Want Affordable Auto Insurance? Combine it with Your Home Insurance Policy

Those who are looking at expensive auto insurance quotes and want to lower the cost of this important form of insurance may want to seriously consider bundling an auto insurance policy with a home insurance policy. At Mills-Shellhammer-Puetz and Associates Insurance, we offer a specialized home and auto insurance bundle that is not only affordable but also provides Mills SPfringe benefits that you would not get from other forms of insurance. These benefits include single deductibles, emergency lockout coverage, accidental death benefits and access to 24 hour customer and claim service assistance. What is more, you will also receive a guaranteed full year policy term for your vehicle. You may also be eligible for other discounts on your bundled policy that would enable you to save even more money.

If you do not have home insurance and were not considering purchasing such a policy, you may be tempted to question the wisdom of buying such a bundle. However, it is important to bear in mind that your home is not just a place to live in but also a place where memories are made. You have most likely invested a great deal of time, effort and money in making your home suit your needs and preferences, and it would be a shame for this investment to go to waste as a result of an unforeseen, unfortunate event. Home insurance covers various forms of damage to your home and its belongings, thus ensuring that you are able to get back on your feet faster and easier than would have otherwise been possible.

If you are still unsure about the benefits of purchasing home and auto insurance as a bundle, fill out our free quote form, and find out just how little such a policy would cost you on a monthly basis. You will find that we not only offer top quality policies with numerous perks and amenities but also very affordable auto insurance and home insurance that provide you with the coverage you need at a cost you can afford.

Back-to-School Preparation Tips

shutterstock_201392780After a long winter, this seemed like a pretty short summer. It’s hard to believe that it’s already time for back-to-school preparation. Some of you might even be trying to figure out the best way to help your older student with college preparation. In any case, August usually turns into a busy month as families try to prepare for fall and spend some time taking advantage of these last days of summer vacation.

Fall Preparation in Sioux City, IA

At the same time, we at Mills-Shellhammer-Puetz & Associates Insurance, located in Sioux City, IA, have spoken with some clients who want to know if we have any fall preparation tips to ensure that homes stay secure in case of another long winter. The following provides a checklist of some things to check before we experience freezing temperature, snow and winter winds:

  • Leaky pipes can be a nuisance in the summer, but they can be prone to break when it freezes.
  • Roof damage never repairs itself, and it’s better to make small repairs before they turn into big ones.
  • A clean fireplace is a safe fireplace. Also consider some fireplace backs that can make your home fireplace more efficient when you use it to make your room cozy in the winter.

Renters Insurance for College Students

If you do have an older child who will head off for his own dorm room or off-campus apartment in the fall, consider protecting valuables with an inexpensive renters insurance policy. This coverage only costs a few dollars a month, and it can pay to replace expensive electronics, books, clothes and other property in case they are stolen or damaged. Some renters policies provide a package of coverage that can give you peace of mind and ensure that your student enjoys the school year even if an accident or other unpleasant event happens.

Homeowners Insurance for Fall and Winter in Iowa

Did you know that snow melt is one of the most common causes of floods? Meanwhile, typical homeowners insurance policies do not cover floods that are caused by natural events. For that, you might need flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.

While national flood insurance is sponsored by the government, you can still learn about it from us. Rates in low-risk areas start at only $129 a year, and it can pay to repair your home or replace your property after a flood.

At Mills-Shellhammer-Puetz & Associates Insurance, We Want to Help

We are proud to be an independent insurance agency, and this means that we have the ability to help you compare multiple insurance companies in one place. We’d like to invite you to contact us at your earliest convenience to review your current policies and find out if we can find you better coverage at an even better price. Simply call to speak with one of our agents over the phone or schedule an in-person appointment.

Essential Safety Tips for Your Summer Vacation

shutterstock_100190084School’s out, and you may be looking forward to your summer vacation. Perhaps you intend to camp beside one of the state’s beautiful lakes or travel to a larger city for some shopping. Either way, you can ensure that your family enjoys a more secure summer vacation if you keep some safe travel preparation tips in mind.

