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New Year, New You!

December 31, 2016

This is it. We’re in the final hours of 2016 and I’m sure like me some of you are reflecting back on those resolutions you made long ago at the beginning of this year. Well if you’re like me, you likely didn’t achieve them all.

Completing your New Year’s resolutions isn’t just about the motivation behind it, though that’s part of it, it’s about setting realistic goals. 2017: it’s a brand new year and a chance to finally create some goals you can achieve. Whether they’re personal or professional, short term or long term, this is the year for making SMART goals.

When you ask what are SMART goals and how they’re different from any other resolutions we might make, here’s your answer: SMART goals are goals made using a method of making Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-based goals. By making your New Year’s resolutions SMART, you’re more likely to achieve them–making them a “smart” choice.

For instance, I know “weight loss” and “getting more exercise” are commonly set goals, so if that’s my goal I need to make it more specific, to make it SMART. Here’s an example of how I could do just that:

S – Specific – “I want to exercise at least 3 times a week in 2017.”

M – Measurable – I have a number goal in mind, 3 times a week, and I can track it on a weekly basis.

A – Action-oriented – How will I exercise? Walking, biking, sports, going to the gym, swimming in the summer perhaps? Clearly set actions to “exercise” during a typical week.

R – Realistic – This is the hard one because it’s more than just getting a membership at a local gym, I actually have to go to it and with my busy schedule that’s difficult. For me, I have to incorporate this into my lifestyle. Whether that be parking further away from the store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, it’s these little decisions I can make to keep me on track.

T – Time-based – Is this a short-term or a long-term goal? And also, how long do I want to exercise? Since it’s a goal for the entire 2017 year, I can even set a checkpoint where I look at my progress and reanalyze if I need to rein it in or if I can expand it further.

There are a lot of things that can go into SMART goals, but you’re free to make it as simple or detailed as you want.  Don’t be afraid to change them halfway through the year or even use this method when making other goals during the year.

Happy New Year from all of us at Aspire Insurance Agency. We look forward to helping you in 2017.

10 Steps to Winterize Your Home

November 29, 2016

Protect your home, winter is coming.

After the last cold front moved through and the chilly drop in temperatures the last couple days, we’re coming down to the wire before winter fully hits us. It’s important to keep your home prepared. Snow, ice, and frozen pipes are major hazards for household claims. Below are 10 simple steps to protect your home from the elements this winter.

  1. Inspect all doors and windows
    1. Watch for any cracks or places that could leak out the warm air in your home
    2. Fix these with a tube of caulking or some weather strips from the local hardware store (don’t be afraid to call the professionals)
    3. For a cheaper option, cover windows with plastic to conserve more heat
  2. Keep Your Thermostat in Check
    1. Wear socks around the house and keep blankets around to minimize the need to turn up the heater and raise your heating bills
    2. Have your thermostat set at 65 degrees or warmer to prevent your pipes from freezing
  3. Check Your Heating Systems: Furnace, boilers, & chimneys
    1. Replace your furnace filter every 3 months and have your furnace looked at by a professional every year
    2. Inspect your chimney for any damage, debris, or furry friends that have made a home before starting a fire
    3. Keep an eye on any space heaters and don’t leave them on in rooms no one is in
  4. Proactive Plumbing – Don’t let your pipes freeze
    1. Know where your pipes are and how to shut off the water – living in the midwest we get a good freeze each winter and no one wants to call the plumber to fix pipes in the cold; save yourself some time and money by draining any sprinkler or other outdoor pipes
  5. Trim the Tree(s)
    1. Remove all dead tree branches – strong winds or a buildup of snow or ice can easily cause any weak trees or dead tree branches to fall and damage your car, house, deck, roof, or even an innocent passerby
  6. Prevent Ice Dams – Clean your gutters
    1. Cleaning your gutters of all fallen leaves and any built up debris left by hibernating animals can save your ceilings, walls, and foundation from the melting of snow and ice that can’t flow through clogged gutters
  7. Maintain your Walkways
    1. Shoveling snow and ice off of your steps, driveways, and sidewalks is a great way to prevent any unfortunate slipping and sliding this winter
  8. Installation of Insulation
    1. Another chance for ice dams to form, lack of proper insulation won’t just leave you feeling chilly inside
    2. Add extra insulation to roofs, attics, and crawl spaces to prevent too much heat from escaping and melting snow and ice – not only can this cause expensive roof damage, it also helps keep heating costs down!
  9. Breathe Easy – Check for Radon, Carbon Monoxide, and Mold
    1. Maintaining your vents, air filters, and carbon monoxide monitors can help reduce trouble breathing, especially for those who are older, or have allergies and/or asthma
    2. With all of the cooking that goes on this season, gas stoves can cause a lot of additional air pollutants – make sure to test your radon and carbon monoxide levels
  10. Protect Any Automobiles
    1. Check out this article about how to keep your car ready for any inclement weather this winter

Stay warm, stay safe, and don’t hesitate to call us with any questions on who to call or what your policy covers. And should a claim arise, we’re happy to help offer guidance on next steps. Happy Holidays!

