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Andover, MN 55304
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Three Times You Shouldn’t File an Insurance Claim

Posted by on Apr 25, 2017 in Auto Insurance | Comments Off on Three Times You Shouldn’t File an Insurance Claim

Three Times You Shouldn’t File an Insurance Claim

  It’s common wisdom that one of the first steps after an accident is to get a hold of your insurance company. But are there exceptions to that rule? More importantly, what will a claim do to your insurance rate? Sometimes, after a car accident, it’s obvious that you’ll want to get ahold of your insurance company as quickly as possible. Major damage has been done, or someone is hurt. But the truth is, not all of the 5.25 million car collisions that happen in the United States annually are serious—in fact, the vast majority of them are non-fatal. That means that tens of thousands of folks are inconvenienced on a daily basis by a minor accident. Of the 5.25 million car accidents that happen annually, most are not fatal. Chances are, you’ve likely had someone offer to pay you out of pocket post-fender bender, or maybe you’ve even been the person begging, I mean “proposing”, to avoid getting insurance involved. People wanted to know: Is this ever a good idea? Are there some cases in which the possible rate increase might not be worth telling your insurance company about your accident over? So I thought I’d give some information on when to (and when NOT to) file a claim. First, a few Post-Accident Reminders We have gone over before on what to do after a car accident, but for this post, I’ll go over a few things I always remind my clients that are critical financially after an accident. A couple little tips I tell my clients about filing accidents: First of all, I always suggest attempting to file a police report or an incident report, so that the other party won’t be able to come back after the fact and try to twist the truth (I’ve seen that done all too many times). Second, I tell people to never discuss the details of the accident with anyone but the police and insurance company. It’s up to the police and insurance adjustors to determine the fault of the accident, not you. I have heard of too many people saying, “Wow, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to do X…”. Sound advice: Get the police and your insurance involved, and keep your mouth shut. But, I want to add, this isn’t always necessary, depending on the accident. …And One Giant Disclaimer I always tells my clients the same thing: Check your insurance policy documents. Many insurance policies state that you must notify the insurance company of anything that might lead to a potential claim. Also, there are many different state and insurance company specific time limits to filing a claim; so, always know of any applicable time limits.” And of course, if anyone is even remotely injured, always file a claim. More on that below. 3 Times it Makes Sense Not to Involve Your Insurance Company   1) It was a one-car accident and you’re not injured, or if you are, you’re able to pay for your medical expenses yourself.   2) You can afford to pay for the costs of damage to your vehicle—or the costs of the repair are close to or not much over the cost of your deductible. I have heard several stories just like this one: “I backing out of my driveway about sunset, with...

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Grilling Safety

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Grilling Safety

Grilling Safety

Summers mean backyard grilling – safely! 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 From Kingsford.com 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 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, call the fire department. If the leak stops when the grill and gas are 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...

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Increased Driving Costs

Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 in Auto Insurance | Comments Off on Increased Driving Costs

