South Carolina

907 Elmwood Avenue
Columbia, SC 29201

Ohio

4652 Belden Village St NW
Canton, OH 44718

Are you tired of high utility bills landing in your mailbox in Columbia? Not sure how to lower those bills without turning your heat way down or taking cold showers?

We at DeWees Insurance Partners can help.

Nearly 70 percent of the average home’s energy use falls into four main categories, according to EnergyStar.gov: Heating (29 percent), water heating (14 percent), appliances (13 percent) and lighting (12 percent). Here are some quick tips to help you save money in each of those areas and stay comfortable at the same time:

Heating

  • Use (or install) a programmable thermostat. Running the heat all day when you are at work is a waste, but keeping it off all day means you’re coming home to a freezing house. Today’s thermostats allow you to easily manage when the heat goes on and off.
  • Have a professional check your heating and cooling equipment to make sure it’s running efficiently. Also replace air filters regularly — whenever it looks dirty, or every 3 months, whichever is sooner.

Water heating

  • In addition to lowering your thermostat to about 120 degrees (F), adding insulation to an older water heater or the pipes themselves can keep the water warmer longer.

Appliances

  • Wait to run your dishwasher until it is full; a half-load uses the same amount of water and energy as a full one.
  • When you’re using the stove, choose the right burner for your pots and pans. Using a big burner for a small pot can waste a lot of energy.
  • Keep your washing machine set to use cold water, whenever possible. And don’t forget to clean that lint trap in the dryer.

Lighting

  • Using compact fluorescent bulbs is an excellent idea, particularly for lights you use all the time, like above your porch or in your kitchen.
  • Replace your old decorative lights with new, energy-efficient models. Not only will they save electricity, they’ll last longer.

It’s not hard to get started with saving energy. Once you do and you see those bills get lower and lower, you’ll want to keep going. Check out EnergyStar.gov for more tips and information.

Whether you were caught speeding (or worse), you’re looking for a discount on your car insurance, or you simply want to be a better driver, there is a wide range of defensive driving and driver improvement courses available in South Carolina these days.

But, which is right for you? Here are five tips to help you decide:

  1. Check with your state or municipality. If you’re taking training to avoid a traffic infraction, not just any course will do. You’ll need to take an approved course – ask for a list before signing up.
  2. Check with your insurer. The same goes if you’d like to potentially save on your car insurance. Your carrier may only offer a car insurance discount for completing certain courses. Also ask how much your discount will be — this will help when it comes time to choose a course.
  3. Choose the type of course. There are online and classroom options, typically ranging from 4-12 hours depending on the course material. And, there are advantages to each. Online courses offer convenience (and sometimes a lower cost), while in-person settings can provide more interaction.
  4. Determine how much you want to spend. If you’re trying to avoid a ticket (and a potential increase in your insurance premiums), the cost might not be much of an issue. If you’re taking a course to receive an insurance discount, however, make sure the total discount you’ll receive is greater than the cost of the course.
  5. Check out the reviews. Online review sites, such as Yelp, can show you what others thought of a course. Keep in mind, people who felt “forced” to take a course might have a biased opinion, especially compared to someone who took the course willingly.

No matter why you’re considering a defensive driving course, we’re happy to help you weigh the pros and cons. The biggest pro being, once you complete your training, you’re likely to be a little more careful the next time you get behind the wheel. And, that always pays off!

Christmas trees are a beloved holiday tradition, but they can pose a fire risk. On average, says the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the country respond to more than 200 blazes related to holiday trees each year.