Black Friday: A Survival Guide

October 31, 2016

With Halloween coming to a close and Christmas right around the corner, many of us are gearing up for the impending Black Friday and the start of the holiday shopping season. Stay safe with a few of these potentially night-saving tips:

  • Pre-Nap – If you’re planning on going out early, make sure to get a nap in beforehand to avoid any drowsy driving and potential accidents
  • Use the Buddy System – While this seems obvious, it’s better to have a friend to stick with whether that be to divide and conquer the best deals or to help you stay awake
  • Snacks! – Waking up early is hard, make it easier by bringing something to munch on as you browse
  • Bring a Coat – It can get cold out there early in the morning, especially moving into the middle of winter – keep warm and bring a coat
  • Don’t Forget to Relax – No one wants to be around someone who is grumpy on Black Friday, especially after we all just gave thanks for what we have on Thanksgiving
  • Make a Plan – Know where you’re going and when
  • There’s Always Cyber Monday – If waking up early and going out isn’t your thing, remember you can usually find great deals online on the following Monday

Many stores and shopping districts around the Kansas City area (including both the Legends and Oak Park Mall) have opted to remain closed this Thanksgiving and not to open until 6am on Friday morning to allow their employees more time with their families. To give our employees time to be thankful with their families, Aspire Insurance will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (November 24th, 2016). If you need to contact your agent in regards to a claim or have a question regarding your policy, you can still call us at 913-904-1020 or email us your questions/claim information at info@aspireins.com.

Halloween Safety: Keep Your Ghouls and Boys Safe!

September 30, 2016

Fall is fully in swing now that October is here. Leaves are changing colors, fall break is just around the corner, and the countdown for Halloween has officially begun. Let’s take a moment to talk about some quick safety tips to keep your kids, and everyone else, safe this Halloween.

*Most of Halloween activities are from 4pm to 9pm

For Trick-or-Treaters (and their parents)

  • Use the Buddy System – have an adult accompany young children and always stay in a group
  • Be Safe, Be Seen – add reflective tape to costumes and carry flashlights or glow sticks
  • Stick to the Sidewalks – only cross at designated intersections and look both ways before crossing
  • Make a Game Plan – Plan a route in advance, only stop at houses with lights on, and inspect any questionable candy
  • Check out Community Activities – pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and community “trunk-or-treat” events are great ways to keep the fun up while still encouraging safety
  • Stay Comfortable – Wear comfortable shoes, dress accordingly for the weather, and avoid any masks or face paints that can irritate the skin or obstruct vision

For Drivers

  • Stay Alert & Drive Slowly – you never know when someone might run out onto the street
  • Light Up the Night – keep your headlights on & don’t forget your turn signals
  • Put Down the Phone – don’t be distracted, it can always wait
  • Don’t Pass Stopped Vehicles – they might be dropping off children
  • For more safety tips and Halloween fun, check our social media pages on Twitter and Facebook!

Windy Weather Ahead: Are You Prepared?

August 24, 2016

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Are You Prepared?

September is National Preparedness Month and we know the Midwest is full of windy weather, so we wanted to pass on a few helpful tips for before, during, and after the storm.

Before – Plan Ahead:

Follow the four S’s when planning for bad weather: shelter, supplies, separation, and safety.

  1. Shelter
    1. Find a safe place to meet in your home. Basements and storm shelters are the safest, but if those aren’t options find a windowless interior room or hallway on the base floor of the building. (Bathrooms work great for this!)
  2. Supplies
    1. Have supplies ready in case of a storm. These include, but are not limited to, flashlights, extra batteries, a battery operated weather radio, water, food (non-perishable), first aid kit, emergency cash and checks, whistle (to signal for help), copies of personal, legal, and financial documents (birth certificates, social security cards, medical records, insurance documents, etc.), blankets/sleeping bags, and any sanitation and personal hygiene items. It’s also important to keep on hand anything specific to your family such as medications, baby supplies, or extra food and water for pets.
  3. Separation
    1. Have a set plan in place with your family in case you get separated during the storm. Designate someone as the point of contact, there can be a local and national contact. This allows everyone in the family to be able to check in and say they’re safe in the event of an accident.
  4. Safety
    1. Make sure that everyone in your family is aware of where to meet, what are the signs of a tornado, and what to do if they aren’t at home and are faced with a natural disaster. Practice your escape routes in case of a tornado and make sure your supplies are up-to-date and never spoiled.

Help yourself prepare and stay informed by signing up for local weather alerts on your phone and know what you’re covered for by talking to your local insurance agent today.

During – Take Action & Know What To Look For:

When a tornado or severe storm hits, it’s important to know the signs and how to respond to them.

