Top 10 insurance discounts you may be missing

Maybe you're the type of person who likes to clip coupons, or perhaps you find yourself driving across town to save two cents on a gallon of gas. It's a good feeling to save a few bucks. Chances are, you can save money on your home and auto insurance premium, too.

While all insurance carriers may not offer these deals, you should ask your agent about these top ten insurance discounts:
  1. Valued policyholder discount. You're rewarded for being a loyal customer. The longer you stay with your insurance carrier, the more you save, regardless of your claims history.
  2. Select pay discount. Save when you pay through electronic funds transfer (EFT), or when you pay your premium in full.
  3. Non-smokers discount. Here's another reason to quit. Not only are non-smokers healthier, they also are less likely to have a house fire. You can receive this discount when all residents in your home are non-smokers.
  4. Hybrid vehicle discount. Earn this credit by owning or leasing a hybrid car.
  5. Good student discount. Receive this discount if your policy covers a good student driver. The student must be be age 16-24, go to school full time, and have a 3.0 grade point average or better.
  6. Away at school discount. Policyholders with drivers on their policies will receive a discount if the driver attends school 100 or more miles from home.
  7. Accident prevention course discount. Provides savings to a driver age 55 or older who completes a state-approved driver improvement course.
  8. Claim free/violation free discount. Qualify for this discount if you've been accident free for the past three years and have no moving violations.
  9. Package discount. Sometimes referred to as "bundling," this discount automatically applies if you have both your vehicle(s) and home insured on one policy.
  10. Umbrella coverage discount. Reduce your home premium when an umbrella policy is added to your coverage.
SECURA is among the carriers that provides these and other discounts to its MILE-STONE Gold or Basic home and auto or apartment and condo policyholders. If you've had your policy for several years, it's a good idea to check with your agent, who can update your policy, and help you discover if you qualify for these and other discounts that come with being a loyal and safety-conscious customer.

3 steps to determine if your collectibles need insurance

Perhaps you’ve seen the television program, Antiques Roadshow, where an attendee brings in a few family heirlooms, only to discover that the collection they’ve stored in their hallway closet for 20 years is a national treasure.

Chances are you won’t hit the jackpot. Still, it’s important to know whether those fur coats you inherited from your grandmother have any worth, or if the coins you’ve acquired over the years should have a value placed on them for insurance purposes.

Take these three steps to help determine if you need additional coverage:
  1. Get an appraisal
    Just like on the show, the first step to determine whether you need additional coverage is to know how much your collection is worth. After you get an appraisal, it’s really up to you to decide whether your collection warrants additional coverage. There is no minimum coverage in most cases, and limits can be as much as $100,000. It’s important to note, however, that insurance cannot cover an item’s sentimental value. 
  2. Contact your agent
    When you decide you’d like to insure your collection, provide your agent with a description of each article, the date of purchase (if applicable), and the current value. Assuming your items can be covered by your insurance company, your agent can add their value as an endorsement to your existing policy.
  3. Determine if you need blanket coverage. Furs, jewelry, and fine art often have blanket coverage. This means that your entire collection is covered even if you add to it or sell an item, as long as the total value remains within the blanket limit. The advantage of blanket coverage is that you don’t need to call your agent every time you add or remove an item from your collection.

    Not everything qualifies for blanket coverage, however, and may require that you list each item separately and disclose any changes. This may include coins, stamps, guns, silverware, musical instruments, or any number of items. When in doubt, check with your agent.
Adding coverage to your homeowners policy for most collectibles is easy, and the cost is usually nominal. Not all collections are the same, nor are all insurance policies. If you have very unique or one-of-a-kind pieces that are irreplaceable, you may require specialized insurance. Your independent agent can help you determine the best coverage.

Top 5 tips for child safety around pets

Playing with cats, dogs, and other pets provides children with a unique way to learn new skills, develop social relationships, and recognize that other creatures have needs, too.

Many pets tolerate small children quite well. But even a gentle animal can bite or scratch when provoked. Once your child becomes old enough to grab at tails and whiskers, any pet may lash out in fear or self defense.

Supervise children around your pets, and don’t leave them alone together until the child is old enough to understand proper handling skills. When your child is ready, talk about good pet safety habits.

Pet safety rules
Here are five pet safety tips to review with your child:
  1. Always ask an adult before approaching an animal you don’t know. Some dogs and cats just aren’t friendly to new people.
  2. Pets don’t like surprises! Use a quiet voice and make sure the animal sees you before slowly putting your hand out to pet it.
  3. Leave animals alone when they’re sleeping or eating.
  4. Keep away from animals that are anxious or excited. Step back if a dog starts barking at anything, like a squirrel or a person through the window.
  5. While it seems counter-intuitive, teach children not to run or bike away if they’re being chased by a dog, unless they are within reach of a safe escape. Stop and be still until the dog goes away or help comes. If the child can, put the bike between him or her and the approaching animal.
Pet owners and visiting children
If you’re a pet owner, protecting your pet and protecting children go hand-in-hand. Don’t allow your pet to be put in stressful situations that might cause it to nip or scratch. Watch out for teasing and rough treatment, and give your pet a safe place to retreat from kids who may be overexcited or over-zealous with their attention.

Lastly, when visiting friends or relatives, leave Fido at home. An unfamiliar environment with lots of  people, noise, and activity can agitate and excite the most loving of pets. Plus, consider that other visitors may have allergies, a general fear of animals, or simply may not appreciate the licking, jumping, barking, and begging that will likely occur.

Top 10 tips for ATV safety

When operated safely, an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can be a useful tool for work on a farm or jobsite, and a great source of fun and recreation for family outings. The popularity of ATVs has grown steadily throughout the last three decades. Unfortunately, cases of related serious injuries and deaths have increased as well.

Also referred to as a four-wheeler, an ATV can weigh as much as 800 pounds and can travel at speeds up to 75 miles per hour. The sale of three-wheelers was banned in 1988 after studies showed that operators were twice as likely to be injured than were four-wheel operators because of an increased risk of roll-over crashes.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported 13,043 deaths from 1982-2013 in the United States. Even more startling are the estimated 99,600 ATV-related injuries that were treated in emergency rooms in 2013 alone, with 25 percent involving children younger than 16 years of age.

You can stay safer on trails and the jobsite by following these top 10 recommendations:
  1. Don’t let children under 16 ride adult-sized ATVs, and educate them about safety. Children 6-11 years of age should not operate a unit larger than 50cc. Children 12-16 years of age should not operate one larger than 90cc.
  2. Always wear a helmet, eye protection, and protective clothing.
  3. Don’t carry passengers.
  4. Attend an ATV-operator training course.
  5. Don’t ride on paved roads; ATVs are difficult to control on pavement.
  6. Don’t drink and drive.
  7. Avoid excessive speed. Travel at speeds appropriate for the terrain and conditions.
  8. Read the owner’s manual.
  9. Do a pre-ride safety check (tires, wheels, chain, cables).
  10. Consult your state’s DNR (Department of Natural Resources) for local regulations.
Let's commit to lowering the risk of an accident happening to an employee or a family member by following safe ATV practices.