Moving Checklist: Your Post-Move To-Do List

No way around it: moving’s stressful. Between packing, cleaning, unpacking, and sending change-of-address notices, it can feel like a full-time job.

To help ease that stress (and to celebrate the launch of Esurance homeowners insurance in Wisconsin!), we’ve compiled an easy-to-follow moving checklist. The tasks may not be fun, but they’ll keep you on the right side of the law (that’s its good side).

Moving checklist

1. Make your move a little greener

If you’re planning to move soon, try using a reusable moving box company. Not only are the boxes more durable and eco-friendly than cardboard, but most companies will drop them off at your old place and pick them up from your new place. Box cleanup? Check!

2. Update your address with, well, everyone

Nearly every institution has online account access. So hunker down with a laptop and a muffin and start updating. Places to consider:

  • The post office (you can also ask them to forward your mail for up to a year)
  • Your bank
  • Your credit card company
  • Your miscellaneous financial companies (401k provider, stockbroker, commuter program, or FSA/HSA plans)
  • The gas, electric, and water companies
  • Your cable/internet provider
  • Newspaper and magazine services
  • Companies you use on a regular basis (like Netflix, Amazon, mail-order prescriptions)
  • Your employer (as well as recent former employers)
  • Your children’s schools
  • Your doctors
  • Your friends … if you want them to find you
  • The DMV (more on that later)
  • Your insurance companies (more on that later too)

3. Contact the DMV

If you’re moving within the state, most DMVs (or whoever issues licenses and registration in your state) allow you to update your address online. Some require you to do so within 10 days of moving (and some, like Connecticut, even sooner), though you probably won’t receive a new license until your next renewal. Remember, it’s not just your license, but also your vehicle registration that needs to be updated.

If you move out of state, you generally have 10 to 60 days (depending on the state) to register your car and get a new license. In most cases, this means going into the DMV — we strongly advise making an appointment — and potentially taking a written test.

For details on your state’s requirements, visit

4. Register to vote

Unless you’re just moving down the street, a change in address likely means a change in polling place. Registration varies by state. Some require a mail-in form, while others let you do it online or with the DMV (which is handy if you’re already heading over there). If it’s not an election year, this step may fly under your radar. Keep in mind that all states require you to register before the election — in some cases 30 days before — to be eligible to vote.

Once again, comes through with details on each state’s registration requirements.

5. Get in touch with your insurance companies

Whether you’re moving across town or across country, it’s important to make sure your address is up to date with your insurance companies. Not only is it required to maintain your coverage, but it could also end up saving you money.

Along with many other factors, your address helps determine your car, motorcycle, renters, and homeowners insurance rates. If you’re moving from a city with high theft rates to a potentially safer suburb, you may see a nice premium reduction.

And if you’re an Esurance policyholder, you can use our What If® Calculator  to get an estimate of how certain events (like moving across town) will affect your current car insurance price.

Esurance insurance in your new ‘hood

With the launch of our very own homeowners insurance product in Wisconsin (and more states coming soon), Esurance can help you protect everything that matters. Take a look below to see where we offer our car, motorcycle, renters, and homeowners coverages. And if we’re not in your state yet, don’t worry: you can still find coverage through our reliable partners.

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Have you moved recently? Any tips for our readers? Leave them below.

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Insurance Terms Made Easy

Like the law, the Silicon Valley, and the deck of a ship, insurance can get a little jargon-heavy. (Ok, a lot jargon-heavy.) Even commonly used insurance terms can sometimes leave people scratching their heads. So, now and then, we like to choose some of the more obscure insurance lingo and explain it in plain English. (You’re welcome.)

Jargon-free insurance terms


No, in this case we aren’t talking about a politician supporting a candidate or an actor touting a new wrinkle cream. In the insurance world, an endorsement (aka a rider) simply refers to a change or addition to an existing insurance policy. This might include changing your deductible, adding another person to your policy, or changing your limits — perhaps in response to a life event.

