Poor Gutter Maintenance Can Affect your Home Insurance Cost

Monday, September 17, 2018

Your home’s rain gutters and downspouts drain water away from the foundation. If leaves, dirt and other debris get jammed inside, you can have problems. Here are some tips to help avoid the worst.

Soon the autumn leaves will begin to fall and cleaning out your rain gutters suddenly jumps to the top of the “Honey Do” list. You could put it off or skip the arduous chore altogether, but you’d be asking for trouble; especially if lack of maintenance causes your homeowner’s insurance to go up. Falling gutters, flooding or a fractured foundation are expensive problems to fix. Here are some tips to help avoid the worst.

Your home’s rain gutters and downspouts drain water away from the foundation. If leaves, dirt and other debris get jammed inside, you can have problems such as:

  • Yes, gutters can pull away from the house and fall if overloaded with debris and especially ice.
  • If water is prevented from flowing properly down the spout, it can spill over the sides and drain into a basement or foundation, increasing the risk of basement flooding.
  • Cracks can easily form if water seeps into the foundation and freezes.
  • When water freezes inside clogged gutters, ice can push against the roof and walls, and increase the risk of mildew or rot.
  • Discoloration can occur on the exterior of your home, if water spills over the sides of blocked gutters.

It’s easier to clean your gutters when the debris is dry, so don’t wait until it rains. Some of the tools you will need for the task include these:

  • Sturdy ladder with extension if needed
  • Tarp
  • Plastic bags with handles
  • Safety goggles or glasses
  • Work gloves
  • Trowel or handled scoop
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Screwdriver to remove and reattach downspout if it runs underground
  • Optional plumber’s snake for stubborn downspout clogs

Be safe and make sure your ladder if firmly planted on level ground before you climb.

Don’t carry tools or anything sharp inside your pockets when climbing a ladder. Put your tools in a bucket or handled plastic bag and carry it up the ladder then hook it onto the ladder. And be sure you are wearing reliably, sturdy shoes. Safety goggles protect your eyes from loose debris.

After you have done the dirty work, remember to inspect your gutters and spouts next time it rains to be sure you’ve tackled on the problems. Good maintenance on your gutters and downspouts will keep your home in better condition and save on costly repairs that may or may not be covered in your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Why an Insurance Agency Wins Out Over Online Insurance

Friday, September 7, 2018

There are many questions to consider when you purchase your insurance – do you buy from an insurance agency or go it alone and buy online? We hope this will answer some questions for you.

If you’ve ever wondered which is the best choice when it comes to buying insurance, you’re not alone. There are many questions to consider, and the first one is how do you purchase your insurance – do you buy from an insurance agency or go it alone and buy online? We hope this will answer some questions for you.

Your personal insurance agent

There are many advantages to getting to know your insurance agent. That may sound old fashioned, but they have expert knowledge about insurance products that you don’t. If your insurance agent is an independent that’s even better because they have access to many different underwriters and can find you the best policy for your dollar. They will get you multiple quotes to ensure you’re getting the lowest price point.

Working with an insurance agent who works for one insurance company limits your options somewhat. While they may be keenly aware of their company’s products, policies, and discounts, remember, they are limited to the one company they represent.

Your online insurance options

Getting an insurance online is fairly fast and you can even make the purchase without even speaking to an agent. It’s true you might find it easier, faster, and more convenient to buy your insurance in your own good time. Nobody is making a commission when you buy online, so you can avoid the sales pitch.

Buying insurance online means you’re on your own. You don’t have anyone pointing out what to look for or what to avoid. You won’t have the one-on-one interaction and personal attention you get from a personal insurance agent.

You might save a wee bit buying online, but be sure you understand fully what you’re buying. Or you can connect with your local independent insurance agent, get the help you need, find the lowest rates, and begin a business relationship that could last for many years.

Killebrew Insurance Finds the Better Price for You

Monday, August 27, 2018

Insurance is something everyone needs, but how much thought goes into deciding where to go to get the best insurance prices?

 

Insurance is something everyone needs, but how much thought goes into deciding where to go to get the best insurance prices?

There are plenty of options out there, big names and small, but the real question is: Are you paying too much for what you’re getting? In fact, you might be paying for something you don't need.  Not a very comforting thought.

Did you know that an independent insurance agent is not tied to any one insurance carrier? That means an independent insurance agent may represent five or ten different insurance carriers, giving them an edge for searching out the best deals possible for their customers.

It’s important to protect your assets – your home, car, boat, valuables, and more. Before you sign up online with just anyone, consider some of the advantages an independent insurance agent can offer.