Increased Driving Costs

  Recent Trends Boost Costs for Minnesota Drivers   Does it seem like driving has become more expensive in Minnesota in recent years? It likely has. Since 2014, the U.S. has seen more new cars on the road, and those cars are driving more miles than in years past. The severity of traffic-related accidents has grown worse, and insurance claims for bodily injury have become more expensive. Together, these factors are increasing the cost of driving for just about every car owner. More new cars: New car sales hit a new record in 2016, with 17.55 million vehicles sold, almost six percent from 2014, according to recent study. That’s good for the economy. And, the safety, technology and convenience features that get better every year are good for drivers. Still, new cars can be more expensive to repair or replace, and all that technology doesn’t come cheap. So, the cost of accident repairs is also increasing. More miles driven: Encouraged by greater employment and lower gas prices, those new cars, along with the older ones, are driving more miles. Whether commuters driving in to Minneapolis each day, or families making the trip to their favorite vacation spot, U.S. drivers drove 3.2 trillion miles in 2016, according to the Federal Highway Administration. That’s another record, and it’s also highest number of miles driven since Americans logged 3 trillion miles in 2007, just before the recession. Of course, the more miles driven, the greater the potential for accidents and the need for repairs. Traffic deaths increase: Any traffic fatality is one too many, but the U.S. registered a six percent increase in annual traffic-related deaths from 2015 to 2016 and a 14% increase since 2014, the biggest two-year jump in more than five decades. Half of those who died were not wearing seat belts, a third of the deaths were due to drunk drivers or speeding and at least one in 10 involved distraction. It’s also worth noting that fatalities for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists increased more in 2016 than those for auto drivers and passengers. It’s a heartbreaking trend that’s both dangerous and costly. Medical costs rising: From 2005 to 2013, the average cost for a bodily injury liability claim rose 32.1 percent, according to the Insurance Research Council. These increasing costs have been attributed to a number of factors, including the rising severity of accidents, and the rising cost of medical care. And, they come at a time when the frequency of such claims has been declining. Distracted driving: Although using a mobile phone while driving is restricted, if not prohibited, in many states, cell phones and texting continue to be a serious cause of accidents. We don’t know just how serious this problem is, because accident reports often don’t mention if mobile phone use was a contributing factor. But, cell phones have brought greater awareness to the larger category termed “distracted driving,” activities that take the driver’s attention away from the road. Distracted driving means using a cell phone or texting while operating a car, but can also refer to eating while driving, operating your car’s navigation system and even conversing with passengers. The AAA Foundation points to federal estimates that distracted driving contributes to 16 percent of the nation’s fatal crashes, about 5,000 deaths annually. All of...

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Protection During a Hailstorm

Posted by on Mar 22, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Protection During a Hailstorm

Protection During a Hailstorm

  Staying safe on the road during a hailstorm It may sound surprising, but there are approximately 3,000 hailstorms in the United States each year. The size of hail can widely vary – from golf-ball size to softball size. And when it starts building up size, hail can cause not just severe property and vehicle damage, but also bodily harm and even death. On average, hailstorms annually cause over $1 billion in damage to property, approximately 1,500 injuries and 80 deaths annually. One of the most frightening places to be during a hailstorm is on the road in your car. Obviously your vehicle is at great risk of damage, but even more importantly, you are in danger in the event you can’t see well enough to drive or your windows are broken in by the power of the storm. At Baker Insurance Brokers, we want to ensure you, your loved ones, and your vehicle stay safe this hail season. Here are some pointers for navigating a hailstorm while on the roads in Minnesota. Make sure you have a blanket in your car at all times. It can help protect you from glass injuries in the event the hail breaks your windows or windshield. Turn on your low-beam headlights, and slow down. Make sure you have more distance than usual in front of you so you have ample space to brake if necessary. Turn on the local weather radio station to stay apprised of the status of storms. If there is enough space on the shoulder of the road, pull over. Turn on your hazard lights, regardless of whether you are pulled over or moving slowly; this will help other vehicles to see you and avoid accidents. If there is a covered shelter to pull underneath, do so; this will reduce the damage sustained by your vehicle. At Baker Insurance Brokers, we hope you stay hailstorm-free this season! Contact Us! At Baker Insurance Brokers, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at (763) 316-6632 or send us a note at [email protected] We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is...

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Get Ready to Safely “Spring Forward”

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Get Ready to Safely “Spring Forward”

Get Ready to Safely “Spring Forward”

  Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 12, 2017 for most places in the United States, so don’t forget to set your clock forward one hour. We here at Baker Insurance Brokers want to remind you it’s also a great time to improve your family’s safety.   Be safe in your home Health and safety agencies often use the approach of Daylight Saving Time to remind people to change the batteries in their smoke alarms. The American Red Cross suggests you test your smoke alarms and talk with your family about your fire escape plan. Whether you live in Minnesota or elsewhere, practice your plan at least twice a year. Daylight Saving Time is also a great time to check your emergency preparedness kit to make sure it’s fully stocked with fresh supplies.   Don’t forget about carbon monoxide According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 people die annually in the US from carbon monoxide poisoning. The CDC recommends changing the batteries in your CO detectors when moving your clocks forward on March 12th. The CDC says the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Visit the CDC Website for ways to prevent carbon monoxide exposure. We here at Baker Insurance Brokers hope these tips help and that you’ll consider sharing them with the people you care about to remind them to refresh their family’s safety plan as well.   Contact Us! For further questions and assistance, please contact...

