Archive for the ‘Personal Protection’ Category

Tips How To Save On Home Insurance

Tips How To Save On Home Insurance

If you own a home or condo, having a home insurance policy is required. But once you have it, most folks end up ignoring it after they have it in place.

Yet for most of us, a home is the most valuable asset we’ll own… and it is filled with all the things we’ve collected over a lifetime. A home or condo policy must offer enough coverage to restore the house to its former glory in case it is damaged. But you also have to factor in the value of your belongings as well including antiques, collectibles, jewelry, high tech items, etc.

There’s no magic time to think about home insurance… so check out these tips on how to get the most value in your home owners policy.

  1. Manage Your Credit

Over the last several years, there’s been a shift in home insurance where your credit matters. For many carriers, the better your credit rating the better your insurance rates. In fact, some carriers won’t accept high-credit risk applicants. So maintaining a solid credit history is really in your favor.

  1. Let Us Search For You

As an independent insurance agency we write insurance for a number of carriers… so one call to our team is all that’s needed to shop for great rates among multiple carriers. You’ll save time & energy as well.

  1. Explore Your Deductible

Talk with us about your deductible. The key is to make sure your deductible is something you can afford to pay in case of a serious issue. For a claim on a home insurance policy, one rule of thumb is to have the deductible be high enough that you don’t make a claim for “just anything” that goes wrong with your house. Home insurance really should be reserved for catastrophic situations. The higher the deductible the more you can save… some premiums can be cut by up to 30 percent.

  1. Check Out Discounts

If you have two or more insurance policies (auto / home for example) with the same carrier, you can save 5% to 15% off the policies. Typically, that will be a less costly approach than cobbling insurance coverage together from various companies. Definitely give us a call to explore your discounts… especially if you happen to have some of your insurance with other carriers.

  1. Make Sure You Aren’t Over-Insured

Some people think buying more insurance than they need will give them some sort of advantage. It won’t. You simply need an adequate amount of coverage to cover the expense of replacing your home and its belongings. For example, you won’t replace the land, so that doesn’t factor in. Likewise, different areas have different costs of construction so factor that in as well.  IMPORTANT: Be careful not to UNDERINSURE your home. The key here is to have a candid conversation with our insurance team so that we can make sure you have the RIGHT protection.

One Final Tip

Many carriers offer extra discounts of 5% or more when you’ve been with them at least 3 to 5 years… so definitely keep that in mind as you evaluate your homeowners policy.Remember, we’re here to help you, so call us today to make sure you are getting the greatest value out of your insurance.

Tips How To Save On Home Insurance

If you own a home or condo, having a home insurance policy is required. But once you have it, most folks end up ignoring it after they have it in place.

Yet for most of us, a home is the most valuable asset we’ll own… and it is filled with all the things we’ve collected over a lifetime. A home or condo policy must offer enough coverage to restore the house to its former glory in case it is damaged. But you also have to factor in the value of your belongings as well including antiques, collectibles, jewelry, high tech items, etc.

There’s no magic time to think about home insurance… so check out these tips on how to get the most value in your home owners policy.

  1. Manage Your Credit

Over the last several years, there’s been a shift in home insurance where your credit matters. For many carriers, the better your credit rating the better your insurance rates. In fact, some carriers won’t accept high-credit risk applicants. So maintaining a solid credit history is really in your favor.

  1. Let Us Search For You

As an independent insurance agency we write insurance for a number of carriers… so one call to our team is all that’s needed to shop for great rates among multiple carriers. You’ll save time & energy as well.

  1. Explore Your Deductible

Talk with us about your deductible. The key is to make sure your deductible is something you can afford to pay in case of a serious issue. For a claim on a home insurance policy, one rule of thumb is to have the deductible be high enough that you don’t make a claim for “just anything” that goes wrong with your house. Home insurance really should be reserved for catastrophic situations. The higher the deductible the more you can save… some premiums can be cut by up to 30 percent.

