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On the Road: Motorcycle Safety Tips Bookmark and Share

As the home of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, it’s easy to guess that South Dakota harbors plenty of bike enthusiasts. And summer is the season for riding carefree down open prairie roads, but just like any vehicle, motorcycles are machines that must be operated with respect and caution.

Use our Motorcycle Safety Graphic to make sure you remember the most important safety tips for riding your motorcycle this summer.


1. Wear a helmet

Buy a helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and always wear it. The protection for your head and your brain is priceless –it is all too easy to sustain fatal head trauma in a motorcycle crash or slide.  

2. Wear the right gear

On a motorcycle, a rider is completely exposed and, without a seatbelt, in danger of being thrown from the bike at any time. That means you’ll need the right gear to stay protected. Leather, goggles or sunglasses, durable gloves, and shoes that cover your ankles are among the best types of clothing to wear for a ride.

3. Teach your passengers

Practice riding with a first-time passenger in an open space, like a parking lot, so they can get used to the movements of the bike. Let them know how to move with you during maneuvers like turning and stopping.

4. Use your signals

We know that motorcycles are harder for other drivers to see. So instead of weaving quickly through traffic, signal properly to give other vehicles advance warning of your next move.

5. Know the forecast

With less wheels than a car, a motorcycle has less traction – which is reduced even further with wet road conditions. Rain or snow will also reduce your visibility – not to mention be painful to ride through.

6. Look ahead

Look where you are going – keep your head up and your eyes forward, watching the road at least three to four seconds ahead, especially when coming around a corner.

7. Never assume a driver sees you

Take responsibility for your safety while riding. Drive defensively and always look twice. Don’t ride in blind spots. Be aware of those around you, to the front, sides and back.

8. Keep your distance

Leave a following distance of at least three to four seconds. There’s no need to tailgate other vehicles when a couple extra seconds could make the difference between stopping in time and colliding.

Spring Boating/RV/ATV Safety Bookmark and Share

Hard to believe but "BOAT & CAMPING SEASON" is just around the corner! If you own a boat, sport-watercrafts, RV, motorcycles, and/or ATVs we should have a chat. Let's do our best to make sure you have the correct insurance for all your 


· Approved wearable flotation device for each person readily accessible

· Additional throw-able flotation device on boats over 16 feet

· Persons 12 and under must wear a personal flotation device while underway

· Fire extinguisher if fuel tank or engine is enclosed

· Running lights after sunset or during restricted visibility

· State registration card on board

· Registration number and validation sticker displayed

· Do not operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol

· Observe navigation rules

· Do not overload boat

· Sound signaling device


· Check RV propane tank, inspection dates, integrity and content levels, regulator, gauge, connections

· Check for RV infestations: insects, rodents, snakes, wild animals, bees, hornets, wasps, ants and spiders

· Check and flush RV water system: flush, drain, disinfect, refill water, and gray tank system and valves, RV water heater

· Check alarms and change batteries in fire alarm, smoke alarm, CO alarm, propane alarm

· Check RV fire extinguisher, expiration date, contents, pin intact, tank integrity

· Check RV battery: deep cycle battery operation, water levels, charge as needed, clean treat battery terminals

· Check interior and exterior lights, awnings, latches, seals, insulation, jacks, welds, locks, latches and their functionality

· Check engine oil, transmission fluid, oil level, air filter, lube linkages

· Check generator

· Check RV towing equipment: hitch, hitch ball, tow bar, emergency brakes, chains, lift system, dolly


Family Members: What You Auto Know Bookmark and Share
Those that design personal auto insurance policies learned years ago that folks living in the same house will take turns driving the family cars. That's why auto insurance policies are designed to provide coverage not just for the person specifically named on the policy (you) but also your spouse and family members. 

But whether it’s attributable to a child’s dream of independence or a parent trying to save money by pawning off costs on kiddo, many family members who live in the same house have their own cars and their own car insurance. If this is the case in your home, there is a danger lurking in that folder where you keep the auto insurance policy; a danger that if unknown can be very costly.