Keeping Your Vacant Home Safe

Did you know that long-term vacant homes might actually cost more to cover than occupied ones? This should not be an issue during your summer vacation, but you should know that residents help keep vandals and thieves at bay. These home safety tips should help ensure that you come home to find everything just as you left it:

  • Security systems: If you don’t have one, consider the fact that home security systems help keep homes safer and may earn homeowners insurance discounts.
  • Keep travel plans private: Don’t post your vacation plans on any public social networks because house thieves browse the Internet for tips like these.
  • Install security lights outside: You can install lights that only brighten when it’s dark outside or somebody approaches your home.
  • Put lights on a timer inside: Savvy thieves know that people leave lights on when they travel, but you could put lights on a timer to make it look like somebody is home.
  • Rely on trusted neighbors: Mention to a trusted neighbor or two that you plan to leave, and ask them to keep an eye on your house. Ask them to call the police if they see any suspicious activity around your home.

Vehicle Safety

Do you plan to travel by car? Make sure you take the time to get your car checked out before you leave. This might also be a good time to review your auto insurance policy to make sure you are covered while you travel or in case you need to rent a car. Some car insurance policies also offer roadside assistance plans, and these can save you from a lot of stress in case your car gets a flat tire on the road.

If you don’t plan to travel by car, you might want to lock it securely in the garage instead of leaving it on the street.

We Want You to Enjoy a Safe and Secure Summer Vacation

Here at Mills-Shellhammer-Puetz & Associates, we pride ourselves on developing relationships with each of our customers and offering personalized service. We can help you review your existing home & auto insurance, offer you free Sioux City, IA insurance quotes and answer any of your insurance questions. As independent agents, we have the freedom to help you compare multiple insurers to be certain you find the best plan and premium for all of your insurance needs.

Don’t be another distracted driver

Distracted driving has become an epidemic in this country, due primarily to the advent of cellular phones and other devices that pull our attention away from the road when we are driving. In 2012 alone, 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes. Cops are handing out tickets for distracted driving more often, and this will affect your auto insurance premiums. So to avoid these additional premiums to your car insurance and points on your driving record, check out some of the driving safety tips below to keep in mind whenever you are driving and you have that itch to check your phone or are feeling distracted by something in the car. Nothing is worth a serious accident.

ImageInvest in Bluetooth

The Bluetooth technology allows you to make and answer calls and talk on your cell phone almost entirely hands free. There is a headset that links up with the phone that you can wear while you drive, allowing you to keep most of your attention on the road while you have a conversation, rather than holding the wheel with one hand while you try to drive with the other. Most Bluetooth headsets are about fifty to sixty dollars, less than half of one average distracted driving ticket and a tiny amount when compared to the cost of an accident. More and more cars have Bluetooth systems built into them as well, allowing you to simply talk on the phone and place calls through a voice activated system within the car itself.

Pull Over to Use the Phone

If you must send a text or look up directions or make a call where you have to hold the phone because you don’t own a Bluetooth system or it’s not working, simply pull over in a safe place to make this call. The whole process should take approximately 5 minutes, which is worth your time when you think about the price of a distracted driving ticket and what it will do to your car insurance premiums—not to mention the cost of an accident.

Passengers in the Car Distracting You

Passengers in the car can be another major distraction that leads to distracted driving and subsequent accidents. This is something that drivers must learn to deal with so that they don’t end up getting into a collision because of others. Regardless of whether it’s children or friends who are distracting you, pull the car over, and don’t move it until they stop doing whatever they are doing. It will send a clear message that you need to concentrate on driving, and everyone’s safety is more important than whatever issue is at hand inside the car.

