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

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.

Help Curtail Aggression Behind the Wheel

Join Insurance Advisors, Inc and Safeco Insurance in taking a pledge to be a more courteous driver in Drive It Forward Fridays (#DIFF)

SafeCo drive it forward Fridays logoSummer travel season has started, and you have a chance to help make driving in and around Minnesota more pleasant and safer for everyone.

We at Insurance Advisors, Inc are joining Safeco Insurance in asking drivers to participate in Drive It Forward Fridays (DIFF). To take part, drivers can visit or use the hashtag #DIFF on Twitter to pledge to be a more courteous driver and to share their positive driving actions.

“Helping to promote better driving makes the roads safer for everyone in our community,” said Patty Czock, Vice President, Insurance Advisors, Inc.

A new Safeco Insurance survey found that more than four out of five drivers have experienced others’ aggressive driving behavior, and it impacts them negatively.

Only 36 percent of those surveyed admitted to driving aggressively. Yet, 85 percent describe other drivers as aggressive, and 82 percent said it’s others’ behavior on the road that makes driving a negative experience.

Not all the news is bad. Of those surveyed, 72 percent said that they’d be willing to make at least one change to their own behavior to make driving more pleasant for everyone. So as the summer travel season kicked off, Safeco Insurance launched the Drive It Forward Fridays campaign to encourage drivers to take positive steps to counter negative driving behavior that can be dangerous.

Insurance Advisors, Inc. is proud to support Drive it Forward Fridays and we’ve made our pledge!

School Bus Safety & Awareness

School Bus Safety Tips & Facts

School bus safety awareness.It’s that time of year where the dog days of summer goes from swimsuit clad kids to kids loaded with school supplies and heading to the bus stop!

While Waiting for the Bus

  • Arrive with plenty of time to spare; rushing to catch the bus can lead to injuries.
  • Walk on the sidewalk or if no sidewalk is available walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
  • Always walk to the bus stop
  • Stay six feet from the curb so the bus driver can see you. That’s 3 big steps for most kids.
  • Never speak to strangers and NEVER get into a car with a stranger (Parents inform your kids about the lost puppy/kitten ploy strangers may use to get them in the car)

On the Bus

  • Find a seat right away and sit down
  • Don’t hang out the window or throw things out the window
  • Use your indoor voice on the bus
  • In an emergency, listen to the driver and follow directions

Exiting the Bus

  • When leaving the bus walk six feet away from the door (three big steps)
  • Stay clear of the bus wheels and watch for moving cars
  • Never try to return to the bus for anything you may have left behind, the driver may not see you returning

Drivers Be Alert for Students and Buses

  • If you drive in a school zone during your commute be aware of the schools start and end times. Consider an alternate route to help reduce traffic congestion in the area of the school
  • Follow posted speed limits in school zones.
  • Do not pass a stopped bus if the red lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended
  • Wait for the flashing lights to stop and the bus to begin moving before proceeding

School Bus Facts*

  • School buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in avoiding crashes and prevent injury
  • School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children to and from school
  • School buses keep an estimated 17.3 million cars off roads surrounding schools each morning

*These facts were provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

If your children ride the bus or walk to school from a childcare provider’s home, you should check with that provider to make sure that they have the proper liability coverage to protect your child in the event something should happen off the child care provider’s property.   Homeowner’s liability coverage is premise only coverage.

By: Chistine Gaffron, Insurance Advisors Inc.

Water Safety

House with a pool in the backyard.Summer means swimming and water sports. With all the fun to be had, don’t forget about water safety!

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a life guarded beach, use the buddy system!
  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
  • Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water

  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
  • Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least 4-feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.
  • If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
  • Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.
  • Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

Maintain Constant Supervision

  • Actively supervise kids whenever around the water—even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach—designate a responsible adult to supervise.
  • Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.

Know What to Do in an Emergency

  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

From all of us here at Insurance Advisors, Inc. Have a fun and safe summer in the water!

By: Christine Gaffron


Homeowners Insurance: Child’s Play can be a Liability

Homeowners Insurance and Playtime

Boy riding his bike.

With summer in full swing the neighborhood streets are filled with children playing. As you send your children out to play be aware of the liability they can present.

If your child somehow causes damage to your neighbor’s property, your homeowners insurance will cover it if your child is legally liable for the damages. If someone is injured on you property your liability coverage or a person umbrella policy should cover the claim.

It’s a good idea to know when other children are playing in your yard and to know where your children are playing if not in your own yard. If a child is injured while playing on your property you may be liable for medical and other expenses. Make sure you have taken all the necessary steps to keep any visitors to your property safe and protect yourself financially with the proper insurance coverage or a personal umbrella policy.