Here’s the problem: most policies contain a limitation for the use of a vehicle that is owned by a family member and not specifically covered by your insurance policy. While the limitation may not apply to you or your spouse, it does apply to any other family member who is normally covered by your policy. 

Consider the following example:
Al and Peg have children living at home—a 19-year-old daughter, Kelly, and 17-year-old son, Bud. Kelly has her own car and car insurance with liability limits of $25,000/50,000/10,000. The first two numbers represent limits that apply to bodily injury suffered by a third party— the first is the maximum per person, the second is the maximum per accident. The third number is the limit that applies to property damage— this could be to another car or any other property belonging to a third party.

Al and Peg have much higher limits of $100,000/300,000/100,000. Bud is still whining that he doesn’t have a car. One night, with her permission, Bud takes out Kelly’s car and causes an accident that seriously injures the other driver. Since it was Kelly’s car, her policy limits will apply. Unfortunately, the cost of the other driver’s injuries is much greater than the $25,000 limit on Kelly’s policy. Bud looks to his parents’ car insurance for help. His search is in vain: Kelly’s car is owned by a family member and therefore not covered by his parents’ policy.

Were the situation different and it was Al or Peg who borrowed Kelly’s, car, the limitation would not apply. Were Bud to borrow the neighbor’s car the limitation would not apply. But since it was a family member’s car and it was Bud driving, the limitation applies. And since Bud has no insurance of his own to turn to, the family could be responsible for the remainder of the other driver’s injuries out-of-pocket.

Unfortunately there is no easy fix for this limitation. The best method is avoidance, but telling the kids not to drive each other’s cars may be more ideal than realistic. If your current household arrangement could make this scary situation a reality for your family, consider encouraging your kids to increase their liability limits to a level more sufficient to pay for a serious injury. This way more of the cost will be absorbed by the insurance company and less by your family.  


Cyber Attacks: Protecting Your Small Business from Data Theft Bookmark and Share
Recently cyber-attacks were back in the news, and the latest attempted victim was the White House. According to an October 1st report from theWashington Post the White House acknowledged that hackers attempted to remove data from a White House computer. While the attempt wasn’t successful thanks to mitigation efforts, the attack should serve as a reminder to all small businesses that they face risks of similar attacks from data thieves, and they may not have the same level of mitigation systems in place.
In addition to a hacker getting into your system, data theft can occur if an employee’s computer is stolen, or if an unauthorized person is able to access a computer in your office. It could even be a disgruntled employee who carries out data theft. Any business that collects and stores sensitive information from customers, including credit card information, contact information, credit information, social security numbers, medical information, etc. is at risk for data theft.
Here are a few tips to reduce your risks for cyber-attacks and data theft of sensitive customer information:
  • Change the passwords you and your employees use to log into your technology systems on a regular basis
  • Avoid emailing sensitive information, but if you do, use a secured email service
  • Have employees lock their computer screens when they step away from their desks
  • Avoid having unescorted/unsupervised visitors walking through your office
  • Don’t open strange email attachments or click unusual links in emails, especially from an unknown sender as they may be scams
  • Have a written technology policy in place so that all of your employees understand the expectations and rules guiding how your business handles sensitive data
  • Loss of electronic data is not covered under most commercial theft policies because it is not a tangible asset, and most general liability policies also exclude coverage for your costs to notify customers of potential data theft, pay for the costs of investigating the loss or the costs of potential fines, penalties or lawsuits that result from a failure to protect the data. A cyber liability policy can provide your business with coverage that will help you cover several costs, including the expenses to inform your customers and regulatory authorities about the possible exposure of data.
To protect your small business from these exposures, consider a cyber-liability policy. A McKinneyOlson Insurance Agent can help you identify the risks your business faces from data theft, and can help you identify a policy to cover those exposures.

