4 Vital Tips to Stay Safe During Winter Weather Emergencies

Baby, it’s cold outside! The season of winter can be full of snowball fights and snuggling by the fire, but with the cold weather comes a whole slew of potential problems. 

Hopefully you took the extra precautions and prepped your home and car for winter back in the fall season.  If you still find yourself in a jam, below are scenarios and tips to help you get out of some sticky situations!

Your car gets stuck in the snow . . . in the middle of nowhere – First and foremost, do not stray from your car. It’s warmer and you won’t risk getting hypothermia.  With that said, do check periodically to make sure your tailpipe isn’t blocked so you can avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  Turn off your engine to reserve gas, only starting the car every 20 minutes or so to warm up.  Only use your cell phone to call for help.  Once someone comes to rescue you, remember to drive SLOWLY.  Also, keep a bag of sand in your car for traction if you were to become stuck again in the future.

Your pipes freeze and/or burst – There’s no need to call your plumber. Immediately shut off the main water valve and leave the faucets open. Next, open all of your cabinet doors and crawl space to allow the warmth of your house to help thaw the pipes. Do NOT use any open flames or any electrical device to warm up the pipes.  Just sit back, read the paper, and give the pipes time to thaw.  When you’re ready to test the pipes, slowly turn on the water main valve while another person walks around the house to ensure water is running from all faucets and no cracked pipes are spotted.

Your home loses power and the temperature is dropping – Now would be a good time to introduce yourself to the new neighbors that have a fireplace and invite yourself in.  You should also check on any elderly neighbors.  If you have to stay at your house, do not use kerosene heaters, BBQs or any outdoor heater inside.  This could result in carbon monoxide poisoning.  Dress in layers to stay warm instead.  If you’re still freezing, take a warm shower to help raise your body temperature.  If it’s going to be awhile before power is restored and it’s unbearably cold, drive carefully to your local shelter.

You suspect carbon monoxide poisoning – Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea and weakness.  If you think you’re experiencing this, get out of the house into fresh air immediately, then seek medical attention.  If you are diagnosed with CO poisoning, you will need a qualified service person to make sure the appliances are working properly before using them again.

Be sure to keep your family, home, and vehicles safe this winter.  Our insurance can provide protection when winter weather emergencies occur! Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC, visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com, or stop by our office to find out how we can protect you!

12 Auto Insurance Myths You Should Stop Believing

Purchasing auto insurance for the first time, renewing your policy, or adjusting your preexisting policy can be stressful and a little scary, especially if you’re not well-versed in the world of insurance. You’ve probably even heard of many so-called auto insurance “facts” that might have made you nervous about getting a policy for one reason or another.

That’s why Madison Mutual is here to help clear up the fiction and give you the straight facts about auto insurance. Here are the top 12 auto insurance myths that we have debunked for you! See them below!

The color of my car matters – Red cars might be what many drivers want in their garages, but it is certainly no real interest to the insurance company. We are much more interested in your car’s make and model, its year, body, style, and engine size than its color. What matters much more than the color of your car (and can help or hurt in determining the cost) is your behavior on the road. Moving violations such as speeding or reckless driving that result in “points” can definitely affect the cost of your premiums, no matter what color your car is.

My ancient car won’t be a target for theft – Your car might not be from the 21st century, but it can mostly certainly be a target for theft! According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau report, car thieves preferred older models because they were easier to steal. The report also suggests that the thieves’ preference varies from state to state. For instance, thieves in Texas tend to steal trucks while bandits in California tend to pilfer Hondas, Toyotas, and other imported models.

My credit score won’t affect my insurance rates – Many insurance agents take a lot of factors into consideration when determining your premium rates. Your credit score is seen as an indication of how you handle your financial affairs, so many companies will look at your number if you’re interested in purchasing, renewing, or changing your policy.

If my car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged by hail, wind, fire, or flood, I’m covered – It isn’t entirely a given that your car will be covered in the event of theft, vandalizing, or damage caused by natural disaster. You may have to purchase comprehensive and collision coverage to make sure that you’re totally covered. Talk to us to find out what would best suit you and your vehicle!

