Is Your Home Under-Insured?

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wood framed home completely destroyed by fire
wood framed home completely destroyed by fire

For the purposes of insurance which values homes on what they would cost to REBUILD rather than their market/selling value, 60 percent of homes in the U.S.are  undervalued by an average of 17 percent.

Yes you heard right!  17%

That can mean a $200,000 home may be underinsured by $34,000.

Changes in building codes, increasing labor costs and costs for building materials can make homes far more expensive to replace.home-insurance-art-gqj13jl3k-101-westerville-house-clh-jpg

Don’t find out your home is underinsured AFTER the fact. Then it’s too late. If your agent is taking proper care of you, they are advising you to keep your values up to date. That’s what they get paid to do!

If you’d like a second opinion, please feel free to contact one of our professional agents for a no-cost, no-obligation cost and coverage comparison that could save you thousands!

For more information about Meramec Valley, or to find an agent near you, visit 
https://mymutual.net/for-an-agent-near-you/

$32,072

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dogBiteArtwork

$32,072

The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide in 2014, compared with $27,862 in 2013. Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all Homeowners’ insurance liability claim dollars aid out in 2014, costing in excess of $530 million according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)….
California had the highest number of claims followed by Ohio in second and New York in third.

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Get Smart With Your Smartphone

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Get Smart:
Some Smart Ways to Protect Your Smartphone

multitasking in hands

Smartphones contain a staggering amount of personal data, from family photos to emails and bank accounts. In addition to personal information the devices retail for hundreds of dollars, creating a lucrative black market for stolen phones and parts. These tips are designed to help you secure your smartphone and protect your personal information.

  • APPLE PICKING – Thieves target users who casually leave their phones lying around on tables in cafes and restaurants. Keep close track of your phone.
  • FILE A REPORT – If your phone is stolen, file a report with the police and immediately contact your telephone carrier. Keep those numbers handy.
  • AUTO-LOCK WHEN NOT IN USE
  • USE AND UPDATE STRONG PASSWORDS
  • DO NOT USE FREE WI-FI HOTSPOTS – Configure your phone to only join networks you approve. Scammers set up free wireless networks in public places to lure you in and steal your data.
  • KEEP YOUR DEVICE’S SOFTWARE UPDATE
  • USE ANTI-THEFT APPS to deactivate a stolen phone.
  • USE ENCRYPTION TO PROTECT SENSITIVE DATA. It’s best to not use smartphones for connecting to your financial institutions.
  • USE ONLY THOROUGHLY REVIEWED AND TESTED APPS

For more information about Meramec Valley,
visit
https://mymutual.net/for-an-agent-near-you/

Some ID Theft Warning Signs

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Some ID Theft Warning Signs

FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS and CREDIT REPORTS

  • You see withdrawals, purchases, or other types of errors on your bank account or credit card statement that you can’t explain.
  • Merchant(s) refuse your checks.
  • You receive a credit card or store charge card in the mail for which you did not apply
  • You catch errors  or you find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s credit reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to credit reporting companies.How do I order my free report?
    • The three nationwide credit reporting companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.
    • To order, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228. Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service.BEWARE OF IMPOSTER FREE CREDIT REPORT WEBSITES. They may even have FREE CREDIT REPORT in their name but may actually direct you to sites that will harvest and resell your personal information.

CRIMINAL

  • There is a warrant out for your arrest for something you did not do.

MAIL

  • You receive unexpected mail telling you your mail is being forwarded to another address.
  • You have missing mail such as from a bank or other financial institution.
  • Debt collectors contact you about debts that aren’t yours.

GOVERNMENT / TAXES

  • You find errors on your Social Security Statement. To set up an account with Social Security, go to: http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/ to Create An Account
  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.Contact the Internal Revenue Service. IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit 1-800-908-4490

MEDICAL

  • Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
  • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
  • A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.

CHILD
Several signs can tip you off to the fact that someone is misusing your child’s personal information and committing fraud. For example, you or your child might:

  • be turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number
  • get a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return
  • get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive

FINALLY
You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account. BUT REMEMBER:

  • Do NOT respond to emails pretending to represent the company in question. They will NOT email you and ask you for personal information.

For more information about Meramec Valley, visit https://mymutual.net/for-an-agent-near-you/

Kitchen Fires

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Kitchen Fires are a major source of property damage to homes and injuries to residents every year. Take a few steps to help you not be the next victim.

  • Get a fire extinguisher for use in the kitchen
  • Stay in kitchen while cooking
  • Roll up sleeves and/or use appropriate oven mitts
  • Keep flammable items away from burners
  • Keep lid or cookie sheet close
  • Get EVERYONE out -THEN call 911

For more information about Meramec Valley, visit https://mymutual.net/for-an-agent-near-you/

Take An Identity Theft Vulnerability Test

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Online Theft

Are you one of the 33.4 million American victims of identity theft since 1990? Consumer out-of-pocket expenses have totaled $1.5 billion annually since January 2001.

