7/26/2016 11:58 AM

[Pinned] Tips for Safe Motorcycle Rides

Last year, my husband purchased his first motorcycle. He grew up riding, but finally decided to get his own bike. I, of course, was nervous. As an insurance agent here in Kokomo, Indiana, I hear a lot about motorcycle insurance claims.  And some of them are nasty.

Riding motorcycles can be dangerous, but there are also a lot of things a driver can do to help prevent disastrous accidents.  Here are some suggestions on how to stay safe while riding.

Take a Safety Course


Before my husband received his motorcycle license in Indiana, he had to take a safety course. He spent an entire Saturday in a parking lot learning from ABATE how to better ride his motorcycle safely.  Even if you aren’t required to take a safety course by the state – you should. He learned invaluable skills in that safety course, and came out more confident of how to protect himself.

Classes teach traffic safety laws specific to motorcycles, how to respond to an emergency situation, and give you a chance to practice in a controlled environment.  It’s better to learn how to handle a skidding motorcycle, or what to do when the bike falls, in a controlled environment where no other vehicles are present.

Police officers who operate a motorcycle are required to take even more in depth safety course – a week long – to make sure they have the skills to be safe.  These courses can be taken by the public as well – my father in law took the course and soon after got to use the skills to protect himself and his wife from a bad motorcycle drop.

Ride within Your Skills


If you’re riding with a group, and they decide to do something you’ve never done before and aren’t comfortable with, don’t join them. Everything about riding a motorcycle is skill – and these skills take time to develop.  Others may be able to go faster, go on curvy and hilly roads, or control their bikes in tight weaves.  Take time to build your skills and only drive when and where you are comfortable.

While I’ve ridden on the back of a motorcycle, I would never expect to be able to just jump on and ride. There are many complex parts to riding a bike – from balancing, to shifting, let alone how to safely get off in a difficult, unexpected situation.  If you want to learn more skills in a controlled way, look for nearby advanced motorcycle classes.

Drive Defensively


Look twice before pulling out into the road.  Never assume even if you have right of way that other drivers see you. Ride defensively and do your best to stay safe around other vehicles on the road.

Don’t follow other vehicles to close, particularly if you have an older bike. Without ABS, and your manual transmission, sudden stops aren’t necessarily possible. They may lead to an asphalt slide, which no one wants to experience.  Do your best to avoid cars tailing you, as the same problem is worsened with close-following vehicles.


Avoid Distraction


Distracted driving is bad no matter what type of vehicle you drive. While on a motorcycle, it is best to stay hyper-aware of all your surroundings and everything going on around you. Remember – other drivers are often complacent and not paying attention, and the larger the vehicle the lessened visibility the drivers likely have.  When riding a motorcycle, you should assume they don’t see you and do your best to stay safe.

Do not play with your phone while on your bike. If you need to, put your phone in a saddle bag or an interior jacket pocket to reduce the temptation for distraction. Removing your hands from the ability to quickly brake, hit the clutch, or steer, as well as reducing your attention to other vehicles, is not worth the brief call or text. Your life is more important.

Check the Weather

Riding a bike in rain, snow, or any weather that affects the tire traction on the roads can be dangerous.  You have less traction and your visibility can be compromised.  Before you go for a ride, check the weather.  If heavy rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog, or ice are predicted – postpone the ride for another time.

If you must drive in the rain on your bike, there are a few ways to reduce your risk.  Wait until later in the rainstorm to ride, because the road is increasingly slippery right after it starts to rain. Drive slowly and cautiously. Leave lots of space for other vehicles. If the weather gets too bad, pull off into a parking lot somewhere to wait out the storm. Do not pull over and sit on the side of the road, as this leaves you at risk for being hit by other vehicles with reduced visibility.

Passenger Concerns


While riding with a passenger is fun, it does add further concerns for the driver.  Before riding with someone else, make sure they know what to expect on a motorcycle – such as stops, starts, and turning. Inform them not to distract you.  If they haven’t ridden before, practice together somewhere safe like a parking lot – that way you can get the feel of the bike holding the extra weight and they can get used to turns and maneuvering. Also make sure they wear a helmet and appropriate gear.

If you’re thinking of traveling with a young passenger, check the laws in your state to make sure they are of legal age to ride on the back of a motorcycle.

Riding Gear

The day after my husband purchased his first bike, we dropped almost as much money on the gear as we had on the bike.  This is not the place to spare the expense – the gear can make all the difference between an injury and a critical medical situation.

Anyone you see riding a motorcycle with shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops is making a STUPID, unsafe life decision.  They also skew the statistics for the injuries sustained from riding a motorcycle.

Aside from your knowledge and skills, your gear is your only crash protection system.  Even without another vehicle present, you can lose control of the motorcycle and drop it – dropping yourself at the same time. Skin to asphalt contact take in a slide hurts a lot more than leather gear to asphalt.

