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Keep Your Thanksgiving Disaster-Free

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Blog, My Favorite Things

ScottHomaBonfires, crisp nights, leaves turning colors, football, and pumpkins. What do all these things have in common? They remind us of autumn.

With autumn comes Thanksgiving and with Thanksgiving comes the one day a year that more cooking fires occur than any other day. In fact, grease- and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day, as compared to an average November day.

The title for this blog is, “My Favorite Things.” I can’t think of anything more valuable than my family and my home. These are my most favorite things. To prevent you from being a statistic and burning down your home, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers some tips for a safe and happy Thanksgiving while cooking ol’ Tom Turkey in that ever-popular deep fryer.

  • NEVER leave a fryer unattended.
  • Place fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures.
  • Never use your fryer IN, ON, or UNDER a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
  • Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
  • Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
  • Raise and lower food SLOWLY to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
  • COVER bare skin when adding or removing food.
  • Check the oil temperature frequently.
  • If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF.
  • If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish fire with water.

To make sure your possessions, your family, and your home are properly protected from disaster, contact your local Pekin Insurance agent to be certain all your insurance needs are answered.

Scott Homa, CPCU, AIC, AU
National Claim Specialist

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Tips to Avoid a Deer Collision

Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in Blog, My Favorite Things

BeckyCalhoun Fall is the time of year when many people are dreaming of bagging that big buck. But you sure don’t want to do it with your vehicle! Here are a few tips to avoid a collision with a deer.

  • Be Alert, especially at This Time of the Year! During hunting season and breeding season, deer are extremely active. Sunrise and sunset to midnight are particularly high-risk times of the day.
  • Slow Down and Know Your Surroundings. Driving slower will provide you with more time to react if you spot a deer along the roadway. When you are driving in rural or wooded areas or where there are signs posted warning of deer crossings, be extra cautious.
  • Drive Defensively. Wear your seat belt, and be sure to look for deer. Deer usually do not travel alone, so if you see one deer, it is likely there are more nearby.
  • Use High-Beam Headlights at Night. When there is no oncoming traffic, use high-beam headlights to help illuminate the area you are driving through and make deer more visible.
  • Don’t Swerve Your Vehicle. Swerving your vehicle to miss hitting a deer may cause you to lose control of your vehicle and possibly cause a collision with another vehicle, a tree, or other object.
  • Watch for warning Signs from Other Vehicles. If you notice other vehicles are slowing down or have their flashers on, this could be a warning there are deer in the area. Be prepared to take appropriate action.

What Coverage Applies if I Hit a Deer?

Although you may think Collision coverage would repair damage to your vehicle if you are in a collision with an animal, it is actually Comprehensive Coverage that provides coverage for damage to your automobile resulting from a covered loss due to animal collision. Most Comprehensive coverages have a deductible that would also apply to an animal collision loss.

Be careful, drive safely, and leave the deer for the hunters!

Becky Calhoun, CPCU, AU
Senior Personal Lines R&D Specialist


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Know Your Stuff Should Disaster Strike!

Posted by on Oct 15, 2013 in Blog, My Favorite Things

ShannonMullisNo one ever thinks tragedy will strike them or their family. Unfortunately, things do happen when we least expect them to. The best way to handle tragedy is to have a plan. We can’t feasibly have a plan for every tragedy that may occur, but for the big ones such as fire, tornado, or theft, having essential tools in place can save you time and headaches.

Dealing with the loss of your personal items to fire or catastrophic storm can be overwhelming. Here are 5 tips to make the process a little easier.

1. Document, document, document. The more information you have about your personal property, the easier it will be to replace the items in the future. Your insurance carrier is going to want to know some important information, such as purchase date, model number, and cost at the time of purchase. The Insurance Information Institute has made the process relatively simple through their free online home inventory software available at

There are also apps you can download to your smartphone. All of the apps below offer the same basic information on recording your property.

Apps for the Apple iPhone include:
• Suresafe Inventory (Free)
• Unisafe Home Inventory (Free)
• Allmythings Home Inventory (Paid)

Android offers many free apps for home inventory and two pay apps. Some of these free apps are:
• MyHome Pro Inventory
• Visual Home Inventory
• The Insurance Information Institute’s mobile app

All iPhone apps can be found in the Apple store, and all Android apps can be found in the Google Play store.