  1. Check Out Discounts

If you have two or more insurance policies (auto / home for example) with the same carrier, you can save 5% to 15% off the policies. Typically, that will be a less costly approach than cobbling insurance coverage together from various companies. Definitely give us a call to explore your discounts… especially if you happen to have some of your insurance with other carriers.

  1. Make Sure You Aren’t Over-Insured

Some people think buying more insurance than they need will give them some sort of advantage. It won’t. You simply need an adequate amount of coverage to cover the expense of replacing your home and its belongings. For example, you won’t replace the land, so that doesn’t factor in. Likewise, different areas have different costs of construction so factor that in as well.  IMPORTANT: Be careful not to UNDERINSURE your home. The key here is to have a candid conversation with our insurance team so that we can make sure you have the RIGHT protection.

One Final Tip

Many carriers offer extra discounts of 5% or more when you’ve been with them at least 3 to 5 years… so definitely keep that in mind as you evaluate your homeowners policy.Remember, we’re here to help you, so call us today to make sure you are getting the greatest value out of your insurance.

Factors that Affect Homeowner’s Insurance Rates

Unlike motor vehicle insurance, homeowner’s insurance is not required by law. However, if you purchased your home with a mortgage, your lender likely required you to buy a homeowner’s insurance policy to protect their investment in case of a fire or natural disaster. It’s important coverage to have—even if you own your home free and clear—and you may even be able to reduce your annual premium once you understand the factors that generally affect homeowner’s insurance rates.

  1. Your home’s age and construction.

When setting a homeowner’s insurance rate, the insurer estimates how much it will cost to rebuild the property in question should it be damaged or destroyed. Materials and features common in older homes—such as hardwood floors and ornate details—cost more to repair and replace. Whether the exterior was constructed out of brick or wood will also factor into the cost, as will the age of the electrical, heating/cooling and plumbing systems. Upgrades reduce the likelihood of loss and often lower homeowner’s insurance premiums.

  1. Pools and hot tubs on the property.

If your home includes a swimming pool, spa or hot tub, your homeowner’s insurance is going to be more expensive because additional liability coverage will be required. While most policies include a minimum $100,000 in liability protection, your insurance agent may recommend increasing it to between $300,000 and $500,000 as well as adding an umbrella policy with at least $1 million in protection. If you want to minimize your homeowner’s insurance costs, avoid purchasing properties without outdoor pools and hot tubs.

  1. The location of the nearest fire department.

Direct property loss as a result of home fires has been estimated at $7.3 billion annually. If your home is near a fire department (or even a fire hydrant), you’ll pay less for your homeowner’s insurance as a result. Homes in urban and suburban areas usually have better fire protection than those in rural areas as well. So if you want to keep your homeowner’s insurance costs as low as possible, consider location when buying a home.

  1. The location of the nearest body of water.

If your home is near a coastline, large body of water, or in a floodplain, you’re going to pay higher homeowner’s insurance premiums. Depending on your location, your policy may have a separate deductible for hurricanes and windstorms. And flood damage—from any exterior source—is not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies. You’ll need a policy specifically for flood insurance if you’re in a high-risk area.

  1. Your past insurance claims history.

Even if you’ve purchased a new home and changed insurance companies, any claims you made at your previous residence will be considered when setting your homeowner’s insurance rate. Insurers can access this information through the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, which reports filed claims for seven years. In general, the amount of the claim carries more weight than the reason for the claim.

Whether you’re in the process of looking for your next home or just want to explore ways to lower your current homeowner’s insurance rates, your insurance professional is your best resource for information on these and other factors that will affect your premium.

Factors that Affect Homeowner’s Insurance Rates

Factors that Affect Homeowner’s Insurance Rates

Unlike motor vehicle insurance, homeowner’s insurance is not required by law. However, if you purchased your home with a mortgage, your lender likely required you to buy a homeowner’s insurance policy to protect their investment in case of a fire or natural disaster. It’s important coverage to have—even if you own your home free and clear—and you may even be able to reduce your annual premium once you understand the factors that generally affect homeowner’s insurance rates.