1)  Licensed professional agents working independently have access to multiple insurance carriers, so they can shop for you, looking for and finding value and low costs. If your insurance needs to be changed at some point, an independent agent can find what you need. They will do the legwork, so you don’t have to.

2) Independent insurance professionals are accessible and able to answer your questions about claims. You don’t have to wait three days to hear back from someone for an answer.

3) When you buy all your insurance from an independent agent you will save money and enjoy the convenience of a one shop stop. Bundling your insuranceis a smart way to save time and money.

4) Probably one of the most rewarding things about working with an independent insurance agent is that you make a long-term friend who takes time to get to know you and your family. You’re not just a policy number. You’re a valued customer. And because most successful independent insurance agents have a strong presence in their local community chances are good you may already know them as a respected member of the community.

There are many reasons to buy your insurance from an independent insurance agent.  Make a smart decision you’ll feel good about, knowing Killebrew Insurance will get you the better price.

College-Bound Kids? What Insurance Do They Need?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Have a college-bound son or daughter? Along with getting everything packed and organized it also might be a good idea to consider buying dorm insurance to cover all the electronics and other ‘stuff’ they're taking with them.

Do you have a college-bound son or daughter? While you are helping them get everything packed and organized, it also might be a good idea to consider buying dorm insurance to cover all the electronics and other ‘stuff’ they're taking with them.

Granted, the overall threat to your “child’s” belongings is small, but there are incidents of burglary and larceny theft on college campuses. Many colleges have no problems at all such as these, but it might be better to be safe than sorry.

Electronics such as laptopssmartphones, and wireless speakers are commonly among items that should be insured. But there are also bicyclessports equipment, musical instruments, and digital cameras to consider.

The level of maturity and responsibility of your son or daughter will make a big difference in your insurance decision making. Sometimes kids can be too trusting of other people and lack the street-smart savvy needed. If they’re careless with possessions they could become an easy target.

Here are some insurance options to consider.

Your homeowner’s policy will usually cover your child while they’re living in an on-campus residence at no extra cost; however, the cost is usually only 10 percent of your limit on the contents of your home. So. if your policy covers up to $50,000 in losses, your student’s belongings are covered for only up to $5,000. That may not be enough.

If your child lives in an off-campus apartment, a renter’s policy which usually costs about $15 per month will be necessary. Your homeowner’s insurance will not cover it. Based on the amount of coverage you need will determine the premium cost.

Your best option might be a dorm insurance policy. Deductibles can be as low as $25, rather than $500 to $1500 on home insurance coverage. You may want to reserve your home coverage for larger claims like damage to the structure and contents.

A homeowner’s policy “floater,” or endorsement, is necessary if you want to make sure very high value possessions, such as computers, are covered.

The smartest plan is to sit down with your reliable, independent insurance agent and get the answers you need. Then you can worry less about what’s insured and concentrate on hoping for those good grades.

Protecting Your Home and Foundation in Hot, Dry, Texas Weather

Friday, August 10, 2018

Summer weather can cause damage to your home’s foundation unless you take time for proper maintenance. Here are some helpful tips to avoid the huge expense of foundation repair.

We are all familiar with Texas heat! Finding ways to keep cool without blasting the air conditioner can be a challenge at times, but have you thought about what is happening outside of your home? Summer weather can cause damage to your home’s foundation unless you take time for proper maintenance. Soil can act like a sponge, shrinking and expanding when wet. This activity can cause your foundation to move. A controlled watering program is the best way to ensure a healthier foundation.

Here are some helpful tips to avoid the huge expense of foundation repair:

For the best drainage, your yard should slope away from the house and landscape borders. Be sure your gutters can handle the runoff for the roof and keep them clear of leaves and debris. Downspouts that discharge water from the gutters by at least 3 feet from the house are best.

Hopefully watering can supplement rainfall, but in Texas, the rainfall is not always as plentiful as we need it to be. Automatic sprinklers or a sprinkler head that fastens to your garden hose will help. Keep a check on how much you water each section and use soaker hoses near the foundation, usually placed about 12 inches from the foundation base.

Shrubs, flowers, and trees need special attention during dry, hot weather. Trees take water through their roots every day year-round, but in extremely dry periods they need to be watered. It goes without saying that you need to water more during hot, dry weather. It might be surprising to know that one large tree can take as much as 150 gallons of water from the soil each day. Barriers can be installed to keep roots from growing under the foundation if the trees are too close to the house.