Scooters and battery powered toy vehicles are fun to play with but may not be covered under your homeowner’s policy if someone becomes injured or causes property damage when using them. Check with your insurance agent to ensure adequate coverage for these items.

Inform your agent of any changes to your property. Trampolines and swimming pools may be considered an “attractive nuisance” – a legal principle that makes a homeowner responsible if a child trespasses onto your property and injured on a trampoline or swimming pool. Not all insurance companies will provide you with liability coverage for these items. Protect yourself by adding a fence around your yard with a self-closing, latching gate. Pool alarms provide extra security and protect you from people wanting to “take a dip” without permission.

Even though you’ve provided extra protection, nothing can replace your attentive supervision when children are playing in the yard.

From all of us at Insurance Advisors, Inc. be safe and enjoy your fun in the sun!

Safely Grilling in the Backyard

Summers mean backyard grilling – safely!

Hot dogs on a grill.Just like hamburgers and hot dogs a sizzling grill is a symbol of summer and grilling isn’t just about great food. Backyard barbecues often create treasured memories with friends and family.

Keep in mind, however, that when you grill, you’re literally playing with fire. Thousands of residents each year learn this the hard way, suffering damage to their homes or even serious injuries in grilling accidents.

There’s good news, though: you can prevent grilling accidents by taking some simple precautions. The tips below can help ensure you cook only your burgers – and not your house – the next time you fire up the grill.

Tips for All Grills

  • Your grill, whether gas or charcoal, should be on a level surface outdoors, away from anything that could be ignited by flames (bushes, fences, etc.).
  • NEVER use a grill indoors. Odorless carbon monoxide fumes could kill you.
  • Keep your grill clean and well-maintained. Check parts regularly to determine if replacements are needed.
  • Never leave a hot grill unattended or let children play near it.

Charcoal Grill Tips


  • Do not add lighter fluid directly to hot coals. The flame could travel up the stream of fluid and burn you.
  • Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire.
  • Use flame – retardant mitts and long-handled barbecue tongs, as coals can reach up to 1,000 degrees.
  • To dispose of coals, allow the ashes to cool for at least 48 hours before disposal in a non-combustible container. If you cannot wait 48 hours, carefully place coals individually in a can of sand or a bucket of water.

Gas Grill Tips

From the National Fire Protection Association

  • Check your grill’s hoses for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If you have a leak, and it will not stop after the grill and gas is turned off, have your grill serviced by a professional.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
  • Do not keep a filled propane tank in a hot car or trunk. When getting containers refilled, make that your last stop before going home.
  • Store propane tanks in an upright position, and never indoors.

From all of us at Insurance Advisors, Inc. happy grilling and stay safe this summer!

Firework Safety Tips

Fireworks over MinneapolisFireworks are a part of celebrating Fourth of July but, be safe about it!

  • Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.
  • Use fireworks as directed on consumer product safety label; never alter products.
  • Observe local laws and use good COMMON SENSE.
  • Have a designated shooter to organize and shoot your family show.
  • A responsible ADULT should supervise all firework activities.
  • Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; AWAY from buildings and vehicles.
  • NEVER carry fireworks in your POCKET.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  • Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

These safety tips were provided to you from The National Council of Fireworks Safety

Insurance Advisors, Inc. would like to wish you a Happy and Safe Fourth of July!!

Lawn Work Safety Tips

Let’s Keep Our Lawns – and Ourselves – Safe in Minnesota

For many of our neighbors in Minnesota, summer means more than sunshine and vacations. It also means working in the yard – often with tools that can be dangerous if not used properly.

Child eating strawberries in the garden.Each year about 400,000 people are treated for injuries from lawn and garden tools, according to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Don’t let your landscaping efforts land you in the hospital. Follow these handy safety tips.

Lawn Tool Safety Tips from the U.S. CPSC

  • Dress appropriately. To protect yourself from debris when using lawn tools, wear eye protection, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, close-fitting clothes and no jewelry.  Sturdy shoes are recommended, and ear plugs may be appropriate depending on how loud the lawn equipment is.
  • Before starting, remove objects from your work area that could cause injury or damage, such as sticks, glass or stones.
  • Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used.  Never let a child ride or operate a garden tractor or riding mower, even if the child is supervised.  And never assume children will remain where you last saw them.
  • Use extreme caution when backing up or approaching corners, shrubs, and trees.
  • Teenagers using power equipment should always be supervised by an adult.
  • Handle gasoline carefully. Never fill tanks while machinery is on or when equipment is still hot.  Of course, you should never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline or any gasoline-powered equipment.
  • Do not work with electric power tools in wet or damp conditions.  For protection against electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)
  • Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.