  1. Watch vs. Warning – What’s the Difference?
    1. A watch means that people are looking for tornadoes as the conditions are right for one to appear.
    2. A warning means that a tornado has been visually sighted or has appeared on weather radar in your area. Take shelter immediately.
  2. What if I’m in a Car when a Tornado is Sighted?
    1. Pull off to the side of the road and try to seek shelter in a nearby building’s basement or lowest floor.
    2. If there is a ditch or somewhere in which you can get lower than the road, exit your vehicle and lie face down, covering your head with your hands or a jacket.
    3. If neither of these options are available, keep your seat belt on, put your head below the windows, and cover yourself with a blanket or your hands.

After – Assess the Damage:

  1. Is everyone safe and accounted for? Are there any injuries that need to be assessed?
  2. Take note of what damage has taken place both in and outside of your home. Is there damage to your roof? Your vehicles? Are there any windows broken?
  3. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you’re covered for any damage caused. You can contact us either by phone at (913) 904-1020 or via email at info@aspireins.com.

For more disaster preparedness planning tips, visit these great links:

Sign up here for local weather alerts!

How to Build an Emergency Preparedness Kit

What to Do in a Tornado

Preparing for Tornado Season

Off to College? Don’t Forget Your Renter’s Policy!

July 21, 2016

August is here and a new school year is just around the corner. So ready or not, your young ones may soon be heading off to college! Out of sight. Out of mind? Certainly not! As parents we always reserve the right to worry. There are so many things left on the list to buy, to teach, to talk about.

Wait! What about insurance? Is there any coverage for the new laptop, smartphone, iPad, TV, mini-fridge, X-Box, the back to school wardrobe, Sperry’s and Oakley’s? The answer is yes. And no.

If your student is living in the dorm, fraternity or sorority house, there is a chance that their belongings are covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy. However, a stolen $1,000 laptop probably would not be covered as it would fall under your homeowner’s deductible. An inexpensive renter’s policy with a smaller deductible may be the best solution.

If they are living in an apartment or off-campus house, your insurance coverage probably won’t extend to them. Take a moment to talk to your Aspire insurance agent about what your insurance covers.

Either way, this will help eliminate a devastating loss from fire, tornado, theft, and anything else that could go wrong; this is college after all. But let’s face it, the more likely loss will be the classic tale that we all know too well:

You’re bumped while checking a text. Your phone falls. It was only a couple feet from your hand to the ground, but the concrete sidewalk is merciless. You’re afraid to even pick it up to check what you already know in your gut is a shattered screen and a broken phone.

Don’t let a broken phone become the end of the world. Have peace of mind. State Auto’s renter’s policies with the HomeXtended endorsement even cover lost, broken or wet cell phones with no deductible!

Renter’s policies also add the valuable protection of liability insurance:

You are cooking bacon (yum!)… A grease fire ensues, the complex catches fire, and in the blink of an eye, you and your roommates are scrambling to find the fire extinguisher, maybe even the exit. The fire department comes. Fortunately everyone is alright and your possessions are covered by renter’s insurance BUT… there is major damage and you are found negligent. Luckily, you have renter’s liability coverage, so your policy protects you again.

Give the friendly team at Aspire Insurance Agency call today to ensure you have the coverage you need. (913) 904-1020.

Winterizing Your Home

November 15, 2011

As the nighttime temperatures drop and sweatshirts come out, it is time once again to prepare our home for the onslaught of winter.  We have compiled a list of things to consider to keep your home safe, warm and energy efficient.  Here we go:

  1. Disconnect and drain all garden hoses.  Shut off all outdoor spigots.
  2. Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace.
  3. Remember to keep your furnace filters changed regularly.
  4. Check all windows and door for cold drafts.  Draft snakes placed under leaky doors can save a lot in energy consumption.  For a more permanent solution to drafts, it is recommended to check the weather stripping and caulking around your home to ensure that warm air is not escaping.
  5. Chimneys should be screened to make sure that birds and animals will not create debris that could cause a chimney fire.  If your chimney hasn’t been cleaned in a while, call a chimney sweep.
  6. Store any fire wood in a dry place away from your home.
  7. Remember to open your fireplace damper before lighting a fire.  Close it after all smoke has cleared.
  8. Clean gutters to make sure they drain properly.
  9. Add insulation to the attic if necessary to prevent ice dams.
  10. Replace any broken glass and install storm windows if they are available.
  11. Trim branches that hang too close to your home or electrical wires.
  12. Replace batteries in smoke detectors and test them.
  13. Add carbon monoxide detectors in your home.  If you have them, test them and replace any that need to be replaced.
  14. Turn ceiling fans to “winter” mode so they can actually help you churn warm air in your home.
  15. Keep a supply of batteries and flashlights in case the power goes out.
  16. Stock up on water and food in case you become snowed in.
  17. Buy your snow shovels early.  Why do we always have to learn this one the hard way?
  18. Clear all dead vegetation from around the foundation of your home.
  19. Check and seal any crevices around your foundation where air can escape or rodents can get in.
  20. Have your emergency numbers in a handy place and let neighbors know if you will be away.  Give your neighbor the contact information for your insurance agent in case something happens to your home while you are gone.