My personal property inside my car is covered – We wouldn’t recommend leaving your iPod, laptop, or those expensive golf clubs in your car. If your personal property inside your car happens to be ruined, damaged, or stolen from your car, you won’t be covered; however, you may file a claim through your homeowner’s insurance policy!

If my friend borrows my car, he’s responsible if there’s an accident – Your auto insurance policy will apply to the car, not the driver. If your friend borrows your car and is involved in an accident, you will ultimately be responsible for the accident and for any damages that occur as well. Think twice before letting your friends borrow your car!

Sports car drivers have to pay more on insurance – You might think that drivers of sports cars will have to pay up more in the insurance department because they probably have a glove box full of unpaid violation tickets, but that isn’t true. In fact, according to a study published in 2009 by Quality Planning, drivers of the Hummer H2/H3 go the most violations and – more than likely – higher premium rates. Others that made the list were drivers of the Scion xB multipurpose wagon and the Subaru Outback station wagon. These cars are definitely not hot sports cars! Again, it’s not the type of car that matters; it’s your behavior behind the wheel that counts.

I have no-fault insurance. That means it’s never my fault! While no-fault insurance varies from state to state, it generally means that that you and the other party will be covered for immediate expenses like medical attention or lost wages while the insurance companies will figure out who will pay for the accident. You may, however, still be liable for repairs and other damages if the insurance companies ultimately decide that the accident was your fault, so beware.

One speeding ticket will make my rates skyrocket – This is true sometimes, but in many cases, you have to get two tickets before your rates go up. Remember, your driving history, the length of time you’ve been insured with us, and how fast you were traveling when you were cited can all affect whether your rates increase or not. Additionally, a speeding ticket may not be the only reason your rate increases; several factors are considered when your policy is being reviewed.

My rates will be higher if I’m a smoker – This isn’t true for car insurance. In fact, we won’t even ask you if you’re a smoker or not. Really, though, you should consider trying to quit if you do smoke so that you won’t have to pay so much for your health insurance and so you may live a longer, more fulfilling life!

I just need the bare minimum amount of car insurance to get by – Many states have minimum car insurance requirements, but the minimum amount of required insurance that you receive may not cover all of your costs! For instance, if you happen to cause an accident that results in a lawsuit and your insurance limits don’t cover all of the damages, your assets could be legally pursued. Talk with us to figure out what coverage you really need!

Cheaper cars cost less to insure – Actually, it all depends. If your cheaper car sports a larger engine, weights a lot, or is an unusual model, it could cost more to insure than a more expensive small car. That being said, if you have a cheaper car, you should pay less for comprehensive coverage, which covers damage caused by hail, fire, animal accidents, or vandalism.

If you’re looking for a great auto insurance policy that won’t break the bank, don’t choose just any insurance provider. Go with the best in town – Madison Mutual! We have been covering and protecting people for nearly 100 years, and we will make sure that you will be properly protected. After all, anything can happen. Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com to get started today!

Resolve to Stay Financially Fit With These 8 Tips!

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to get your finances in order? It might seem like a terrifying prospect to delve into your budget (or create a budget from the ground up) and figure out how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and save for your retirement, no matter how young or old you are.

It’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can certainly dictate how we feel about our lives. When our finances are clean and in order, we feel calm, confident, and assured that we are doing the right thing for our futures and for any potential future events. When our finances are a mess, we, too, seem to be a mess.

Don’t worry – staying financially fit doesn’t have to be too hard! We have 8 great little tips to help you get on the right track and get your financial house on the road to success in 2014!

Open your bills when they arrive – Even though this might be a common sense tip, it’s quite easy to grab the mail and not even bother opening, tossing it on your table on top of your pile of unopened mail. Face the bills head-on the day they come instead of ignoring the problem. Open your mail the day it arrives and take care of the bills as you receive them to help you stay on top of things!

