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This Month’s Tip – Avoid Deadly Clothes Dryer Fires

This Month’s Tip – Avoid Deadly Clothes Dryer Fires

Avoid Deadly Clothes Dryer Fires

Every year, there are nearly 14,000 residential fire losses in which the source of the fire was a clothes dryer or vent, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Dryers are the third most common type of equipment involved in fires, ranking behind stoves and fixed area heaters—such fires peak in the winter months.

Clothes dryers can catch fire due to excessive lint build-up in the exhaust pipe or inside the dryer, a build-up often out of sight. Taking the steps outlined below can reduce the chance of the dryer starting a fire.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the vent pipe.
  • Do not overload the clothes dryer.
  • Do not dry anything containing foam, rubber, or plastic (e.g., bathroom rug with a rubber backing).
  • Remove and clean the lint screen before each use. Replace the screen if it is loose or damaged.
  • Keep all combustibles away from the clothes dryer.
  • Keep the dryer vent clean and free of obstruction. Check for a clogged vent if the dryer does not dry clothes efficiently. Replace an older foil accordion-style duct with a rigid metal one.
  • Do not run the dryer while away from home or while asleep.
  • Hire a qualified technician to periodically inspect your gas clothes dryer.

The “Tip You Can Use” is a personal insurance and risk management tip that you can publish on your website, include in a client newsletter, or otherwise send to your clients (with appropriate attribution to IRMI). This allows you to provide helpful advice to your clients and include content on your website that will improve its search engine ranking. We provide a new tip each month and make the link available for Personal Lines Pilot subscribers.

Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.

Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s Insurance

Sandi Taylor Hometown Insurance - Bloomington Renter's Insurance

If you’re looking to rent an apartment, make sure looking into renters insurance is at the top of your list. Yes, your landlord has an insurance policy, but more often than not, that policy won’t cover your belongings should there be a theft or fire. Here are six things to consider when you’re ready to purchase a renters policy:

  1. Estimate how much your stuff is worth.

    “There is value to everything when it comes to renters insurance,” says Dave Freeman, vice president and regional officer, Personal Lines Underwriting, at ERIE. “Most people underestimate the value of their contents, but once they itemize them, they realize there’s a dramatic difference from what they initially thought.”

  2. Decide between actual cash value and replacement cost.

    Actual cash value takes depreciation into account when calculating the worth of your belongings. So if you bought a brand new laptop for $1,000 five years ago, you’ll only be reimbursed for what the laptop is worth in today’s dollars minus depreciation. Say it’s only worth $500 today, then that’s all you’d get.

    Replacement cost is a better option: It reimburses you for the original value of the item (or one of similar kind and quality at today’s replacement cost if the item is no longer available) and costs only slightly more than actual cash value.

  3. Consider earthquakes and other disasters.

    Depending on where you live, your ERIE agent can tell you more about adding these extra coverages to your renters insurance policy.

  4. Choose a deductible.

    Think about it this way by asking yourself these questions: “How much premium savings do I want from picking a higher deductible? How much could I afford to pay out of pocket should I experience a loss?” This will help you determine what deductible is right for you.

  5. Think about extra protection for any valuables.

    ERIE offers $3,000 worth of coverage for any one item that’s stolen. If you own pricey items like jewelry, art, furs or silverware, you’ll probably want to add an endorsement to your renters insurance policy to make sure they’re fully covered.

  6. Pick a liability limit

    “Think about all the ways you could accidentally hurt someone,” says Freeman, “and you’ll see there are many.” If your dog bites another animal or person, you’ll be held responsible, for example. That kind of lawsuit can get pretty costly if the injured person has any long-lasting physical scars or impairments. (If you’re concerned about having enough liability protection, consider an umbrella policy that offers an extra $1 to $5 million in coverage.)

Finally, remember that no matter where or what you’re renting, your ERIE Agent is always there to help you get the right coverage at the right price. In the meantime, check out the renters insurance page to help get the conversation started with your agent.