  1. Your home’s age and construction.

When setting a homeowner’s insurance rate, the insurer estimates how much it will cost to rebuild the property in question should it be damaged or destroyed. Materials and features common in older homes—such as hardwood floors and ornate details—cost more to repair and replace. Whether the exterior was constructed out of brick or wood will also factor into the cost, as will the age of the electrical, heating/cooling and plumbing systems. Upgrades reduce the likelihood of loss and often lower homeowner’s insurance premiums.

  1. Pools and hot tubs on the property.

If your home includes a swimming pool, spa or hot tub, your homeowner’s insurance is going to be more expensive because additional liability coverage will be required. While most policies include a minimum $100,000 in liability protection, your insurance agent may recommend increasing it to between $300,000 and $500,000 as well as adding an umbrella policy with at least $1 million in protection. If you want to minimize your homeowner’s insurance costs, avoid purchasing properties without outdoor pools and hot tubs.

  1. The location of the nearest fire department.

Direct property loss as a result of home fires has been estimated at $7.3 billion annually. If your home is near a fire department (or even a fire hydrant), you’ll pay less for your homeowner’s insurance as a result. Homes in urban and suburban areas usually have better fire protection than those in rural areas as well. So if you want to keep your homeowner’s insurance costs as low as possible, consider location when buying a home.

  1. The location of the nearest body of water.

If your home is near a coastline, large body of water, or in a floodplain, you’re going to pay higher homeowner’s insurance premiums. Depending on your location, your policy may have a separate deductible for hurricanes and windstorms. And flood damage—from any exterior source—is not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies. You’ll need a policy specifically for flood insurance if you’re in a high-risk area.

  1. Your past insurance claims history.

Even if you’ve purchased a new home and changed insurance companies, any claims you made at your previous residence will be considered when setting your homeowner’s insurance rate. Insurers can access this information through the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, which reports filed claims for seven years. In general, the amount of the claim carries more weight than the reason for the claim.

Whether you’re in the process of looking for your next home or just want to explore ways to lower your current homeowner’s insurance rates, your insurance professional is your best resource for information on these and other factors that will affect your premium.

Should You Install Electronic Door Locks?

Should You Install Electronic Door Locks?

Traditional house keys may soon go the way of rotary phones thanks to new lock technology. From fingerprint sensors to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled systems, keyless entry products are rapidly transforming the way Americans secure the doors to their homes. Are these easy-access locks the right choice for you? If you’re not comfortable with technology, they probably won’t be. However, if you have no problem programming your DVR, universal remote and household thermostat, a keyless lock may be a good option.

Types of Keyless Locks Available Now

  • Biometric locks recognize your fingerprint, allowing you to unlock your home with a swipe of your finger. This type of keyless lock requires you to program it with your fingerprint as well as those of the rest of your family or others you want to allow to access your home.
  • Proximity locks use RFID technology and work with a key fob that you carry with you. Much like electronic car door locks, you can unlock or lock them with a press of the fob button. Some don’t require you to remove the fob from your pocket or purse first, either—a handy feature if you regularly enter or exit your home after dark or often have your hands full.
  • Smartphone-controlled locks synch with your mobile phone via Bluetooth. This allows you to control entry to your home remotely as well as track who is coming and going. Some of these locks will actually text you when someone else opens your home’s door. Others will automatically unlock your door when you approach it.
  • Keypad locks, the earliest type of keyless locks available for homes, are still a good option as well. They all require you to program an entry code, though newer, more complex models may allow you to have individual codes for specific people or even program a greeting that will play when the door is unlocked. Surveillance varieties take photos of whoever opens the door.

Prices for electronic door locks range from $100 to more than $1,000, depending on the type of lock and features included. While they can make entering and exiting your home easier—unless there’s a power outage or the circuit board fails—they aren’t necessarily more secure than traditional keyed locks are.

