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Fall Home Maintenance Tips

We said it during the spring and it still rings true for fall home maintenance. The best insurance claim is to have no insurance claim. Save yourself time and headache by taking some simple steps to prepare your home for the cooler weather.

Roof and Gutters

It’s time to check up top again, but leave it to a qualified professional to do it if you don’t feel comfortable accessing your roof. The summer heat can give a roof a good beating. Do your shingles need repair or replacement? Check those gutters again for stability and for asphalt (the telltale sign of worn shingles).  When the rain comes, you want your gutters and downspouts to flow properly. Get rid of any blockage.

Paint and Sealing

So, you took our advice and prepared your deck and siding for the warmer weather. Now, after many a pool party, it’s time to make sure your deck held up well to the traffic. Did your siding hold up well to the 90+ degree weather? Check again for cracks and splintering. Make sure that water hose or irrigation system didn’t cause any excess moisture on your siding.

Trees

Falling leaves mixed with cool weather make for a good season. Too many leaves against your foundation make for a good fire hazard. Take time to trim trees today so you’ll enjoy the leaf piles without letting them consume your yard. You’ll want to make sure those branches won’t pose any danger during upcoming fall and winter storms.

Foundation

The hot, Texas summer wreaked havoc on foundations, shrinking and moving soil. You knew to water your foundation and your foundation sits in great shape. Or does it? Once again, inspect your home for any cracking on exterior and interior walls. Make certain your land slopes gradually away from your home and that your floors are level.

Water Heater

We said you should replace an 8 to 12 year old water heater. So, not much to talk about here, right?

Doors and Windows

Again, summer heat did a number. Reseal caulk on doors and windows that require it. When the brisk air blows, don’t give it a pathway into to your home.

Detectors

Though fall is about winding down to the end of the year, don’t let your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries wind down. Refresh them if needed. You want them to work in a pinch.

Keep it cool this fall by taking steps to prevent home repair from heating up.

Contact Insurance For Texans if you’d like to know more about saving money on your insurance without sacrificing great coverage.

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All is Fair in Love and Corndogs

Fair Weather Fun

The late September temperature outside still hits the 90’s, but that doesn’t matter, because . . . the Texas State Fair opens this Friday. For many Texans, that means FALL IS HERE.

For those familiar with the Texas State Fair, you know the drill.

3 October weeks at Fair Park in Dallas featuring exhibits, food, football, games and rides. For those less familiar, especially those who have moved here recently from other states “not Texas”, here’s a quick 5 things to look forward to.

Food

Since 1942, the top dog of fair food still exists in the form of a Fletcher’s corny dog. It’s one of the first things mentioned as soon as someone brings up the subject of Texas State Fair and it consistently outsells all other food at the fair. With no shortage of culinary delights and other fried gastronomic monstrosities (deep fried Froot Loops, anyone?) that somehow qualify as genius creations during these weeks, you know to get your stretch pants on and get ready to walk the midway. Fried food not your thing? It’s ok. You’re sure to find something to liven up your taste buds for less calories.

Texas/OU

Held at the Cotton Bowl on the State Fair grounds since 1932, the “Red River Rivalry” features the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns. The burnt orange and crimson team colors seem to reflect the changing fall leaves while the passion of the students and fan bases add to the intensity of this longstanding rivalry. When the weather actually dips into the 70’s or lower, this game is a fall gem. Insurance For Texans will draw a winner for 2 tickets to this game on Monday, 10/2. Enter the contest!).

Exhibits

There’s a little bit of something for everyone in the family. Name it, you can probably find it. From Animal exhibits to the ZuZu acrobats, this is Texas showing off for Texans. Prepare to have your mind and eyes opened to cultural wealth of our state.

The Midway

Let the 55′ statue of Big Tex welcome you to the Midway, where you can feel the nostalgia of true Americana.  Get your fill of thrill rides and try to win prizes as you test your luck at the variety of games. Make sure to ride the iconic Texas Star ferris wheel. at 212′ high, enjoy the Dallas skyline and views of Fair Park below.

Live Entertainment

Stick around during the evening hours for one of the nightly concerts. When it comes to music, Texas has the chops. In addition to some national bands/performers, many acts originating out of Texas make this an important stop on their schedule. With 15 headline artists and over 38 bands and musicians taking the stage, music lovers should find something to groove or two-step to.

