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How to get your home ready for a bad winter


winter is coming

Summer is officially over. Leaves are beginning to change. Winter is coming! For most, this means putting up holiday decorations, shopping for winter clothes and perfecting fall recipes; while these are all great things, one important task that shouldn’t fall off your list when preparing for winter is preparing your home!


Getting your home ready for winter is great for two reasons – repairs can make your home more efficient, lowering your energy bill and most importantly, preparing for winter helps protect one of your largest investments, your home!


Here are 5 tips to get your home ready for winter:


  1. Clean your gutters

After fall leaves have fallen, take a look in your gutters and downspouts. Flush them out with water, check all the joints and tighten any loose brackets. Once winter hits, a clogged gutter can cause an ice damn which can cause major damage to your home.

  1. Seal windows and door frames

Sealing door and window frames is one of the least expensive ways to maintain your home through a cold winter. Any small openings around a door or window frame can allow heat to escape or water to get in, causing cracks and mold build up.

  1. Check out the roof

Take a look at your roof to ensure it is in good shape. Look for any missing or loose shingles. Ice, rain and snow can cause major damage to a roof, which is why it is important to deal with repairs in the fall rather than during a snowstorm.

  1. Prepare your fireplace

Contact a licensed heating contractor to check your heating system. If you prefer to use a more traditional form of heating like a fireplace, get your wood and fireplace in order before winter hits. You will be happy you did when it’s freezing out and you already have chopped wood!

  1. Seal the driveway

Inspect your driveway for any cracks. If there are cracks, repair the damage with driveway filler and then coat the crack with a commercial sealer. Sealing your driveway will extend the life of the asphalt and keep it strong and in tact through winter.


How do you prepare your home for winter? Share in the comment section below!





Cheers to Fall: Keokuk’s 6th annual fall event just got better!

Formerly known as Wine Over Water, one of Keokuk’s favorite fall kick-off events, the new Cheers to Fall is sure to be just as great of a party and celebrates friends, family and fall with great beer, wine and more.


This year, the event will include wineries AND breweries (a recipe for FUN) with more contests where the event patrons will choose the “Wizard of Wines, the Baron of Brews and the Master of Mustards.” There’s no entry fee for these competitions, so sign up early! Maybe we will see a few of our clients out there? (Ruffcorn is HAPPY to help taste test any potential entries, just to let you know.)


Cheers to Fall is from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, October 3, on the Observation Deck located at First Street and Lucas Avenue. The Observation Deck is the part of the historic Keokuk Bridge, built in 1915–1916. The Keokuk Bridge is the perfect place for a party – spanning the width of the Mississippi River and giving attendees a look into Keokuk’s past as boats pass through the swing section of the bridge. Plus – the Keokuk Bridge is a great place for a photo opportunity!


We can’t think of a better way to kick off the changing colors of fall, the end of summer and the beginning of the holiday season with beer and wine. Plus, one of the best things about this event, besides the great food, wine and beer, is that Cheers to Fall is a non profit and proceeds from Cheers to Fall benefit downtown revitalization efforts made possible by Main Street Keokuk, Inc. A revitalized downtown is great for community pride and for local businesses. Any event that benefits our town of Keokuk is fine by us!


Will we see you at Cheers to Fall? Let us know in the comment section below!




Will weather hurt my construction business?


With summer months coming to a close, winter is just around the corner. As an owner of a construction business, do you have a back-up plan for bad weather? What if a storm hits and either shuts down your operation or damages work you have already completed?


Did you know you can protect your business against weather disruption?


The type of insurance you purchase will depend on a variety of factors including how big your company is, the number of employees you have, and the type of work your produce.



What type of policies should you consider for your construction company?

  1. Business income insurance
    • Business income insurance will cover any loss of income for up to 12 months in the event that your business is shut down or put on hold due to weather damages or other events that are out of your control. This is an important policy to have come this winter.
  2. General liability insurance:
    • All construction companies, large or small, need to have this coverage. This provides financial coverage if someone is insured or property is damaged while working for you.
  1. Professional liability insurance:
    • In case you provide any consultation, design work or advice as a part of your construction business services, professional liability insurance is a must as it will provide coverage if a client experiences a problem or loss due to your consultation services.


