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How Can Your Business Be Prepared for a Fire?

A fire at your business might seem improbable, but it is not impossible. Hopefully, you’ve insured your equipment and space, but even so a fire can be a major setback and, even worse, can seriously endanger everyone present. Fire prevention and safety should be practiced and encouraged in the workplace, and there are specific measures that can be taken for everyone’s safety. It is vital that everyone in the workplace is familiar with your fire plan, and there is equipment that every business should have handy.

What is your fire plan?

While the equipment and materials in your business may be costly, nothing is more important than everyone’s individual safety. That means that your first priority should be educating each employee in fire safety and devise an escape plan in the event of a fire. Any decent sized building should have an evacuation plan displayed for everyone to see. Of course, never include elevators in these plans.

Several local governments can arrange for a fire marshall to visit your business and instruct everyone. Sometimes, if a marshall cannot visit, a building’s property manager can assess the structure and inform everyone of the best ways to escape in the event of a fire.

Equipment

Almost every fire code that you’ll ever be subjected to will require at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of your business. It’s never a bad idea to have more though, since they can put out small fires quickly and save valuable equipment from being damaged. Fire blankets are not always required, but having one on hand could save someone’s life.

Most laws will also demand that you have a sprinkler system and smoke detectors in place. Make sure to test the batteries in your smoke detectors routinely, since they can be your first indication of danger. In some scenarios, particle detectors capable of alerting you of other chemicals may be a wise investment. Lastly, having a first-aid kit in a known location, like the kitchen, can be instrumental in treating any injuries caused in a small fire.

Training

The correct response to a fire is the best way to combat it. Make sure your employees know to call 911 in case of a fire and remain calm. At least one fire drill should be conducted each year, just to be positive that everyone knows how to exit the building properly.

If there are no employees trained in first aid, then hosting a workshop or class could prove valuable. When going over fire safety, teach everyone how to operate a fire extinguisher. Lastly, make sure that all of your employees know how to deal with different types of fires, such as grease and electrical fires.

Fires are unpredictable and can cause a lot of damage, so being ready to prevent or handle one can save lives and money. For more tips and advice, contact one of our agents. If you aren’t insured in case of a fire, we can help with that as well. Preparation is key to fire safety!

Smoke Detector Best Practices

Every homeowner knows that smoke detectors are crucial, but do we really utilize them to the fullest degree?

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms. This number is drastically lower than the number of deaths caused by home fires before smoke alarms were required in every home, but it is still too high considering the advanced technology we have to prevent fire deaths today!

Keep reading to learn some basic tips about smoke alarm usage and routines to keep your home safe for years to come.

Place Smoke Detectors Strategically

Unsurprisingly, most deadly house fires occur when everyone is asleep. If your family sleeps behind closed doors, it is important to install a separate smoke alarm in every bedroom. This ensures that no one sleeps through the sound of more distant alarms or the smell of smoke. If anyone in your family is hard of hearing, you should install alarms that also flash bright light so they can be alerted visually.

To avoid nuisance alarms from normal smoke and steam, don’t install the detector in close proximity to your stove or your bathroom. At the same time, avoid placing them by windows, doors, and air ducts, which can keep hem too ventilated and interfere with their operation. Depending on how much control you have over the installation process, opt for interconnected fire alarms that trigger the entire network to go off when one sensor is triggered.

Keep A Maintenance Schedule

If we said that checking our smoke detectors was easy to remember in our busy day-to-day lives, we’d be lying. That’s why it’s best to make it easy for yourself and just set a reminder on your mobile device reminding you to test your alarm system once a month just to make sure everything is in working order.

Batteries in your smoke detector need to be changed once per year. This not only ensures that your alarm should always have battery power, but it will prevent the dreaded “chirping” noise that comes when smoke detectors have dying batteries.

Every 10 years, the smoke alarms themselves should be replaced. An easy way to keep track of this is to keep a sticker on the back of the battery cover with the replacement date written on it, so you’re reminded each month of when you’ll need to replace your smoke detectors.