Leather and other strong materials protect the skin from sliding along road surfaces.  If you want to scare yourself, YouTube some motorcycle slides. The gear also protects from other road hazards – rocks, bugs, and other objects thrown up from the road.  At 60 miles an hour, a direct rock hit can HURT.  Even just lacking gloves can leave you with tiny cuts from road debris.

Even better than leather or jeans is true motorcycle gear that comes with armor in place.  This armor provides extra padding in case of fall. Many of these jackets are made breathable and light weight, or with zip-out liners to alter per weather. Armor is typically put along the spine, torso, shoulders, elbows, and other common fall locations. Gloves even come with armor.  As I am still lacking gloves as a rider, I push the importance strongly.

While it may seem safe enough to wear crops with your boots, even if they nearly touch, I don’t suggest it.  If you fall or slide, the leg can easily become exposed and burned on the tailpipe.

Along the same lines again, DO NOT WEAR FLIP FLOP on a motorcycle.  Riding shoes serve as protection and make riding easier.  Imagine trying to switch gears with a flimsy open toe-shoe.  You also protect from burns, as in a bad situation your foot can easily slip and hit the exhaust or engine and BURN.  Or if you’re just super lucky, you could get a sunburn on your feet.

When purchasing shoes, choose a shoe (or better yet a boot) out of a sturdy material like leather and with a rugged sole. This sole will help provide better traction when touching the ground while starting, stopping, or in case of an accident. The last thing you want is to have your shoe slip and cause you to drop the bike. Boots are great because of the extra ankle support and protection they provide.  They also have many attractive options, so utility doesn’t mean ugly footwear.

Wear a Helmet


Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle – The majority of motorcycle related deaths come from head injuries. Make sure it is a Department of Transporation-approved helmet, and meets all the required safety measures.  It should be tested to prove it provides a certain level of protection in case of accident.

Make sure your helmet fits properly.  The first time I rode a motorcycle I was loaned a helmet – size large. The entire ride was uncomfortable, because the helmet boxed my ears as it slide around from the wind. While it was obvious it didn’t fit, I had no idea how a proper helmet should fit.  If you are clueless – go to a professional shop. They will not only be able to help you choose the right kind of helmet, but they can make sure the size properly fits. It should be snug – not too tight or loose. Many people tend to say you have slight chipmunk cheeks when it fits properly.  It also should provide protection without obstructing your view.

For a helmet that provides better safety protection, opt for a full face style.  Instead of just protecting the top of your head, it protects the whole head, including the jaw.  If you can’t stand to put on a full face helmet (which I find horrible to do), look for a modular helmet. It provides the protection, but allows you to open the front for taking it off and on, as well as when stopping.

Shop for the right helmet for you. It took me many tries at many different stores to find a good, small helmet that fits my head without hurting my jaw. It is the most important piece of the gear that you will wear, so don’t cheap out and buy something that won’t protect you.  This isn’t an area to take chances.

Because let’s face it, you can’t protect against everything. We’ve had insurance claims for cars, homes – anything that can happen will at some point.  But many things won’t happen as well. Just do what you can to stay safe and enjoy the ride.



Photo: "Motorcycle driver" by Franc. Flikr. Not modified. CC BY-SA 2.0

7/12/2016 3:04 PM

[Pinned] What to Do After a Home Claim Part 4

Part 4:  Completed Home

The work for my claim was finally completed, none too soon in my opinion.  In case you missed it, find out about the event that caused my claim, the initial remediation & homeowners insurance, or the secondary remediation.  

Home claims come in all different kinds of situations.  The important thing is to take care of your home once it does happen.  Here is the conclusion of my home claim, along with steps for what to do when a homeowners claim happens to you.

Day 43: 12/5

We put the dining table, chairs, and other furniture back in our dining room.  We also moved our other furniture all back to its original locations (two other rooms were affecting by storing furniture from the dining room and upstairs bedroom). It is a RELIEF to have my home back!

Day 48: 12/10

I am dealing with getting the first payments to the companies. I am waiting for final invoice with proof of repairs being finished for the depreciation money to be released from my home insurance company. 

Day 123: 2/24/16

The final bills have finally been received, and the final payment from the homeowner’s insurance company has been issued to us.  After many attempts to get everything finalized on my part, everything finally blew up (We received a nasty must pay email threatening to send our account to their lawyer when we were still waiting on the final invoice.  Luckily, our adjuster at Indiana Farmers was brilliant at defusing the situation and pushing it to a final close).  

I signed the work completed form (which on my many attempts before I had never received) and an invoice we had been waiting for a very long time got to us the same day.  I am waiting for the latest check and look forward to making the final payments and finally closing this claim.  I enjoy my home being put back together and look forward to knowing all money I have is my own.

The trick with this last step – always involve your adjuster.  They can really help defuse a situation that could escalate to a major problem without them. 

Day 131: 3/3/16

The final bills are paid. If you ever thought a home claim situation was quick – think again. I truly feel for those who have large losses, as I am so happy to put this terrible experience behind me. 

Long story short

After such a long story, here is a breakdown of what to do/expect after a homeowners insurance claim.