What’s even better? Purchasing both a renters and an auto policy can qualify you for a multi-policy discount. In some cases, the discount actually pays for the renters policy.*

*Discounts subject to eligibility criteria and rates and rules in effect at the time of purchase. For additional information visit or your local ERIE Agent. Individual policies may differ.


A Q&A with Life Insurance Awareness Month Spokesperson Danica Patrick

A Q&A with Life Insurance Awareness Month Spokesperson Danica Patrick

bloomington insurance agent - danica interview bannerBy: Erie Insurance

1. You’re a consummate—and fierce—racing professional, but everyone has to start somewhere. Do you remember your first race?

It’s actually quite unforgettable. My sister and I started to race Go Karts when I was 10, and she was 8. The first time we took them out, it was in the big parking lot behind my parents’ business. We set up cans in a circle so we could do laps. But once there my brake pedal fell to the floor, and I had no idea what to do. Instead of turning or spinning out, I just went straight and at the last minute veered to miss a construction trailer and crashed into a concrete wall. I twisted the Go Kart, flew back, got bruised legs—the whole deal. It didn’t scare me away, but by all means my first racing experience did not go well.

2. When did you first get life insurance—or at least consider it?

It was an easy decision for me to get life insurance at a young age. I participate in a risky sport where I drive 200 miles per hour with concrete walls around me. Plus, I’ve been fortunate to have a successful career from the beginning, and I want my family to be looked after if something were to happen to me, especially since my parents sacrificed so much for me to get where I am.

But going a bit deeper, both my parents lost their dads when they were teenagers, and neither had any life insurance. My mom was one of five kids, and remembers that her mom had to sell most of the farm off as a result. When my sister and I came along, my parents got life insurance. They wanted to make sure, based on their experience, that we would be taken care of if something happened to them. That certainly stuck with me.

3. People might be thinking, “Well, I’ll never be racing at Talladega. I don’t need life insurance.”

Granted, my situation is unique. Most people don’t drive race cars for a living, so I think it’s probably easy for them to put off getting life insurance. You think you have time. You’re not expecting anything to happen, but it can. A good friend of mine in racing just lost his car chief to a heart attack at 34 years old. That’s crazy. Bad things can happen. That’s just life. And that’s why life insurance is just an easy and smart way to eliminate risk from your life.

I also think there’s a misconception that only the primary breadwinner needs life insurance. The other partner may be doing the cooking and cleaning, running the kids around all sorts of things that help the family operate. If something happens to them, those things still need to be done, and there might not be enough time in the day for the other half to take care of those things or the money to hire someone to do it. So it’s smart for both to have life insurance.

4. What’s it like to be a woman in a male-dominated sport?

It’s challenging to answer that because that’s all I’ve ever been, but what does it mean? It means anything is possible. It means you’re only as good as your goals and your aspirations. So, shoot for the stars and land on the moon! That’s my plan.

5. We all want to know what you’re like behind the wheel when you’re just driving down the road.

Well, I have to admit, I’m pretty aggressive on the regular road. I’ve been told I need to take that aggression from the road to the racetrack more often. So I’m practicing that! It’ll pay off a lot better in my job.

6. Any parting advice?

When it comes to life insurance, think about it this way: If you were to pass away, it’s going to be awful for those left behind. There are people who are going to mourn and suffer—perhaps financially as well, and whatever you can do to make that transition as easy as possible is the kind thing to do, the unselfish thing to do.

bloomington insurance agent - danica

Research Reveals That Red Light Cameras Save Lives

Research Reveals That Red Light Cameras Save Lives
Amanda Prischak By: Amanda Prischak | August 19, 2016

Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras are becoming more and more popular since they first appeared in New York City back in the 1990s. And research confirms that this is a very good thing when it comes to safety and saving lives.

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) revealed that red light cameras in 79 U.S. cities saved nearly 1,300 lives in 2014. This finding builds on a previous study showing that red light driving crashes decreased by 21 percent in cities that had red light cameras.