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Spring Cleaning Tips

Posted by on Mar 3, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring Cleaning Tips

  Of course, because spring is a time for new beginnings, cleaning and organization around the house are very popular this time of year. If you’re ready to tackle that monumental chore, read on for some helpful information. (And if you’re so tidy and organized throughout the year that spring cleaning isn’t a big chore for you, well, keep that to yourself! Unless you want your friends and neighbors to be jealous, that is.)   Take it one room at a time. Deciding to clean or organize your entire home can quickly get overwhelming. If you focus on just one area or room, then move to another only when you’re finished, you’ll likely work more efficiently. Follow the six-month rule. Generally, if you haven’t used something in six months (with the exception of seasonal items), it’s a good idea to consider throwing it away or donating it. Don’t forget the kitchen. Just like other rooms, your kitchen likely has things that haven’t been used in some time — and this includes food in the refrigerator or freezer. Give those appliances a thorough cleaning and get rid of anything you won’t be eating. Set yourself up for success. Paper clutter is something we all could probably cut back on pretty easily. Setting up a few recycling bins throughout the house gives you a convenient alternative to just setting that old magazine or paperwork down somewhere and watching the pile grow. Make some money! Of course, the spring cleaning garage sale is a tradition for many homeowners, and can be a great way to bring in some extra income. Talk about a win-win situation — you get rid of stuff you don’t need, and someone pays you for it! Stay safe. When you’re cleaning or maintaining your home, be mindful of the physical risks involved. Lift with your leg muscles, not your back. Avoid prolonged repetitive motions. Use ladders, lawnmowers and other dangerous tools with caution.   Contact Us!   For further questions and assistance, please contact Baker Insurance Brokers at (763) 316-6632 or...

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Speeding

Posted by on Feb 22, 2017 in Auto Insurance | Comments Off on Speeding

Speeding

  Slow down, save money … and lives   How many times has the following happened to you? You’re speeding down I-94 when you spot a MN State Patrol car. You quickly hit the brakes and slow down, relieved that you didn’t get caught … this time. Now take a minute to think what could have happened if you hadn’t been so lucky. First, your speeding could have hurt somebody — or yourself. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed is a contributing factor in more than 30% of fatal crashes and nearly 20% of non-injury accidents. That’s a big risk to take. Second, getting a ticket could put a big hit on your wallet. Of course, that’s not nearly as important as the health and safety impacts of speeding, but in this economic climate, more and more people are watching every dime. And who wants to write a check to the state for speeding? At Baker Insurance Brokers, we want you to be safe. We also want to make sure you get a great price on the insurance coverage you need. Thankfully, easing up on that lead foot can help accomplish both. How a ticket impacts your insurance If you get a speeding ticket, that violation can stay on your driving record for three to five years. And because your driving history plays a large part in determining how much you’ll pay for insurance, the fewer tickets you have, the better. Different carriers have different policies when it comes to checking your driving record and dealing with drivers who have violations. If you receive a ticket, and it’s your first in several years, you may not see much of an increase — depending on the severity of the offense. In fact, many states will allow you to enter a deferment program if it’s your first ticket, keeping the violation off your record if you complete a safety course and avoid further tickets. But that second ticket (or third, or fourth …) can bring some serious financial penalties. While there are too many variables to say specifically how much each additional violation will increase your premium, it’s safe to say that the jump will be significant. And unfortunately, you can be stuck paying those higher premiums for years. Significant violations can have a bigger impact as well. If you’re going 20 miles per hour over the limit, you’ll likely pay more than someone with a ticket for 5 mph over. Insurance companies know that speeding increases the risk of accidents, and they’ll view you as an increased risk — for good reason. In fact, if you have a serious violation, or too many tickets, your insurance carrier could drop your coverage altogether. For younger drivers (typically under the age of 25), it’s especially important to avoid tickets, because companies already view these drivers as riskier than the general population. And keep in mind, even if your premium doesn’t go up, having a violation on your record could prevent you from receiving the lowest possible rate on your insurance. Of course, we think the best policy is simply to obey speed limits. Not only will you avoid tickets and possible insurance hassles, but your risk of accidents will decrease. And you’ll get better gas mileage. Sounds like a...