Pay bills on time – Being loose on your bills can be quite dangerous. After all, late fees can really rack up in no time, and one late payment can definitely knock your credit score down by as much as 100 points. If you happen to be a traveler, procrastinator, or simply unorganized, you can always try setting up automatic bill paying to be sure that you’re never late for a payment.

Record each deposit, withdrawal, and transaction – We know, it’s so old-fashioned to balance “ye old checkbook,” but it’ll save you a lot of grief in the long run. Fees for being over the limit and having non-sufficient funds can become as high as your credit card late fees, and you could find yourself digging yourself out of a really large hole. Avoid all this headache easily by recording all of your transactions, withdrawals, and deposits so that you know where you stand financially at al times.

Review your monthly credit statement carefully – As a consumer, you should really keep track of how much you owe and when you need to make payments. Be sure, too, to check your statements each month for unauthorized charges that might appear on them – these can signify that you are the victim of identity theft or show that you have rate changes or changes to your credit limit. If you notice anything on your statements that you cannot explain, contact the issuer immediately.

Don’t take credit limits to the max – It might seem like a really great idea to go to your favorite store and go on a shopping spree till you reach your credit limit, but trust us, don’t do it. Using all of your available credit will more than likely backfire on you and will do you no favors. In fact, it could indicate to creditors that you’re in financial distress and could potentially give you higher rates and lower credit lines in the future. Instead, try to spend only 30 percent or less of your credit to stay on the path of financial fitness.

Know where your money is going – Budgets can really be a drag when you’re an adult, but they’re honestly a fantastic tool that helps you stay on track with your spending. Try tracking your spending for a full 30 days and then organize where your money has gone by categories. After a month of tracking, you should feel more in charge of your spending and see if your budget needs any tweaking.

Keep money back in case of emergencies – As we all say around here at Madison Mutual, anything can happen. That’s why it’s best to have at least one month’s worth of income saved up in the back in the event of emergencies or unexpected events. If nothing else, try saving 10% of each of your paychecks into an emergency account to act as a rainy day fun. This should add up to a little more than three months’ income saved up, ready for use in case of emergencies.

Get an annual check-up with Madison Mutual – Just as you should always have an annual check-up with your doctor, you should also come in at least once a year to see us about your insurance. We will make sure that you aren’t over-insured or under-insured and can go over your policies with you and make sure that you understand your policies.

Ready to get financially fit? If you’re ready to go but not sure where to start, feel free to visit us at our office, call us at 1-800-766-MMIC, or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com to learn more! Keeping your resolution to stay financially fit has never been easier with the help of Madison Mutual!

14 Easy Ways to Stay Motivated to Keep Your Resolutions in 2014

Whether you chose to hit the gym more often, cut back on the sweets and red meats, or spend less time on the web and more time with your family, embracing the new patterns needed to make our resolutions a reality can be quite challenging. Shaking old habits is not the easiest thing to undertake, but a great deal of dedication and motivation can help you change your old ways in no time.

Read below to check out our 14 ways you can keep yourself motivated throughout 2014!

Make a Vision Board – Want to know the easiest way to help you stay motivated? Create a vision board so you can see your goals every day – literally! Grab a few old magazines and cut out your favorite photos, quotes, and anything else you’d like to include on your board. Anything that would embody your mission counts! Feel free to get as creative as you want as this is your personal project, and be sure to place it in a place you’ll see every day such as your bedroom or beside your bathroom mirror to keep your resolutions fresh in your mind year-round.

Team Up With a Friend – If a friend or family member is striving for a similar goal this year, you have the option of double-teaming on those goals together and giving each other added support. It’s easier to reach for the goal when you have someone to confide in and to help dissuade you from inevitable temptation. So call up your best friend or grab a relative to make a pact to dominate 2014 together!

