Deer crossing sign

Avoid Deer-Vehicle Collisions With These 8 Tips!

November is just about here, and that means that winter will be upon us soon enough! We will be experiencing colder weather, shorter amounts of daylight, and maybe even some snow!

While preparing to drive in the winter weather is one task you really need to do, be aware that the behavior in our native wildlife will be changing along with the season. During this time of year, deer will become even more prominent along the sides of the road, and you should keep an eye out for them even more.

The month of November is the time of the year in which you are the most likely to be involved in a deer-vehicle collision. More than 18% of all deer-vehicle collisions take place in November; in fact, you are three times more likely to hit a deer in November than you are on any given day between February 1 and August 31. Besides November, October is the second most dangerous month for motorists and deer, and December ranks as third most dangerous.

While you don’t have to start worrying about deer leaping out in front of you (unless you live in West Virginia – the state that you’re the most likely to hit a deer in), you will want to take some precautions this fall. Both Illinois and Missouri are moderate-risk states with Missouri having higher odds than Illinois.

With these statistics and facts in mind, please remember the following 8 tips when you’re out on the road this fall:

Slow Down – Take it slow out there! There’s no need to speed, even if you happen to be late for work. Obey the posted speed limits – they’re there for a reason, after all! Be sure to also drive defensively, especially at night when the wildlife comes to life along the roadways.

Watch the Sides of the Road – This doesn’t mean that you should only watch the sides of the road, but you should be more alert to any movements on the sides. The times to be on highest alert are at dusk and dawn. Deer are especially active between 6 and 9 p.m.

Keep Your Distance – Refrain from tailgating when you’re on the road! Keep a safe distance behind the car in front of you so you can avoid an unnecessary accident.

Rely on Your Eyes – As much as we’d like to believe it to be true, we’re pretty positive that those car-mounted deer whistles won’t really do much of anything to deter any deer. Instead, rely on your perfectly good eyes and the road signs around you to keep you and your car safe.

Be Bright – Those high-beam headlamps are on your car for a reason, so go ahead and use them! You will be able to see objects and animals on or near the road more clearly when you do. Just be sure to be courteous to other drivers on the road when they are traveling on the opposite side of the road. Turn your high-beams off when they are within 500 feet of your vehicle.

Beware of Other Deer – If you encounter a deer on your drive, do remember that deer like to travel in herds. More than likely, there will be at least one more deer along with the one you spotted on or near the road. Slow down and make sure that the road is clear before proceeding.

Stay in Control – If you see a deer out of nowhere on the road and feel that an accident is inevitable, swerving out of the way could make things worse. It could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and potentially place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle, which is much worse than colliding with an animal. If you can’t avoid the accident, do all that you can to lessen the impact and stay in control of your vehicle.

Stay Confident in Yourself – Driving in any kind of situation is more difficult when you’re not feeling sure of yourself. Remember, just because the odds of encountering a deer on the road are higher this time of year doesn’t mean that you’re destined to get in an accident. Don’t be afraid behind the wheel – get out there, buckle up, and stay confident in your driving skills, no matter the outcome!

We hope that these tips will help better prepare you for the upcoming months! If you have any further questions or need any assistance when it comes to auto insurance, we’re the right people to talk to! Just call Madison Mutual at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

Identity Theft

Take These 6 Steps to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

Identity theft is a problem that affects millions of people every year. In fact, according to the 2013 Javelin Strategy & Research Identity Fraud Report, more than 12.6 million Americans were victims of some form of identity theft in 2012. These thieves will do just about anything to get their hands on another’s identity from scrounging and skimming to dumpster diving and phishing for information. The victims can spend several years picking up the pieces and trying to recover their lost funds.

The easiest way to fight against identity theft is by preventing it in the first place. Follow these 6 easy tips to help protect your identity from thieves everywhere!