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Traffic Laws You Didn’t Know You’re Breaking!

Posted by on Feb 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Traffic Laws You Didn’t Know You’re Breaking!

Traffic Laws You Didn’t Know You’re Breaking!

  Once you pass your driving test, you may think you know all the rules of the road, like not crossing a double yellow line if the line is solid on your side. A lot of traffic laws seem like common sense, but we did some digging on unexpected traffic laws and wanted to share a few with you! When approaching and before passing an authorized emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated that is parked or otherwise stopped on or next to a street or highway having two lanes in the same direction, the driver of a vehicle shall safely move the vehicle to the lane farthest away from the emergency vehicle. The vehicles listed as emergency are: patrol vehicles, ambulance, fire/rescue, utility company vehicle, tow trucks or construction vehicle with their lights on. Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order which blends the exhaust noise into the overall vehicle noise and is in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise, and no person shall use a muffler cutout, bypass, or similar device upon a motor vehicle on a street or highway. You can be stopped and cited for wearing your seat belt improperly (like moving your shoulder harness around your back or under your arm). This also applies to child restraints used incorrectly. Cigarette filters or cigarette butts are specifically listed in the littering statutes, making them illegal to jettison from your vehicle. Snowplow headlights cannot be used on a vehicle unless the plow is attached to the vehicle as well. According to the law, once the plow is removed, the auxiliary plow lights must be removed or covered with opaque material. This also applies to flood lights attached to the top of trucks. You cannot change lanes within 100 feet of an underpass or tunnel, railroad crossing, intersection within a city, or intersection outside of the city (if it is marked with warning signs) You cannot pass a vehicle on the right in a bypass lane if the person is not turning left. You cannot pass a left-turning vehicle on the right unless there is bypass lane. The posted speed limits are for good road conditions and clear visibility, when there is ice or snow on the ground or there is fog present, the driver must use due care in operating a vehicle A right turn onto a multi-lane road must be made into the right lane. Prior to changing lanes, you must establish yourself in that lane and signal your merge. Same goes for left turns on a multi-lane road, it must be made into the left lane. Prior to changing lanes, you must establish yourself in that lane and signal your merge. All turns must be signaled at least 100 feet prior to the turn. You can get an open bottle ticket if you have taken one beverage out of a pack or case, not only a physically open bottle, and it is within the vehicle. They must be place in the trunk of the car or bed of a truck. It is illegal for drivers of all ages to compose, read, or send electronic messages or access the Internet on a wireless device when the vehicle is in motion or part of traffic. This includes...

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Collision vs. Comprehensive Car Insurance

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in Auto Insurance | Comments Off on Collision vs. Comprehensive Car Insurance