  1.  Terrible thing happens to your home. You discover it and react.
  2.  Keep further damage from happening. If it is water, get a professional remediation company to dry it out (NOT A CARPET COMPANY). If there is a hole in your home or window, cover it to keep the elements from getting in. Move your stuff. Do everything you can to keep the situation from getting worse.
  3.  Document everything. Take photos of the damage.  If you have belongings damaged, start making a list of what needs replaced.  If you’ve done a home inventory, depending on your scope of damage this may be a good time to reference it.
  4.  As soon as possible, report the claim.
  5.  Wait to fix anything until you speak with your adjuster (keep further damage from happening, but if your computer is fried or your stove is broken, don’t get rid of them.  Don’t go patching the holes made or stretching the carpets before the adjuster has a chance to see the damage).
  6.  Discuss the situation with your adjuster and follow the steps they set for getting things done.  They may come to your home to do an estimate and assess the damage. Discuss how work will be paid for and when you are paying your deductible (the portion of the claim you pay).
  7.  Get estimates from any contractors you want to complete the work and give them to the adjuster.  There may be some negotiation, or they may give you the go ahead.
  8.  Be prepared to make a lot of phone calls to make sure everything is getting done. If email is their preferred mode of communication, use email. Don’t be shy to call and check on when they can work. Be prepared to reference your original estimate to know what work needs completed.
  9.  Document completed work.  Make sure all invoices make it to the adjuster. Take photos and get them to the adjuster if requested.  
  10.  Sign work completed paperwork to get the final invoices that include depreciation to the company (obviously make sure work is completed and you are happy with it before you do this).  If you have a loan or additional interested, be prepared to have them sign the check before depositing it as well.  Make any payments necessary to close your quote.

Home claims take a lot of work and put you in a major place of stress.  Your home is a disaster, strangers are necessary to fix the situation, and for most of it, the whole experience is new and unexpected. 

I kept this journal of my claim in hopes of helping someone else out there to have an idea of what it may be like.  Every situation is different, and you can’t expect my timeline to match in any way to your own.  If you’ve never dealt with a home claim, enjoy your blissful ignorance while it lasts.


6/28/2016 11:20 AM

[Pinned] What to Do After a Home Claim Part 3

Part 3 - Second Remediation / Fixing My Home

We all hope a claim will never happen to us, and when it does, it is no fun at all.  Claims are some of my least favorite experiences.  Here is how my nightmare continued.  In case you missed it, here’s the initial event and the first remediation/ homeowners insurance contacts.

Day 14: 11/6

Today I had 2 contractors come out to estimate fixing the situation. Both measured the dryness of the floor beneath the washer and dryer and found it was still damp and said the floor would have to be removed. Both were shocked to see the way water remediation had been done, and that the washer and dryer were not moved immediately and the floor torn out.  This was the beginning of hearing from contractors how incorrectly my water restoration was done.

Both contractors appeared shocked at the many tiny holes in my ceiling and wall, telling me that the monstrous dryer was intended to be used for wood floors.  The correct way to fix the situation would have been to cut a hole in the ceiling and wall and put a fan on it in the first place. The company not only cost us more in repairs (we still had to open the ceiling to make sure it was dry) but dangerously increased the drying time, putting us at a higher risk of developing mold.

As soon as the second contractor left, I had a good feeling who I wanted to hire.  Namely, the first contractor explained how if there wasn’t enough profit he wouldn’t do the job.  He also didn’t do any measurement and just added items to the adjuster’s estimate.  The second contractor measured and developed his own estimate, saying he wanted to make sure everything was done right.  He’s the one we hired.

I called to discuss the situation with my adjuster.  Since dampness was a factor, I took care of this immediately, getting his approval to get a contractor out to dry it out right away. He agreed we shouldn’t have the first company come back out (since they had done so poorly before) and should have whomever I wanted to hire come out.
I called the company, and around 5 pm workers came out to tear out the floor and put fans down again for the weekend.  More fans.  Needless to say, I left and stayed somewhere else for the weekend.  I literally couldn’t stand listening to another fan.  

And my washer and dryer are now sitting in my upstairs landing and no longer functional.  I really don’t want to turn them on over subfloor.

Day 17: 11/9

Workers came to remove the fan.  We are finally truly free of obnoxious noisy fans.  I don’t know if I could even stand to hear a normal desk fan after putting up with all this noise. (Note from the future – still can’t stand the sound of fans).

Day 18: 11/10 

The contractor finished his estimate for repairs.  Currently they can’t get to our house (apparently there is emergency remediation being done at a hospital and school).  He said they will get someone to us as soon as possible.  In the meantime, he is going to have the floor person contact me. 

Day 24: 11/16

I still have not heard from a flooring company, so I called the contractor and let him know.  Later that day I finally received a call to schedule someone to come out and estimate fixing the floor.

I also received an email from the contractor later that day saying they had an opening Thursday to get someone out to fix the drywall.