Contents of this article were provided by Trusted Choice®. 


Family Plan for a Disaster Bookmark and Share
With Mother Nature and her ever changing scenery, we can't stress enough how important it is to be prepared. Visit here for a downloadable FAMILY COMMUNICATION PLAN from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety

Be Prepared for a Disaster Bookmark and Share
McKinneyOlson agents not only advise clients about insurance, but they’re disaster readiness consultants. Ask us about assessing your risks and ensuring that you, your family, and your home are prepared in the event of a disaster. Being part of the Trusted Choice® family, we offer many disaster-specific readiness and
recovery tips for consumers.

- Flood
- Hurricane
- Thunderstorm
- Tornado
- Earthquake
- Wildfires 

A good way to begin your planning process is to gather as much information as you can. There are numerous resources available to guide you through the process of getting your household prepared to deal with a disaster. Trusted Choice® offers many disaster-specific readiness and recovery tips for consumers including the following suggestions to get started:

• Make a list of each of your insurance policy
numbers and the insurance company name, and keep the information in your
wallet, purse, or on your mobile device. For example, nearly all states use
some form of a wallet-size auto ID card, which is required to be kept on your
person, or in the vehicle. It's a good idea to do have similar information with
you on all your other insurance coverage’s.

• Make a record of your insurance agent's web site address, and keep this
information in your wallet, purse or mobile device. After a widespread catastrophe, more and more agencies post information about claims procedures on their website. This is especially important in cases where the agency itself has been affected, and has set up temporary operations at another location. In addition, agency web sites will usually post emergency insurance claim phone numbers, etc.

• Use social media to contact your insurance agent. Many agencies use some form
of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., and these information outlets
can provide vital, timely information about claims procedures and other
necessary information for policyholders.

• Find out how you and your neighbors would be informed about an imminent

• Ask if evacuation routes have been established.

• Contact your city's or town's planning and emergency assistance
organizations. Ask them for information about disaster planning.

• Contact your children's school(s) or day care center to learn about the
emergency plans they have in place.

• If a family member is in an elder care facility, check to see what emergency
procedures they will follow.

• Take a First Aid/CPR class from the American Red Cross.

• If you have pets, have a contingency plan in place. Many emergency shelters
won't accept them.


Landscape Ready: Utility Marking, Underground Septic & Sewer Back-Up Bookmark and Share
Remember the “Beverly Hillbillies?” With apologies to Jed, Grannie and the clan, consider the following variation:

“Come and listen to a story about a lady named McGee
A simple suburban homester just wanting a new tree
But when our green thumber plunged that shovel in the ground
Up from the depths come a-bubblin’ brown….
  • Severe injury if that shovel hits an electrified line. (Hit a natural gas line and they may never find you again.)
  • Fines from local regulators.
  • Liability for repair expenses to utility companies.
  • Liability to neighbors for cutting power, water, phone, cable or sewage lines.
  • Even if there is no immediate visible damage, your shovel may damage the protective coating of a gas line, for example, starting a gradual leakage or deterioration that is a ticking time bomb.
  • Red, electric.
  • Orange, communications, telephone/CATV.
  • Blue, potable water.
  • Green, sewer/drainage.
  • Yellow, gas or oil.
  • Purple, reclaimed water or irrigation.
  • Maroon, temporary survey.
  • White, pre-marked site of intended excavation.
…Sewage, that is. Smelly sludge, septic tank tea.”

And if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphors, a smelly yard may be just the tip of the iceberg when you dig before being sure exactly where your local underground utilities are located. Negligent homeowners may face a myriad of exposures to loss beyond the possible damages to their own property or house plumbing:

Yet according to a recent national survey conducted by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), only 33% of homeowner do-it-yourselfers called to have their lines marked before starting digging projects. (CGA is a coalition of 1,400 excavators, locators, and road builders; telecommunications, electric, oil and gas providers; railroads; one-call centers, public works, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, state regulators, insurance firms, engineering/design firms, and emergency services.)