Sources: http://www.distraction.gov

Prepare for the Season With Storm Insurance

If you have a mortgage, your lender will require you to carry an insurance policy on your home. Even if your house is paid off, though, it’s a good idea to make sure you always have insurance on it. Replacing or repairing it after a devastating storm may not be in your budget, and insurance can protect your financial future during that time. When you’re shopping for storm insurance, remember that all policies are not created equally.

shutterstock_90021889Basic homeowners’ insurance policies cover fires, wind damage and water damage, but they won’t cover floods, for example. They generally also don’t provide coverage for hurricanes, landslides or earthquakes. If you live in an area of the country where your risk of experiencing one of those events is elevated, you may want to consider extra coverage. You can get a rider on your policy that covers a particular type of event, or you can get a separate policy to protect you from a specific type of natural disaster or storm.

One of the best ways to protect yourself and your home is to know what kind of insurance you have and make any needed changes before a storm becomes a problem for you. Review your insurance coverage, and take a careful look about what it covers. Also, look at the exclusions, because that will provide you with vital information about what won’t be covered if you experience storm damage. Before the storm, you should also make your home as safe as possible. If you know you have a chance to experience a lot of wind, for example, bring in anything in your yard that might blow around and cause damage.

A home inventory is also an excellent idea. If you need to make a claim after a storm has passed through your area, you’ll want to know everything you had in your home so you can get it replaced. Writing out an inventory list can help you do that, as can making a video of your home that has a time and date stamp on it. For items like electronics, make sure to write down the make, model and serial number, so the proper value can be placed on it by your insurance company.

If you do experience storm damage, you probably won’t be the only one. Don’t delay in making a claim, so the company can start processing it right away. Most companies that offer storm insurance are good about paying you quickly, so you’ll be able to start repairs. Many also pay for a place to stay, such as a hotel room or even an apartment if your home is not livable. Being proactive by finding a good company and understanding your policy can go a long way toward achieving peace of mind and financial protection.

Major Decisions

After a long winter in Sioux City, the spring can feel like a time for change and renewal. As the weather gets warmer, you can start doing tasks to prepare for the summer, such as planting your garden, getting your shed organized, planting flowers in your yard or doing repairs on your house.

The melting of snow can also mean that you can spend more time outside, spending the day at Stone State Park with your family having a picnic, going hiking, taking a bike ride or looking at butterflies.

 If you are feeling adventurous, you can also take a hike up to First Bride’s Grave or go fishing in one of the streams, reservoirs, lakes or rivers in or near Sioux City. During a time of change and renewal, you may want to think about getting or renewing a life, home or accident insurance policy to protect you and your family throughout the year.   Image

Having a life or home insurance that covers you in case of an incident or weather can especially be important when you live in Sioux City. The city sees unpredictable weather and extreme temperatures throughout the year. 

During the springtime, you may encounter extreme rain, hail or tornados that do major damage to your home. You don’t want to be left with a roof in disrepair or damaged furniture or appliances after a major tornado or hail or rain storm and not have the money to do repairs or replace valuable belongings.

Although warmer temperatures can mean more time outdoors, doing those activities you love and basking in the sun, you want to be prepared for any damage that the warmer temperatures can bring. Refreshing your life, home or accident protection coverage can ensure that your family won’t have to worry any more than necessary when you encounter the extreme weather of spring.

When you purchase a life, home or accident protection policy, you have your best interests in mind and you care about offering your family security and protection in case of bad weather.  Image

With a life insurance policy, you and your spouse or significant other can guarantee your family financial security if anything should happen. 

Go Forth and Spring Clean

March is the official calendar month for the beginning of spring.  Some parts of the United States never experience the freeze of winter, but there is one milestones of the new season that everyone can benefit from in their everyday life.

It’s time to dust off the cobwebs, wipe down the patio furniture and clean off the lawnmower in preparation for the long, warm, sunny days ahead. It’s ‘Spring’ Cleaning time!

If most of your cleaning can be done throughout the year, then a version of spring cleaning could be to tackle the pile of bills or try out some new organizational ideas. Some of the suggestions below can also be done periodically, throughout the year.

No matter how intense you intend to be on this cleaning spree, it’s always helpful to have guidelines to follow, so there’s nothing that’s missed.