On the flip side, crashes caused by running red lights increased 30 percent in cities that stopped using red light cameras.

Despite the growing body of research showing that red light cameras do indeed save lives, the total number of communities with red light cameras fell to 467 in 2015 after peaking at 533 in 2012.

Learn more about these findings and numbers and how the IIHS calculated them by reading the source article on the IIHS website.

Does ERIE cover a UAV?

Does ERIE cover a UAV?

Bloomington Insurance Agent - UAV
I got a drone for the holidays. Does ERIE cover a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) under a homeowners or renters policies?

It’s no secret that drones-a.k.a. an UAV or unmanned aerial vehicle-are exploding in popularity. The Consumer Electronics Association reports that 700,000 drones were shipped in the United States in 2015-a 63 percent increase from the year before.

If you’re someone who owns a UAV, you may be wondering whether ERIE would cover yours in the event it got damaged or hurt someone or their property.

The good news is that ERIE does cover drones that are used for personal use under both its homeowners and renters policies. ERIE has historically covered model airplanes, and a UAV meets the definition of a model airplane. So coverage for drones would be provided under your ERIE homeowners insurance, renters insurance and personal catastrophe liability (commonly known as umbrella insurance) policies. (Coverage, however would not apply if you used your drone as a part of your business operations. Other policy conditions or exclusions could also apply to limit or exclude coverage in specific circumstances.)

If you have specific questions about your drone being covered, want to learn more about how your coverage works, or to get a quote for new coverage, contact an Erie Insurance agent in your community. In the meantime, happy flying!

Are You Smart with Your Smartphone?

Are You Smart with Your Smartphone?

bloomington insurance agent - smart with smart phone articleGreat Article – thought we’d share especially if you are in crowds around the holidays  –

“A Dallas insurance professional was recently mugged in broad daylight at a Dallas Area Rapid Transit station. As he was checking his iPhone for messages, two teenagers ran up to him, grabbed his brand-new phone, knocked him over, and sprinted away. He had 12 stitches on his face and 7 on his arm. His knee
was also severely bruised. A Dallas police officer told him that theyfield 2-3 incidents like this per day.

A 48-year-old Dallas woman was looking at her cell phone as she began to cross the street a couple of months ago. She was fatally struck by a motor vehicle, with two witnesses stating that she failed to look for oncoming traffic before stepping into the intersection.

The driver of a Tennessee school bus that crashed last December, resulting in the death of two students and a teacher’s aide, was reportedly receiving and sending texts just before the accident. The US Department of Transportation reports that cell phones are involved in 1.6 million auto crashes each year.
causing hundreds ofthousands of injuries and costing 6,000 lives.

With these unfortunate situations in mind, here are some cell phone safety tips to remember and share with others:

  • Keep your cell phone out of sight while in public settings. When there are lots of people milling about, your cell phone should not be in your hands.
  • Put your cell phone in your pocket or your purse if you are a pedestrian. Paying close attention to your surroundings is vital when walking or jogging the streets of a city.
  • Do not write, send or read a text message while driving. These actions put you (and those around you in harm’s way. You breaking the law, especially in school zones.
  • Share your location mindfully. More apps now allow you to pinpoint your friends’ locations. If you use an app like this, do so only with trusted friends and family.
  • Use your smartphone’s security features and activate the “find my phone feature. Check out these links for details

Apple device: Find My iPhone Activation Lock
Android device: Turn Android Device Manager on or off

Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI
copyright  International Risk Management Institute, Inc.”

Six Questions to Ask an Insurance Agent

This is a great article – wanted to share it with everyone.   Sandi


“By: Carolyn Sennett

When your life changes, your insurance often needs to change with it. Yet it’s not always clear what kind of protection you, your family or your business really need.

Enter your insurance agent. He or she is there to help you get everything squared away.

Not sure how to start? Here are six questions to ask an insurance agent.