Make A Fire Escape Plan

Have you developed and practiced a home fire escape plan with your family? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t – only 26% of families have, according to the American Red Cross. Regardless, this is an important tip to take from the home fire prevention experts. All a smoke detector does is alert you to the presence of a fire. From there, it is up to you to get out of your home safely. Panic can seriously impede safety measures and waste precious minutes in an emergency, so it is imperative for your family to have a plan in place and know exactly what to do if your home catches fire.

Potentially Save on Home Insurance

Some types of smoke detectors can reduce your home insurance premium cost. This mostly applies to central monitoring systems that connect to emergency services and alert the authorities when the system is triggered. These are particularly useful for homeowners who travel a lot, but they are a great safety option for anyone to have. However, these systems cost more than the average smoke detector. Ask your independent agent if a home insurance discount could help offset the cost of a central monitoring system!

How to Lower Your Teen’s Auto Premiums

Giving your teenagers spending money already hurts your wallet, but just wait until they start driving and you have to pay for insurance every month. New drivers are the most accident-prone demographic in terms of driving, and insurers know that. Since teenagers are four times as likely to crash as an adult driver, their rates are incredibly high. Even with a clean record, it will cost several hundred dollars at the least to insure a teenager. Adding them your own insurance policy is certainly more cost effective, but even then, teenagers can still cost you thousands of dollars annually just to drive. Thankfully, there are several discounts available for teenagers that can make premiums more affordable.

Good Student Discounts

If you have a kid in middle school, encourage them to strive for the Honor Roll now. Most insurance agencies will offer a significant discount if your teenager has received good grades in recent years. Typically, as long as your teenager has maintained a B average or better, you can get an academic discount. Some agencies will even allow this discount to continue through college or until they turn 25. It may be up to your teenager to secure this cash saver, but in some cases, their premiums can drop by 25%!

Defensive Driving Courses

If you remember being 16, then you probably remember thinking that you were invincible or a safe enough driver. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes something as extreme as an accident to make new drivers realize the dangers they face on the road. Rather than waiting for a fender bender or worse, enroll your teenager in a safe driving course. Not only can you receive a discount on the insurance, but it may be intense enough to make your teenager reconsider texting while driving.

Safe Vehicles

Unless your teenager really deserves a treat, odds are that their first car will not be a new car. Used cars are cheaper and cost less to insure, but if it’s too old, there may be an issue. It can vary by insurer, but cars made after 1994 or so are generally considered safer, which means that the amount you pay monthly is less. There is, however, a balance in choosing cars. Since newer cars feature cameras for backing up and automatic brakes, they are safer than older cars which means you can possibly get more discounts. It comes down to whether or not you trust your teenager more with a 2003 Camry or a brand new Volkswagen.

As insurance experts, we can help you choose what the best course of action is and what discounts your teen may be able to receive. Contact us today and see how much you can save!

How to Protect Your Home While Traveling

It’s been a long winter and we are all starting to look forward to Spring.  If you are one of the lucky ducks that gets to travel during spring break, it is important to properly protect your home while you are away. Home burglaries, water and fire disasters are not fun to think about, but often do happen when homeowners are gone.  So, in order to fully enjoy your awesome trip that you have planned, we have put together this Traveling Checklist to assist you.

Make it look like someone is at home

With social media updates, it is pretty easy for would-be-burglars to know if someone is away from home. So here are a few tips and tricks to make it look like someone is at your house, even when you are away:

  1. Park a car in your driveway. Make certain, though, to take out all valuable items, key FOB, and garage door opener.  And, make certain that the car door is locked!
  2. Stop all mail and newspapers. If your trip is last minute and can’t do this, have a neighbor grab your mail and newspapers for you.
  3. Look into lawn maintenance while you are away. If it’s the winter, have the driveway & sidewalk shoveled. If it’s in the summer, have someone mow your lawn.
  4. Put a lamp near the window on a timer light so the house isn’t pitch black 24/7 while you are away.