Collision vs. Comprehensive Car Insurance

  So what’s the difference between collision and comprehensive car insurance, and why is that important to me as a driver? These are two often misunderstood terms, but they have grand implications for coverage when it comes to getting reimbursed for damages from auto insurance. The protection of your vehicle ultimately depends on the type of accidents you get into, and what you’ll get reimbursed for. Together with liability coverage, these are the two of the three most common types of auto insurance, and tend to work hand-in-hand to repair or replace most of the damages to your car, so it’s important to know the difference, and make sure you’re adequately covered. Collision Car Insurance: What is Collision Coverage? Collision car insurance refers to protection for your car when it is involved in a crash with another vehicle or a stationary object. Most car crashes and auto accidents fall under this kind of insurance policy. The types of damages include crashing into another vehicle, another vehicle colliding with yours, or running into a streetlight, pole, or some other stationary object. It will cover the cost of repairs or replacements to your own car (liability coverage and insurance takes care of damages to other people’s property). Comprehensive Car Insurance: What is Comprehensive Coverage? Comprehensive car insurance is usually overshadowed by its better known cousin, collision insurance, but it’s just as important. Otherwise known as “other than collision” or “comprehensive coverage”, the phrase is a bit of a misnomer. It actually doesn’t give you complete coverage, contrary to what its name might indicate. Comprehensive car insurance really just covers damages to your vehicle not caused by a collision, and car owners can be surprised by how much this can encompass. Read below for examples of damages, and an evaluation of whether you need comprehensive insurance for your vehicle. Collision vs. Comprehensive Car Insurance: What is the Difference? The key difference in collision vs. comprehensive coverage is to a certain extent the element of the car driver’s control. Collision insurance will typically cover events within a motorist’s control, or when another vehicle collides with your car. Comprehensive coverage generally falls under “acts of God or nature”, that are typically out of your control when driving – a spooked deer, a heavy hailstorm, a carjacking, etc. Let’s take an example of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged portions of the east coast in October of 2012, to illustrate the differences of collision vs. comprehensive coverage. You can easily imagine the type of devastation to cars, among other things, that occurred during the week of Hurricane Sandy. Let’s take two unfortunate but likely events: the damage from a heavy tree branch falling on your car, and crashing into a tree when swerving to avoid a falling tree trunk. Generally speaking, because you as a car driver have no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car, this kind of accident would likely get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, collision damage would pay for repairs to your car. Even though the primary and intervening cause was a falling tree part, the ultimate destruction to your car came from you driving a car into a stationary object. Regardless of which event hypothetically occurred to you, you can see why...

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Liability Insurance

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in Auto Insurance | Comments Off on Liability Insurance

Liability Insurance

  Unlike health insurance, car insurance policies are actually made up of several different types of coverage each with its own premium and benefits. Motorists can often select different coverage amounts for the different components so its important for consumers to understand what is being covered to construct the best policy package. While other benefits exist, the following is a review of the most popular types of auto insurance. Liability Car Insurance Liability car insurance helps to cover financial damages to other parties when you are at-fault in a car accident. Liability auto insurance is actually the combination of two types of coverage: Bodily Injury (BI) and Property Damage (PD). The first pays for expenses that result from injuries sustained an accident while the latter serves to compensate for damaged property. In order to drive in most states, motorists must have some form of liability coverage or demonstrate another form of financial responsibility. This is to ensure that drivers that end up hurting others or damaging property can property compensate the other party. When purchasing liability insurance, consumers will usually be quoted limits broken down into 3 numbers in the following fashion: 100/300/100.  These numbers, also known as ‘split limits’ indicate the maximum amount that your carrier will pay out for bodily injury coverage for one individual, bodily injury coverage for all people involved in the accident, and property damage respectively. Any damages that exceed these limits will have to be paid out of your own pocket, so its important to have sufficient coverage. Bodily Injury Liability Bodily injury liability coverage (BI) is the most common type of auto insurance because it’s required in almost all states. It covers you in the event you cause an accident that injures or kills others. Your car insurance company steps in to pay for the other party’s medical expenses, lost wages, or funerals. BI even covers any legal fees you incur if the other party decides to sue you in court. Protection is provided by your insurer up to the BI liability limits in your policy; any bills beyond that will be your liability. Minnesota require BI limits of $30,000; this can range significantly from state to state. What works for you should be based on an assessment of what assets you have at risk and your budget. People usually get bodily injury liability and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) mixed up. PIP coverage entails your insurance company paying for any injuries that happen to you or your passengers in an accident. More below. Property Damage Property Damage (PD) insurance covers any sort of damage that you may cause to someone else’s property. As an example, if you were to lose control of your car and run into your neighbor’s house, property damage insurance would cover your liability. Likewise, if you were to rear-end someone’s car due to no fault of their own, property damage insurance would also cover their vehicle. It’s up to each state to determine the minimum amount of PD insurance each driver is required to carry. But remember, while it may be tempting to only comply with minimum PD coverage, any property damage amount exceeding your liability minimum will have to be paid out of your own pocket! Minnesota’s minimum property damage coverage is only $10,000, which does not get far if you...

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