50 deaths and more than 300 serious injuries. Laws have been implemented to help reduce these statistics, but according to a survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 90 percent of drivers recognized the danger from cell phone distractions and found it “unacceptable” that drivers text or send e-mail while driving. Nevertheless, 35% of these same people admitted to having read or sent a text message or e-mail while driving in the previous month. Similarly, two-thirds of the survey respondents admitted to talking on a cell phone, even though 88 percent found it a threat to safety.

Defensive Driving courses are taught to help drivers maintain valuable skills. Some of these types of classes in Minnesota are free, and could also lower your insurance rates. These classes are designed to help you brush up on your driving skills and become familiar with current laws.

Spring Storm Safety Tips

Will March Winds And April Showers Bring Forth More Than May Flowers?

home-insMinnesota’s winter season is reportedly among the top three coldest states within the United States. With a ranking near the top with the lowest annual temperature, it is not surprising that by the end of February many people here begin to long for the warm sunshine and greenery of summer. During the months of spring (March-May) the air does seem to feel a bit warmer, but the weather can be very unpredictable. There can be days when the temperature rises to more than seventy degrees on one day and then drops down to below freezing the next. Since the temperature fluctuates by more than just a few degrees this time of year, in addition to the lingering sleet and snow showers there is also potential for severe weather such as thunderstorms, hail, and torrential downpours. When the temperature finally stays well above freezing for an extended period of time, the accumulated snow and ice begin to melt rapidly. With the grounds already saturated from the melting snow and ice, and the likelihood of rain showers, there tends to be a greater risk for flooding.

Although it is nearly impossible to completely avoid damage if you are in the path of any storm activity, sometimes we can partially prepare or even avoid some damage by becoming aware of what the storms are capable of and by following some of the safety tips.

Spring Storm Safety Tips

Thunderstorms/ Tornados

Stormy_WeatherThunderstorms develop as a result of warm unstable air moving upwards. As the warmer air rises, it meets cooler air. When the air reaches a dew point it condenses to form clouds. The intensity of the storm depends on the amount of energy and precipitation circulated through the clouds. These storm clouds produce positive and negative charges that can generate lightning. Lightning is a spark that is created by static electricity formed when the positive and negative charges of these clouds touch. Depending on where the charges attract, lightning can also occur from the clouds to the ground. The lightning bolts are so electrically charged that they can start a fire, damage trees, and destroy property. These storms are also capable of producing high winds, heavy rainfall, and hail.

tornadoA Tornado can be the product of a thunderstorm. It is formed when warm humid air rises up against a cooler air mass combined with varied wind directions and significant speeds that cause a horizontal spinning. Rising air caught within the updraft of a rotating column of air forces the spinning from horizontal into vertical which creates the funnel cloud. The weight of the rain and hail within the storm cloud forces the funnel cloud to touch down. Tornados are the most destructive storms. They are capable of lifting off the roof of a house, picking vehicles up from off the ground, and driving objects at violent speeds into other objects. Tornados occur most often during the spring and summer months but have been known to randomly occur throughout the year.   

Safety Tips:

  • Go to the basement or lowest part of the home – Cover yourself with padding such as blankets, couch cushions, or pillows
  • Stay away from windows
  • Unplug electrical appliances
  • Mobile homes are unsafe – move to a shelter
  • If caught outdoors find the lowest ground and lay flat, stay away from trees and vehicles
  • If you are driving pull off the side of the road and try to find low ground

Hail Storms

hailHail forms when a cold front moves into a warmer climate during a severe storm. It has been described as an ice pellet that varies in size from dime size to softball size.  Hailstorms usually cause more damage because the pellets fall from the sky with great speed. Hail storms can begin without warning and there is not much time to prepare for their destruction. They can cause significant damage to vehicles, homes, and anything left outdoors uncovered or improperly stored.