Day 26: 11/18

I had quite a shock this morning when the drywall guy showed up (I had been told he was coming tomorrow)!  At least I was already home and able to let him in.  I had hoped to not be home, because the drywall work STUNK!  He sealed off the area he was working with plastic painters covering, but it still made everything smell like sitting in someone’s mouth while it’s being drilled and filled for a cavity at the dentist office.  He scraped the ceiling and patched all the tiny holes in the wall and ceiling, as well as putting the wall back in an area that had been taken out.  

He didn’t seem to know we wanted the entire ceiling re-textured (which was in our original home insurance estimate). He contacted our contractor, and we are now on hold until the contractor contacts our adjuster to get it approved (which it already was).  I hate being in the middle of all this communication, and I wish the workers would know what they are doing BEFORE they arrive instead of asking me a bunch of questions.

While the drywall guy was working, the floor person showed up. He was not the most talkative person.  He measured the area, and had me look through 2 catalogs of possible floors.  After much deliberation, my husband and I picked one.  The floor guy called to confirm it was available, and said he’d been in touch to schedule install.  We told him we’d be available as soon as possible, and reinforced that we would like to have the floor in before Thanksgiving.

Day 32: 11/24

Today the floor was replaced in the laundry room. It looked really good, and I was so happy to get it finished!  All the carpets were also stretched.  The workers installed the washer and dryer back in position.  I now can finally clean clothes again.  However, I still can’t put any furniture back in the rooms because the carpets still need to be cleaned (that will be the last step done). 

They also put back all the trim, but did a poor job.  We can stick our hands underneath it, and not all the nails are even hit in.  This claim seems to be one headache after another.  I guess we have to call the floor guy again….

Day 35: 11/27

The contractor was able to fit us in to have the ceiling re-textured the day after Thanksgiving (I am guessing a lot of people are gone, but luckily we aren’t!).   A group of guys came, covered the floor, walls, and two large pieces of furniture we couldn’t remove. They also sealed the room from the rest of the house.  Unfortunately, this does not seal in smell.  Again we have to hide upstairs from the work, sounds, and smell.  

Once they finished the room was clean, but smelled HORRIBLE.  My husband had to tape plastic up to seal the room off from the rest of the house.  We opened windows to air out the room, but nothing seemed to help.  At least once it was sealed off we could still be downstairs.  It stayed this way all weekend, because the smells would not go away.

Day 37: 11/29

The contractor emailed me saying the painting crew will be coming tomorrow!  Thank goodness!  I emailed him the exact name (color and type) of paint we used in the room so he can make sure it is purchased.  We repainted our entire home using no VOC paints from Porter Paints, and did not want any lesser quality used.

Day 38: 11/30 

The painting crew showed up at 8 am to do the ceiling and two affected walls.  They put one heavy coat of paint on the ceiling and two coats on the walls.  Luckily, the paint seems to have sealed in the bad smell from the ceiling being redone.  The room looks so beautiful again!  You can’t even tell anything happened in here, which is WONDERFUL!

The floor person came to fix trim. He brought a crowbar and a hammer, but he reinstalled everything correctly.  He seemed to realize that his crew did not know how to install trim over carpet correctly.  He also reinstalled the doors on laundry closet.

Day 42: 12/4 

After a bit of negotiating on time (they wanted to come a week later than we wanted them to come), we were able to get the floor cleaners out to clean the floors.  Every floor affected (this includes walkways where workers went upstairs) was cleaned.  We were told to wait until the next day to put any furniture back.

6/14/2016 11:00 AM

[Pinned] What to Do After a Home Claim Part 2

Part 2: Remediation and Insurance

In case you missed it, here is what happened to cause the water damage in my home that initiated this whole claim process.  The claim happened on Saturday, and I took the necessary steps as soon as Monday began.

Day 3:  10/26

On Monday morning I reported the claim to my home insurance company as soon as I arrived here at Killingbeck Insurance.  My adjuster called me that afternoon to discuss what to expect.  He scheduled to come see the damage at my home on Thursday.  The remediation service drying out the house came to move fans around to dry out the areas that were still wet and sprayed anti-microbial stuff to keep mold from happening.

So now I had a loud and smelly house.

Day 4:   10/27

I was excited for the fans to leave today, but alas, they did not! The upstairs of my home was sufficiently dried, but the downstairs just won’t let the water go!  So the fans were now super focused on one specific area.  At least now I could hide upstairs from the sound.

Day 5:  10/28

The downstairs wall was still not dry, so the fans stayed another day. Words couldn’t describe the frustrating disappointment of knowing I had to spend another evening with those in my house.  I detest hiding in my own home from such monstrously loud beasts!

Day 6:  10/29

The adjuster came out to my house today.  He took pictures of every affected area, and a picture of the outside of my home as well.  He asked questions about what happened and what the emergency dry-out crew had done. He had also never seen a monstrous machine as what they put in my front room, and wanted to discuss the 

reasoning behind it with the remediation company.  I gave him the company’s contact information, and when they came out later that night, I gave the adjuster’s card to them.