  • Wipe Walls and Ceilings: Remove dust with a vacuum. Get the surface dirt first. This happens especially in kitchens so it is best to use a degreaser.          shutterstock_95601205
  • Vacuum and Shampoo Rugs:  Deep clean carpets and rugs that have water-proof backs with a shampoo machine.  Rugs without backs need professional cleaning.
  • Wash Window Screens: Use warm water and dish washing liquid, scrub the screens gently and rinse.
  • Dust Thoroughly: Remember the tops of the ceiling fans and window moldings. Work from the top of a room to the bottom, so you can vacuum the dust on the floor.
  • Defrost the Freezer: Turn off the power at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Empty the contents and wipe down the interior with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda per 1 quart of hot water.
  • Rotate Bed: Turn your mattress over for a more even wear.
  • Update First-Aid Kit: Make sure your household first-aid kit has a full supply of bandages and ointments and a list of emergency numbers, like for the nearest poison-control.
  • Clean Computers: Dust keyboard crevices with cotton swabs and wipe screens with a soft cloth.
  • Donate Old Apparel: Donate to a charity that accepts old clothing and in many cases they’ll come pick it up. You can even get a receipt for tax filing.



  • Wash Outdoor Furniture: Most materials on outdoor furniture can handle a solution of dish washing liquid and water.  Use a brush with soft bristles.

It usually feels good to freshen up and clear the clutter from your living space, and deep cleaning can also feel like a clean slate for the remainder of the year.  Please remember to keep safety in the front of all tasks, as ladders are climbed to clean gutters, and wet floors are created while mopping the kitchen.

But this is also a good month to start thinking about uncluttering your schedule, clearing your calendar for some outdoor activities or setting aside money for vacation plans. Because sometimes the best spring cleaning can come about when you find that missing football, fix the broken bicycle, or tune up the dirt bike.  Go forth and enjoy!

Go for the…Insurance!

This month is a sports fan’s dream. The Super Bowl takes place on February 2nd and the winter Olympics in Sochi start on February 7th and continues for several weeks throughout the month. While some viewers might tune into the football game solely for the commercials, the Olympics covers enough variety to interest anyone.

There are so many incredible things about watching the Olympics:

The athletes!

The dedication and hard work!

The talent!

The Olympics are meant to inspire people around the world, and they do. Sometimes they inspire people to check out a new sport. Sometimes they inspire people to join a team. And sometimes they inspire people to hold their own household Olympics. When this happens, a driveway can become an ice luge or a skating rink. A backyard hill becomes a ski slope.  A couch can become a vault. These homemade ‘Olympics’ obviously don’t come with the type of experience that we’re watching on television.



So, accidents happen.  You can never be too careful, especially with how expensive medical care can be. Make sure you, your family and, if applicable, your employees have the proper healthcare coverage. Health coverage could prevent financial issues as well as providing the comfort of receiving relatively stress-free medical care for that professional snow boarder in training.

Another beautiful thing about the Olympics, besides the location, are the gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to the most accomplished athletes competing in the games. A photo always surfaces of the prize winner biting their medal, to show that it is real. While most of us won’t ever have to worry about how to insure Olympic medals, we do have our own precious belongings to protect.

Do you happen to have any jewelry or other accessories that you only wear for the most special occasions? Or pieces that you wear every day, like wedding rings? There are options like Personal Property Insurance that picks up on coverage where Homeowners Insurance might end. If your property is damaged or stolen, Personal Property may actually pay actual cash value or replacement costs for your valuable property.

If this kind of coverage is something that you are interested in, it’s important to speak to an agent to create a policy that protects the ‘gold medals’ in your life. While you haven’t put in the years of training for that one moment of Olympics glory, you have put in many years of hard work to obtain your property.



Make sure you are protecting the most important things in your life, whether they are your home, health and what you consider your gold, silver and bronze.

Insurance, Movies, Life

As the winter months drag on, the snow keeps falling (and so does the temperature), one of the most reliable cold weather activities remains curling up on the couch and watching a movie. Whether you are watching the movie for the first time or re-watching an old favorite for the 100th time, a hopeful thought may appear … I hope that these people have insurance. Some kind of insurance…ANY kind of insurance. Because everything that possibly could go wrong, does. In most movies, though, there’s a happy ending but real life isn’t usually that easy. You need insurance to make sure you have a happy ending, too.