Write About It – Keeping a daily journal is another way you can keep yourself motivated throughout the year. Use the journal to recap your accomplishments, track your progress, express your emotions and struggles, and focus on areas you’d want to improve. There’s no specific time you need to write in your journal. You can opt to do it over breakfast, mid-day, before you go to bed, or any other time! The point is that you just keep doing it.

Hold Yourself Accountable – Did you know that it takes 21 days to change your thoughts and develop a new habit? Those first 3 weeks might be the toughest part of your goal, but they are incredibly crucial. In that time frame, you must not let anything slide or become lazy with your goals, so make yourself accountable. Tell your best friend what you’re up to. Put a goal list on your fridge for everyone in your family to see. Shout it out loud on your Facebook page. Do whatever you need to hold yourself accountable and form new, positive habits!

Cheat a Bit – As much as you might not want to admit it, it’s unrealistic to shoot to go cold turkey and all of a sudden eat more healthily every single day or cut off social media all the time. The void will only make you want what you banished even more. Instead, give yourself a designated cheat day! Allow yourself a sweet treat once a week or a quick visit to the Facebook once in a while. You’ll feel a lot more at peace if you permit yourself to have just a little instead of not at all.

Work Your Willpower – Willpower isn’t just a steady, steely resolve fro you to accomplish what you set your sights to – it’s more like a muscle. Like muscles, the more you exercise your willpower, the stronger it gets and the easier it is to say no pretty quickly. But don’t expect to have a great amount of willpower overnight. As a muscle, pushing too hard or under conditions that are too challenging, and your resolve will collapse. Pick your battles wisely!

Have Some OJ – When you show a lot of self-restraint (like stifling your desire to disagree in a politically charged conversation, for example), you can reduce blood glucose levels to less-than-optimal. Luckily, a glass of orange juice or even fresh lemonade can help replenish your blood glucose levels! The brain relies almost exclusively on glucose for energy, so make sure it’s the real thing and not artificially sweetened drinks!

Take One Step at a Time – Taking on too much can diminish your willpower pretty quickly, especially since the changes you’re more than likely aiming to make are actually behavior changes. Take everything one step at a time and make changes slowly. You will soon be accustomed to the new changes and will be much more apt to hold onto your new, healthier habits!

Outsmart Your Rebel Side – Who likes to follow super-strict rules? No one! If you make 100% resolutions such as never having sweets again or never using your credit card ever, your rebel side will find a way to get around your rules. Instead, try using more limited restrictions such as “I’ll have sweets only once a week” so that you won’t feel depraved.

Break It Up – It might be hard to believe, but specific resolutions like losing 10 pounds might be harder to keep. Instead, make looser resolutions and break up your goals into smaller, more attainable chunks. For instance, turn your resolution into losing 10 pounds into aiming to get to the gym to work out at least 3 times this week or taking the stairs at work more often and bringing a healthy lunch with you every day. You’ll feel good when you accomplish each goal, and your success will help bolster your resolve.

Stay Positive – Whenever you feel discouraged or miss a few goals, remind yourself how much you’ve accomplished already or in the past. Resist the urge to beat yourself up over not losing weight or skipping out on your workout for the day – it will only make matters worse. Write down a few things you’re proud of, even if it’s making yourself get out of bed when you don’t want to, and remind yourself of how much willpower you really do have!

Use Your Senses – Our cravings are highly susceptible to visual cues (Don’t you get hungrier after seeing a fast food commercial?!). Draw on the strength of images by putting photos of a thinner you on the fridge or a picture of the place you’re saving up to visit in your wallet by your credit cards. These visual cues will remind you what you are striving for and will help you exercise your willpower even more.

Dodge Temptation Like a Pro – It’s important to know when your resistance is tapped out. Stress, fatigue, and hunger can wear down your resolve quickly. Whenever you feel tempted to eat a few cupcakes or spend a little more money spontaneously, get away from whatever is tempting you until you’ve eaten and rested. This strategy should give you the willpower to stick to your goals.

Enjoy the Journey – Setting resolutions each year and working hard to achieve them can be tough work. Remember to have fun with the process, even if you fall short or lose sight of your goals for a bit. After all, every day is a new chance to give your resolutions another try!