Despite how much we here at DeWees Insurance Partners support our local firefighting heroes, we hope they won’t have a reason to show up at your doorstep this holiday season. So, here are our common-sense suggestions for enjoying a Christmas tree safely:

  1. If you opt for an artificial tree, be sure it has a flame retardant label or certification. If you’re picking out a live tree, forgo the one with brownish needles that are falling out – it’s too dry. Instead choose one with fresh, green needles that don’t fall out even when you shake the limb.
  2. Place your live tree in water as soon as possible, using about a quart of water per each inch of stem diameter. Before you do, however, make a fresh cut from the stem bottom – straight across – to help the tree get water. Replenish the water regularly.
  3. Situate the tree so you can still access the exits in the room, and keep it at least 3 feet away from open flames or heat sources, such as your fireplace or radiator.
  4. Now it’s time for the best part – trimming the tree. Choose lights and other decorations labeled as flame retardant, and make sure your lights don’t have frayed or worn wires. Leaving the house or going to sleep? Be sure to unplug those lights.
  5. It’s always a chore – and somewhat of a bummer – to take down the tree each year, but do so sooner rather than later, especially with a live tree. Otherwise you prolong your risk of a fire. Check for tree recycling options in your area for responsible disposal.

No matter if you trim your tree with popcorn or with heirloom ornaments, we hope it brings the magic of the season alive for you and your loved ones this year. Happy holidays from all of us at DeWees Insurance Partners!

Maybe you’ve been here before. You’ve just come off the plane, picked up your baggage and gone to the rental car counter. You’re tired from the flight, about to begin an ambitious vacation or a challenging business project. And, this is the point at which you’re asked, “Do you want insurance with that?”

Most travelers, facing that question from the rental representative, have the vague notion that they don’t really need to buy rental car insurance – which somehow is covered already. With just enough doubt in their minds, and the need to make a quick decision, perhaps they buy it just to be safe.

So, which is it?

Do you need to buy rental car insurance or not?

Truth be told, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. However, you can likely reach a conclusion you’re comfortable with by considering these three questions.

  1. What Types of Rental Car Insurance Are Available?

Typically, car rental agencies will offer you four types of insurance to purchase:

  • Collision damage waiver – The rental car company won’t charge you for a damaged or stolen vehicle when you buy this.
  • Supplemental liability protection – Electing this will ensure you’re covered for costs to others if you cause an accident in the rental.
  • Personal accident insurance – This coverage will pay for injuries or death of the driver and passengers of your rental car.
  • Personal effects coverage – Reimburses you for stolen personal items while renting the car.
  1. What Rental Car Coverage Might I Already Have?

Start with your personal auto insurance. It’s likely that your policy will provide the same level of coverage for your rental as it does for your own car. That usually includes liability insurance, and, depending on the policy you purchased, may include collision, comprehensive and medical payments, too. There are exclusions, however. Some insurers won’t cover rentals in a foreign country, or rentals that are being used for business. Get in touch with your independent insurance agent to verify your coverages.

Next there’s your credit card. Most cards offer some degree of coverage, but it varies widely. Coverage is usually secondary, designed to step in and pick up where your auto insurance leaves off, and it tends to be mostly confined to collision, damage and theft. For coverage to apply, most cards require that you decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver and pay for the car in full with the card that provides the protection. Again, contact your card company to find out exactly what is covered.

Then, consider your health and life insurance, too. If you’re in an accident involving a rental car and you have these policies, you likely have coverage for your own costs. Plus, with your homeowners insurance, you may have personal property coverage to help repair or replace valuable belongings that are lost, damaged or stolen while you’re in a rental. Your deductible and policy limits will apply, and the same goes for renters insurance or condo insurance.

  1. What Rental Coverage Might I Be Missing?

In the event something does happen to the rental car, you may be looking at loss of use and diminished value fees, and your regular policy may not cover them. Loss of use is the income that the rental agency loses due to the vehicle being in the shop for repairs, and diminished value is the calculated reduction in a vehicle’s resale value as the result of an accident. Credit cards sometimes cover these, but be aware that they may require documentation that rental agencies can be reluctant to provide.

So, before you make that next trip, give us a call and check with your credit card company. That way you’ll be ready to make an informed decision when you get to the rental car counter.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by Flickr user Timo Newton-Syms used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Does it seem like driving has become more expensive in Columbia in recent years? It likely has. Since 2014, the U.S. has seen more new cars on the road, and those cars are driving more miles than in years past. The severity of traffic-related accidents has grown worse, and insurance claims for bodily injury have become more expensive. Together, these factors are increasing the cost of driving for just about every car owner.