Shred Your Personal Information – You don’t have to shred every single letter that comes into your home, but you do need to shred all the items that contain any pertinent information an identity thief would want. Run your credit card receipts, old bills, old bank statements, medical statements, pre-approved credit card offers, and anything else that has your personal financial information through the shredder instead of simply tossing them in the trash.

Limit Your Number of Credit Cards – Try not to keep too many different credit card accounts open. In this case, the fewer cards you have, the better off you’ll be. Remember, it’s much easier to keep track of everything if you have fewer accounts to remember. Close out the old accounts you don’t use (if they don’t have any debt on them, that is).

Keep Your Mailbox Empty – It might be tempting to leave your postmarked bills in your mailbox for your mail carrier to pick up, but try to resist. Keeping these items in your mailbox can give thieves easy access to your financial information. Instead of sticking them in the mailbox, take your paid bills to the post office to ensure safe handling.

Never Give Your Information Out Over the Phone – It might seem like common sense, but it needs to be said regardless – never give your information over the phone to someone who calls you on the telephone. The person on the other end could be trying to scam you for your information. Never give out your bank account number, social security number, or your credit card number or information over the phone.

Always Protect Your Social Security Number – Your social security number is a unique set of numbers and should only be given out if it’s absolutely necessary. If a merchant demands your number, don’t be afraid to ask why it’s necessary. If they legitimately need it, they will completely understand your wariness and give you a full and complete explanation. If it doesn’t sound right or feel right to you, then it probably isn’t.

Remain Vigilant – Keep close watch on your bank accounts and credit card accounts. Check them regularly and carefully. If you notice any missing bills that you were expecting or see any unauthorized purchases being made on your account, it could very well be a sign that your identity has been compromised. If you feel that someone has compromised your identity, call the police and your bank right away.

We at Madison Mutual can also give you the utmost protection, especially when it comes to identity theft. We have recently partnered with IDentity Theft 911, the nation’s premier identity management and data risk management services provider, in order to provide you, our policyholder, with superior identity management services. You can rest assured knowing that you will be protected from the newest identity risks including phishing, scams, social media account or email account compromises, tax related identity theft, and much more!

For more information, visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com or call us at 1-800-766-MMIC!

smoke alarm

5 Ways to Get Your Furnace and Smoke Detectors Ready for Fall

Fall is here, and Daylight Saving Time will be ending very shortly – November 3rd at 2 a.m., to be precise! We’re sure that you’ve probably taken the time to decorate your home for the season and have probably made the proper changes in your wardrobe as well, but is your house ready for the season?

When the time comes to “fall back” and turn your clocks back one whole hour, there are a few things you will need to do to make sure your home is running at its top efficiency. Read on below to see the 5 things you need to do this fall to prepare yourself for the fall and winter seasons!

Change the Filter – The top reason that heating and cooling systems in homes fail is due to an unchanged filter. Some experts believe that filters should be changed once a month, but you’re probably better off inspecting it each month and switching it out every three months, that is, once every season.

Why should you do this? Not only will you help ensure that your system will run smoothly for the upcoming seasons, but you will also improve the air quality in your home, reduce the energy your furnace uses, and could even save a little extra money on your electric bill!

Take Care of Your Thermostat – During the fall season, be sure to clean your thermostat’s heat sensor, contacts, and contact points. Doing so will ensure that it’s running at its optimum efficiency. You can also try to save some money on your energy bill by keeping your thermostat between 68 and 72 degrees during the day and a few degrees lower at night. If that’s too cold for you, you can always get into the fall spirit and cuddle up with your favorite blankets and sip some hot chocolate!

Check Your Smoke Detectors – When the clocks fall back on November 3rd, it’s a prudent idea to check your smoke detectors and switch out the batteries. If your detectors are 10 years or older, replace them and be sure to check that your fire extinguisher is still where it needs to be and functions properly.

Invest in a Carbon Monoxide Detector – You should already have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home, but if you don’t now is the time to invest in one! Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas and cannot be detected without a detector in the home. If you do purchase one, make sure to put it on the ceiling or above the doorframe of the room you spend most of your time in.