Safety Tips:

  • Park your vehicles, outdoor furniture, bikes, etc. in a garage or shed
  • Stay indoors
  • Stay away from the windows
  • If you are stuck outdoors try to cover your body and head
  • If you are stuck in a vehicle, pull off to the side of the road or in a parking ramp


Flood InsuranceFlooding is one of the most devastating and frequent natural disasters that occur.  Low lying areas are more prone to flooding than others. Flooding occurs when the ground becomes saturated with heavy rains, fast melting snow/ice, or the combination of both. The most common types of floods are River Floods and Flash Floods. With river flooding, there is a short amount of time to prepare for the worst. As the rivers begin to rise, they can be monitored for hours or sometimes days prior to them reaching their crest. The most dangerous flooding is Flash Floods which occur when there are heavy downpours that produce large amounts of rain within a short period of time. These types of floods are the most dangerous because they hit without notice and don’t give you time to prepare. The waters rise rapidly and begin to flow at increasing speeds that sweep away whatever is in the path. Almost half of flash flood deaths occur in vehicles when the drivers underestimate the speed and depth of the water and try to drive through it. According to Wikipedia encyclopedia, The largest flash flood in Twin Cities history occurred on July 23–July 24, 1987. Dubbed locally The Super Storm, more rain fell from this event than any other in recorded Twin Cities history. The storm caused damage to 9,000 homes, killed two people, and caused $27 million in damage.   

 Safety Tips:

  • Seal off the basement of your home to avoid water leaks
  • Unplug everything from the outlets on all level of the home
  • Try to avoid walking in the flood water, if it can’t be avoided use a pole or something to aid you with leverage.
  • Never drive through a flooded area, there can be potholes beneath and the water depth may not be what it appears – water speed is often underestimated
  • If you are warned to evacuate don’t hesitate to move to higher ground

Unlike other natural disasters, flooding is not covered under homeowners insurance.   However, it can be purchased in addition to your homeowners insurance. Check with your agent to learn more about Flood Insurance.

If you live in Minnesota and need help with any type of insurance reach out, we’re happy to help.

By: Insurance Advisors, Inc.

Filing an Insurance Claim

College student with parent.The sole purpose for buying insurance is to protect you in the event that something happens to the valuable things that you own such as home, auto, and your personal belongings.  Since each individual policy is based on purchase price and other factors depending on what you are insuring, it is important to know what types of coverages you have and what deductible you will pay in case you need to file a claim. Insurance policies are loaded with fine print and clauses that most people don’t read or understand.  It’s a good idea to become familiar with what your policy does and does not cover. There are insurance riders that can be added to the policy for additional protection if you are not already covered. You can contact your agent to learn more about the details of your policy.

Filing a claim is part of the long process of dealing with the loss of insured property, damage to property, or injuries sustained. Prior to filing any claim keep in mind that the more claims filed, whether it is a moderate repair or a complete loss, could in some way affect the premiums that you pay for your home and auto insurance.

When considering filing a claim for minor damages in the home, or as a result of an auto incident that required minimal repairs, it might be more sensible to make the repairs yourself and avoid filing the claim especially if the estimate for damages is only slightly higher the deductible.  Typically claims filed that are not your fault, such as damage from a storm, theft, hail, or an auto collision should not affect your rates and should be filed as soon as possible.  The longer it is delayed, the more damage could occur and the less likely your insurance company is to cover the full cost of all of the damages incurred.

Contacting your agent for advice on certain claims will help you to avoid a hike in your rates and perhaps prevent you from losing coverage due to an excessive amount of claims filed within your policy terms.

What is Important to Consider When Contemplating Filing an Insurance Claim:


  • Could it have been prevented –Were there existing problems that went unresolved (pipes, cracks in cement, roof repairs)
  • Water Damage – Mold Issues
  • Do you have prior claims for similar issues
  • Estimate the damages/know your deductible


  • Were you at fault – Other vehicles involved
  • Do you have other auto claims/prior moving violations
  • Estimate the cost of damages/know your deductible
  • Bodily Injury

 What to do to Begin the Process of Filing:

  • Report in a timely manner as coverage is contingent on timely reporting
  • Get the information needed such as other Drivers names, Addresses, and phone numbers, vehicle makes/models, license plates of other vehicles, names of witnesses if any, policy numbers, etc.
  • Prevent further damage with minor repairs when necessary
  • Take Pictures of damages if at all possible
  • Assess the cost of damages, get a repair estimates

Insurance Advisors, Inc

Are You a Target for Identity Theft?

