Kemper Blog http://usgobtwps81.unitrininc.com:10039/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/Home/InformationCenter/blog/ Kemper Blog <![CDATA[How to Winterize Your Car]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++120116&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++120116 When the Northern Hemisphere faces away from the sun, winter is here. And for most of the country, that means frigid temperatures and potentially dangerous driving conditions. If you haven’t prepared your car for the winter, it’s important you do so as soon as possible:

 

Ensure your battery is in good condition. Batteries work by the flow of electrons. When the temperature really drops, the flow of electrons slows down, and the battery has less energy output. In fact, a car battery in zero degrees only has about half the cranking power it would otherwise have at 80 degrees.

 

De-ice your windows with a scraper. If you can’t see out of your windows, you shouldn’t be driving. Don’t try to use your windshield wipers to remove ice—it won’t work and you may damage them. Instead, use an ice scraper. If you leave your car outside at night, make sure to raise the wipers so that they don’t freeze onto your windshield.

 

Check your tires. Worn tires don’t tread well on snow and a simple turn can turn into a skidding disaster. So if you know that you need new tires, get them before the snow begins to fall.

 

Get the right oil. Freezing temperatures can thicken oil and make it harder for your engine to turn its gears. Oil with a “W” in the viscosity index is recommended for winter use. 5W-20, 5W-30 and 10W-30 provide good oil flow at low temperatures for your engine.

 

And be sure you have quality insurance protection for your car this winter with an auto insurance policy from Kemper. Contact your Independent Agent today to select the right coverage for your needs.

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<![CDATA[Getting the Best Deal on a Used Car]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++113016&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++113016 Congratulations—you’re buying a car! If you found a great deal on a used car, you’ll want to make sure that your great deal doesn’t end up costing you a lot more down the line. Here are some suggestions to help you choose the best used car for your needs:

 

Do your homework. Research the make and model of the car you’re thinking about buying, to see if there have been any issues with it. Compare and contrast dealer prices so you get a good idea of how much the car is worth. Consider visiting kemper.com/replaceyourcar, a free and easy service for pricing vehicles and connecting with dealers.

 

Check the vehicle history report. For example, it can tell you about previous owners, if there have been any serious accidents or issues with the title and much more.

 

Take it for a spin. Try it out in different environments to determine if it’s the right car for your needs. Also, focus on how the car drives and if there are any odd sounds.

 

Have the vehicle inspected. This will make you aware of any issues, and then you can decide if you want to have them fixed or pass on buying the car. Mechanics should check the condition of the exterior and interior as well.

 

Update your insurance. Let your Independent Agent know that you’ve purchased a new car, so your Kemper policy will provide all the protection you need.

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<![CDATA[Tips for De-cluttering Your Apartment or Condo]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++111816&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++111816 We often keep items we don’t use, don’t need and forget we have. And if we’re living in an apartment or condo—without the benefit of a basement or garage—these items could be causing clutter and taking up precious space.

 

The benefits of de-cluttering go beyond a tidy home. They can help us feel more control over our lives, feel more motivated and revitalized. So with these goals in mind, here are some tips for removing the clutter and replacing it with the satisfaction of accomplishment:

 

Picture this. Before you start, visualize how you want your space to look once it’s clutter-free. Write down how you expect to feel so that you can refer to it to keep you motivated.

 

Go for broke. While many experts suggest tackling clutter bit by bit, consider eliminating it thoroughly in six months or less.

 

Sort by category, not location. Going through everything you own in a particular category reveals how much you have, making it easier to downsize. Start with clothes and books, as these can be easier to narrow down. Save personal items, such as photos and letters, for later, as these can be more time-consuming to sort through.

 

Let it go. As you go through your belongings, don’t let how much you spent on the items stop you from getting rid of them if they’re no longer useful. You can always give them to charity.

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<![CDATA[Your Guide to Handling a Car Accident]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++110916&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++110916 If you were involved in a collision, you would probably be shaken up a bit. Afterward, you would have to deal with the logistics, which adds another layer of stress. So, it helps to know in advance what you should do, in the unfortunate event that one happens to you:

 

Pull over for safety. If the car is drivable, move onto the shoulder of the road so it doesn’t block traffic and you stay safe. If you’re unable to move off the road, turn on your hazard lights so other drivers can see you.

 

Make sure everyone is okay. Summon medical help by calling 911.

 

Call the police. Provide them with accident details and respond to their questions as best you can. Get the name and phone number of the officer on the scene, and a copy of the police report.

 

Call a tow company. If your car isn’t drivable, have it towed to your home, to a dealer or known place. Get the name, address and phone number of the towing company. You can decline service from unsolicited tow operators who arrive, and you can choose to where your vehicle is towed. 

 

Gather key information. Before you leave the scene of the accident, ensure you collect the names and contact information of the parties involved, as well as any eyewitnesses. Record the accident location, license plate numbers, type of cars involved and exchange insurance information. Additionally, if it’s safe, take plenty of pictures of the scene of the accident from various angles.

 

Contact Kemper. You can file a claim 24/7 by calling our Claims hotline at 866.536.7376 or online at kemper.com. Provide us with as much detail as possible about the accident and damage.