Too Shallow? Careful!

And speaking of time bombs, even if you’re thinking like many of those non-callers that your planting is too shallow or located sufficiently to the side to impact deeply buried utilities, consider future growth: Could those spreading tree roots eventually make their way into nearby sewer lines, causing anything from nuisance blockages to major and expensive damage and backups?
The answer, thanks to the FCC and the CGA, is as simple as three numbers: 811. There have long been numerous local “Call Before You Dig” numbers furnished by municipalities and utility companies. The FCC mandated a single, national phone number be created in addition to the existing local options to increase convenience, compliance and eliminate confusion, while continuing free and local service.

Nice Colors

The 811 calls are directed to a local center, which then notifies all the affected utilities. They then mark all underground lines—at no cost to you—with easily recognized colored lines or flags:
Be sure to call at least 48-72 hours in advance of digging, and be prepared with specific information on your plans. When it comes to digging in your yard, 811 represents the best of risk management—minimizing or eliminating the claim entirely!

Coverage Idea

Even your best-laid plans might not prevent a basement or ground floor bathroom to be suddenly awash in sewage backup. That’s why you should ask your agent about special endorsements to your home insurance to respond to such backups. Be sure to tell your agent the amount of valuable property you have in the basement. While old-time basements often held only old stuff in storage, today's are often the center of family life—“man-caves” to recreation rooms!

If your best precautions should fail, add McKinneyOlson to your Call Before You Dig list! Just like those utilities, he or she will gladly mark out the limits of your current coverage as it applies to your plans. (Now, if we insurance experts could just figure out a way to do it—red for property, blue for liability?—with those clever colored lines or flags!)

AUTO SAFETY (Lights, Batteries, Tires...OH MY)! Bookmark and Share

Go ahead, sing it out loud, even if you are in your office, you know everyone will join in on this classic tune by Willie Nelson.

On the road again -Just can't wait to get on the road again.                           

The life I love is making music with my friends.                                               

And I can't wait to get on the road again.                                                         

Goin' places that I never been.                                                                           

Seein' things that I may never see again                                                           

And I can't wait to get on the road again!

It doesn’t matter the time of year we all like to travel! Sightseeing, family gatherings, vacations, or even just a trip down the road to purchase a snack will put you on the road. More time on the road means travel safety is at utmost importance! Are you ready?

The first thing on your auto safety list should be personal auto insurance. Liability coverage on your personal auto vehicle is the auto policy that provides protection against legal liability arising out of the ownership or operation of an automobile. Call McKinneyOlson to find an agent or visit with your agent about Personal Auto: Liability Coverage, Medical Payments Coverage, Underinsured Motorist Coverage, Physical Damage Coverage, and Comprehensive Coverage.

Insurance covers you in the case of an accident but you need to cover yourself by checking tires, replacing cracked or damaged windshields, and regularly performing maintenance checks on your vehicle.

Tire safety should be high on your priority list (tires are what keeps you moving, it also can effect your ability to slow down or stop suddenly). 

At least once a month, you should check tire pressure

Inspect tires for wear patterns, cracks, or any foreign objects

All tire valves should have caps

Do not overload your vehicle

Slow down when going over potholes or objects unavoidable in the road

Do not run over curbs

If you haven’t had a regular maintenance check on your personal vehicle in a while, schedule one with a local auto care facility. 


Grilling Season: Grilling Safety for your Home and your Guests Bookmark and Share

The patio has been prepared, the folding chairs have been put out and the grill has been cleaned for cooking and entertaining guests with burgers, brats, and steaks seasoned with one of summer’s favorite flavors, BBQ! In the Midwest, grilling is a popular to-do during warm months, but it doesn’t always end with good results. Grilling can be dangerous; it can cause bodily injury and also cause massive damage to your home.