Since the holiday season just passed, the new Christmas classic, Home Alone, aired constantly on cable television. Within the first couple of scenes, you’re already hoping that the McCallister family are a smart bunch and are well-equipped with home insurance. The family home is being scouted by a pair of burglars who are aware that the McCallisters are leaving their home vacant for a period of time over the holidays. Not to mention, all the damage little Kevin manages while trying to protect his house. Who would have thought, but this movie provides a gentle reminder to insure your home for the expected and for the unexpected. Standard home insurance may cover a variety of incidents but it is important to talk to your insurance specialist about more specific coverage options.

Now that all of the college-aged family members have gone back to school, are you feeling nostalgic for that more care-free phase of life? One movie that will give you a giant dose of college is the infamous, Animal House. For sure, it’s crazy and out of control but there’s some relevant scenes. But while watching the parties thrown by Delta Tau Chi, you know not a one of those fraternity brothers has renter’s insurance. The invitation to party can be open to everyone on campus (strangers!) which also opens up the possibility of damage to an apartment or the tenant’s personal belongings. Of course, accidents can even happen with a small group of friends, so it is important to have renter’s insurance for the big and small… “gatherings.” Having a Renters Insurance policy can pay for the cost of replacing your belongings if they are damaged or stolen. Blog

Perhaps you’ve been daydreaming of warmer weather, of a time when you can go for a car ride, turn off the heat and roll down the windows. So, while you’re searching for a movie, the fast cars of Gone in 60 Seconds (the original OR the remake) might catch your attention.  The fast pace and beautiful cars might distract from the bigger issue for a while, but eventually, the plot will make you hopeful in the best interest of the people who own all those beautiful cars, (which are being stolen in such a timely manner): auto insurance: comprehensive coverage. (That looks like it could actually be the title of next summer’s blockbuster)!

In fact, if you view any action movie, the number of fender benders portrayed on screen should prompt any viewer to check and make sure their auto insurance has been renewed and updated. Accidents and other incidents are always possible when you have a vehicle. You need to have an auto insurance policy and again, it is important to speak to an asset protection specialist so they can prepare a plan that works best for you.

Movies are fun and entertaining, but they rarely make us think of what we would do in the specific and exaggerated situations that we’re watching. We don’t want to be in these predicaments but if we are, we know that we want to be covered. It’s January. It’s a time for renewal and it’s time to start the year off right. Get insured, stay insured and be the best insured you can be.

Qualities That Make a Good Insurance Agent

Sure it’s true insurance agents are sales people, however successful insurance agents are much more than a person with a pitch. Successful insurance agents understand their client’s needs on a personal level, know their products and benefits, and are accessible to their clients when they need them.

Knowledge and Experience

A good insurance agent has a multitude of services and products that meet the specific needs of their clients. Their product knowledge, experience, and application to people and situations are what benefit the people who buy from them.


Listening and Communication Skills

Listening to the needs of a client and being able to communicate effectively is essential. An agent who is focused solely on making a commission is not going to be very successful at their job in the long run. People skills are a must when talking to people about the things in life that are important to them. People shopping for insurance are looking for protection and they want to purchase it from someone who can relate to them.



Great insurance agents are accessible to their clients when they need them. This means answering calls and emails after hours. Things in life happen randomly and when a person needs to file a claim, a good insurance agent is available.



When it comes to insurance, honesty is the best policy and in most situations, the truth always comes out. A smart insurance agent isn’t going to sell you something you don’t need instead; they’ll sell you a policy that benefits your unique needs. This way, they’ll keep your business.


Customer Service

A good insurance will check in with their clients every now and again to see how they are doing, what they are up to, and inquire about any life changes or needs that may have come up for them. When people have a good experience in business, they are likely to share it with their family, friends, and social network. Insurance agents who provide great customer service get referrals from the people who trust them.