The adjuster helped explain how the home claim process would go from here.  So at this point, I was waiting for the adjuster’s estimate.  I was also contacting companies to get estimates for carpet stretching, cleaning, and drywall patching and painting.

My adjuster and I also discussed who I pay my homeowner’s insurance deductible to.  Claims are individual experiences, so always discuss this situation with your adjuster.
The remediation crew came to take the fans out near the end of the day, but one section of wall still would not dry (due to many studs being together in one area).  They had to cut a large hole in the wall and put another fan on it, so I had one more day with a fan.  I never expected a 3 day dry out process to take a week. 

Now I get to play the waiting game.

Day 7:  10/30

The final fan finally left my house.  We put out a few calls to contractors to try to get estimates.

Day 8: 10/31

We finally fixed the drain hose situation and got it so it can’t come out again.  I was able to do laundry with no events happening.

Day 11:  11/3

Today I received the invoice from the drying out company.  It was HIGHER than quoted originally because they used machinery that took longer to dry.  They say this saves us in restoration costs, but I doubt this greatly.  (To put it simply, THEY LIED. Many tiny holes in the ceiling took just as much to fix as a hole in the ceiling would have, which would have saved us greatly in drying costs).

Day 12:  11/4

I really hate how working with a claim is like playing the never ending waiting game.  I heard from my home insurance adjuster that he is working on his estimate and will get back with us soon.  We are still trying to get contractors out to estimate fixing the damage.  This proves harder than expected, as no one will call us back.  I emailed my adjuster for suggestions of different contractors to call.  If you are ever stuck in a claim, feel free to ask your adjuster’s advice.  They deal with claims more frequently and are good sources of help.

The next step of my claim is my second remediation.


5/24/2016 11:32 AM

[Pinned] What to Do After a Home Claim or How I Ruined My Weekend

Part 1: The Event

Water Damage on Ceiling

Working as an Insurance agent, I’ve taken a lot of home claims and turned them into the home insurance company.  Occasionally I became more involved, sending estimates to the adjuster or calling an adjuster and reminding them to 

Carpet Pulled Up from Closet

call our customer.  When people asked me what to expect or do, or a time frame, I could never give them much of an idea.  I had never experienced it and frankly every home, situation, person, and claim is different.  You can’t stamp a time frame on them.

Well, unfortunately, I experienced my first homeowners insurance claim last

Because it was a long, drawn out process, I’ve broken it into 4 parts.  Here’s how it all started: year.  I found the experience stressful, frustrating, a lot of work and totally surprising.  I didn’t know what to do or expect, and couldn’t find real life experiences from anyone online.  So I compiled mine as I went through it.

Day 1: The Event 10/24

I had a lovely Saturday morning to myself, all planned out to be relaxing and productive.  I had gotten most of the chores out of the way on Friday, and planned to spend my morning cooking and moving forward on home projects.  I tossed in a tiny load of laundry (just some kitchen towels and potholders) in the washing machine and went about getting other things done.

My washing machine beeped when finished (as usual) and I went to get the load out.  But my feet got wet right next to the machine, and there was water on the floor.

I’d love to tell you I was calm, but I panicked.  I ran to the linen closet and pulled out all the old towels, putting them around the washing machine. After going back to the closet, I realized the floor in the closet was wet and pulled everything out.  I checked the bedroom behind the washing machine and found the floor to be wet right by the baseboard all along the wall.  I quickly pulled all the items sitting there to the middle of the room, except for the treadmill.

I realized at that point it was out of my scope of capability, and tried to call my husband and tell him to come home from work and help.  He didn’t answer, so I called my dad, Don Killingbeck (also my insurance agent before I started working here, and my go-to whenever I don’t know what to do).

He gave me great advice.  Don’t try to handle it on your own – get help.  Tell Ben (my husband) that despite what he may want to get professional help.  He told me all his clients that had tried to dry their homes out on their own had run into more problems later.  Since it was a Saturday morning, I needed emergency water extraction service.

More Water Damage on Ceiling

After that my husband did come home, start our tiny dehumidifier and what fans we had on the area. I used our new carpet cleaner to extract what water I could, but it wasn’t strong enough to even make a dent in the amount of water.

We were leaving to go to Menards to get another, stronger fan when we noticed something worse.  The front porch had a large puddle of water, and the door frame was dripping.  We walked back into our house to notice the dining room ceiling, the area right under our washing machine, showing water spots.

At this point we realized this truly was out of our scope of knowledge and called a 24/7 water extraction service.  It took them over an hour to arrive.  They discovered the dining room carpet was wet, the wall above and next to our front door was wet, as well as the ceiling.  Water quickly travels to the lowest spot.

It took them a good amount of time to set up everything. Our ceiling and wall were so saturated they easily pushed in the small pieces of what I all the sci-fi monster in my house (used to blow air into the wall and ceiling). They also installed 4 floor fans upstairs and 4 floor fans downstairs, pulled back more carpet, put our furniture on blocks, installed the monster sci-fi coil dryer, and a large dehumidifier on each floor.