1. Do I need additional insurance if I’m remodeling or adding on to my home?

In some cases, remodeling projects can increase your home’s value. If they do, you’ll want to adjust your insurance coverage so your home’s reconstruction cost is fully protected. Your insurance agent can advise you in this situation. He or she can also let you know more about the kinds of insurance a contractor should have in place before work begins.

2. What coverage do I need for my home-based business?

From inventory to libel issues to customers visiting your home, home-based businesses definitely need coverage. Depending on the nature of your home-based business, you may need a simple endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy or a new policy.

3. My family is growing and changing. What coverage should I consider?

Life insurance is something most families need. The primary reason most people buy life insurance is to cover the financial effects of an unexpected or untimely death. To get a rough idea of how much you’d need, check out this life insurance calculator.*

If a teenager in your home is learning how to drive, you’ll definitely want additional auto insurance.

A typical homeowners policy covers personal belongings and furnishings up to certain policy limits. For higher-valued items, such as a diamond ring, a rare piece of art or expensive electronic equipment, you may want to expand your protection with higher policy limits or extra coverage.

4. I’m fresh out of school and new to the workforce. What coverage do I need?

If you’ve left home and are renting an apartment, you’re no longer covered by your parents’ homeowners’ policy. Instead, you’ll need renters insurance to cover your belongings and more.

When it comes to auto insurance, you may be tempted to buy a bare bones policy to save money. That is a risky move because it may not give you enough protection. If your insurance policy doesn’t cover all the damages, your savings and future wages could be at stake.

If you have student loans or debts, ask an insurance agent about life insurance. It may not be something you want to think about, but you want enough life insurance coverage to cover final expenses like a funeral service if something were to happen to you.

If someone like a parent cosigned on your loan, life insurance can help them avoid getting stuck with the bill. The good news? Life insurance is far cheaper than most people think—and that’s especially true when you’re young and healthy.

5. A friend was sued after a car accident. How can I make sure I’m protected against something like this?

Your insurance policy already includes liability coverage, yet state minimums are almost never enough for most drivers. Having too little liability coverage put you and your assets at risk.

Personal catastrophe liability (PCL) coverage (commonly known as “umbrella” coverage) provides an extra layer of liability protection over and above your auto and homeowners policies in the event that you (or a covered family member) are sued. For most people, an extra $1 million in coverage costs less than $20 a month. Your insurance agent can review your auto insurance policy limits and tell you more about this coverage.

6. How can I save money on my insurance?

Nearly all insurers offer price breaks on coverage based on having a safe driving record and bundling your auto and homeowners coverage. There are also other ways to lower your bill.

It’s important, though, to be cautious about selecting an insurance company based solely on price. Instead, seek out companies with reputations for excellent customer service, strong financial standing and a reputation for handling claims quickly and fairly.”

No matter what stage of life that you’re in, seek the advice of an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance Agent. An insurance agent knows how to help you find the right coverage at the right price.

* Erie Family Life insurance policies are not available in New York.

Link to original article:

Have a Safe Summer

Have a Safe Summer

Bloomington Insurance - girls on a bikeYour back yard might be a fun place for the kids and the rest of the family. But is it safe? Each year, about 51,000 children are injured on backyard playground equipment alone. And thousands of others are injured or even die doing other activities. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to have a safe summer on land, air or water.

    • Swing sets: Opt for one with seats made of something soft instead of wood or metal. Install the set on a level surface and consider setting it in concrete. Place energy-absorbent material like sand, rubber or mulch underneath the set. Periodically check to make sure no screws or bolts are uncapped, rusted or broken. On hot days, check the temperature of slides and swings to prevent burns.

Trampoline: Make sure your model has shock-absorbing pads that fully cover the frame, hooks and springs. Refrain from using a ladder that could give small children unsupervised access to the trampoline. Only allow one person on at a time and have a no-somersaults policy. Make sure you buy and-on cage enclosure that keeps anyone from bouncing off. Replace the fabric and springs regularly.