Burglars generally enter homes through unlocked doors or windows or by forcing open a window or door. If security is your main concern, you’re probably better off investing in solid wood or steel exterior doors rather than the latest electronic lock technology. Door jams reinforced with steel plates will also make it more difficult for an intruder to kick in the door.

Whether you opt for traditional keys or a new, high tech electronic lock for your home, it’s important your property is adequately insured in the event of a break in. If you don’t currently have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, talk to an insurance professional about your options. If you already have a policy, it’s wise to review your coverage at least once a year and make appropriate adjustments.

Should You Install Electronic Door Locks?

Traditional house keys may soon go the way of rotary phones thanks to new lock technology. From fingerprint sensors to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled systems, keyless entry products are rapidly transforming the way Americans secure the doors to their homes. Are these easy-access locks the right choice for you? If you’re not comfortable with technology, they probably won’t be. However, if you have no problem programming your DVR, universal remote and household thermostat, a keyless lock may be a good option.

Types of Keyless Locks Available Now

  • Biometric locks recognize your fingerprint, allowing you to unlock your home with a swipe of your finger. This type of keyless lock requires you to program it with your fingerprint as well as those of the rest of your family or others you want to allow to access your home.
  • Proximity locks use RFID technology and work with a key fob that you carry with you. Much like electronic car door locks, you can unlock or lock them with a press of the fob button. Some don’t require you to remove the fob from your pocket or purse first, either—a handy feature if you regularly enter or exit your home after dark or often have your hands full.
  • Smartphone-controlled locks synch with your mobile phone via Bluetooth. This allows you to control entry to your home remotely as well as track who is coming and going. Some of these locks will actually text you when someone else opens your home’s door. Others will automatically unlock your door when you approach it.
  • Keypad locks, the earliest type of keyless locks available for homes, are still a good option as well. They all require you to program an entry code, though newer, more complex models may allow you to have individual codes for specific people or even program a greeting that will play when the door is unlocked. Surveillance varieties take photos of whoever opens the door.

Prices for electronic door locks range from $100 to more than $1,000, depending on the type of lock and features included. While they can make entering and exiting your home easier—unless there’s a power outage or the circuit board fails—they aren’t necessarily more secure than traditional keyed locks are.

Burglars generally enter homes through unlocked doors or windows or by forcing open a window or door. If security is your main concern, you’re probably better off investing in solid wood or steel exterior doors rather than the latest electronic lock technology. Door jams reinforced with steel plates will also make it more difficult for an intruder to kick in the door.

Whether you opt for traditional keys or a new, high tech electronic lock for your home, it’s important your property is adequately insured in the event of a break in. If you don’t currently have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, talk to an insurance professional about your options. If you already have a policy, it’s wise to review your coverage at least once a year and make appropriate adjustments.

Car Seat Safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. In 2013, 638 children ages 12 and younger died in motor vehicle crashes. Another 127,250 were injured.

Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented with the use of a proper child safety seat. Car seat use reduces the risk of death for children under age 1 by 71 percent and children ages 1 to 4 by 54 percent. Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury in children ages 4 to 8 by 45 percent compared to the use of seatbelts alone.