Water on Porch

I just have to say living with all these fans was horrible.  They are noisy, loud, and blow the dust from the carpets all around my house.  Earplugs and hearing protection seemed essential to not yell every time after leaving the house, and headaches are apparently just part of the deal.  As was trouble sleeping with the constant roaring noise. I really didn’t want any water damage or chance of mold, but the remedy was not any fun.

I did immediately what my homeowner’s insurance policy required me to do, which is keep further damage from happening to my home and belongings.  Water damage was a scary thing, and if left alone, could lead to mold quickly.  Even waiting until Monday would have put me at a higher risk of developing mold.

I also took pictures of everything.  Photos of the wet porch, door frame, ceiling, etc.  Pictures of the fans and drying equipment.  Photos of the business card of the people I had come to dry out the house.  Always document your claim in case there are questions or the adjuster needs to see the damage before remediation.  The only thing I don’t have a picture of is sitting water, because I was not leaving that long enough to photograph.

Check back to learn more about the water remediation of my home, or continue to Part 2

2/9/2016 11:30 AM

[Pinned] Why You Need Medical Coverage for your Auto Insurance

Imagine a regular commute you take – to work, church, or even the grocery store. At high speeds you approach a merging lane, or an intersection, and the vehicles in front of you are stopped.  You slam on your breaks and stop just in time, but the vehicles behind you were not so lucky.  They didn’t see the brake lights in time, and still at a high speed, slam into the rear of your vehicle.  The shock throws you forward, and then back, causing your neck to whiplash.  Or your head hits the steering wheel, causing a cut.

AmbulanceThere are many, many scenarios that lead to injury from an auto accident.  It may be you, the driver, a passenger, a family member, friend, child – anyone in your vehicle has the potential to be injured in an unexpected accident.  It may not even be your fault, but the injury still happens.

This is what medical coverage on your auto insurance is for, to cover the injuries of those in your vehicle.  

High deductible medical insurance

Some family medical insurance policies come with very high deductibles – imagine a two person family paying out $4,000 deductible before receiving any coverage.  Auto Insurance medical coverage would kick in and pay, up to the limits you carry, regardless of fault.

Immediate coverage

This coverage provides peace of mind that you can seek much needed medical attention after an accident without fear of how to pay the bills (up to the limit of your policy).

Coverage regardless of medical insurance


Medical coverage on your auto insurance will provide payment up to the limits, regardless of whether or not you have medical insurance.  

Coverage for anyone in your vehicle


They don’t have to be relatives, and they don’t have to be on your medical insurance, to have coverage under your policy.

Coverage in case an ambulance comes out to the scene


After the car accident I was in many years ago, I was in shock.  I was covered with glass from the window that was shattered next to my seat.  The police officer that came to the scene insisted that an ambulance come check me out.  At the time I knew nothing about automobile insurance, and was horrified at the idea that I would receive a bill from that ambulance. This is because at the time, I didn't even know medical coverage existed.

Payouts before settling with at fault company


Sometimes an at fault driver’s company won’t pay out until you sign a form finalizing payment and closing the claim.  This could leave you paying out of pocket for all medical expenses, waiting until you’re better and close the claim. This is when your company kicks in.  Because your auto insurance will pay regardless of fault, you can have your medical bills paid through your own auto insurance company.  Your company will later subrogate to get the money back from the at fault company.

Make sure when you go to the emergency room or doctor’s office to let them know you are being seen because of an auto accident.

When shopping for insurance, don’t ignore the importance of medical coverage on your auto insurance.  It provides peace of mind for you and everyone who rides in your car.  Having good health insurance yourself is not a good enough reason to not carry medical coverage on your auto insurance.



Photo: “Ambulance 48” by Arvell Dorsey Jr. Flikr. Unmodified. CC BY 2.0. 

1/26/2016 11:30 AM

[Pinned] Keep Your Car Ready for Winter

A few weeks ago I left for my morning commute during our recent snow squall.  I was prepared to get through the little city roads to US 31 and breeze up to Kokomo.  As usual, I checked the road conditions on INDOT and traffic conditions on Google, and each source indicated travel conditions were fine. In my experience, fine is pretty good mostly dry conditions.

Winter RoadApparently, when the word squall is involved, standards reduce drastically.  I hadn’t even left my city before fish tailing while turning left.  Luckily there was no one nearby to hit, and I was able to shift my tires to stop the car before driving into the light pole, but I was still felt shook up.  The truck sitting in his driveway watching me decided to wait until I was far down the road before pulling out.  

This was the day I learned that squall is a horrible word, and for me, it translates to stay home you crazy person!  Since the roads were really rather busy, I assume most of us either didn’t know the word (like me) or don’t care.  I have always stayed a bit more concerned about winter driving since the car accident I was in while seeing Christmas lights many years ago (for that story, see Choosing a Value for Personal Property).

I assumed the bad weather stuck to the city alone.  Another key thing to remember about winter driving – Roundabouts are really slide-abouts.  The roundabout were so clogged, I had to have other cars stop to let me in.  Even then the normal two lanes went down to one, and I was going under 10mph trying not to slide.  Many people were not so lucky.