Adjust your thermostat

The worst thing to come home to is burst pipes! So, if you are vacationing in the winter, don’t lower the temperature below 55 degrees. Even though it seems tempting to save a few bucks and turn off the heat while you aren’t home, this could hurt you in the long run and cost you money. Keeping your home warm all winter – even when you’re not at home – prevents pipes from freezing.

Have a friend or family member check on your house

While you are out of town, it is a good idea to have someone keep track of your home. They can alert you – and the authorities, if necessary – of any issues that happen while you are away. They can check for burst pipes, broken windows, etc…

Lock your oven control panel

This is a new one that I just learned from a local restoration company, ServiceMaster. Did you know that there have been house fires from homeowner’s pets jumping on the range and accidentally switching the range on? So, as an added precaution – especially if you are leaving pets home alone – lock the oven and surface burners.

Unplug electronics & appliances

It is a good idea to always unplug all computers, televisions, and any other accessory that won’t be used while you are out of town. This will not only help you reduce your energy consumption, but will also protect these items in case of electrical storm.  It is important to note that you should not refrigerator, automatic timers, sump pump or any of your security systems.

Turn off important water valves

To prevent risk of water damage while you are out of town, locate all your water valves for your dishwasher, sink and washing machine.  Turn them off so that water isn’t able to flow into the pipes.

And, most importantly, have fun on your upcoming vacation!  And, as always, if you have any questions or comments on any of your insurance needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Langlois Insurance Agency.  We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

Insurance Checklist for the New Year

I almost feel like we are going into an episode of The Jetson’s as we enter into 2020. And, as an insurance agent, I’m wondering where all of the flying cars and houses on the moon are…

But, on a serious note, the start of a new year is always a great time to reevaluate your insurance needs since your life probably changed during the past year, which may require an updated insurance policy. For example, perhaps you got married, had a baby, purchased a new house and/or car.

So, I always suggest to my insureds that if they did have any life changes, they set up a time to chat with any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency to review your policies to ensure that they meet your current needs. We can help you determine if your coverage is adequate or if changes should be made.

Life Insurance

Life Insurance should be reviewed on a yearly basis. Life inevitably brings changes, such as a births, divorces, remarriages or even a new mortgage or new job. And, all of these are signs that you might need to make changes to your life insurance policy. So, as we enter into 2020, please call me at #815-485-2106 to make certain that your loved ones are properly covered with adequate life insurance.

Homeowners & Rental Insurance

The start of a new year is also a great time to update your home inventory and make sure your homeowners or rental policy is up-to-date.

Here’s a tip that I like to give my insureds – every January, take your video camera and/or phone camera and record all the contents in your home. Take extra care in getting photos or video of your prized possessions. Remember to note valuable antiques, artwork or jewelry so we can help determine if you are properly covered.

Auto Insurance

Have you purchased a new car? Or, have you had any changes to your driving habits? If so, it is important to review this with any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency to ensure your auto policy will cover you in case of an accident.

Health Insurance

You may have recently enrolled or changed your health insurance whether through your employer, Medicare or your state exchange. Make sure you have new insurance cards and paperwork before you visit a doctor. We can also discuss if you need Medicare Supplement Insurance and the benefits that come with it. It is our privilege to help guide you to the best possible Medicare Supplement Insurance plan to meet your insurance needs.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Fraudulent Activity

Did you know that the Equifax data breach of 2017 exposed the personal information of more than 145 million people. A data breach can potentially expose your data, which puts you at risk for identity theft or other fraudulent activity. Here are some tips on how you can protect your identity in the coming year:

• Don’t give out any personal information–like your social security number or bank information–over the phone.

• Consider purchasing identity theft insurance. If this is something that interests you, please let any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency know and we can discuss this further with you.