Fall can go by in the blink of an eye here in Texas. If you’re new to the area or if you just like to enjoy some Texas-sized fall festivities, make sure to put the State Fair on your list.

And have a corny dog while you’re at it.

 

 

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Cyber Security Insurance: The Threat is Real

Cyber Security Insurance

Business enterprises face the real issue of cyber security today. Whether malware, phishing, or other attempted breaches of security, it’s difficult to know the full extent of the damage cyber attacks cause. Data breaches don’t help consumer and client confidence. Businesses can keep the full scope of cyber attacks close to the vest. Though they may do this to mitigate public opinion and consumer confidence, it may not help their insurable interests at large.

The Challenges

This lack of transparency is only one challenge facing insurers today in regard to this growing problem. Insurers also find it difficult to accurately produce actuarial data given the challenges of rapidly changing technology, software unreliability, security lapses, and sophisticated viruses instigated by unpredictable, criminal outside entities. This causes insurers to demand high deductibles while capping coverage, not the best marketing formula for an insurance carrier.

Insure Anyway

Businesses want cyber security insurance coverage anyway. Premiums approach nearly 3 billion annually and are expected to reach nearly 8 billion before the end of the decade. More and more companies insure against damage or interruption to their networked systems, data and business operations.

But, are they getting a fair deal? It may not appear that way with high deductible combined with limits and caps on coverage. However, this lack of coverage to premium balance across the board does not prevent companies from insuring against the unknown. Businesses seem to understand insurers find the unknown very difficult to measure and predict. Business owners should consider cyber attack risk separate from other risks and not group it with other perils, e.g., fire, windstorm, flood or even theft.

It Will Get Better

Though the menace of technology exists when used in deviant forms, it has a nemesis in the ability of impassioned and invested people to use that same technology in a standard manner. With the goal of safeguarding business systems, data, and operations, businesses should bond together to share data on cyber attacks. In addition, by utilizing those with expertise to mitigate the risk via technology and protective policies, insurance carriers will face less of a challenge when comprising actuarial models to assess risk. Ability to measure and predict based on available data will prove vital going forward. Lower premiums and better coverage options should follow as insurable risk becomes easier to determine.

If you have any questions about cyber security insurance for your business, Insurance For Texans knows how to navigate this complex issue. Give us a shout. We’ll help you out.

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Flood Insurance Coverage

We have flood insurance coverage on our minds. Yesterday, we felt the anxiety rising up from the coast of Texas along with all the evacuating vehicles headed north on 45. Today, we see what the daylight brought in the aftermath of rising water.

As the hurricane approached, we wondered how many have proper flood insurance due to their mortgage lender requiring it. We also wondered how many took advice to get proper flood insurance even if their home does not sit in a flood plain.

Covering Hurricanes and More

You don’t need an impending hurricane bearing down on you in order to think about flood insurance. Separate from home and dwelling insurance, flood insurance protects against rising water from rivers, lakes, streams and ponds during high rainfall. Since 1 out of 5 (20%) of flood insurance claims (not counting those without flood coverage) come from low to moderate flood zones, it’s safe to assume you don’t need to live on the coast in order to make a case for coverage.

Better Late Than Never

Because of a 30-day waiting period before your flood policy takes effect, if you don’t have proper coverage, you have to ride out the storm and hope for the best. We’re here to make certain the next time a hurricane or tropical storm makes landfall, you can rest easy knowing you can rise above any potential flood. We also want to make certain you are covered for other potential flood situations.

Get Flood Insurance Coverage

Let Insurance For Texans help you with questions about flood insurance. You want to know what protected property you have in case the water rises. You’ll also want to know the difference between what qualifies as flood damage vs. storm damage in the event you need to file a claim.

Stay safe, Texas.

 

 

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The Heat is On

It’s not just hot outside. It’s Texas summer heat. Chickens serve up pre-fried eggs, dogs refuse to take walks and grateful people write their air conditioning repair person into their will.  Yes, it’s the time of year for the pool party, where nothing will stop you or your best twenty friends from getting into your swimming pool, even if it feels more like a lukewarm bath.