Before you bust out the tongs and apron, be sure you are “grill safe”!

Let’s review a few general grilling safety tips.

1)    If you have purchased a new grill, be sure to read the owner’s manual (it comes with the grill for a reason). If you have an older grill, it is important to review your owner’s manual to make sure all is working properly.

2)    Grills should be used outside ONLY and should be placed in a well-ventilated area. Keep grills away from buildings that could melt from the heat (or even worse catch on fire). Always place grills where foot traffic is minimal. Grills should only be used on even ground.

3)    Always use long-handled utensils and oven mitts when cooking on a grill (this is to avoid burns and splatters of grease).

4)    Keep fires under control and be ready to extinguish a dangerous flame. You should have a fire extinguisher handy as well as baking soda to control grease (remember, if you are camping and don’t have a fire extinguisher or baking soda along, keep a pail of sand close by and a garden hose that can be turned on quickly).

5)    Never leave a grill unattended once it is on, ESPECIALLY with guests and small children around.

6)    Never move a hot grill. 

Click here for the National Fire Protection Association’s Grilling Safety Tips:

Looking for some great grilling recipes? Visit,

If are grilling, be sure to serve a tall glass of cold lemonade to your guests! Makes the perfect summer match!



1 ¾ Cups White Sugar

8 Cups Sugar

1 ½ Cups Lemon Juice

Garnish with lemon wedges


Protecting Summer “TOYS” Bookmark and Share

The Midwest is home to those who love SUMMER! Summer for many includes concerts, festivals, fairs, parks, camping, and endless hours participating in water activities! All these great summer activities often include what we will refer to as “summer toys”, fishing boats, jet boats, yachts, pontoon’s, sailboats, RV’s, motorhomes, motorcycles, 4-wheelers, and more! With all these toys out and about, we want to make sure you have the necessary insurance on them and you remember to be “safe” when using them (not only for yourself but for your guests and those around you).


So you have a “summer toy”, how do you insure it?


Let’s begin with the boat. McKinneyOlson’s boat owner’s policy provides a combination of coverage’s. Most boat owner’s policies will provide coverage for liability, physical damage, and medical payments (in the case of an accident). Some policies offer additional coverage’s such as emergency service, life salvage coverage, coverage for repairs after loss, coverage for emergency first-aid, and uninsured boaters coverage. If you have a boat or recently purchased one, set-up a time to meet with your agent to assure the boat is covered properly.


South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and other states offer certification for boater education. To learn more about the certification program in your state, visit Below, we will list a direct link to each state mentioned (as well as a link to the specific states handbook.


Maybe the summer months don’t involve water activities for you but they do include camping in your RV or motorhome. Don’t be naïve and assume your RV and motorhome are automatically covered under your homeowner’s policy. It is important you call your agent to add a new policy or update a current policy to cover these items.


To assure your RV is maintained and ready for use, there are few things you should do before you head on the road. It is recommended you install a deadbolt door lock on your RV to protect your personal items. Check all hitch and towing equipment. Check that all fire extinguishers are in their proper location and smoke alarms have fresh batteries. If you have a cooking vent hood, assure it is clean to avoid potential grease fires. It is also important your RV has flashlights (with fresh batteries), jumper cables and road flares. Since you have checked on your insurance, it is important you carry all insurance contact information with you during your summer travels.


No matter what activities you participate in this summer, be safe and aware of those around you; both on the water and off.


South Dakota Boater Education Certification

South Dakota Boater Education Handbook


North Dakota Boater Education Certification


Minnesota Boater Education Certification

Minnesota Boating Guide


Iowa Boater Education Certification

Iowa Boater Education Handbook

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McKinneyOlson Insurance is a premier personal and commercial insurance agency located in Sioux Falls and Brandon South Dakota. McKinneyOlson specializes in commercial property insurance, workers compensation insurance, commercial auto insurance, personal homeowners insurance, and personal auto insurance and many other types of insurance.