More new cars: New car sales hit a new record in 2015, just under 17.5 million vehicles sold, up 5.7 percent from 2014, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. That’s good for the economy. And, the safety, technology and convenience features that get better every year are good for drivers. Still, new cars can be more expensive to repair or replace, and all that technology doesn’t come cheap. So, the cost of accident repairs is also increasing.

More miles driven: Encouraged by greater employment and lower gas prices, those new cars, along with the older ones, are driving more miles. Whether commuters driving in to Columbia each day, or families making trips, U.S. drivers drove 3.1 trillion miles in 2015, according to the Federal Highway Administration. That’s another record, and it’s also highest number of miles driven since Americans logged 3 trillion miles in 2007, just before the recession. Of course, the more miles driven, the greater the potential for accidents and the need for repairs.

Traffic deaths increase: Any traffic fatality is one too many, but the U.S. registered a 7.2 percent increase in annual traffic-related deaths from 2014 to 2015. It was the largest increase since 1966. Half of those who died were not wearing seat belts, a third of the deaths were due to drunk drivers or speeding and at least one in 10 involved distraction. It’s also worth noting that fatalities for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists increased more in 2015 than those for auto drivers and passengers. It’s a heartbreaking trend that’s both dangerous and costly.

Medical costs rising: From 2005 to 2013, the average cost for a bodily injury liability claim rose 32.1 percent, according to the Insurance Research Council. These increasing costs have been attributed to a number of factors, including the rising severity of accidents, and the rising cost of medical care. And, they come at a time when the frequency of such claims has been declining.

Distracted driving: Although using a mobile phone while driving is restricted, if not prohibited, in many states, cell phones and texting continue to be a serious cause of accidents. We don’t know just how serious this problem is, because accident reports often don’t mention if mobile phone use was a contributing factor.

But, cell phones have brought greater awareness to the larger category termed “distracted driving,” activities that take the driver’s attention away from the road. Distracted driving means using a cell phone or texting while operating a car, but can also refer to eating while driving, operating your car’s navigation system and conversing with passengers.

The AAA Foundation points to federal estimates that distracted driving contributes to 16 percent of the nation’s fatal crashes, about 5,000 deaths annually.

All of these rising costs and dangers impact another area of driving, too – auto insurance costs. You might see it reflected in your own premium bill, and be tempted to reduce your costs by reducing your insurance coverage. But, at a time when the risk of costly accidents is rising, it may not be wise to save money by undercutting your protection against financial loss

As an independent insurance agency, DeWees Insurance Partners is dedicated to helping you reduce your insurance costs without sacrificing the protection that gives you a feeling of security. We know where to find discounts that can benefit you. That could mean a better rate for cars with safety equipment such as anti-lock brakes (ABS) or anti-theft devices, or discounts for families who put less mileage on their vehicles or insure more than one car on the same policy. DeWees Insurance Partners can help you save money without sacrificing your security. Call us today.

When it starts getting cold in South Carolina, there’s nothing like a warm, home-cooked meal, especially during the holidays. In fact, for many, the holidays are synonymous with food: Thanksgiving turkey, Hanukkah brisket, Christmas ham.

Unfortunately, along with the traditional dishes, some of us accidentally cook up trouble in the kitchen over the holidays. Cooking fires increase dramatically during the holiday season, particularly on Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Here are some of the biggest ways people get themselves into trouble:

  • Too much multitasking. In one survey, almost half of the respondents said they leave the kitchen while they’re cooking to talk or text, check email, watch TV and more. The top cause of cooking fires is unattended cooking, according to the NFPA.
  • Loads of clutter. Keeping flammable items around heat-generating appliances is another big cause of fires. Do you have packaging or paper items near your stove? How about curtains hanging too low? Those can increase your risk.
  • Lack of safety tools. Every home should have a working smoke detector in or near the kitchen, and an easily accessible fire extinguisher.
  • Cooking at too high a heat. Often, people will heat things up too quickly, or too much — especially when it comes to frying things in oil. And, some leave the house before things have completely cooled off, which might make for a nasty surprise when they return home.

