4th of July Weekend: Get Your RV Ready

In the Chippewa Valley, Independence Day means summer is in full swing. For a lot of people, it may also mean your first chance of the season to get out and do some camping. Before you head out in your RV, be sure to prepare it properly for a fun and safe summer.

The first thing you need to do is talk to your insurance agent, like the friendly people here at Baldwin Woodville, and make sure you switch from your storage RV insurance policy to your full coverage Western Wisconsin or Minnesota RV insurance policy. Then make sure your current registration and proof of insurance is in the glove box.

Exterior Check

RVs are known for developing water leaks over the winter months, so the first thing to do is check the roof, and around the windows, air conditioner, and doors for cracks or missing caulk. Repair as necessary.

Next, check the tires. Winter storage could have brought on cracks, either on the sidewall or between the treads. Replace any tires that have developed cracks, and don’t forget to fill the tires up to the correct pressure before you head out on the road.

Interior Check

There are a number of things to check inside your RV.

  1. Batteries – Check and clean your batteries, charging as necessary. Clean any corrosion, and check battery fluid levels.
  2. Liquid Propane – Turn off everything that uses LP gas, turn the leak detector on inside your RV, and open the valves on the propane tanks. If there are leaks, contact a professional to make repairs.
  3. Water – As you fill your water tanks, preferably using your city water, turn on a hot and a cold faucet to allow the air to escape. Check pipes and plugs for any leakage, and repair as needed. Then fill up the onboard tanks. Run the fresh water pump, and make sure it doesn’t cycle on again, which would indicate leaks that would need repair.
  4. Generator – Following your owner’s manual instructions, prepare your generator with fresh fuel.
  5. Waste – Check all sewer hoses for damage, and repair or replace as necessary. Also make sure the waste tank valves are opening and closing properly, with no leaks.
  6. Appliances – Test each appliance to make sure it’s in working order.

Once you have done all this, you just need to pack wisely, clean your RV until it’s pretty as new, and hit the road with your family and pets, ready for an excellent summer of camping.

Seasonal House Upkeep Series: Summer

Welcome to the first installment of our year-long series on seasonal house upkeep. If you’re new to home ownership, this will be an invaluable tool throughout the year. If you’re an old hat, check it out. You may still have something to learn!

Outdoor Maintenance

Summer is a great time to make sure your house’s exterior stays in the best shape possible. This is the time to check and repair your roof. The rains of spring have passed, so you can count on there being enough warm, dry, Chippewa Valley days to complete a roofing project. This is also the best time of year to clean and maintain decks, porches, and siding. Rent a power washer at a reasonable price, and have a blast while getting this job done in quick order.

Summer is also a good time to make sure your garage is working well. Start out by testing the garage door, looking for any dents in the tracks or door that cause difficulty of operation. Throw a hat under the door to make sure the safety stop operation is working properly.

Indoor Maintenance

Throughout the year, we’ll make suggestions on regular maintenance to be done inside, as well. This way, by doing certain things each season, you will develop a routine that ensures each thing is done once a year, and you’re not stuck doing them all at once.

  • Dishwasher – Check for leaks, and make sure there are no clogs on the inside. If everything is not operating correctly, contact a repair person, and see if your Minnesota or Western Wisconsin homeowner’s insurance policy covers any of these repairs. Your Baldwin Woodville agent will be happy to help you with this.
  • Furnace – There’s no better time to have your furnace serviced than when it is not in operation. You want to be sure it’s working on that first cold day, which in the Midwest, could be anywhere from August to November. While you’re at it, use this time to replace the furnace filters.
  • Refrigerator – Along with doing a full clean of the inside of your refrigerator, clean the coils. Each model is different, so if you don’t have it tucked away somewhere easy to find, look up the owner’s manual online to see exactly how to do this safely and effectively.
  • Batteries – Change the batteries in your flashlights, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. Doing this once a year will ensure they work when you need them.

See us in the fall for your next list of seasonal house upkeep tips.

6 Tips for Safe Boating This Summer

First, make sure you talk to your western Wisconsin or Minnesota boating insurance agent to make sure you have proper coverage for the active boating season. Our agents at Baldwin Woodville Insurance are always available to help you research what you need, and to provide it at a great value.

Once you are legally ready to go, all that’s left is to remember these safety tips for a satisfying summer on the water with friends and family.

  1. No drinking (or drugs) when boating. Not only is this a Wisconsin boating law, but it’s common sense. You need to be fully alert to operate your vessel safely.
  2. Lifejackets for everyone. There must be a wearable personal floating device, or
    lifejacket, for each person on the boat. Children under the age of 13 must wear a lifejacket while boating. Additionally, if your vessel is 16 feet or longer, you must have one throwable PFD in an easily accessible location.
  3. Develop and use a pre-departure checklist. This is a great way to make sure you are prepared for anything that might happen while boating, and that you have all the required and recommended safety gear, before you head out onto the open water.
  4. Operate your boat responsibly. Don’t ever head into a marked off area or a swim area. Don’t weave your boat in and out of other boats. Besides being rude, it’s dangerous. Also, sometimes things that seem funny are really not, like steering your boat directly at an object or person and veering off at the last possible moment. It might seem hilarious at the time, but it’s just not safe.
  5. This one may seem obvious, but learn to swim. Being out on a boat is no guarantee that you won’t end up in the water. Hopefully, with safe operation, you won’t. But if you do, even with a flotation device, you should be able to do some basic swim strokes to reach safety.
  6. Check the Wisconsin laws regarding speed. There are different guidelines for different types of water, areas of lakes/rivers, and weather circumstances.

Following these tips are the best way to keep our waters safe and fun for everyone. You can read a detailed pamphlet outlining Wisconsin boating laws here. If you’re ever in doubt, err on the side of caution. After all, boating is much more fun when you’re not paying off huge fines, or lying in a hospital bed!

Renters Insurance – What You Need to Know

Many people in Wisconsin and Minnesota consider renters insurance to be an optional expense; one they’ll get around to buying when they get a raise, or a better job, or more stuff worth covering. And most people will be fine. But if disaster strikes and you lose everything, you will be grateful not to be one of those people.

Take Inventory

Before purchasing a renters insurance policy, take a detailed inventory. Go through your entire rental property, and take a photo of every item you own. This should include furniture, electronics, jewelry, dishes, art, bicycles, and anything else you would need to replace, including your book and/or CD collection.

Put all the photos in a folder on your computer, and find out how much each item is worth, and how much it would cost to replace it. You can buy your policy based on either number. Using the current value will give you a less expensive policy. Using replacement value ensures you will have enough money to replace all your items.

Once you have your inventory complete, store it digitally on at least two cloud servers, like Dropbox. It needs to be somewhere you can access it, even if all the technology in your home is useless.

What Will Insurance Cover?

Now it’s time to talk to your insurance agent. Discuss all the situations that are covered, and those that are not. Most weather damage is covered by a basic policy, but floods are generally not. Work with your agent to get the coverage you need.

Before you finalize your Wisconsin renters insurance policy, make sure that everything you want to replace is covered. Also make sure that, if you need to live elsewhere while your property is being restored, you will be covered for those costs, as well.

Filing a Claim

All this preparation will be invaluable if you need to file a claim. If the worst happens, you may need to make a full claim, replacing everything you owned. At such a stressful time, you will be glad that you don’t have to try and figure out what needs replacing.

Simply contact your agent, and they will tell you exactly what to do. They will help you make the claim, and they will make sure you and your family have a place to live. That’s the kind of care you can expect in the Chippewa Valley from Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services.