4 Easy Resolutions You Should Make For a Safe and Happy 2016

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is almost over. As the New Year approaches, many are coming up with their new resolutions that they want to keep and maintain in 2016. Whether you’re planning on losing some holiday weight, learning a new language, traveling more, or something else, don’t forget to add in some resolutions that will keep you healthy and safe in the coming year!

Here are 4 easy resolutions you can follow and keep for a healthy, happy, and safe New Year:

Be a Safe Driver – Whether you are already be a safe driver or your good habits might have slipped throughout the year, resolving to become a safer driver is an excellent resolution to renew each year. Make it your mission to never engage in distracted driving by keeping your smart phone out of reach. Avoid driving when drowsy or impaired, and stop tailgating, speeding, and driving aggressively to keep yourself, others, and your vehicle safe.

Eliminate Falling Hazards – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls account for approximately 40% of all traumatic brain injury cases in the United States alone. These cases result in an emergency room visit, hospitalization, or in some cases, death. Prevent falls by making sure that the stairs, halls, and walkways in your home and workplace are devoid of clutter, obstacles, and ice during the winter months and that they are properly lit. Exercise caution when you use ladders and scaffolding as well.

Practice Fire Safety – Did you know that more than 500,000 structure and vehicle fires in the United States cause thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, and billions of dollars in property losses each year? Fires can happen anywhere and at any time, which is why it’s important to take precautions against fire. Make sure that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors all work and check them twice a year. Also, develop a plan in the event a fire breaks out in your home. Share it with your family and practice it often.

Review Your Insurance Policies – Insurance is essential if you want to protect your livelihood from financial ruin should a serious accident happen to your home, your car, or anything else. Make an appointment with your insurance agent early next year to go over your insurance policies to see if you are properly covered.

Remember to call your agent here at Madison Mutual by calling 1-800-766-MMIC! We can make sure that you’ve got the coverage you need in no time flat. Don’t have insurance? Learn all about us and why more people are choosing us by visiting www.madisonmutual.com.

Protect Yourself and Your Family With These 6 Holiday Home Fire Safety Tips

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and laughter with family gathered to share good food, play board games, watch movies, and laugh together. All too often, however, the holidays often end in tragedy. According to the American Red Cross, nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays. These fires claim more than 500 lives, cause more than 2,200 injuries, and wind up costing $554 million in property damage. Additionally, December is the month in which most home fires occur, especially right around Christmastime.

In spite of these grim facts, there are plenty of things that you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your loved ones from fire. Follow our 6 handy tips below!

Choose Your Tree Wisely – You might have your tree chosen, set up, and decorated this year, but if you don’t or if you plan on purchasing a different tree once the holidays are celebrated, choose a flame retardant or artificial tree. If you like live trees, make sure that the tree has fresh green needles and give it plenty of water. A dry tree can go up in flames in a matter of seconds.

Placement Is Everything – Now that you have your tree, make sure that you place it and your candles and other holiday decorations at least 3 feet away from the heat sources in your home. This includes your fireplace, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents, and candles in the vicinity.

Check Your Lights – When you put the lights on the tree, make sure to give the strings and bulbs a once-over. If they look frayed or broken, do not put them on. Instead, purchase new sets. Any frayed cords or broken bulbs can easily spark and start a fire.

Extinguish and Unplug Before Leaving – Before you head out, even if it’s for a few minutes, remember to blow out all of your lit candles and unplug the tree and holiday lights. Do this before you go to bed every night as well.

Keep Little Ones and Pets Away – Do you have any curious critters or family members that want to get a better look at your lit tree? Don’t let them! Keep them far away from anything that can catch on fire, including the tree, candles, your stove and oven, and other fire sources.

Check Your Smoke Alarm – The American Red Cross reports that having a working smoke alarm reduces your chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50%. Go around your home and either install much-needed smoke alarms, especially near your kitchen and by the bedrooms, or test the ones that are already there to see if they work. If they don’t go off, replace the batteries. Still not working? Install a new alarm. It’ll be worth the money and effort, trust us.

We hope these tips will help you have a happy and safe holiday week and New Year! Remember, you can always call us here at 1-800-766-MMIC to ask us any questions or update your home insurance, and you can read more helpful tips at www.madisonmutual.com!

9 Signs You Should Walk Away From a Used Car

Looking for a new set of wheels for a good deal? Checking out used cars can be the right way to go; however, if you decide to go this route, you should exercise caution. A vehicle being sold for a bargain can pose several problems not only for your safety but also for your car insurance.