  • 34% say someone obtained their credit card information, forged a credit card in their name, and used it to make purchases.
  • 12% say someone stole or obtained improperly a paper or computer record with their personal information on it and used that to forge their identity.
  • 11% say someone stole their wallet or purse and used their identity.
  • 10% say someone opened charge accounts in stores in their name and made purchases as them.
  • 7% say someone opened a bank account in their name or forged checks and obtained money from their account.
  • 7% say someone got to their mail or mailbox and used information there to steal their identity.
  • 5% say they lost their wallet or purse and someone used their identity.
    4% say someone went to a public record and used information there to steal their identity.
  • 3% say someone created false IDs and posed as them to get government benefits or payments.
  • 16% say it was a friend, relative or co-worker who stole their identity.

Are You at Risk for Identity Theft? Test Your “Identity Quotient”

  • I receive several offers of pre-approved credit every week. (5 Points)
  • Add 5 points if you do not shred them before putting them in the trash.
  • I carry my Social Security card in my wallet. (10 points)
  • My slate driver’s license has my Social Security Number (SSN) printed on it, and I have not contacted the Department of Motor Vehicles to request a different number. (10 points)
  • I do not have a PO Box or a locked, secured mailbox. (5 points)
  • I use an unlocked, open box at work or at my home to drop off my outgoing mail. (10 points)
  • I carry my military ID in my wallet at all times. (10 points)
  • I do not shred or tear banking or credit information when I throw it in the trash. (10 points)
  • I provide my Social Security Number whenever asked, without asking questions as to how that information will be safeguarded. (10 points)
  • Add 5 points if you provide it orally without checking to see who might be listening.
  • I am required to use my SSN at work as an employee ID or at college as a student ID number. (5 points)
  • My SSN is printed on my employee badge that I wear at work or in public. Or it is posted on my time card in full view if others, or is on other documents frequently seen by many others in my workplace. (10 points)
  • I have my SSN and/or driver’s license number printed on my personal checks. (10 points)
  • I am listed in a “Who’s Who” guide. (5 points)
  • I carry my insurance card in my wallet and either my SSN or that of my spouse is the ID number. (10 points)
  • I have not ordered a copy of my credit reports for at least 2 years. (20 points)
  • I do not believe that people would root around in my trash looking for credit or financial information or looking for documents containing my SSN. (10 points)

Each one of these questions represents a possible avenue for an identity theft.

Understanding Your Score:

  • 100+ points – Recent surveys* indicate that 7-10 million people were victims of ID theft last year. You are at high risk. We recommend you purchase a paper shredder, become more security-aware in document handling, and start to question why people need your personal data.
  • 50-100 points – Your odds of being victimized are about average. Higher if you have good credit.
  • 0-50 points – Congratulations. You have a high “IQ.” Keep up the good work and don’t let your guard down now.

“For information on recent identity theft survey findings, visit the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse web site at https://www.privacyrights.org/ar/idtheftsurveys.htm

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Meramec Valley Mutual Insurance is a Missouri-only (policy-owner-owned) insurance company established in 1887 and located in Hillsboro, Missouri.

Meramec Valley offers Identity Recovery protection as an optional and valuable addition to their line of insurance products. For more information about becoming a part of this 128 year old company, please contact one of our professional agents nearest you. https://mymutual.net/for-an-agent-near-you/

 

 

Take An Identity Theft Vulnerability Test

Storm Safety

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KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

TORNADO WATCH – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
TORNADO WARNING – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).

STAY SAFE!

  • Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA web site.
  • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs such as dark, often greenish cloudsa phenomenon caused by hail.

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Meramec Valley Mutual Insurance is a Missouri-only (policy-owner-owned) insurance company established in 1887 and located in Hillsboro, Missouri. For more information about becoming a part of this 128 year old company, please contact one of our professional agents nearest you. https://mymutual.net/for-an-agent-near-you/

15 Steps to Prevent Identity Theft

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Secure atm card15 Steps to Prevent Identity Theft