If you want to ensure children riding in your car are doing so safely, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Know your state’s child passenger safety laws. While requirements vary based on age, weight and height, all states require child safety seats for infants and certain children. Many require children to ride in the rear seat whenever possible, as well as the use of rear-facing infant seats, forward-facing child safety seats, and booster seats for older children. You can review state-by-state laws here.
  • Make sure the car seat is appropriate for your child’s size and age. Rear-facing car seats should be used from birth to age 1 at minimum. However, it’s wise to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until he/she reaches age 3 or outgrows the height and weight limit specified by the manufacturer. At this point you can transition your child to a forward-facing car seat until he/she is age 7 or again outgrows the manufacturer’s height and weight specifications. Booster seats are recommended for children age 7 and older who cannot fit in a seat belt correctly without one.
  • Only buy car seats rated and recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These seats meet Federal Safety Standards as well as strict crash performance standards. You can find a list of NHTSA rated car seats, along with information on their ease of use, here.
  • Make sure you install and use your car seat or booster seat properly. Seats must be carefully installed according to the owner’s manual instructions. If you need assistance, you can consult a child passenger safety technician (find one here) or visit a car seat inspection station (find one here) in your area. Local law enforcement agencies may also hold periodic car seat inspection events.
  • Put your child in the middle of the vehicle. When travelling with one child or only one child in a safety seat, place it in the center of the backseat. In the event of an automobile collision, this is the safest location in the vehicle.
  • Register your car seat with the NHTSA.Unfortunately, recalls happen. If you want to avoid using an unsafe car seat that has been recalled, you can register with the NHTSA to receive notices about safety-related defects and recalls.

Car Seat Safety

Car Seat Safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. In 2013, 638 children ages 12 and younger died in motor vehicle crashes. Another 127,250 were injured.

Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented with the use of a proper child safety seat. Car seat use reduces the risk of death for children under age 1 by 71 percent and children ages 1 to 4 by 54 percent. Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury in children ages 4 to 8 by 45 percent compared to the use of seatbelts alone.

If you want to ensure children riding in your car are doing so safely, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Know your state’s child passenger safety laws. While requirements vary based on age, weight and height, all states require child safety seats for infants and certain children. Many require children to ride in the rear seat whenever possible, as well as the use of rear-facing infant seats, forward-facing child safety seats, and booster seats for older children. You can review state-by-state laws here.
  • Make sure the car seat is appropriate for your child’s size and age. Rear-facing car seats should be used from birth to age 1 at minimum. However, it’s wise to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until he/she reaches age 3 or outgrows the height and weight limit specified by the manufacturer. At this point you can transition your child to a forward-facing car seat until he/she is age 7 or again outgrows the manufacturer’s height and weight specifications. Booster seats are recommended for children age 7 and older who cannot fit in a seat belt correctly without one.
  • Only buy car seats rated and recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These seats meet Federal Safety Standards as well as strict crash performance standards. You can find a list of NHTSA rated car seats, along with information on their ease of use, here.
  • Make sure you install and use your car seat or booster seat properly. Seats must be carefully installed according to the owner’s manual instructions. If you need assistance, you can consult a child passenger safety technician (find one here) or visit a car seat inspection station (find one here) in your area. Local law enforcement agencies may also hold periodic car seat inspection events.
  • Put your child in the middle of the vehicle. When travelling with one child or only one child in a safety seat, place it in the center of the backseat. In the event of an automobile collision, this is the safest location in the vehicle.
  • Register your car seat with the NHTSA.Unfortunately, recalls happen. If you want to avoid using an unsafe car seat that has been recalled, you can register with the NHTSA to receive notices about safety-related defects and recalls.

Financial Dangers of a Natural Disaster

Fires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, high winds, hail and lightning… Mother Nature has some serious weapons in her arsenal, and she’s not afraid to use them. With extreme weather becoming more common in many parts of the country, every home is likely at risk of incurring damage from more than one type of natural disaster. In some cases, even with insurance, the outcome is financially dangerous. Consider the following monetary hardships you may encounter.

You’ll probably pay clean-up costs out of pocket.

Even if these expenses are covered by your homeowner’s insurance, you may want to pay for them upfront in order to speed up the process. From removing downed trees to ripping out water damaged drywall and flooring, clean-up can run in the thousands. If you don’t have that kind of cash on hand, you’ll have to live surrounded by debris until you receive the check from your insurance company. Talk to your insurance agent about what your policy covers as well as how quickly payouts are usually made.

You’re going to need vital paperwork.