    • Pool: Install fencing that’s at least five feet high and features self-locking, self-closing gates. Regularly check and repair the pool’s drain and suction covers to prevent accidental entrapment. Never let anyone swim alone, and make sure children are well supervised. Have a pool hook, plenty of lifevests, a ring buoy with line and a phone close by. Consider learning CPR and use a pool cover when the fun’s done. Ban head-first dives.

Tree houses: Choose a strong, sturdy tree that’s far away from any electrical wires. Refrain from placing the house any higher than 10 feet. Make sure the path up is a solid barrier wall that’s at least 38 inches tall and don’t hang any ropes or chains—they pose strangulation risks. Spread lots of mulch underneath the tree house. Each spring, check for any rotting or wear on the tree house and branches supporting it.

  • Wood surfaces: While cancer causing arsenic-based wood was phased out in 2003, your wood structures may contain it and other harmful chemicals. Stay safe by sealing decks every year with penetrating deck treatments. Refrain from pressure washing or using any deck washing treatments as they can turn wood toxic; instead, clean with disposable rags and soap and water. Err on the side of caution with picnic tables and cover with a tablecloth.

An Umbrella for Extra Protection
Even the most safety-minded among us could someday face a personal injury or liability lawsuit. That’s a scary prospect since payments for hospital bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering, and litigation could potentially wipe out your entire net worth and even your future earnings.

Fortunately, ERIE offers affordable Personal Catastrophe Liability (PCL) policies. Also known as an umbrella policy, a PCL policy adds an extra $1 to $5 million to both your auto and your homeowners liability limits. A $1 million PCL policy typically offers the average person adequate protection for about $150 or $200 more per year. To learn more, contact your ERIE Insurance Agent.

Tips for safe winter driving

Tips for safe winter driving

Bloomington Auto Insurance - Tips for safe winter driving

  • Check your battery
  • Check your cooling system
  • Fill your windshield washer reservoir
  • Check your windshield wipers and defrosters
  • Check your floor mats. Crumpled mats can lead to pedal interference.
  • Inspect your tires
  • Make sure you are alert while driving
  • Check your headlights and taillights. Make sure all are working and clean.
  • Keep some kitty litter in your vehicle. It can help provide traction if needed.

Why You Need a Personal Umbrella Policy

Why You Need a Personal Umbrella Policy

One of the most important insurance policies you can buy is the personal umbrella policy, but many people are unaware they need one. This policy provides high limits of liability to protect you against a catastrophic liability loss. For example, a major car accident may injure numerous people or cause head injuries or death that will result in liability far in excess of the limits typically purchased in a personal auto policy. An umbrella policy sits on top of the auto and homeowners policies to provide higher limits of protection. In addition to providing higher limits, this policy normally pays for some losses not covered by the underlying policy, such as legitimate allegations concerning libel or slander.

Personal umbrella policies are growing in popularity. In the past, only wealthy individuals and families purchased this coverage. Today, middle-income families also may procure this policy for protection in our society’s increasingly litigious climate. As the tendency to sue for damages rises and awards granted by the courts grow, the personal umbrella policy is increasingly seen as an insurance necessity, rather than a luxury. It is especially attractive because of its relatively low cost.

In particular, people with certain characteristics or who engage in certain activities have a higher-than-average need for a personal umbrella policy. These situations include the following:

Your total assets are greater than your underlying liability limits.
You are financially responsible for the actions of a young, inexperienced driver.
You live in an exclusive and affluent neighborhood.
You have a high-profile career or high income.
You frequently host guests on your property.
Your residence includes a swimming pool.
You own waterfront property, a farm, or a ranch.
You own watercraft, aircraft, or off-road vehicles.
You own numerous rental properties.
You engage in extensive international travel for pleasure.

Indeed, one could even argue that a lower-income person needs an umbrella policy. Consider an apartment dweller who inadvertently starts a fire while smoking in bed, and the fire damages adjoining apartments. The smoker’s liability exposure could be enormous in such a situation. So, once again, a personal umbrella policy is a wise purchase for people in nearly all income groups.

Copyright 2014
International Risk Management Institute, Inc.