1. Check your Credit Report regularly – Use or check the three main credit bureaus –  Equifax, Transunion, or Experian. Beware that there are many other scam sites out there that will offer to keep track of this for you but are, in reality, identity thieves themselves!
2. Don’t give out your Social Security Number (SSN) unless it is in a secure facility. So if your son’s soccer team asks for your social security number…. just say NO! They have no business asking for this type of information.
3. Protect your computer – Entire books have been written and many websites are devoted to educating you on ways to avoid viruses, trojan horses, etc. Take advantage of this very important knowledge.
4. Keep track of your billing cycles – A missing bill may mean that the ID Thief has changed your address.
5. Guard your mail from theft – It is better to take outgoing mail to a drop box rather than in the mailbox in front of your home. That little red flag alerts the thieves that there may be something valuable for them to steal.
6. Invest in a Shredder – And, not just any old shredder. Get a cross cut, micro-cut shredder for a few dollars more. There are programs out there that can take the regular strip cut shreddings and reassemble them in minutes.
7. Practice Safe Shopping – Only use sites that have an address (URL) beginning with https. Sites without the (S) are NOT safe to enter any of your personal information.
8. Avoid sketchy looking ATM’s – ID Thieves like to install ‘skimmers’ that read, store, and steal your numbers.
9. Be suspicious of unexpected or unsolicited calls or letters – Chances are they are ID Thieves
10. Use passwords that do not use dictionary words, and use UPPER case, lower case, numbers, and (if allowed) special characters like ! or #, or %….
11.DO NOT give your credit or debit card to a server or waiter at a restaurant to pay your bill. Most are honest, but some use scanners or just write down your numbers for sale to ID Thieves at a later date. ALWAYS USE CASH IN RESTAURANTS!
12. Store credit cards and other valuable papers in your home in secure locations where thieves and burglars are less likely to look. The first places a burglar/thief will look are underneath your bed, drawers, freezer, behind something on shelves, medicine cabinets, inside toilet tanks, dirty laundry, in (commercially available) fake cereal or fake canisters.
13. Spring cleaning on credit cards – Do you really need TWENTY cards or even FIVE cards? Choose your most valuable and close out the rest.
14. Place fraud alerts on your accounts
15. If your account makes it available, have an email or text message sent to you anytime a transaction occurs. If your bank/institution doesn’t offer this, maybe find one that does.

Meramec Valley Mutual Insurance is a Missouri-only (policy-owner-owned) insurance company established in 1887 and located in Hillsboro, Missouri. For more information about becoming a part of this 128 year old company, please contact one of our professional agents nearest you.https://mymutual.net/for-an-agent-near-you/

Making Your Home More Secure

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Burglar

According to recent FBI Crime Clock Statistics, a burglary happens every 14.3 seconds. Although burglaries tend to be non-confrontational, they can leave their victims with fear and scars of impending vulnerability.

Some Facts

  • Most residential burglaries happen during daylight hours and in the summertime-typically when you are at work or on vacation.
  • 72.6 of burglaries involve forcible entry.
  • Victims of burglary suffer an estimated $4.6 BILLION  in lost property in 2009 alone with the average loss of $2,096?

 Some Tips

  • EVERY time you go out, even for just a few minutes, lock your doors and windows. Thieves are fast.
  • Leave some lights on when you’re gone and consider using some lights and radios on timers to give the impression you’re home.
  • Consider using motion sensor lighting as well.
  • When you move into a new home ALWAYS change the locks. Even if you knew the previous resident.
  • Lock all ladders so that the burglar can’t use it against you.
  • Never leave a note saying “Be back in a few minutes”.
  • If you hide a spare key, the burglar WILL find it. Leave a spare key somewhere OFF the premises.
  • Don’t leave clues that you’ll be away on vacation like newpapers piling up, unkept yard, fliers left by sales people, etc.
  • If you still have a land line, forward home telephone calls to your cell phone.
  • Do not record a message that you’ll be away.
  • DO NOT POST pictures or information on Facebook or other social media of where you are or what you’re doing until you return! You may think you know your Friends, but do you know all THEIR Friends? And, all their Friend’s Friends?
  • If you can, arrange for a house sitter if you’re going to be away for any extended time.
  • Would your exterior doors resist being kicked in? A door is only as good as it’s weakest point which is typically right at the knob/lock. Consider using a Door Frame Reinforcement Kit Strike Plate. They cost a little more than $100, but that is MUCH less than your policy deductible.
  • Sliding Doors are easy access points for criminals. Measure and cut a piece of wood or aluminum pole to lay in the track.
  • Keep bushes and shrubs around windows and doors trimmed in such a way as to not give a hiding place for thieves.
  • If you can’t afford an alarm system, there are reasonable NOISY and inexpensive substitutes.
  • If you have a home safe, it should be anchored to the floor or made unable to leave the premises.

Click here for an agent near you who would be happy to provide a no-cost and no-obligation Cost and Coverage Comparison

 

Ice Dams – A Homeowner’s Nightmare

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Hanging icicles on a roof
We’ve all seen those winter-picture-post-card icicles hanging from roofs. They appear charming, but they are in reality a sign of a very big potential problem – a homeowner’s nightmare.

They are from an attic/roof condition called ice-dams.

THE CAUSE:
They are caused by snow accumulating on the roof when temperatures are around the freezing mark. When the air in the attic is above freezing, it warms the roof sheathing and melts the snow above. The melted water runs down to the roof overhang, which is not warmed by the attic but rather, cooled by the outdoor air. If the air and the overhang are below freezing, the water freezes and forms an ice dam.

This can cause water to crawl back up under shingles and leak through the underside of the roof into the attic and end up potentially dropping down onto the walls and ceilings.

SOLUTIONS:

  • Identify and tightly seal air leaks between living areas below and attic above.
  • Install more adequate insulation
  • Thoroughly clean all leaves, sticks, and debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Deep snow on roofs can be pulled off with a ‘roof rake’, but be careful!

icedamspic

 

If you would like a no-obligation Cost and Coverage Comparison, please feel free to contact one of our agents. You can find a listing of the independent agents in the area here.

 

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