We hope that 2020 brings you and your loved ones much health and happiness. And, as always, if you have any questions about your insurance needs, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at #815-485-2106.  We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards in the New Year,

Matt Langlois

Term and Whole Life Insurance: Explained

Unless you are a life insurance specialist, like me, life insurance is nobody’s favorite subject of conversation. Most people associate life insurance with expensive monthly premiums and, more importantly, their own mortality. For that reason, many people aren’t sure how life insurance works, or what their options are. However, thinking about your life insurance policy is very important! It is intended to lessen the impact of death on your loved ones, and it doesn’t even have to be expensive. Below, we discuss the major differences between term life insurance and whole life insurance to help you determine which one may be best for you.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a simpler, cheaper type of life insurance that’s a great way to institute a policy without having to cut too deep into monthly expenses. Term life is purchased for a specific time period, anywhere from 5 to 30 years. Death benefits will only be paid if the death occurs during the term of the policy. More often than not, term life will become much more expensive as you age. After the age of 50, the cost of term life quickly creeps up to the cost of permanent life insurance, so you should look into getting it sooner rather than later. Also, these policies can also be converted into whole life insurance in some cases, which is another option if you feel like it may be the time to consider whole life.

Whole Life

Term life insurance covers you for a set period of time, while whole life does exactly what you’d expect: it covers you for your whole life. Not only does it provide death benefits when the time comes, but it also provides a cash value accumulation that builds during the life of the policy. This means that you can actually see payoffs of your premium at a certain time, sort of similar to a retirement policy with your employer. It usually takes anywhere from 12 to 15 years to build up a considerable cash value. This cash value is based on how much the return on investment is worth.

Acquiring a whole life policy does usually mean a medical examination, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, with a higher premium, whole life insurance can be purchased without a health examination. This type of insurance works great for estate planning, and although it is initially more expensive, you can potentially save money through whole life insurance in the long run. Be sure to see what works best for your finances by speaking with a risk advisor today.

Choosing What’s Right

There are many different factors to take into account when deciding what kind of life insurance is right for you. When you come into Langlois Insurance Agency to discuss the best life insurance “fit” for your needs, we will consider several factors:

  • Your current age
  • State of health
  • Financial needs (for yourself and family)
  • Plans for funeral and death expenses
  • Children’s ages
  • Long-term health expenses
  • Mortgage and current debts
  • Retirement plan
  • Future monetary needs of your children
  • Your estate
  • Your thoughts on paying a full term policy and never receiving the value of it

Although that may be a long list, factoring in as much as possible is important because life insurance is a big investment. Give our agency a call today at #815-485-2106 so we can help find you the best policy for you and your family. We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

How to Get Your Home Ready For a Safe Halloween

Witches and ghouls are scary for the kiddos, but as your trusted insurance advisor, I know that the real terror of Halloween lies in vandalism, lawsuits and liability claims. Use these tips to make your home and belongings safe on Halloween night, both for you and your spooky visitors.

Light Up the Night…

Little trick-or-treaters are so excited to get candy, they tend to run up the driveway to your home. Make sure your porch and walkway are well lit and unobstructed so they don’t stumble on their way to the door. Not only could a fall ruin their fun night, but a real injury could come back to haunt you as a homeowner. Play it safe and keep it bright outside.

Homeowners that greet lots of trick or treaters need to clear their property from potential hazards:

  • Clear walkways from leaves, decorations, extension cords and debris
  • Make sure there is adequate lighting
  • Maintain stairways, railings and porch areas so they are safe for children

Also, different towns may have different times for trick or treating. Younger children are usually out early, and older children may be out well after dark. Therefore, if you are out & about driving, try to avoid busy areas, keep your headlights on and slow downAs parents, we can help protect our children by dressing them with reflective clothing, having them use flashlights and glow sticks.

…But Don’t Use the Candles

Those glowing Jack-o-lanterns are super spooky and cool, but costumes, straw, and paper decorations are all very flammable. Use battery operated tea lights instead of real candles so your Jack-o-lantern only looks dangerous.

Hide Your Car

Halloween is a notorious night for automobile shenanigans. From toilet paper and water balloons, to eggs and paint, vandals can pull “pranks” that wind up doing real damage to your car. If you’re not out and about on Halloween night, keep your car locked in the garage or at least park it behind the house.