Lawn Chemical Safety Tips from Texas A&M University

  • If you use chemicals to control seeds or pest in your lawn, read the product label carefully so you understand the potential effects on humans, animals and the environment.  Follow all instructions.
  • Keep children and animals away from the application area, and protect your skin, eyes and nose during and after application.
  • Remember, use only the recommended amount. Using more of the chemical will not do a better job.
  • Ask yourself if you truly need to use a general pesticide. Is there a product that will specifically treat only the problem you need to solve?

From all of us at Insurance Advisors, Inc. Here’s to keeping both you and your lawn healthy this summer!

Also See:
Garage Safety Tips

Share The Road: Motorcycle and Automobile Safety Tips

Guy riding a motorcycle with bluejeans, leather jacket, helmet, and sunglasses.It’s that time of year when the sun is shining, the streets are dry and the temps beckon the motorcyclists to start riding again. This also means that motorcyclists and automobiles have to start sharing the roads with each other.  Here are some tips for both drivers and motorcyclists to help keep everyone safe on the roads this motorcycle season.

Ways for Motorcyclist to be seen in Traffic

  • Wear a brightly colored or white helmet
  • Wear a fluorescent, reflective safety vest or brightly colored riding jacket
  • Use strategic lane positioning
  • Flash your brakes at stops
  • Incorporate reflective materials on your motorcycle
  • Install additional driving lights
  • Install position and marker lights
  • Avoid riding at night, dawn and dusk
  • Install a louder horn
  • Avoid riding during low sun angle times
  • Avoid riding in poor weather conditions

Use reflective clothing for night time driving. Place reflective tape on your helmet and the backs of your boots to increase your visibility.

Women in driver seat of car with hand on the wheel looking over her shoulder.Make sure you are not in a blind spot or behind a large truck. Use your lane and make sure you are seen.  Always drive with your headlights on. Newer models of motorcycles have headlights that are hardwired to automatically come on when the engine is turned on.  Older models don’t have this feature so make sure you turn your headlights on!

 8 Things a Motorist Should Know About Motorcycles

  1. Over half of motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle.  Most often it is the fault of the car or truck driver, not the motorcyclist.
  2. Because of a motorcyclist’s narrow profile it can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spot (door or roof frames). Take a second look before changing lanes or turning at intersections.
  3. The smaller size of a motorcycle makes it appear farther away than it actually is.  A motorcycle’s speed can also be difficult to judge. Before turning at an intersection or into or out of a driveway, expect a motorcycle to be closer than it really is.
  4. Follow a motorcycle with the 3 to 4 second rule of distance between you and the motorcycle. Motorcyclists often slow down by down shifting or letting up on the throttle so you won’t see a brake light come on. When at an intersection a motorcyclist may slow down without any visual warning.
  5. If you see a motorcyclist in your rear-view mirror shifting in the lane behind you they have a reason for it. It is to minimize the effects from road debris, passing vehicles and the wind. It is not to show off, be reckless or to share the lane with you. They are also doing it to insure you know they are there!
  6. A motorcycle’s turn signals don’t turn off automatically after a turn or a lane change and sometimes a rider forgets to turn them off. So make sure a motorcyclist’s turn is for real.
  7. Motorcycles have great maneuverability at low speeds and good road conditions; however, under slippery conditions they have the same issues that automobiles have. In slippery road conditions you need to allow more space between you and the motorcyclist as they won’t be able to stop “on a dime.”
  8. When you see a motorcyclist keep in mind that it might be a friend, neighbor or relative under that helmet.

Things to Know When Buying Motorcycle Insurance

Insuring your motorcycle is not the same as insuring an automobile. In Minnesota you have personal injury protection of $20,000 in medical coverage on you automobile policy. However, this coverage is optional with motorcycle insurance and most companies will go to $10,000. Uninsured and under-insured motorist liability coverage is optional on a motorcycle policy as well. Bodily injury coverage for passengers is not offered on all motorcycle insurance policies. Make sure your policy includes this coverage. Tell your agent if you have added any special equipment such as saddle bags, special handle bars or anything else not factory installed. Most companies will allow some coverage for this type of equipment. Check with your agent to make sure the amount covers your additional equipment. If you are planning on pulling a trailer, make sure you have both trailer and towing coverage.

By: Christine Gaffron, Insurance Advisors, Inc.

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