Is one of your resolutions to protect yourself, your family, and your home and car better throughout 2014 and beyond? We can help! Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC, visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com, or stop by our office to see how we can help you reach that goal in no time!

What These 10 Laws Mean for You in 2014

As of Wednesday morning, it is officially 2014! While many of you have made your New Year’s resolutions and are doing your best to stick to them, many laws have been put into motion as of January 1. These laws range from driving to tanning, voting, wages, and everything in between for Illinois and Missouri.

So what do these new laws mean for you? Find out more below to see how you will be affected by these new laws in Illinois and Missouri!

New Laws in Illinois

Concealed Carry – Illinois is the final state in the nation to pass a concealed carry law. Starting this week, it will go into effect, and residents can apply online for a permit on the Illinois State Police’s website. State Police are required by law to approve a license if no problems arise. The first licenses are expected to be issued to applicants by mid-January.

Put Your Phone Down – Do you like to talk on the phone while you drive? Beware if you don’t have Bluetooth in your car. Starting on January 1, drivers in Illinois will phone on the road. If a driver is caught with a phone up to their ear while driving, he or she could be fined at least $75, though in the case of emergencies exceptions might be made. According to State Representative John D’Amico, if you are stopped three times in a year, you can lose your license, so be sure to give yourself a hands-free option when driving.

Speed Limits Increase – Traveling across the great state of Illinois? You can get there slightly faster now as of the first of the year. The speed limit on rural Illinois highways has been increased from 65 to 70 mph, with city areas in Chicago and St. Louis as the exception for slow zones.

No Tanning for Minors – If your youngster wants to look sun-kissed before the big school dance, they will have to do it the old-fashioned way with sunscreen and the sunshine. As of January 1, no Illinois residents younger than 18 will be allowed to use indoor tanning facilities. Additionally, if any business violates the new law, they could be fined $250 for the infraction.

Underage Voting – It’s not all doom and gloom for minors in Illinois. Beginning January 1, any Illinois voter who will be eligible to vote in a November general election will also be eligible to vote in preceding primaries, even if they are only 17 years old at the time. Interested 17-year-old voters must register a month before the primary if they wish to vote.

No Butts About It – Are you a smoker, or do you know someone who smokes? Then pay attention to this new law! As of the beginning of the year, anyone caught tossing a cigarette butt onto the ground risks being fined $1,500 for littering. Please dispose of your cigarette butts in designated ashtrays or your own personal ashtray instead of discarding them on the ground to avoid the fine and to better the environment.

Medicinal Marijuana – As of January 1st, Illinois has become the 20th state to legalize medicinal marijuana, though agencies overseeing the program still have 120 days to lay out the application process for those eligible to obtain the substance. Those who are ill enough to qualify will have to wait several months to obtain the substance. Details will emerge as the year progresses.

New Laws in Missouri

Minimum Wage Increases – Missouri is one of the states increasing their minimum wage this year. Minimum wage rose from $7.35 an hour to $7.50 an hour in order to meet living costs. This effectively makes Missouri one of 20 states with a wage above the federal minimum of $7.25.

Replenish the Second Injury Fund – Missouri’s Second Injury Fund, which beneftis disabled workers who suffer additional work-related injuries will be replenished as of the first of the year. The fund is financed by surcharges on employers’ workers compensation insurance premium. The new law effectively doubles this fee because the fund previously had a balance of less than $3 million but owned several million in payments.

Congenital Heart Disease Tests – Another new mandatory screening for newborns has been issued in Missouri. Doctors are now required to conduct a particular type of test to determine if newborns have congenital heart disease. This raises the number of conditions covered by mandatory newborn screenings to 79 in Missouri.

If you have any questions about these new laws or if you’d like to talk about your insurance policies with us, we can help! Please call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com to see how we can better serve you. Don’t let these new laws catch you off-guard. Let Madison Mutual protect you!