How do I know what insurance is right for me?

Finding the right insurance as a business owner is important because it can mean the difference between being successful or struggling through times.


How do you know what coverage you need? Talk to your insurance agent (844-272-3420) and let them help you find any potential gaps in your coverage and offer insight regarding what coverage you may be missing.  




Obamacare and Small Business Owners



obamacare logo

Long story short, Obamacare means affordable health-care is here to stay. In a recent Supreme Court ruling, King v. Burwell, the courts ruled that health insurance subsidies that were granted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are legal, regardless if people are claiming them on the state or federal level.


Why was this even an issue?

There was specific wording in the Obamacare law that stated subsidies are available to those who buy insurance “established by the state.”


This is great for people who do buy insurance through the state but, if interpreted literally, roughly 6.4 million people who receive subsidies for health insurance bought on the federal exchange would lose those insurance subsidies.


The Supreme Court ended up ruling that Obamacare was created to make health insurance more affordable, not destroy affordable insurance opportunities, therefore subsidies will remain available to those who purchase insurance from either the state or federal exchange.


What does this mean for small businesses and entrepreneurs?

For most businesses who did not previously offer health insurance Obamacare now requires them to do so, which can be a pretty significant cost. (Check out the full list of Obamacare requirements for business owners here.) But for entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially those who are just getting off the ground, the health insurance exchanges and subsidies have been a blessing.


One reason being that a new entrepreneur’s income is quite low the first year, therefore they belong to a tax bracket that qualifies them for subsidies so healthcare is affordable. Without it, entrepreneurs have two other choices, one being to refrain from purchasing any insurance at all and hoping for the best, or finding a job at a large company and forgoing the entrepreneurial dream.


What do you think about Obamacare and small business – share your opinions below!




Tips to Grill Safely & In Style



Who in your family or circle of friends is known as the barbecue master? Perhaps you should forward this to him or her.


As easy and relaxing as barbecuing may seem, did you know that serious barbecue accidents can occur without the proper safety precautions?


Here are six safety tips that every barbecuer should keep in mind, no matter if they’re the local neighborhood grill-master or son-in-law firing up his new barbecue for the first time.

  • Location is Everything: Always make sure to choose a safe location for the grill. Placing a grill on a terrace or patio, balcony or porch is almost asking to start a fire. Keep the grill in an open spot and never leave the grill unattended.
  • Keep it Flat: Make sure the grill is placed on a level surface far away from any structure near your home (again, location is everything).
  • No Kid or Pets: All children should be informed to stay away from the grill and should know that it has a very HOT surface that will burn their hands if touched. Also, keep pets away from the grill to make sure an animal doesn’t accidentally get burned or knock the grill off-kilter.  
  • Outside ONLY: Grill outside only! Never use a grill in a garage, tent or other enclosed space, even if it’s well ventilated. There is always a risk that a harmful buildup of carbon monoxide could possibly occur and grilling outside eliminates this risk completely.
  • Keep the Gas Under Lock and Key: Always keep the gas and supplies safe.  Find a safe place to store the grill and propane tanks outside and away from your home.
  • Clean the Grill: Keep your grill clean by removing grease from the grills and the catch trays. If using a charcoal grill, remove the coals by soaking them in water to ensure they cool completely and place them in a closed metal container away from your home, garage or deck.


Do you have any grilling tips, tricks or horror stories to add? Share them in the comment boxes below!




Boat Accidents Happen. Are You Protected?


skiff boat accident

According to the US Coast Guard, there were 4,064 accidents in 2014 that resulted from recreational boating activities, which involved 610 deaths, 2,678 injuries, and about $39 million dollars of property damage.