Whether it’s you, your family or your invited guests, refreshment is probably the main priority when it comes to using your pool. Since you, the homeowner, carry the liability risk, take precautions to make your pool area safe as possible so that a claim doesn’t sink you.

Around the Pool

Your guests probably don’t want to think about emergency numbers or CPR. Do it for them. Post emergency numbers somewhere visible and it wouldn’t hurt to for you or a family member(s) to know CPR and/or basic water lifesaving skills.

Since it’s your pool and your risk, put in some rules and post them where all swimmers can see. Speaking of swimmers, ask whoever plans to go into the pool whether or not they can swim (definitely parents of kids). If anyone says they can’t, you or somebody you trust should know who that person is, where they are, and when they are in the pool at all times.

Before you determine it safe to go back in the water, keep it safe around the water. If there are small children at the pool party, it’s a good idea to put in place a protective barrier in place. Kids are drawn to water like Michael Phelps to gold medals. Since they might want to get in as soon as possible, don’t let them get in before mom and dad are ready to supervise.

Trust Your Guests (A Little)

Offer sunscreen, flotation devices and reach sticks available and easy to access. For those who can’t swim well and didn’t come prepared with their own flotation device, readily offer them one. Babies and toddlers need adequate flotation devices before allowing them into the pool.

Your guests should arrive with the best intentions, but it’s your party, you can supervise if you want to. You or another trusted individual should take turns keeping an eye on those swimming in the pool. If there is alcohol consumed at the party, keep it out of reach of kids and teenagers and limit the intake of those supervising the water.

Do a clean visual sweep of your pool area before, during and after your guests arrive. Prevent electronics, broken glass or potential stumbling blocks around the pool. Also, keep in mind pests that could ruin a pool party if they aren’t kept at bay, e.g., snakes, wasps and mosquitoes.

In the Pool

Now that it’s safe around the water, make sure all is safe in the water. Keep your pool water adequately cleaned and treated.

Intoxicated people shouldn’t go in or near the water. Where possible, don’t allow anyone to swim alone. Since what happens on your property is your problem, determine what is appropriate regarding who should and should not be in the pool together.

Since your pool most likely requires mechanical features to function, don’t let the pool filters, vacuum, jets, etc. become a danger to those in the water, especially the swimmers with the little fingers.

Ask Your Broker

It’s your house, your pool, and your rules. It’s your job to host a great party while keeping everyone safe. Think things over beforehand and make the pool and the surrounding area are safe. What happens during the party is also a risk worth considering. Check with Insurance For Texans about your current coverage and we’ll make certain you float this summer and beyond. And though we have a ton of fun saving you money up front while covering your back, don’t forget to invite us to the pool party.

After all, it’s hot outside.

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The Eyes On Texting are Upon You

Texting and driving seems to get a lot of attention these days, even if those behind the wheel aren’t paying much attention at all. With 46 states having some form of limit on texting and driving, it’s definitely a hot-button national conversation. Texas has a lot to say about it.

Texas isn’t just any other state. We like to do things our way. After all, we were our own nation once. So when the Lone Star State passed House Bill 62, a statewide ban on texting and driving, the whole country took notice. With the bill signed into law by Governor Abbott earlier this month, September 1, 2017 marks the official day law enforcement will keep a watch for violators. With the likelihood of HB 62 affecting your auto-insurance rates, the eyes of Texas insurance carriers are upon us as well.

Law of the Land

After several attempts in recent years to get a statewide ban on texting and driving off the ground, Texas Congress saw House Bill 62 take flight earlier this June.

With a statewide law on the books enforcing penalties for texting while driving combined with the population of Texas, expect more distracted drivers to make an impact on auto insurance rates. In 2016 there were 109,658 crashes in Texas involving distracted drivers with an additional 455 fatalities and 3000 serious injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting and driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash.

HB 62 bans drivers from texting in a moving vehicle and makes it a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine ranging from $25 to $99 (with penalties up to $200 for repeat offenders). 

 Quantifiable Data

As a result of the new law, texting and driving falls under a separate category. Because insurers look at a variety of an insured person’s driving behavior, a citation for texting and driving will only hurt and not help a driver’s insurability. If an accident occurs and texting and driving played a role in the collision, it will constitute a separate charge, once again, adding a separate negative mark on your insurability. This is fuel to feed the fire of an insurance carrier’s denial. Texting and driving can now play a major role in their desire to underwrite your insurance.