Turn Your Attention to Your Furnace – If you haven’t turned on your furnace at all this season, do so NOW to make sure that it’s working before the coldest weather descends. You should smell a strong, odd odor for a short time, but if it lasts for a long time, shut it down and call us right away. Remember to get your furnace cleaned and tuned annually and to change out the filters monthly to keep your furnace running smoothly and the air you breathe clean!

Before the colder temperatures sink in and stay until springtime, feel free to come in to our office to look over your home insurance policy with us. We can go over your policy and let you know if it needs to be updated in any manner to give you optimal protection! Stop in anytime, call us at 1-800-766-MMIC, or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com for more information!

Kid with firetruck

7 Essential Tips to Help Protect Your and Your Family From Fire

When a fire strikes, several lives are turned upside down. In fact, according to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 4,000 people die in the United States, and 25,000 people are injured every year due to house fires. Sadly enough, many of these incidents could have been prevented with education and a plan.

Be sure you and your family are protected from fire and, in the event of a fire happening, your family is safe. Follow these 7 tips to help ensure your safety.

Install Working Smoke Alarms – Having smoke alarms in your home is one of the best defensive moves you can make in protecting you and yours from a fire. In fact, properly working smoke alarms increase your chances of surviving a fire by 50 percent. Be sure to place smoke alarms one every level of your home, including outside bedrooms on the ceiling, at the top of open stairways, or at the bottom of enclosed stairs. Keep one near but not in the kitchen, and be sure to test and clean your smoke detectors every year. Remember to always test the detectors and replace the batteries twice every year.

Come Up With a Plan – It is imperative to come up with a fire plan and review it with your family frequently. Teach your family members to keep low to the floor, and practice escaping from each room with your family. Ensure that the windows in your home are not nailed or painted shut in case you need to use them if there’s a fire. Consider purchasing escape ladders if your home has more than one level as well. Keep a fire extinguisher in an easily-accessible place, and teach all of your family members how to use it.

Take Care of Electrical Cords – Too many electrical cords in one space can overload your circuits and cause a fire. Remember to never overload your wall outlets and to use fuses that are the right rate for your home’s circuits. Never plug in frayed electrical cords! Instead, spend a few extra dollars to buy a new cord.

Be Cautious of Flammable Items – Keep gasoline, benzene, and other flammable liquids outside and store them in approved containers in a well-ventilated storage areas. Never smoke near flammable liquids! When it comes to your chimney, be sure that it’s at least 3 feet higher than your room and that no branches are hanging above or around it. Keep the chimney clean and swept as well.

Be Smart With Home Heaters – Wintertime will soon be upon us, and it will soon be time to break out the space heaters to keep us nice and warm. When you have space heaters in your home, be sure to treat them with care. Keep them away from drapes, furniture, and other flammable objects. As tempting as it might be to fall asleep beside a warm space heater, be sure to turn it off before you go to sleep.

Keep the Kitchen Safe – The kitchen is a common place for fires to start. Prevent fires by keeping your stove clean and free of grease and keeping flammable items including shirt sleeves away from the burners. Have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire, and never, ever leave cooking food unattended.

Be Smart in the Event of a Fire – Sometimes prevention is not enough to stop a fire. Check closed doors for heat before you open them by using the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the crack between the door and doorframe, and the doorknob before you open it; never use your palms or your fingers to check! If you cannot pass through the door, escape through a window. If that isn’t possible, hang a white or light-colored sheet or large cloth outside the window to notify fire fighters that you are trapped. If you can pass, crawl to the exit. If your clothes catch on fire, DO NOT run; instead, stop, drop, and roll until the fire is extinguished.

Be sure to protect your home as well. Home insurance can help protect you, your family, and your valuables in the event of a fire. If you’re in need of more information or a home insurance policy, call the best – Madison Mutual – at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com! We will go over all the information and determine which policy is the best for you and your family.