Whether you’re a skilled fisherman, or a family of five cruising on the lake, it’s important to have the right protection and know what you’re really up against when owning a boat.


Here are two types of insurance to have before you hit the lake:

Liability Insurance:

Liability insurance offers coverage if you are responsible for an incident that harms or damages other people or property. Without liability insurance, these expenses would come from your pocket book. Boat liability insurance typically covers anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million in damages.


There are a few different types of liability coverages available:

  1. Property damage liability: covers any harm that is done to another person’s boat, dock, water skis or other possessions.
  2. Bodily injury liability: covers costs associated with treatment and recovery of the injured person such as medical expenses, hospitalization and rehabilitation.
  3. Pollution liability: covers you in the event of a fuel spill.
  4. Wreckage removal: covers your legal obligation to remove debris after an incident.

Boat-Towing Insurance:

There are two types of boat-towing insurances to look into – on-road towing and on-water towing, both protecting you from accidents that may  require your boat to be towed.


  1. On the road towing: covers the costs of towing if you have a problem while trailering your boat on the road. On-road towing is sometimes covered in a standard auto insurance policy — be sure to check the fine print of your policy.
  2. On-water towing: covers the costs of towing if you have a problem on the water and need your boat towed in to shore. On-water towing will cover the hauling of your boat to a service area if it is stuck or stalled, runs out of gas or is in an accident.


Before Heading to the Lake, Check Your Coverage

Have fun this summer, be safe and most importantly protect yourself and your boat from potential accidents. Take a quick look at your current insurance policies or give your insurance agent a call (844-272-3420) to make sure your boat is covered. Nothing ruins a summer like a huge boat repair or hospital bill.


*Photo credits:




How to prepare a proper summer camp


Mountain camping wooden houses

Summer camps always start from a great idea… “I love the outdoors and teaching others how to live outside. Maybe I’ll start a summer camp.” While this may be an honest and heartfelt idea, starting a safe and fun summer camp isn’t as easy as it may seem.


But what can go wrong if you have a great staff, great campgrounds and excited kids?


Well, in reality there is a lot that can go wrong. But luckily with the right preparation and insurance there are plenty of ways to lessen the likelihood that things will go wrong at your camp.


Here are 3 ways to prepare a proper summer camp:

  1. Thoroughly review the camp activities and check out the camp facilities for potential dangers to reduce the risk of camp injuries.
  2. Perform background checks on all employees, volunteers and counselors.
  3. Have campers or parents and guardians sign wavers for high-risk activities like football or horse back riding.


In addition to taking the precautions above, it’s also important to make sure that your summer camp is covered with the right insurance in case something occurs that is out of your control.


A summer camp insurance policy will help a lot in protecting you and the camp from any liability issues you may face and any potential costs from injuries that may happen to campers or staff.


What type of insurance is needed for summer camps?


Before purchasing your insurance, shop around and get a few different quotes from insurance companies to compare pricing and coverage.


A well-rounded summer camp insurance policy will provide general liability and accidental medical coverage, in addition to property damage, workers compensation and business interruption coverage.


Having the right insurance will take a huge burden off your shoulders and will allow you to focus on the fun details like games, daily activities and creating fun memories for all your future campers.




How to Protect Your Online Business from Copyright, Data Breach & Data Loss


man with head down


In today’s world, everyone is online. Believe it or not, most children under the age of 25 will never know what it is like to live in a time where there was no Internet. It’s amazing to think about. The world of the Internet has not only changed the way people operate, but it has changed the way the business world operates too.


Having a business online means there are many different types of risks and threats to worry about. A traditional brick-and-mortar store owner needs to worry about someone throwing a brick through their window or vandalizing their sign, whereas an online business owner needs to worry about their hard drive crashing, copyright infringement, or encountering a hacker that steals all their data.


How do business owners protect their online businesses?


Standard business insurance policies won’t provide the exact protection that an operating internet-based business needs, but information technology liability insurance can.