Driver Texting Behavior Unlikely To Change

Because texting and driving still comes down to a personal choice and since technology and manpower is unable to detect every violation, texting and driving will continue to occur. This could lead to more accidents as violators keep their devices lower, causing them to take their eyes off the road even more than necessary. In some cases, accidents were seen to increase when legislation prohibited texting and driving. Those who want to break the law will continue to break the law. It is naïve to expect HB 62 to change driver behavior in a comprehensive way.

Insurance Carriers Want Safe Drivers

Insurance Carriers favor limiting texting and driving. The less claims, the better. But since driver behavior may or may not curtail the amount of accidents, rates can rise.

Living in Texas has privileges. However, risk widens in our large state from the gulf to the panhandle. You may not think you have a choice on the matter of whether your rates go up, but you do.

When it comes to the question of, “Can this text wait?” you’re the best person to answer that question.

Be careful out there, Texas.

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Don’t Squirrel Around With Your Roof

Covering your roof in Texas should remind you of a good BBQ sauce. You want the right amount of coverage, but you don’t want to ruin your brisket. If you’re replacing your roof in the Lone Star State, knowing a little more about what you’ve got up top doesn’t hurt. Because Texas weather can take a toll on a roof due to storm damage and constant heat, consider the following before replacing.

Longevity

Ask, “What are my plans for this house?” Is this house currently your “forever home” or will it serve as a property rental or sale in the near future? Reminding yourself of the reason you purchased the home may help you decide what type of durability you want from your roofing tile. If you plan to live in the home for many years, you may not want to sweat out every hailstorm and go with a higher quality roofing option. If you plan to flip the house or sell it in a few years, you may choose ease of replacing the roof versus a more durable option.

Aesthetic

When replacing your roof, you may ask, “What do I want my roof to look like?” Depending on your budget and plans for living in the house, you may decide to go with lower-cost asphalt or top-of the line metal/tile. Also, depending on where you live, a homeowners’ association policy may govern what type of shingles you can cover your roof with. This may factor in to your decision on how much curb appeal you require for the roof. A third question you should ask is, “What will my new roof cost to insure?” You may have always dreamed of having wooden shingles on your Tudor style home, but your insurance carrier may think it’s a nightmare in the form of a fire hazard. Depending on your roof’s pitch, you will also find limitations regarding which roofing materials to choose.

Climate

Topsy-turvy Texas weather usually ends up hot before too long. With half the year devoted to 80+degrees, your roof takes a beating from the heat. You want to consider a roofing tile that cools as much as possible. Know what tiles are durable and able to withstand heat. Know how the color of roofing tile you choose can affect the amount of heat your home absorbs. That black asphalt tile may take longer to cool off at night than the white metal tile. Terra cotta or clay tiles may weather the heat better than most, but what will the replacement cost look like when baseball-sized hail hits?

Cost

If your last name is Buffet, Gates or Zuckerberg, move right along. If not, the roof you select comes down to cost, doesn’t it? All things above considered, you want to make sure the roof you get doesn’t break your insurance claim or your bank. When a roof needs repair, you may want to get the process over as quick as possible and a roofer that doesn’t have the customer’s best interest in mind could help you do that quickly without considering your budget. Take the time to think about what you need up top so it doesn’t hurt your bottom-line. Make the decision based on your need for durability, preference of style, the ability of the roof to do its job and your budget.

We see a lot of roofing claims at Insurance For Texans. We are experts in insurance and dangerous enough to know a lot about roofing. If considering a new roof, contact us and we’ll answer any questions on how your decision relates to your home insurance.

 

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Spring Home Maintenance Tips

At Insurance For Texans, we know the best insurance claim is to have no insurance claim. An ounce of prevention by performing home maintenance is worth saving thousands of dollars of deductible later. If you haven’t already, consider these tips to prepare your home.

Roof and Gutters

If you haven’t inspected your roof lately, it’s best to do it before the next spring storm. If you don’t want to get on the roof, hire a qualified contractor and/or utilize binoculars or a drone. Identify areas where shingles are in need of repair or replace. Sometimes asphalt in your gutters is a telltale sign of your roof needing some attention. Make certain gutters and downspouts are free of obstruction and funneling properly.