Unfortunately that day, because of the squall, they couldn’t keep 31 clean.  The roads were horrible, with most people going really slow, and a few people speeding for their lives to not be late to work in the left lane.  Honestly, I would rather all of us be late to work, or not go at all, and live.  Particularly because when the squall kicked in, there were pop up white-out conditions.

To my displeasure, I’m accumulating a lot of commuting during bad weather stories.  Because of all the sliding about, getting stuck in traffic, and general time I spend on the road, I try to take care of my car.  

So as a fellow commuter suffering the winter season, here are some tips for car maintenance to make sure your vehicle is up to shape.

  • Get a regular tune-up (which hopefully includes much of the following)
  • Have alignments done regularly (particularly if you are driving around Kokomo, on 31 regularly, or anywhere that has lots of bumps and pop-holes) – well aligned car won’t wear down your tires as much (poor alignment during the winter can cause your tires to wear unevenly).
  • Check fluid levels, including windshield washer fluid
  • Check tire tread and make sure it doesn’t get too low!
  • Have a Battery check-up done 
  • Make a winter emergency kit for your car (ice-scraper, de-icing liquid, flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves, boots, first aid kit, small shovel, etc.) Include anything you would need in case your car broke down during your drive in the winter.
  • Keep area clean under windshield wipers (make sure you don’t still have dead leafs and debris)
  • Make sure you keep filled up on gas – never let your car run to empty.
  • Check wiper blades – make sure to replace them before they are ineffective (lifespan of a year for maximum effectiveness).

One additional tip - Don’t store anything in your trunk that you may need if your car breaks down (unless you have access from the front of your vehicle to the trunk).  The last few winters have become cold enough, my trunk froze shut.  I couldn’t get it open for a few weeks. 

Overall, just be smart and safe out on the roads.  We can’t prepare for everything, but it doesn’t hurt to do what we can.  I wish all my fellow commuters safe dry roads and a lack of snow during commuting hours.


Photo: “Fisk Road” by F.D. Richards. Flikr. Unmodified. CC BY-SA 2.0.

12/22/2015 10:34 AM

[Pinned] Happy Holidays!

Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!

 Happy Holidays!

 From the Killingbeck Family

 Be sure to pay attention to our holiday hours!  We will close at 12pm on Christmas Eve, December 24.   We will be closed all day on Christmas, December 25.

We will close early on New Years Eve, December 31.  We will be closed all day on New Years day, January 1st.

12/8/2015 11:14 AM

[Pinned] When you Need to Call Your Insurance Agent - Part Three - Home Insurance

During my time as an insurance agent, I’ve realized I only hear about people’s homes three times: when they buy, when they have a claim, and when they sell.

When people first buy a house they are normally really excited to have a new home, and also know very little about the house they are about to purchase.  None the less, they have to answer a large variety of questions, including if wiring is updated, the age of the roof, and much more. Basically, they have to know the house is a good investment for all parties.

Front Bay WindowThe first home quote I ever did was my own.  I had been working as an insurance agent for quite a few months before I bought my first house.  During that time, I learned auto insurance.  Then to train me in home insurance, I had to answer all the typical home quote questions.

And I knew very few of the answers.  I responded with, “well I think I can find that on the website or inspection” or “well it was built in 2001 so I assume….”  It’s typical.  You get to know a house more when you live in it.

Once you’re done living in it, and you are selling, our conversation is short and straight forward, so no biggie there.

The only other time I tend to hear from people about their home insurance is claims (this excludes the occasional price increase call).  A washing machine turned on before leaving for work overflowed, the shutoff valve didn’t function and provided a continually flow of water, flooding the house before the insured came back home.  A hail storm caused damage to the roof and broke a window.  Wind pulled down a gazebo. A customer backed into their garage door before it finished opening.  There are so many possibilities.

There are so many possibilities of changes that can happen from the time before you close on a home until the claim happens.  You may realize something you thought was updated actually isn’t.  (If you discover old wiring in your home, let your agent know and have it checked out immediately to make sure you are safe and can get it updated).  If you’re like me, you’ll decide to improve your home to fit your style and needs.  This could mean adding an addition, or for some adding a swimming pool.  These are all important things that make a difference in the coverage you need.

One of our customers purchased a trampoline.  As soon as the company found out, they non-renewed the policy, as they don’t cover trampolines.  Trampolines are a common exclusion, as diving boards and slides as well.  Some dog breeds aren’t covered.  The coverage and exclusions all depend on the policy – which is the main reason why you should always read your policy once you receive it.

Don’t be one of the 33% with unpaid claims due to unreported changes.  Check out some of the possibilities below (not all inclusive) of times you need to call your home insurance agent.

People and Your Home

  • You are married and haven’t added your spouse to your policy.
  • A non-relative is living in your home.
  • Your child recently moved out or left for college (and now needs a rental policy).
  • Someone else is listed as an owner of your home (and isn’t already on the policy).