For example, what if an employee places a copyrighted image on your homepage without the owner’s consent? Or what if someone hacks into your website and makes it no longer operable? In both of these instances, information technology liability insurance will come into play.


Here is what information technology liability insurance can provide protection against:

  • Computer viruses
  • Hacking and cyber liability
  • Industrial espionage
  • Denial of service attacks
  • Data breach and data loss


How to keep your insurance up to date

The online world is a new world that is ever evolving. As an online business owner, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the most recent risks to your business and make sure that you are protected.


It takes a lot of work to put a business together and to make it successful. Talk with your insurance agent (844-272-3420) and double-check that your policy includes protection for threats to your online business.




How to Have a Safe Fourth of July at Home


Fourth of July is just around the corner, meaning it’s time to break out the grill, bake your best bean dip, throw some beer on ice and get ready to celebrate!



It’s amazing to see how American people celebrate their love and hope for this country every year, and in fact, Americans have been celebrating this country before it even was officially a country!


The first fireworks show celebrating independence was in 1777, years before the war would be over. Back then, fireworks were a symbol of hope in a dark time and a reminder of the great potential and opportunity America could offer.


That message remains true today – we celebrate the great country America has become and also celebrate all the potential and opportunities that await.


Celebrate America and stay safe with your fireworks this year!

Whether it’s a burned finger, or a burnt-down house, there’s always some looming accident waiting to happen whenever a firework is lit up. So, if you plan to use fireworks this year here are some safety tips to keep in mind.


Never ever let children use fireworks without supervision. Sparklers can be fun and exciting, but they are also easy to drop or accidentally burn someone with. In the case that does happen, be sure to keep a water hose or a bucket of water nearby in case someone needs to stick a burnt finger in water, or if a rogue firework needs to be doused.


Sometimes fireworks don’t go off when they are lit, this is know as being a “dud”. If this happens, don’t try to relight them. Wait at least 20 minutes then soak them in a bucket of water to make sure they are really out and won’t light up unexpectedly.


Since fireworks can do unexpected things, make sure that all spectators are standing or sitting at a safe distance far enough away to avoid being hit if a firework ends up being bigger than expected or moves around when lit.


Celebrate and Stay Safe!

If you follow these simple safety procedures, the odds of an injury or burning a house down are slim to none. Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed – the beautiful displays in the sky remind us to celebrate our victories and look forward to the future.


If you follow these simple safety procedures, the odds of an injury or burning a house down are slim to none, just remember to always keep safety in the back of your mind.


Happy Fourth of July!




What is Livestock and Crop Insurance and do I need it?


America runs on farmers – they feed our nation and the rest of the world. There are millions of farms, from large agribusinesses to small family farms that have been handed down from generation to generation, but no matter what the size or type of farm, each and every one can benefit from the right insurance.

farm land


No matter if you run a cattle operation or harvest row crops, there is an insurance coverage plan out there than can help insure your financial stability in case of bad weather, sick animals or a diseased crop.


How Do I Cover My Livestock and Crops?


Livestock Insurance: Most farm coverages provide protections for your animals. You can choose from blanket coverage (coverage up to a specified coverage amount), or you can make a schedule of the high value animals you want to cover in the event of death. (This would make sense for a well bred stud, or bull that your breeding operation depends on.)


You can also have a combination of blanket and specific coverage. Covered losses include death by accidents and other events. To have coverage for animals that pass away due to sickness or disease, you need animal mortality insurance. This insurance is available as blanket or schedule and covers high-value cattle, horses and other animals as well.


Crop Insurance: Crop insurance protects you if you have a crop loss due to an unavoidable natural disaster, weather event, or disease. You can also protect your crop prices from commodity market price flippancy and can cover specific crops with a crop insurance policy.


Start Protecting Your Livestock and Crops Today

Farming can be an unpredictable business due to the many factors out of your control that can threaten your livelihood and success.  Weather, natural disasters and the market can all pose risks, but the right insurance can help give you peace of mind and keep your operation going years into the future.





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