Life event

An insurance “life event” is similar to a regular “life event,” meaning a major happening (getting hitched, having a baby) that significantly changes your living situation or status. If you get married, you’ll likely want to add your spouse to your insurance policy. If you get divorced, a family member passes away, or an adult child leaves home, you might need to remove someone from your policy. Or let’s say you build an addition onto your house or acquire a lot of new household goods. This would be a good time to adjust your homeowners coverage limits.

If your life event (or just your life) leaves you with valuable assets you want to protect, an endorsement may not be enough. In that case, you might consider umbrella insurance.

Umbrella insurance

Also known as a personal umbrella policy, umbrella insurance offers broader liability coverage in situations where your regular car or homeowners insurance isn’t enough. If you’re sued and found to be at fault, for example, this coverage will kick in to help pay legal fees once your primary policy limits have been reached.

See? This insurance stuff is simple! Ok, not always, but we’re working to make it more understandable. For more jargon-free definitions, check out our full glossary of insurance terms.

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6 Safety and Sanity Tips for Traveling with Kids

We all know the perils of distracted driving. But not even your brand new iPhone® can compete with the distraction potential of a toddler in the backseat shouting, “Look Mommy, look, look, LOOKIT MEEEEE!” How do you keep your focus on the road without tarnishing your hard-earned Parent-of-the-Year status? Here are a few tips on traveling with kids that have gotten me through plenty of long car rides.

1. Plan ahead

Sure, this is good advice for everything, but it’s especially valuable when wrangling toddlers for long periods of time. Start by giving your car a thorough cleaning, inside and out. (That’s not really for safety, but it helps to start with a clean slate.) Make sure the car is filled with gas, the tire pressure is good, and any outstanding maintenance issues that could cause you to pull over while Junior is sleeping have been addressed. Load up your smartphone with a few different playlists that your toddler, and hopefully you, can enjoy — and make sure at least one playlist is full of lullabies. While you’re at it, consider downloading an audio book or 2 for you to listen to while your little one is sleeping or otherwise engaged. (Check out for some great selections.)

2. Remember that dollar stores are your friends

Here, you’ll find all kinds of treasures to make your trip smoother: small mesh bags that you can fill with beloved toys and clip to the back of your seat; plastic buckets or totes that can keep books, snacks, and other entertainment in easy reach; even small “prizes” that you can hand out to reward good behavior or for winning a particularly intense round of “I Spy.”

You can also find supplies to make some fantastic, self-contained activity bags filled with games or craft materials that kids can play with and put away when they’re done. As much as possible, try to keep things contained, or at least make sure everything has a place — loose items around the car can be a big distraction.

3. Make snacking self-sufficient

You don’t have to rely on fast food to get through a road trip. There are plenty of healthy (or at least not terrible) options that pack well and are easy for small hands to manage without requiring you to pull over and assist (or even worse, try to do it while driving). Pack a variety of serving-size portions in toddler-friendly packaging (zip-lock style bags or flap-top containers). Consider foods like:

  •  Shelled pistachios or cashews
  •  Fruit sauce with a twist-off top
  •  Pirate’s Booty (kind of like popcorn, without the hard kernel bits)
  •  Turkey jerky (easier to chew and lower-fat than beef jerky)
  •  Raisins
  •  Cheerios
  •  Trail mix
  •  Whole-grain crackers
  •  Unsalted pretzels
  •  Fig Newtons

If you want, pack a small, easy-to-open cooler with a few more healthy choices, like string cheese, grapes, apple slices, rolled up lunch meat, or even peeled hard-boiled eggs. Of course, if your little one is too small to feed him or herself in general, don’t push it — just plan to picnic at a rest stop along the way.