Here are 9 signs that a used car could be trouble for you:

Flood Damage – A car that has flood damage will be marked as “salvage” on its title in some states or they might have a specific flood designation in other states. Some owners may try to cover up the damage by giving the car a fresh coat of paint or replacing the upholstery, but there could still be rust, mold, mildew, and damage to critical systems. While it isn’t illegal to buy or sell these cars, it’s illegal to not let someone know that the car had been flooded. Even still, be aware if you come across a car that might show signs of flood damage.

Salvage Title – Speaking of which, if a car is declared totaled or, as we discussed in the point above, flooded, its title will be marked as “salvage.” These vehicles can certainly be repaired, inspected, and back on the road again, but their history will stay with them on the title. Be very careful when looking at a salvage title as potential problems could still remain.

The Air Bags Were Deployed – According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, once air bags go off after an accident, an authorized repair center must install new certified ones. If you come across a report that shows that an air bag was deployed, make sure that it was properly replaced. You can check this yourself or have a trusted mechanic do this for you.

High Mileage – As owners with older cars will tell you, vehicles that have higher mileage on them tend to break down more often and require more repairs (which can be quite costly). Think carefully before purchasing a car with high mileage. Additionally, be aware of any tampering with the odometer; some sellers may try to reverse the mileage to affect the price. Get a vehicle history check when in doubt or ask your mechanic to see if the car’s condition matches the odometer reading.

Structural Damage – A car doesn’t have to be totaled to spell trouble for you later on. A car with minor frame damage from a minor collision can still produce problems and compromise the structural integrity of the vehicle. Look out for signs of welding or clamping, repaired parts that don’t fit right, and mismatched parts.

Many Owners – If a car has traded hands frequently, beware! Multiple sales could indicate problems that you want to steer clear of. A vehicle report will list the number of owners that used to have the vehicle in question.

Hard Usage – Vehicles that have taken quite a beating, especially former police cruisers, rentals, and taxicabs, can wind up with a shorter lifespan on the road. As always, you should be able to determine the car’s condition and past with vehicle reports.

Failed Inspections – If you see a failed inspection on a vehicle report, you might want to consider turning around and leaving it. If you really want the vehicle, though, just mention it to the mechanic who’s inspecting the car. He or she will be able to tell you if it will wind up being a safety hazard or not.

Stolen Vehicle – Want to buy a car that was stolen? We hope you’ll reconsider. The vehicle could be seized by police and you might not be able to get a refund. Thieves will often hide or replace the VIN tags, but you can always check out vehicle reports to see if the car had been reported as stolen. Also, inspect the VIN plates for tampering, and make sure that all the numbers match between the vehicle and the documents.

Before buying a used car, have a mechanic you trust evaluate it fully. As always, if you have any questions about how your insurance comes into play, don’t hesitate to talk to us at Madison Mutual when you call 1-800-766-MMIC!

4 Common Mistakes That Could Jeopardize Your Retirement

When it comes to retiring, we do whatever we can to invest our time, effort, and money into a long-term retirement plan. Planning ahead, saving frequently, and making good decisions about our money will often lead to a secure retirement. However, the best plans can often go astray by falling into a few seemingly benign traps.

Here are 4 common mistakes that you should avoid if you don’t want to jeopardize your retirement:

Retiring Too Early – You can definitely retire earlier than normal; however, there are still some dangers when doing so. By retiring early, you may not give your interest time to compound on all your retirement investments, and you could run out of money early. Make sure you talk to a financial planner before you make the move to retire early on in life.

Living Beyond Your Means – This mistake, which many make, can throw a big wrench into your retirement planning. You can easily avoid this, however, by formulating a basic household budget and sticking to it. Determine how much money you will actually need for food, travel, fun, healthcare, rent or mortgage, transportation, and other necessities every month. Feel free to review and revise your budget every so often, but more than anything, remember to stick to your budget, even once you’re retired.

Going Into Debt – You may do everything right when it comes to planning out your retirement including putting money into your IRA or 401(k) and budgeting, but you can still make one huge mistake – allowing your credit card debt to accumulate. It is incredibly unwise to enter into retirement with debt on your shoulders; in fact, advisors will, in many cases, tell you to place your attention into paying off your debts than saving for retirement. Do yourself and your retired future self a favor – pay off your debts as soon as possible.

Not Starting Early Enough – All too many people wait too long to start saving money back for retirement. You don’t have to wait until you’re a certain age or at a certain point in your life to start investing. Just saving a small amount consistently early on can make a big difference, so start now!

When you’re starting to make your budget or your retirement plans, don’t forget to think about insurance. Chat with your agent here at Madison Mutual by calling 1-800-766-MMIC or you can find more money tips on our website at www.madisonmutual.com!