 

Check if you qualify to use our mobile app. Your adjuster will let you know if you can use our Kemper Photo Inspection app. It will enable you to take photos of the damage with your smart phone and upload them to Kemper for faster claim settlement.

 

We’re committed to quick and personal service and settlement, and to make the claims process as easy as possible for you.

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<![CDATA[Time for a Change: What to Update Besides Your Clocks]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++110116&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++110116 You probably know the drill by now: spring forward, fall back. When we change our clocks on Nov. 6, it’s a good practice to also check the batteries in our smoke detectors. And while you’re at it, consider these other home maintenance steps:

 

  • Juice up your safety devices. Replenish smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, flashlights and weather alert radios with new batteries. Batteries with some life left can be used in clocks or toys until they run out, then you can recycle them.

 

  • See the light. This is a good time to swap energy-guzzling light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. This website has some valuable tips on selecting the best bulbs for you.

 

  • Clean heat. Replace your furnace filter to increase the lifespan of your furnace, as well as the dryer filter and hose. Also dust around and under the dryer to reduce fire risk. A clogged filter requires your air movers to run longer, so expect savings in your electric bill.

 

  • Medical relief. Look at the expiration dates on all your medicines. For any that are expired, dispose of them safely, and replace any you still need. 

 

  • Water watch. Check for any leaks in the sink, toilet, shower or washer plumbing. If you have not replaced your washing machine hoses in the past four years, now is a good time.  A burst hose is a major cause of plumbing claims, so be sure to use hoses that have metal reinforcement braid surrounding the hose.

 

  • Just in case. Restock your first aid and emergency kits. Don’t forget a kit for your pet, too.

 

  • Add to your inventory. If you have an inventory of your possessions, which would be invaluable if you need to file claim, add any new items you’ve purchased over the past few months.

 

  • Speaking of insurance. Made any significant improvements to your home, like putting in a pool or addition or updating your roof? Let your Independent Agent know, so we can be sure your insurance keeps up with your life.

 

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<![CDATA[Halloween Safety Tips]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++102816&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++102816 Halloween is great fun for kids, but walking around a neighborhood at night can come with risk. Here are some ways you and your children can stay safe while enjoying the ghouls-and-goblins holiday:

 

Walk safely

  • Ensure everyone in your party carries a flashlight and knows where to meet in case you are separated
  • When crossing a street, continue to look both ways until you reach the other side
  • Cross the street at corners and crosswalks, and pay attention to traffic lights and signs
  • Keep alert when walking and if you need to text, do so only when you are at a full stop
  • Always stay on the sidewalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the edge of the road facing traffic
  • Children should know to make eye contact with drivers, and wait for them signal the go-ahead. Even though pedestrians have the right-away, some drivers may not see them

 

Costume safety

  • Choose costumes with bright colors that can be more easily seen at night
  • Add reflectors or glow sticks to costumes. Glow sticks, apart from making your child visible, can add a spooky kind of glow to their costume. It’s a win-win!

 

Trick-or-treating safety

  • If your child is responsible, and old enough to go without parents, make sure he or she is accompanied by friends, and sticks to local and familiar neighborhoods.

 

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<![CDATA[Get Ready to Weather the Winter with These Home Tips]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++101416&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++101416 As the weather begins to cool, it’s a good time to start preparing your home for winter. Check out these tips:

 

Clean your gutters. Remove any leaf litter and debris, and secure the gutters to your home, which will keep your drainage system working properly and reduce the risk of ice dams. 

 

Pack up your outdoor furniture. If you live in a snowy region, clean your furniture and put it into storage to keep it in good condition for next summer.

 

Seal your windows. A cold winter draft can wreak havoc on your energy bill. Improve your home heating efficiency by sealing drafty windows, and caulking gaps and holes. You can also keep your home warmer by investing in heavy curtains.

 

Prepare your fireplace. Inspect your chimney and fireplace area for animals and debris, and clear the fireplace of obstructions, ash and creosote. This will ensure your fireplace will be ready for you when you’re ready for it.

 

Build a plan for outages. Heavy snow and high winds can bring down trees and power lines. Plan now for power outages so you are able to swing into action should you experience this type of emergency. Keep handy snow removal gear, plenty of water and non-perishable food, blankets, flashlights, first aid kit and anything else you think you might need.

 

Ensure you’re well insured. Keeping your home safe and secure through winter begins with having the right homeowners insurance. Contact your Independent Agent to ask about a Kemper Home policy today.

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<![CDATA[Best Practices When Working With a Contractor]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++101216&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/blog+post++101216 Have a repair or remodeling project on the horizon? Here are some tips on how you can get the results you want from your contractor:

 

  • Take bids. To get a fair price, get multiple bids. But be sure the scope you bid is the same for an apples-to-apples comparison.

 

  • Qualified, licensed and insured. Many states require contractors to be licensed in their area of specialty; check the rules in your state and ensure your contractor has the proper license. Your contractor should also have workers compensation and liability coverages.

 

  • Registered with the state. Small businesses with “doing business as” names must be registered with the state. Be sure your contractor has taken this step.