4. Prepare for emergencies

Obviously, you already have your standard car emergency kit (riiight?), but pack a separate one especially for kid-related emergencies with antibiotic ointment, fun character bandages, age-appropriate pain relievers, hand sanitizer, diaper wipes (even if your kid is totally potty trained, these are incredibly handy to have around!), plastic bags, and of course, extra clothes in case of, ahem, “accidents.” Depending on how rustic your adventure is (and how well your kids will respond to “just going behind a tree”), you may want to buy a travel potty — there are lots of compact options on the market.

5. Let technology take over

If you have a tablet, consider investing in a holder that attaches to the back of your headrest. Videos and/or games that kids don’t normally get to play at home can be a great treat, but staring at a screen on winding roads can also exacerbate car sickness, so don’t count on this to distract them for more than 20 minutes or so at a time.

6. Give yourself a break

Yes, there will probably be meltdowns. Some will even be from your toddler. Accept that you’ll have to stop more than you hoped to and that you’ll have to vacuum/steam-clean/fumigate the car once you arrive at your destination. But, as long as everyone arrives in one piece, even if your nerves are a little frayed, it’s a win.

What’s your favorite solution for traveling with kids?

I’m definitely not the only parent with tricks up my sleeve. If you’ve found a great way to keep kids happy and occupied on the road, share them below.

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The Math Behind Your Credit Score

Happy Get Smart About Credit Day! Didn’t know such a thing existed? You’re not alone. But, if you’re anything like me, you might find it a welcome reminder to get your credit in line.

It’s pretty common knowledge that a higher score means better credit. How to achieve that score, however, isn’t quite so widely understood.

In the past, we provided some pointers on how to boost your credit score, but it can be hard to improve a number without knowing what goes into it. I know I should pay my credit card bills on time … but exactly how much will a tardy payment impact my credit score?

In honor of Get Smart About Credit Day, we’re breaking it down and taking a closer look at the math behind that mysterious number.

The 5 factors that influence your credit score

Your credit score is based on 5 factors. Not surprisingly, paying your bills on time is the largest piece of the equation, but things like type of credit (mortgage, personal loan, etc.) and how many times you apply for new credit also have an impact.

1.  35% punctuality

Regularly paying your bills is imperative. Something as seemingly small as late fees at the library or an unpaid $20 parking ticket can impact your credit score. The best way to avoid being penalized (not to mention paying monstrous late fees): pay one-time bills like tickets or medical costs as soon as you receive them. You can also set up automatic bill pay if it’s available or create reminders in your calendar for recurring bills.

2.  30% amount owed

While owing money on lines of credit doesn’t automatically lower your credit score, you could be in trouble if the amount you owe is close to your credit limit. When you’ve used up most of your available credit, it leads creditors to believe that you’re spending beyond your means and less likely to pay your bills on time, if at all.

The real trick is to strike a balance of amount available versus amount spent. According to personal finance website, “Consumers should aim to carry balances that are no higher than 30 percent of their credit limits — and the lower, the better.”

3.  15% longevity

The amount of time you’ve had credit opened in your name also plays a role in your credit score. Obviously, without a flux capacitor, you can’t go back in time and open a line of credit sooner, but it’s a good thing to remember when you’re debating closing an old account.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should run out, open 8 credit cards, and get 2 personal loans just to keep them open for the next 10 years (we’ll cover that in number 5). It simply means that a lengthy history of a few responsibly managed accounts is likely to reflect well on your credit score.

4.  10% types of credit

All different types of credit (mortgages, credit cards, etc.) play a role in determining your credit score. While having a variety can boost your number, you shouldn’t open an account just for the sake of having it.

Having a few different types of credit that are well managed helps lenders feel at ease about your ability to pay bills. If you’ve never had a credit card, you may be considered high risk simply because you haven’t had to manage daily spending with a line of credit before.

5.  10% new credit

As I mentioned, running to the mall and opening 10 new credit cards isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, it’s far more likely to hurt you. Whenever you open a new account, the average length of your credit history drops. Also, requesting a lot of new credit in a short amount of time can make lenders worry about your financial stability.