Paint and Sealing

Where there is wood, there is the possibility of weathering, especially when it comes to your deck or siding. Look for areas that need attention (e.g., moisture damage, splintering, wobbling). While paint can make the difference when it comes to curb appeal, a deck in poor condition can actually hurt you or your guests.

Trees

Spring storms can whip tree branches around and even cause some trees to uproot or break in half. Make sure branches are trimmed back from your home and unable to cause damage if they break off during storms. Pay special consideration to any branches near power lines or structures in your yard.

Foundation

The shifting soil of Texas requires us to pay attention to our foundations year round. Inspect your home for any cracking on exterior and interior walls as this could indicate foundation issues. Make certain your land slopes gradually away from your home. Unless you already have a pool or decided to put one in, any other pooling in your backyard is not welcome. Make sure your foundation won’t allow any pooling around the perimeter. We are known for mosquitoes in Texas, so let’s not give them a place to breed.

Water Heater

We don’t tend to think about our water heaters until we have to. Unfortunately, by the time we’re thinking about them, they may have caused damage to our homes. If your water heater is in the 8-12 year old range, replace it. Depending on where your water heater is situated, it could mean the difference between major or minor damage if it leaks or bursts.

Doors and Windows

Reseal caulk on those doors and windows that hardened and/or softened with the varying winter temperatures. Resealing can prevent water damage when the next storm arrives.

Detectors

Since spring is about renewal, it’s not a bad idea to make certain your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries are fresh.

You may save money in the long run by taking these steps now. That is a good reason to keep you smiling by the pool in your flip-flops this summer after the spring storms have passed.

Contact Insurance For Texans if you’d like to know more about saving money on your insurance without sacrificing great coverage.

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Buying a New Home? Know Before You Close

It’s That Time of Year

Many homebuyers, realtors and lenders consider Springtime the preferred home buying season to close on a new home. Soon, many Texans will ask, “How much can I afford” before securing lender financing, a qualified realtor and eventually, their next home. This exciting process of finding a great home in a great location can prompt anyone to act quickly. Being able to afford the home that you want is worth the time spent house hunting. However, there are many things to know before you close. 

Another Question Worth Asking

Insurance brokers also consider Springtime a busy time for insuring new homebuyers. Asking “How much can I afford?” is a great question. However, many people make it to their closing date without asking another critical question. Each homebuyer should at least ask, “What will my new home cost to insure?” There are many factors that combine to determine the cost of insuring a home. You don’t want to surprise yourself with increased premiums or elevated debt-to-income ratio before closing. Involve your insurance broker as soon as possible in the process of purchasing your new home.

I4T  Can Help You Close Well

At Insurance For Texans, we’re prepared to talk foundation to roof type. Because we’ve dealt with many issues regarding a wide array of homes, we’re prepared to analyze the insurability of the potential new home you are considering. Whether you have questions about a detached garage, in-ground swimming pool, second story or anything else, we can help you with the possible impact related to your policy. Before you secure your new home, let us assist you by helping you feel secure about paying for it.

Knowledge is key. An informed homebuyer is a successful homebuyer. We want to help you close on that house. Contact us today!

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After the Storm – To Claim or Not To Claim?

Storms Are Coming

Spring is almost here. Bluebonnets. Baseball. Bad weather. Living in Texas guarantees major storms, with hail and high winds able to wreak havoc on many homes. After major damage from a storm, it is critical to file your claim in order to begin repairs as soon as possible.

What’s Your Damage?

What if damage is not major, but you still need repairs? Will your claim get approval from your insurance carrier? Many homeowners are unaware of the potential adverse effects of filing claims that are not approved. It’s an unwelcome surprise when an unpaid claim results in increased rates and decreased ability to get coverage.

Let I4T Know About It First!

Regardless about the level of storm damage on your home, make certain to contact your insurance broker first. Through a careful analysis of your policy, your insurance broker will help you determine whether filing a claim is in your best interest. Analyzing repair/replacement costs, your previous history and possible maintenance-related issues to the damage are just a few things a good insurance broker will do to assess if the claim is payable and won’t hurt your insurability.

Insurance for Texans wants to keep you covered in the best way possible. After the storm, we’re here to help with any questions. Contact us today!