Of course, no matter what precautions you take, you might still find yourself staring down flames in your kitchen. Here are three things to do:

  1. If the fire is in a pan or pot, try putting the lid on. If it’s in your oven, close the door and turn off the heat.
  2. If the fire is out of control, or is headed that way, leave immediately.
  3. Call 911, but only after you are safely outside.

We hope it doesn’t come to that, but above all, keep yourself safe. Remember, your home can be replaced — and that meal you’re making can be, too. But, you and your loved ones can’t. So, keep your cooking attended, and keep it safe.

It goes without saying that keeping yourself and your family healthy through the holiday season in South Carolina can be a challenge. When you combine chillier temps, housebound days, year-end deadlines and pre-holiday preparation – not to mention kids passing around colds at school like they’re playing “Hot Potato” – you can end up spending the holidays under the covers.

No matter how many inherent seasonal risk factors you face, there are ways to prepare for and get through the season virtually unscathed. At DeWees Insurance Partners, we wish for you a happy and abundantly healthy holiday season, so here are a few tips to help you stay well and enjoy!

Consider ‘sticking it’ to The Flu. Flu shots seem to be available at practically every drug store or pharmacy in Columbia. Discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of flu shots for yourself and your family.

Get some zzz’s. The holiday hustle and bustle can interfere with normal sleep patterns, yet sleep is essential to health and healing. Prioritize getting enough sleep – or taking a quick nap – despite your busy schedule.

Fill the fridge. It’s easy to allow your pantry to start looking like a sweet shop as the holidays near. Take care to stock your refrigerator and cabinets with healthy snacks and ingredients for balanced meals. Think fruit, nuts, lower-calorie snacks, veggies and lean proteins.

Get real. Emotional health is important, too, so be realistic about what can be expected through the season. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that Aunt Zoe and Uncle Andrew from South Carolina will finally mend their rocky relationship.

Keep moving.  Despite the many holiday temptations to just relax, don’t give in to being a couch potato. Get to the gym or yoga studio, go for a walk, jump on the treadmill or dance. The important thing is to just move!

From the DeWees Insurance Partners to you, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!

The holiday season is here and that means it’s time to eat good food and join together with loved ones. For many who have families far away, this is also is the time to pack up and get out of South Carolina.

If you are gearing up to travel and have pets at home, you’re probably considering their holiday options, perhaps a dog sitter, cat spa or kennel. If you just can’t bear leaving your furry friends behind, you’re in luck!  With the following tips, you and your cuddly companions can be on your way — via car, plane or train — in safety and comfort.

  • Pre-travel honesty. Before you consider making Fido your backseat driver or your wingman, consider whether he will feel safer en route or at home. Some pets simply don’t like to travel, while others are more versatile.
  • Hit the rails. If you’re traveling by train, plan ahead. Make sure pets are allowed on the train and find out what rules apply. Also, ensure your pet can stay with you in the passenger compartment, versus needing to be placed in cargo.
  • Comfort your four-legged friends in flight. Before you book your flight, make sure the air carrier allows pets in the cabin or if they need to ride in cargo. Research weight requirements ahead of time, and check the airline’s website for additional regulations.
  • Pack their bags with care.  Pack a travel bag for your pet, just as you do for yourself and your family. Consider items like food bowls, leashes, treats and favorite toys, as well as immunization records and identification tags.
  • Put the pedal to the metal. If you have a choice, travel by car. This way you can stop as frequently as necessary for potty stops and feedings.
  • Avoid accidents. Regardless of your mode of travel, be cognizant of the duration of your journey. Gauge how much your pet eats and drinks according to the length of the trip. If you’re traveling by train, find out in advance if there are stops when you and your pet can get out and get relief.