Changes to Property

  • You added an addition to your home.
  • You converted a garage or basement to living space.
  • You added custom features or upgraded features in your home.
  • You built or bought a new outdoor structure.
  • You added a new garage.
  • You installed a swimming pool.
  • You purchased a trampoline.
  • You need your basement to be covered for backup of sewer or subpump.
  • You have moved and the home is sitting vacant.


Business Activities

  • You started a home business.
  • You babysit other people’s children in your home for money.
  • You use over $1500 of your personal tools, equipment or inventory for work.
  • You started earning money from a hobby.


Your Personal Property

  • You have a moped, golf cart, ATV, snowmobile, boat, trailer, or other vehicle without a policy.
  • You received jewelry valued over $500 per item or over $1500 for all items, or would like protection from theft, stones lost, or misplaced jewelry.
  • You bought or now own over $2500 in guns and equipment you didn’t add theft coverage for.
  • You purchased or inherited high valued items: special items, collections, coins, money, antiques, fine arts, grave markers, hearing aids, or over $2500 in silverware or furs.


Coverage Concerns

  • You need coverage for flood (never covered by homeowners insurance).
  • You want coverage from earthquakes.
  • You don’t carry life insurance, or what you carry is too low to pay final expenses and protect your family from unpaid debts, education expenses, and loss of your income.
  • You purchased other real estate, land or business and haven’t added liability.
  • Your assets increased and you are concerned about better protection from large lawsuits.
  • You want protection for refrigerated products.
  • You need identity theft restoration protection.
  • You want coverage for removal of trees downed by wind or ice.

Keep in mind, something as simple as moving out of your home and not telling the company can change your coverage.  If you’re not sure if something will affect your homeowners insurance coverage, please call your agent.

In case you missed them, here are links to Part One – Renter’s Insurance and Part Two – Auto Insurance.



“Front bay window” by Anne Fitten Glenn. Not modified. Flikr. CC BY 2.0


11/24/2015 11:33 AM

[Pinned] Do You Have Enough Insurance to Cover Your Thanksgiving Celebration?

While Thanksgiving brings thoughts of foods – what to cook, eat, buy, etc., many of us don’t think about the fact our celebrations could have an impact on our insurance.

My Thanksgiving tradition has always just been my family getting together, but as we all get older this group continues to grow.  As families grow, and friends also get invited, Thanksgiving gatherings become large parties or celebrations.

This means if you are hosting Thanksgiving, or any gathering or party, you open yourself to risks.

If you serve alcohol at your Thanksgiving celebration, and someone drives drunk and gets in an accident, you could be liable.

If someone gets sick from food you serve, whether you prepared it or not, you could be liable.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which a seemingly innocent holiday celebration could quickly become a huge lawsuit for the host.  It is sad that a day focusing on our thankfulness for what we have quickly can turn into a petty bickering match and then an asset endangering lawsuit. We live in a world quick to turn to lawsuits.

The risk of an impending lawsuit from having people over for a holiday gathering is one big reason why you should carry umbrella insurance.  This increases your liability over both your homeowners (and renters/tenant) insurance and auto insurance, better protecting you in the case someone does sue you.

Carrying the right insurance is just one good start to protecting yourself.  There are other things you can do as well to help limit your liability risks.


Food:  Anything someone eats while at a party you host in your home can become a problem for you.  If they get food poisoning or become ill from consuming food on your property, you can be held liable. It doesn’t matter if you purchased the food elsewhere, from a grocery store or caterer, or if you prepared it yourself.

Make sure you check all food and don’t serve anything you suspect could be bad.  Handle food properly and cook/store according to recommendations.  It’s better to throw out suspected food than risk a lawsuit.

Activities: Mix up the party activities.  Even though Thanksgiving is about eating, make sure you add other activities so it doesn’t also become about drinking. Provide filling foods and non-alcoholic beverage options.

New location: Host the party at another location, particularly a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license.  This will help minimize your liability.

End of the Party: Arrange transportation, such as a cab or designated driver, or overnight accommodations for those who should not drive.

Your Right: Do not serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated guests.  Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends. Stay alert to what’s happening at your party and remember you role in the party.  

Insurance: Check with your agent about if the liability portion of your homeowners insurance or renters insurance will provide coverage if you are sued from an accident or illness from Thanksgiving.  Some policies may exclude liquor liability. Also check how much coverage you have, and if court fees are included in total liability or provided separately. As always, remember to read your own policy to better understand what is covered and excluded.

Better Insurance Protection: Consider purchasing an umbrella policy. This would give you $1 million more liability coverage above your homeowners, which could be necessary if you were to be sued. If you are a frequent host of parties, you should definitely consider an umbrella policy.

Give us a call at Killingbeck Insurance if you have questions about your upcoming Thanksgiving gathering liability, or would like a quote for an umbrella policy.  Try to finish all party planning ahead of time so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends.

From all of us here at Killingbeck Insurance, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!



 Photo: “Happy Thanksgiving” by Faith Goble. Not modified. Flikr. CC BY 2.0

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