Life Insurance | FamilyMillions of Americans are affected by Identity Theft each year. Just within the past year we have seen Security Breaches in large department stores, Internet and Email Scams, Social Security/IRS fraud, and most recently the Minnesota Department of Revenue temporarily stopped accepting tax returns that were submitted through Turbo Tax due to a security breach.

When a security breach occurs it leaves many people vulnerable to having their credit/debit card and other personal information stolen and used by the hackers to make fraudulent purchases. Some financial institutions are aware of this type of fraud and will notify you if your information is at risk and issue a new number to protect your account.  Other companies have liability clauses in their credit card terms that may protect you from fraud. However, if you do not pay attention to your credit/debit purchases and the fraud goes undetected for a long period of time, the more likely you are to be liable for the debt.

Locking up your home when you are away could probably help protect you from a burglary, but since we have all become potential targets for ID Theft even simple tasks such as taking out the trash is now becoming a huge risk. Along with the possibility of someone digging through your trash for personal information, you could also be a target for ID Theft in the safety of your own home via the internet. Hackers and Scammers are looking for any opportunity to get your personal information.

The IRS has seen an increase in phone and email scams around the country. These scams, among others, are listed on the IRS website to help people become more familiar with what the scams entail and promote awareness of this type of theft. In some cases the scammer will call or email you and pose as an IRS agent. They will tell you that you have been audited and you owe back taxes. There are some that will threaten the victim with penalties and even legal action unless they make a payment by using a preloaded debit card. The emails use the same tactic, and demand that you contact them right away. In the event you do get a phone call or an email do not give out any information. You can contact the IRS directly to find out what your status is, or to report potential fraud.

Reviewing the following information and becoming more educated with scams and fraud will greatly decrease the likelihood of another statistic in Identity Theft.

What the scammer is looking for:

  • Driver’s License with name, address, date of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Medical ID Cards
  • Credit Cards
  • Bank Account numbers

What they can do with the information:

    • With your driver’s license they will have access to your address, birth date and license number. The scammer could take your number and create a fake ID card with their picture. They could use your name and information to apply for work, give your information on traffic ticket, and damage your driving record. They could even show up at some point to burglarize your home.
    • With your Social Security number, they can get a job and file false tax returns, get a new Social Security card saying that they lost the old one, obtain Social Security benefits by filing a claim, apply for welfare benefits, get medical and dental care, obtain passports, access bank account information and drain retirement/savings accounts.
    • With your Medical ID, they could have surgery, even cosmetic surgeries, file for Social Security/disability benefits, and file medical insurance claims.
    • With your credit cards and bank account information they can open new lines of credit, open new bank accounts, obtain checking/saving account information to purchase a vehicle or a home, buy expensive jewelry, and deplete your savings, checking accounts.

 How you can detect/monitor and possibly prevent it:

  • Don’t respond to emails that are asking you for personal information such as name or address, birth date, credit card information, or social security numbers. Most places that need this type of information would never ask for it via email.
  • Watch where you are using your credit cards. Avoid going onto links that you are being redirected to. Make sure your page is safe before using your credit card information. Never save your credit card information, always log out of an account online.
  • Monitor your bank account and go over your monthly statements to be sure there is no suspicious activity.
  • Get your annual social security statements and check to be sure that the jobs listed are accurate and that there have been no claims filed or work history you are unaware of.
  • Many people are getting into the habit of shredding personal documents that may contain bank account information, social security numbers, and even birth dates instead of throwing it in the trash.

In order to protect yourself from Identity Theft find out more information on what is targeted, what is done with information, and what options you have to prevent it or recover in the event it does happen to you. Some insurance companies offer identity theft protection. Contact your agent to find out more about how to protect your identity.

By: Insurance Advisors, Inc.


Planning To Move? A Change of Address Could Save You Money on Your Insurance

Moving Could Save You Money Your Home and Auto Insurance Policies

car-girlWhen you make the decision to move, finding a suitable place is the first step. Whether you are a renter or preparing to buy your first home, house hunting is not an easy task and it requires an extensive search to accommodate all of your family’s needs. Although finances can play a key role in your decision, there are many other factors to take into consideration.