From your insurance paperwork to birth certificates, social security cards, bank account and credit card information, there are many important documents you’re likely to need in order to get your life back in order after a natural disaster. If they’re lost or cannot easily be accessed, it could delay the processing of your insurance claims and receipt of any government assistance to which you may be entitled. Experts advise making copies of important paperwork and storing it electronically using a cloud-based storage provider such as Dropbox. You might also consider keeping hardcopies of important documents in a safe or safe deposit box.

You might be on the hook for more than you realize.

You knew you needed insurance, but you also wanted to keep your premiums low. You may have bought a policy with a higher deductible as a result, and you’ll have to put that much cash towards clean-up and repairs before your insurer will cover any difference. Talk to your insurance agent now—before a natural disaster strikes—about the deductible and coverage limits on your insurance policies. If you live in an area where certain types of extreme weather are common, it might make financial sense to increase coverage and reduce your deductible.

You’re probably going to need access to cash.

After a major natural disaster, power outages are not uncommon—and they can last weeks and cover large areas as well. Whether you need to secure a hotel room for your family, buy clothing and toiletries, or just pay for pizza delivery until you can use your stove again, you may need to use cash if debit and credit card machines are down. Consider putting some cash in a safety deposit box at a bank in a neighboring town. Set up direct deposit with your employer so your earnings will automatically go into your bank account as well.

Do you know what your insurance policies cover? Are you concerned about the financial implications of a natural disaster? Call us today to review your coverage and discuss options to lessen the financial burden should Mother Nature decide to strike your home.

Financial Dangers of a Natural Disaster

Flooded Street

Fires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, high winds, hail and lightning… Mother Nature has some serious weapons in her arsenal, and she’s not afraid to use them. With extreme weather becoming more common in many parts of the country, every home is likely at risk of incurring damage from more than one type of natural disaster. In some cases, even with insurance, the outcome is financially dangerous. Consider the following monetary hardships you may encounter.

You’ll probably pay clean-up costs out of pocket.

Even if these expenses are covered by your homeowner’s insurance, you may want to pay for them upfront in order to speed up the process. From removing downed trees to ripping out water damaged drywall and flooring, clean-up can run in the thousands. If you don’t have that kind of cash on hand, you’ll have to live surrounded by debris until you receive the check from your insurance company. Talk to your insurance agent about what your policy covers as well as how quickly payouts are usually made.

You’re going to need vital paperwork.

From your insurance paperwork to birth certificates, social security cards, bank account and credit card information, there are many important documents you’re likely to need in order to get your life back in order after a natural disaster. If they’re lost or cannot easily be accessed, it could delay the processing of your insurance claims and receipt of any government assistance to which you may be entitled. Experts advise making copies of important paperwork and storing it electronically using a cloud-based storage provider such as Dropbox. You might also consider keeping hardcopies of important documents in a safe or safe deposit box.

You might be on the hook for more than you realize.

You knew you needed insurance, but you also wanted to keep your premiums low. You may have bought a policy with a higher deductible as a result, and you’ll have to put that much cash towards clean-up and repairs before your insurer will cover any difference. Talk to your insurance agent now—before a natural disaster strikes—about the deductible and coverage limits on your insurance policies. If you live in an area where certain types of extreme weather are common, it might make financial sense to increase coverage and reduce your deductible.

You’re probably going to need access to cash.

After a major natural disaster, power outages are not uncommon—and they can last weeks and cover large areas as well. Whether you need to secure a hotel room for your family, buy clothing and toiletries, or just pay for pizza delivery until you can use your stove again, you may need to use cash if debit and credit card machines are down. Consider putting some cash in a safety deposit box at a bank in a neighboring town. Set up direct deposit with your employer so your earnings will automatically go into your bank account as well.

Do you know what your insurance policies cover? Are you concerned about the financial implications of a natural disaster? Call us today to review your coverage and discuss options to lessen the financial burden should Mother Nature decide to strike your home.

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Lubbock, TX 79401
806-762-0544
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