At DeWees Insurance Partners, we hope you and your pets have a comfortable, safe journey wherever you travel for the holidays.

Millions of Americans will do some traveling this holiday season – the majority of it by car. Of course, winter weather creates a unique set of challenges on the roadways, whether you’re simply driving around in Columbia, SC.

At DeWees Insurance Partners, we’d like to help you not only enjoy your holiday season but help ensure you’ll be around for future holidays, too! So please take these winter-travel safety tips to heart.

Prepare your car for winter

Before leaving on your trip, give your car a thorough check-up. Do wipers need to be replaced? Are your fluid levels where they should be? Your tires need to be in good shape for driving on wet or snowy roads and be sure your radiator and cooling systems are up to snuff. And – we know you’ve heard this before, but bear with us – your car should have an emergency kit. Pack it with jumper cables, blankets, a first-aid kit, flares, food and water, a flashlight and other safety gear. A shovel and cat litter or sand (to provide traction should you get stuck in snow or ice) are good ideas as well.

Before you leave

Know exactly where you’re going, with printed maps, and check weather conditions along your planned route. Let someone know your itinerary, so if you don’t arrive on time, officials know where to look for you. If your car has snow or ice on it, make sure it is completely cleared off before you depart. Don’t forget to clear your headlights and other lights, along with the roof – ice and snow blowing from your car could create a hazard for other drivers.

When you’re on the road

Are roads snowy or icy? Take it slow. Take it slow. Take it slow. Sorry for repeating ourselves, but it’s absolutely vital to, yes, take it slow. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, and make sure you leave extra room between your vehicle and others on the road. Watch for ice patches on bridges, overpasses, and shady spots. Remember, having four-wheel or all-wheel drive does not mean your car will stop or steer better on ice.

If you’re caught in a storm that seems like it’s too much for you to handle, seek refuge as soon as you can. Of course, sometimes it’s best not to drive in snow and ice at all – stay home if you can.

If your vehicle becomes disabled

Nobody wants to think about being stranded on the side of the road in a storm, but it happens to thousands of people every year. If your vehicle is disabled, be sure to stay with it. Run your engine and heater for short intervals, and open one of your windows slightly to prevent carbon monoxide build-up. Light two flares (remember that vehicle emergency kit? Now’s the time to use it) and place one a safe distance from both the front and rear of your vehicle. Note your location with mileposts, exit numbers or cross-streets and call the authorities or a tow truck.

We hope you enjoy your holidays with friends and family, and we look forward to serving you in the New Year!

We admit it: As insurance pros, our picture of winter isn’t exactly cozy. Winter storms mean traffic snarls, hillsides turning to sheets of ice, and cars sliding around like hockey pucks. Cold temperatures can cause pipes to burst, frost swells and other damage. Heating your home with fireplaces and holiday lighting can increase the risk of fire.

A picture-perfect winter requires a few precautions

Here are a few of our top tips to help reduce weather-related hassles this winter.

Winter-proof your car with good snow tires or chains, new wiper blades, antifreeze, and emergency road supplies.

Keep your attic cool to help prevent ice dams. Insulate the attic floor and make sure it is well-ventilated.

Do not overload circuits with holiday decorations.

When winter storms hit, be smart

If you do not have to drive, stay put. If you must drive, make sure you’ve winterized your car and have a full tank of gas.

When the air is cold, keep bath and kitchen cabinet doors open so warm air can circulate around pipes. If pipes do freeze, let them thaw normally—they’ll be less likely to burst.

And if the power is out, make sure you avoid leaving candles or fires burning unattended. If you use a portable generator, follow the instructions and do not use it indoors.

Know what your insurance covers

We want to help you rest easy.  You will be more relaxed when you know you have prepared your property to lessen the chance of winter storm damage. Your insurance policy covers repair or rebuilding costs. However, your deductible does apply. Check your policy to see what is covered and to confirm the deductible you have chosen.

If you have any questions at all about your coverage, call (803) 386-0003 and we will help you review your options.