But don’t worry, it’s not all bad news! If you’re weighing your options while looking for an auto or home loan, getting a few quotes typically won’t affect your credit score, so you can do your homework without being penalized.

The rewards of a quality credit score

When you know what goes into it, managing your credit score can be a lot easier. Although you may not feel the effects day to day, having a good credit score can be a huge advantage when you’re taking a major step (like buying a home, starting a business, or even applying for a big promotion).

Another potential reward of a high credit score? In some states, you could get lower insurance premiums. Pretty cool, huh?

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Motorcycle Storage: 7 Ways to Keep Winter from Trashing Your Ride

Few things beat cruising down the highway on a warm summer day. But, as winter sets in, your motorcycle isn’t exactly the most convenient way of dashing through the snow. When it’s time to put your bike in storage for the season, it’s important not to give it the cold shoulder. Maintaining your motorcycle while you’re not riding it is just as important as when you are.

Nothing’s worse than dusting off your beloved road warrior to take it for a spin in the spring, only to find flat spots in your tires, fluid that’s turned into a sticky paste, and weird-smelling smoke coming from the exhaust. In order to avoid rectifying a few months’ worth of neglect, here are 7 tips on proper motorcycle storage for the winter.

1. Top off the tank

After putting some fresh fuel in the tank, add the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from deteriorating and leaving a brown layer of muck on your carburetor’s parts. Turn that baby on and let it run for a few minutes so the treated fuel can cycle through.

2. Fill up your fluids

Double-check your bike’s brake, clutch, and coolant fluids, replacing or refilling if necessary. Remember to always use the type and amount of fluid recommended by your motorcycle’s manufacturer. You can also drain all of your motorcycle’s fluids entirely and then refill them when you’re ready to ride again.

If you live in a place where temperatures frequently reach sub-zero, check your bike’s antifreeze to prevent engine freezing. Lube up the throttle, kickstand, shifter, and clutch cables to prevent moisture accumulation and rust (but be careful not to get lube on the tires).

3. Oust old oil

Over time, a running engine’s oil transitions from a clean, golden fluid to dirty, black muck. The contaminants in old oil can corrode engine parts and do some serious damage over the course of a few months. Change the oil and filter plug before storing your ride to avoid a sticky situation later on.

4. Conserve your battery’s charge

Some newer motorcycles experience a slight battery drain (even when the ignition’s off) in order to maintain things like your clock and radio presets. You can remove the battery from your bike altogether and trickle charge it all winter. Or, if you prefer to keep things in one package, you can store your bike with a fully-charged battery. If you choose the latter, just give the battery a charge once a month while it’s not being used.

5. Tend to your tires

If you can store your bike with the tires off the ground, that’s great. Taking the weight off your wheels is the ideal way to avoid flat spots or uneven wear. But, if you don’t have the right setup for that, you’re not out of luck. Fill your tires to the maximum recommended volume, place your ride on its center stand, and remember to rotate the front tire once a week to keep the flat spots away.

6. Wax on, rust off

The metal on your motorcycle tends to accumulate moisture, which can cause rust if your bike is left unattended for an extended period. Washing, thoroughly drying, and then waxing your ride before putting it away for the winter will prevent corrosion and other damage.

Spray your exhaust pipes with WD-40 to keep moisture and rust away. For extra protection, stuff a clean towel or some crumpled up plastic bags into the intake and exhaust pipes to keep water and critters out.

7. Pick a place for your ride to rest

Sunlight can damage leather and cause paint to fade, so if you have a window in your garage, try to park your motorcycle in a cool, dark corner. Go a step further with a fitted, breathable cover that’ll prevent dings and scratches and protect your motorcycle from dust, grime, and moisture.

Kick back and relax until spring

If you’ve followed these motorcycle storage tips, there’s no doubt your ride will be ready to go when the snow (finally) starts to melt.

Want another way to protect your ride all year round? We can help you get the right coverage for your bike.