When you begin your search try to find a few places that you can keep in mind while you continue to shop around.

  • Do a quick inspection of each property to make sure that there aren’t any noticeable issues with wiring, water leaks, or any type of damage that may end up causing you to make costly repairs after you are settled in. The location of your new home is just as important as the structure itself.
  • To avoid the intimidation of moving into an area that you are unfamiliar with be sure to take the time to check out the neighborhood. Research the crime statistics in the area, compare the distance you will be traveling to and from your job, visit the schools, locate the town hall/police station, and find safe access to parks/lakes.  This will allow you to be more at ease with the safety of your family and your possessions when your move is finalized.

The next step in the moving process is choosing the best insurance plan for your new place. Renter’s/ Homeowner’s insurance and Auto insurance can be lower depending on where you choose to live. First, you should be aware of how your insurance rates are determined. Insurance companies use similar criteria when preparing your quote as you would use when preparing for your move. Each company uses the information differently which is why rates vary from each insurance company. Each insurer must file with the state the procedure on how they arrived at your current rates. They also must conform to that procedure. State regulations require the information used for the rates to be reviewed randomly.

When getting your Home and/ or Auto insurance quote, the rates are usually based on some of the following criteria:


Some neighborhoods experience more crime than others, there is a higher potential for theft and vandalism to your home and possessions in these areas. Some areas are more secluded and may experience less crime, but then the possibility for a fire or other disaster when the homeowner is away may go unnoticed in those areas causing more damage, so this also becomes a greater risk. Rates vary from state to state due to natural disasters. Some areas are more prone to flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes.


The type of construction, whether it is made of brick, wood, or concrete will have some bearing on your rates. Rates will widely depend on what the cost would be to replace the home if it was a total loss. Premiums are higher for homes that are made with higher quality materials and elaborate fixtures. If your home is older the wiring, water pipes, or the roof may be in need of repairs. You can invest in some remodeling/upgrading of the alarm systems, rewiring, roof repairs, upgrade the heating units, and replace old pipes to potentially lower your rates.

Since most insurance companies offer bundles for home and auto policies, you could save money on your current auto rates as well as your homeowner’s insurance when you choose to bundle. Auto insurance rates are calculated much the same way as homeowner’s. Where you live, what you drive, and your driving record will all be considered when getting your quote as well as some of the following criteria:


Certain areas are more prone to theft and vandalism than other areas. Many companies research the crime statistics in the area where you live and use it to base your rates.   Some more congested areas are also a factor since there is more of a chance for an accident in areas with more traffic. If you have moved to a place that shortens your weekly commute, and you are driving fewer miles, this also is figured.

Driver Age: 

Age helps to determine your experience as a driver. Younger drivers tend to be higher risks because they lack experience in many situations that can occur on the road. Other drivers that may be a risk are those who tend to not drive regularly. Often times their skills may not be as sharp. Driving records are also used in determining rates.

Type of Vehicle:

Vehicles that are sporty, fast, and expensive are generally highly rated and result in higher premiums. Sports cars usually result in high premiums because they are more apt to be involved in accidents that result in excessive damages and injuries. Vehicles that are more expensive may have higher rates based on how much it would cost to replace the vehicle if it was a total loss.

Lastly, make it a priority to notify the postal service of your move so that you will get your mail delivered to your new address. You should also directly contact your insurance company, bank, DMV, and the IRS. Mail is forward to the new address for up to 12 months. After that time period, the post office returns the mail to the sender unable to forward. The sender will need to track down your current address and resubmit the mail.  If there is no forwarding address on file, you will not get the mail. In some cities if your name is not listed as a resident on your current address, you may not get your mail delivered to that address. The postal service has made it easier than ever to change your address. You can go online, make changes on the phone, or stop into the branch.

If you have or are planning to move in Minnesota, talk with one of our agents for a Free Home and Auto Insurance Quote.

By: Insurance Advisors, Inc.