2. Video logging is also a great way to keep accurate records for your insurance carrier. Download the information onto a web page that can be accessed from any computer, or keep the information on an external hard drive in a fire-proof safe. Generally, external hard drives cost in the range of $15 to $100.

3. Keeping receipts of credit card bills is a great way to prove cost on big-ticket items. Insurance carriers are going to want to know when the items were purchased, how much they cost, and what model they are. Keeping important information like this will make the process swift and drama-free when working with your claim adjuster.

4. Know the difference between ACV (actual cash value) and RCV (replacement cost value).

• Actual Cash Value is what you would pay for a similar item at today’s cost minus depreciation.

• Replacement Cost Value is what you would pay for a similar item at today’s cost.

If you do not understand the difference between the two, replacing your items can become a huge headache. Always remember, if you don’t understand something on your Homeowners policy, contact your agent or the claim adjuster to break it down for you.

5. Going room to room and making a complete video log or picture log can ensure that you will get the best results from your Homeowners policy when attempting to replace your personal property. This also gives you an idea of whether you have enough coverage for all of your property.

Finally, any loss can be overwhelming, and with the claim process being unfamiliar, confusion and misinformation can make the process even more tiresome. These tips are just a quick and easy way to document what you have and what you will be replacing should the need ever present itself. I would suggest that after Christmas you update your video logs or picture logs as this is the time of year we tend to acquire new things.

Shannon Mullis
Adjuster – Mt. Vernon Service Office

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An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure When Winterizing Your Boat

Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 in Blog, My Favorite Things

Ed-Mulvey1208 “They’re closing down the hangouts, the air is turning cool, they’re shutting off the super slide, the kids are back in school.” Boaters and Jimmy Buffet fans will recognize these words as part of his popular ballad signaling the end of summer. So, as we end a season of fun and relaxation, we have some work to do! Proper winterization of your boat is a must to close out the season and ensure a trouble free “start up” for power boaters next spring. I see three options: load up the boat and head south to the coast until spring, pay someone else to do it for you, or do it yourself as a labor of love. If you are just a little mechanically minded, and too frugal to choose option one or two, here are a few tips for safe storage.

Now is the time to change the oil on an inboard engine. Moisture and acids in old oil will pit bearings and other engine parts while in storage. Warm-up the engine first so the dirty oil will drain out and impurities will be easier to flush out. Coating internal engine parts with fogging oil is best done through open sparkplug holes. If this is not easily done, spray the fogging oil into the carburetor or intake manifold with the engine running until it stalls and dies.

Water condensation and deteriorating fuel can cause big problems. Add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tanks and fill them nearly full. Run the engine for a few minutes to get the treated gas throughout the entire fuel system. Next, drain the lower unit of old gear oil and replace it with new oil. Check the old oil for moisture. The presence of water or oil that is milky or lumpy is a sign of moisture getting into the system and means you need new seals before next season. Be sure to grease and lubricate other fittings such as steering mechanisms, throttles, and any u-joints or pivot points.

Most importantly, flush and drain the engine cooling system. Water must be drained out of the engine to prevent damage from expanding water if it freezes. Check your owner’s manual for the location of drain plugs on the engine block, and for outboards, be certain that all water has drained from the engine. These same precautions must be taken with any onboard plumbing or air conditioning devices. Empty waste and freshwater holding tanks as much as possible. Add nontoxic antifreeze to the freshwater tank and run faucets and showerheads until the antifreeze appears. Don’t forget about heads and floor drains.

Storing a boat inside is the best method, but it can be expensive. The next best thing would be to shrink-wrap your boat or at least to cover your boat with a durable, well-fitting cover. Be sure to remove batteries from the boat and store them in a cool, dry place. If possible, place them on a smart charger or charge them once a month throughout the winter.

The old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” certainly applies here. Go online or check your owner’s manual for more winterization and maintenance advice. Most of these tips apply to personal watercraft, as well as other seasonal motorized equipment. Good luck, and I hope you have a great boating season next year!

Ed Mulvey, CPCU
Vice President – Personal Lines Underwriting


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