 

  • Know who’s doing the work. Contractors may subcontract the work to others. Be aware of their names and backgrounds, and know if the contractor has worked with them before.

 

  • Kudos or complaints. You’ll want to find out the contractor’s reputation and you can do this in several ways: contact the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints and ask the contractor directly for references from past work.

 

  • Put it in writing. The contractor should draw up a detailed contract, specifying what work is to be done and by what date, as well as what amount will be paid at each work completion milestone, as it is approved by code compliance authorities.

 

  • Permits should be pulled. Never allow work to start until proper permits are obtained from the local authorities. Permits are generally pulled by your contractor based on the scope of work provided. You could be fined or required to alter the project by the city if the work’s done without one.

 

  • Never pay upfront. A reputable contractor should not ask for payment before work starts. If some payment is required during the project, make sure it’s after your city authorities have approved this specific part of the job (if inspection is required by local regulations).

 

  • Materials should come home. The contractor should have materials delivered to your home, not his or her business. Unscrupulous contractors that take delivery could claim it never appeared or came up short.

 

  • Lien lessons. It’s common for contractors, subcontractors and/or material providers to put a lien on your home as part of the project; read your contract carefully and ensure you agree with its conditions. It’s important to withhold final payment until liens from all parties performing work on the property have been released; in fact, you should get a signed copy from the city that there’s no longer a lien against your home.

 

  • Document with pictures. Take photos during the repair process in case it doesn’t pass state inspection or more work is needed later.

 

And importantly, if you’ve remodeled, you may have also increased the value of your home. You’ll want to make sure your insurance reflects this so you are fully protected in the event of a covered loss. Speak to your Independent Agent today to see if you have all the coverage you need.

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<![CDATA[Wrap Up Your Boat This Winter]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/wrap+up+your+boat+this+winter&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/wrap+up+your+boat+this+winter As winter approaches, you may be prepping your home and pulling out your sweaters and thermals. Don’t forget about preparing your boat too.

 

Ideally, the best place for your boat during winter is out of the water, under cover and in a climate-controlled storage area. But, if you don’t have this option, consider shrink-wrapping it.

Following are other tips to protect your boat before the colder weather comes, which you can do yourself, or your marina can do it for you:

 

Outboard engine

  • Treat remaining fuel with fuel stabilizer, and flush the engine with antifreeze
  • Grease the propeller shaft and threads, and change the gear oil in the lower unit

 

Overall

  • Remove any marine life attached to your boat
  • Clear out all personal items and clean the space thoroughly
  • If your boat is in a closed area or under a tarp, use a dehumidifier or moisture absorber inside the cabin to prevent mold and mildew
  • Wash and wax the hull before storing your boat out of the water

 

While you’re doing this preparation, consider adding boat insurance to your Home policy to further protect your investment, as well as cover your liability. Contact your Independent Agent to find out more.

 

All statements are subject to the terms, exclusions and conditions of the applicable policy. In all instances current policy contract language prevails. Products, services and discounts referenced herein are not available in all states or in all underwriting companies. Coverage is subject to individual policyholders meeting our underwriting qualifications and state availability. 

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<![CDATA[Switch Gears for Autumn Driving]]> http://www.kemper.com/wps/myportal/KemperDirect/rssFeedBlog?current=true&urile=wcm%3apath%3a/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/switch+gears+for+autumn+driving&WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/kemper/informationcenter/blog/blog+posts/switch+gears+for+autumn+driving With the fall season here, many of us are enjoying the cooler temperatures, changing leaves and all things pumpkin-spiced. Motorists, though, face a new set of challenges while driving on fall roads:

 

Autumn leaves must fall. Falling leaves and rain on the roads can create one slippery layer. Take care when you’re driving in areas with a lot of bare trees and when it’s raining. Always slow down if debris is in the road.

 

Water and oil don’t mix. Rain causes oil to sit on top of the wet road, which can create a slick surface. Your stopping distance will increase, so be sure to leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you. And note that the first rain after a long dry spell can be particularly slippery.

 

When darkness falls. In most areas of the U.S., we turn back the clocks on Nov. 6, which may reduce visibility during your dusk or dawn commute. Always turn on your headlights during this time. If it’s a foggy morning, be sure to keep your headlights on low beam setting, and use fog lights if you have them.

 

It’s wild out there. When driving on rural roads, keep an eye out for animals. Fall is deer mating season, so the chances of running into deer increase. Note that deer are most active at dusk or dawn. They often travel in groups, so if you see one, look for more.

 

If you do see a deer ahead, slow down and maneuver your way around the animal. If you don’t have enough time to stop, accelerate, as slowing down lowers the front-end of your car and can send the deer into your windshield.

 

Check up on your insurance. In fall, as always, it’s important to ensure you’re protected with a quality auto insurance policy. Contact your Independent Agent today to help you match the right coverage to your needs and budget.

 

All statements are subject to the terms, exclusions and conditions of the applicable policy. In all instances current policy contract language prevails. Products, services and discounts referenced herein are not available in all states or in all underwriting companies. Coverage is subject to individual policyholders meeting our underwriting qualifications and state availability. 

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