If hot dry weather persists, watering the foundation should be daily, supplying enough water under the foundation to be consistent. According to Texas A&M AgriLife, watering your foundation is the most effective way to protect it from damage during a drought. They recommend creating an irrigation zone around the house of about eight to 18 inches from the foundation. A drip irrigation or a soaker hose set up at an outdoor faucet with a timer to water the foundation at optimal times of day is also helpful.

As a homeowner, it’s up to you to decide to water more during hot, dry weather. It may mean a higher water bill, but in the long run, it’s well worth it.

Is Boat Insurance Required in Texas?

Friday, August 3, 2018

Knowing you have boat insurance in Texas and that your watercraft can be replaced at any time offers more peace of mind and much greater enjoyment when you’re out on the water.

Whether you’re a fisherman, a recreational boat owner and user, or the owner of a small watercraft, each vehicle must have its own insurance policy according to Texas insurance laws.  Even if your boat or water vessel doesn’t sit on the water all year, you must keep your insurance current. Being a responsible boat owner makes the pleasure of boating all the better.

And because it’s the law, and you don’t have an option for having boat insurance in Texas, we make it easy by assuring the same independent insurance agent who writes your auto and home policies can issue your boat insurance. They will advise you on the type of policy you need for each vehicle.

Consider the value that you have in your watercraft and what you would do if it were damaged or involved in an accident; possible before you have even finished paying for it. Boat insurance in Texas will pay for your watercraft and you won’t be at a major loss for out of pocket expense.

The age and condition of your boat or watercraft will determine the kind of coverage you need. Older vehicles need a collision policy which costs very little. This pays for damage to the boat, but little else.

The smartest coverage is a comprehensive policy that covers loss of personal property, personal injury, and replacement of the vehicle.

When you’re traveling with your boat on a trailer make sure your boat insurance policy is current. Accidents can happen on the way to the water and if your stopped by police, you can be cited for not having current coverage.

If you keep your boat outside your home when not in use, you still need current boat insurance. If a storm or tornado were to occur and cause damage, your insurance policy will help pay for damages.

Knowing you have boat insurance in Texas and that your watercraft can be replaced at any time offers more peace of mind and much greater enjoyment when you’re out on the water.

Understanding Property Cost Evaluation

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Don’t be confused by insurance terminology. Very often it’s easier to understand than you may think and important to know the differences.

There’s really nothing mysterious about the term “property cost evaluation”.  It refers to the assessment of residential and commercial properties.

Residential property cost evaluations cost less than a full appraisal. Commercial property cost evaluations can be ideal, if a loan amount if $250,000 or less, or for collateral purposes a business loan is $1 million or less

The four concepts on which the basics of evaluation are based include:

  • Scarcity
  • Demand
  • Utility
  • Transferability

When appraising, the value of the property is the main consideration. Both current worth and potential future income of the property are considered.

There are three different methods by which commercial properties can be evaluated:

  • Replacement cost method
  • Sales comparison method
  • Income capitalization method

Replacement Cost Method: This method determines the reconstruction costs of the property. Material costs, depreciation, and the cost of labor are considerations.

Sales Comparison Method: This is a ‘market approach’ and is described as an evaluation technique which looks at the recent sales price of commercial properties that are like properties being appraised.

Income Capitalization Method: Using an estimation process, this method determines the value of a commercial property by studying the property’s future net income. This is the most widely used for investment purposes.

Property Cost Evaluation Benefits

  • Compliant with the standards and regulations in all states
  • Agents know how to perform commercial evaluations.
  • Evaluations are thoroughly reviewed and checked by a CQAA (Commercial Quality Assurance Analyst) to ensure compliancy with agent’s appraisal.

Contact your independent insurance agent in the Midland/Odessa area to get any of your questions answered about property cost evaluation, whether residential or commercial. Get the expert help you need to make informed decisions about your property.

What is the Difference Between “Actual Cash Value” and “Replacement Cost”?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Before you sign the dotted line, understand what the insurance terms mean.

Insurance has many terms that can often be difficult to fully understand. Knowing what these terms mean in relation to managing your home and auto insurance can be crucial. Let’s look at two terms that are very different and are often confused: Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cost.

 

Actual Cash Value (ACV) means your insurance company agrees to pay you the depreciated value at the time of your loss.  These payments include a deduction for depreciation. While a cash value settlement may sound appealing, it does not let you replace what you lost. Instead it compensates you for the value of the item almost as if it were being sold at a yard sale.