Keep Your Pets Inside

Our furry friends don’t understand the spirit of Halloween. All they know is that masked figures keep ringing the doorbell to their home. And it is understandable that they get scared and defensive. No matter how sweet your pup usually is, he may still turn into Cujo on Halloween if he’s under enough stress! Don’t put your home insurance policy’s liability limit to the test over a dog bite or other, unintentional injury; keep your dogs safely in the house until the night’s excitement is over.

Be All In or All Out

Trick-or-treaters expect to get candy when they knock on your door, but it is understandable that you may not be in the spirit of the holiday or have the finances to supply candy every year.

When it comes to Halloween, it’s in your best interest to stick to your plan. If you give out candy, have your porch light on and be prepared for the foot traffic. If you’re not giving out candy, turn out the main lights and make it appear as if you aren’t home to the best of your ability. Greeting trick-or-treaters with no candy is awkward, and in some cases, it can lead to the worst kind of person being vindictive and coming back later to vandalize your home. It sounds bad, but it happens more than you’d think.

If, unfortunately, you may become the target of some pranksters, here’s what you should do:

  • Contact authorities and get a police report right away
  • Submit a claim for vandalism to your car or home. The police report will be helpful during the claims process.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us at #815-485-2106 with any or your insurance questions or needs.  We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

Group Life vs. An Individual Policy: Which One Is Right For You?

Life insurance is one of those things that most people don’t give much thought to until later in life, although we do recommend younger people explore their life insurance options early. Either way, many people are only on the life insurance policy offered by their place of work. Is that a bad thing or a good thing? Well, that depends. Take a look at some pros and cons of both types below.

Group Life Pros & Cons

The base life insurance you receive from your employer is typically 1-3 times the amount of your salary at no cost to you. This is a good cushion for anyone, and a good life insurance plan period if you’re single with no major payments or debts for your beneficiaries to pick up. You also don’t have to go through a medical exam or provide medical records to qualify for coverage on a group life policy, so any preexisting medical conditions won’t count against your premium.

However, if you have dependents, your needs will be drastically different. They may need to live on the money from your policy, or pay off your mortgage or student loans, along with using it to pay for a new health insurance plan if theirs was previously covered by your employer. Suddenly, that 1-3 years salary doesn’t stretch very far. In order to cover your beneficiaries properly with your group plan, you would need to pay an additional premium through payroll deduction.

With group plans, your premiums tend to be higher because no one on the plan is required to undergo a medical exam. The contract also has to be renewed every 5 years, so it is likely that they will be renewed for higher rates. Lastly, if you ever leave your place of employment, you can’t take your life insurance policy with you. This leaves you and your beneficiaries completely unprotected until you find another job.

It is also important to remember that life insurance is a benefit, not a guarantee. If your company needs to make budget cuts, your life insurance policy could be done away with — even if you’ve been paying for additional coverage.

Individual Policy Pros & Cons

An individual policy is just that — it is written for you based on your health and financial goals. Unlike a group policy, you have control over your individual plan and can take it with you wherever you go. You can insure your life for much more than 1-3 times your yearly salary, and know that the monthly premium will be locked in for the duration of the policy so there won’t be any surprise rate increases.

You may need to pass a medical exam to qualify, but whether or not this is a pro or con depends entirely on your health. If you are a healthy individual with no preexisting medical conditions, you can benefit from a lower premium. Even if your end premium is higher than what you would pay for additional coverage through your company, your beneficiaries will be insured for much more money in the event of your passing, and you can rest easy knowing that your policy isn’t going anywhere.

Barring a small percentage of single people with no major payments or debts, the average person will need to pay some kind of premium in order to be properly covered by their life insurance plan. Fortunately, I understand the ins and outs of these different policies and are here to help you determine what works. Please don’t hesitate to contact me today at #815-485-2106 to get started on a life insurance plan that is right for you. I always love to hear from my customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

 

The Insurance Benefits of Impact Resistant Roofing

Scientific and architectural advancements are making homes safer and more durable than ever. For instance, houses are made with flame retardant materials that lower the chances of the home burning to its foundation. Roofs are no exception to these advancements, and choosing the right roof for your home might actually save you money on your home insurance costs.

Meet the Impact Resistant Roof

Impact resistant roofs (IRR’s) are specially designed and tested to be impact resistant for exposure to hailstones, strong winds, and flying debris. They can be made of asphalt, metal, plastics, rubber, and recycled materials. Impact resistant roofs are rated as class 1, 2, 3, or 4 (1 being the weakest, 4 being the strongest) based on the test results. The cost of impact-resistant roofs varies based on the type you buy.

Why You’ll Want One

Impact-resistant roofs are simply more durable, no matter where your home is located. They are made to resist damages from threats that can shred conventional shingles and tear them away. Homeowners with impact-resistant roofs save money on repairs and insurance claims after big storms come through, not to mention their homes are kept safer. To top it off, most IRR’s come with a 30-50 year limited product warranty. They are more expensive than traditional roofs, but when you weigh the outcome, IRR’s are an investment worth making.

Having an IRR Could Mean Lower Premiums

When your roof is less susceptible to serious damages, your likelihood of filing a claim is smaller. For this reason, several states offer an insurance benefit for opting for an impact resistant roof. This is especially true in states where weather patterns are likely to bring severe hailstorms. Ask your agent if you can save on your homeowner’s insurance premium by upgrading to an impact-resistant roof.

Your roof is one of your home’s most important elements, so you’ll want to check it for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. If you aren’t sure what kind of shape your roof is in, schedule a professional roof inspection. If you know you’re in the market to replace your roof, contact one of our agents today to see how an IRR can help you save on insurance costs!

What to Do After You Have Hit a Deer

Accidents are sudden and very nerve-wracking. Although we try to avoid them as much as possible, they still occur in great volume. On average, there are almost 1.23 million deer-related accidents in the United States every year. This number grows around the later months when mating season is in session. This causes more deer to accumulate in populated areas, making some roads very dangerous for drivers. Hitting them is sometimes unavoidable because they appear in your direct path. While we hope this never happens to you, here are the steps you should take if it does.

Move Over

We understand that during a wreck you are so shocked that your priorities are all over the place. However, you should try to stay calm and pull to the side of the road as soon as possible. You are still at risk for being hit by oncoming traffic even though the wreck has already occurred. If you are able to move your car over, do so. Once you are safe, turn on your hazard lights, check your passengers, and take a deep breath.

Alert Authorities

Don’t wait to give the police a call. Alert them of the situation immediately so they can handle everything. If the wreck is bad enough, they will need to direct oncoming traffic out of the way so you and others are kept safe. If the deer is still at the scene, it could block traffic and needs to be removed. When authorities do arrive, you will probably need to fill out an official report with them. Having the details fresh from the scene will be handy when filling out your insurance claim.

Document the Incident

When the road is safe, it’s time to start documenting. Take pictures of the scene including your surroundings, your car, the road, and any injuries you or your passengers have sustained. This will all be important information for your agent to look over when filing your insurance claim.

Stay Away from the Deer

Although it’s okay to check on the deer, you might want to do this at a safe distance. If the deer survives the collision, it will be rattled up and might pose as a threat if it decides to attack out of fear. Deer are known for having powerful legs and sharp hooves that provide a damaging kick.

Contact Your Agent

Like with the authorities, don’t wait to give your insurance agent a call. The sooner, the better. They can immediately get started on your claim when the situation is fresh on your mind rather than later when you might forget some details.

Examine Your Car

Although you are probably more than prepared to go home, take a moment to examine your car thoroughly. If it has sustained a significant amount of damage, you should not drive home in it. You could put yourself in even more danger if you do. Instead, contact someone you trust that will take you and your passengers home while you have your car towed.

When you are met with a tough situation such as a car accident, the last thing you need is added stress. Having the right agent on your side will give you peace of mind. Let us take care of you today. Give our office a call to see how we can assist you and your family.

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