Choosing actual cash value on your policy may leave you wanting, since you cannot go to a store and buy an exact new item.  When you have this selection on your policy, it is difficult to rebuild your personal contents, not to mention rebuilding your home due to the depreciated value. You will be at a loss.

Replacement cost policies are a better option. Here’s why.

Replacement Cost provides you with a payment equal to what is required to replace lost items in the loss settlement of your claim.

Replacement cost is much better than ACV because it allows you to be in the same position you were in before the loss. Your claim will provide the necessary money to replace your items.

You must replace the item(s) before the replacement cost is paid by your insurance company. Many people do not understand this. You don’t simply get a check and that’s that.

Your insurance adjuster will review your list of losses, decide what will be replace or repaired, and assign or approve the values. In the case of an ACV provision on your policy, the depreciated value of the items comes into play.

Once the insurance company has had a chance to review your list, you will have a chance to look at their offer before receiving a payment. If your basis of loss settlement was actual cash value, then they may ask you to sign off on the amount, saying it is a final payment, before giving you a check. The process is different for replacement cost.

When you have a claim and the loss settlement is on a replacement cost basis, expect that you will have two checks at least before getting fully compensated.

Once you prove that you have replaced the items, will you receive final payments. It is your responsibility to replace the items before you can get paid for the full replacement cost.

Keep an open line of communication with your insurance representative on your claim to help you understand exactly what to expect and when you will receive payment for your actual loss.

Are You Prepared for Severe Hail in West Texas?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Did you know that west Texas experiences some of the worst hailstorms in the country between June and August?

Last August, softball sized hail bombarded Texas when severe weather storms traveled across the South. Storms move quickly but it is amazing the amount of damage that hail can leave behind.

Weather experts define severe hail as being at least 0.75 inches in diameter or roughly the size of a one cent coin. There is a triangular area from west Texas to northwest Missouri to the western Dakotas that averaged at least 0.5 days of severe hail between 2007 and 2010. These locations experience an average of one day per year when hail of various sizes reaches the ground, Texas and Oklahoma getting the most severe hail in the western parts of those states.

What many people living in west Texas may not realize is that preparation for this level of severity should be a priority. Making sure your home, vehicles, property, businesses, and surrounding areas are protected can save thousands of dollars in insurance costs and repairs.

Here are some easy to follow guidelines to ensure that your property is protected from damaging hailstorms and doesn’t become a statistic in the $1 billion in damages caused each year.

  • Fully understand what your insurance covers and how much you need
  • Be clear on your deductibles that you have chosen and adjust if needed
  • Talk to your local independent agent to find out if you need a higher deductible for wind and hail damage than you do for other claims
  • Inspect your roof prior to hail season and get any repairs completed.
  • Repair or replace worn, curled or missing shingles.
  • If you have an older roof (over 10 years) consider replacing it before hail season begins.

If you’re caught out in a hailstorm, know how to protect yourself and your vehicle. A severe hail stone can be as big as a grapefruit and fall at 50 to 100 miles per hour, so stay or get indoors.

If you are indoors, remember to:

  • Stay away from skylights and glass doors to avoid broken glass.
  • Close curtains or blinds to prevent fragments of debris from blowing inside.
  • If possible, park your car in the garage or other covered area.

When it’s over and you discover you have hailstorm damage, contact your local independent insurance agent right away. They will give you the information you need as to what steps to take next. The important thing is to be prepared. Taking necessary precautions could save thousands of dollars in cost and possibly even a life.

Celebrating July 4th Should be Fun, Laughs, Friends, and Family – With No Injuries.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Prepare for a safe July 4th with sensible safety tips and a few smart rules.

July 4th is a popular tradition in the U.S. that comes with lots of celebration, good times, and, of course fireworks. It’s a great time to enjoy family and friends, whether at home or at a public fireworks display.  Either way, safety and a few ground rules should be a priority.

 

You can still have great fun and be responsible about it. Here are some tips to make your 4th of July celebration both fun and memorable without worries of accidents or trips to the ER.

If you’re attending a public fireworks exhibition, which is considered the safest way to enjoy the holiday, stay at least 500 feet away from the show.

If you’re doing fireworks at home, follow these good safety tips and keep it fun, not risky.

  • Do NOT give fireworks to small children, ever.
  • Keep a supply of water nearby in case you need it.
  • The person lighting fireworks should always wear eye protection.
  • Light one firework at a time and do NOT attempt to relight a dud.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Leave the area immediately if untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

Another favorite pastime for the July 4th holiday is grilling. Hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill are a tasty treat for all.  Again, follow safety steps to enjoy grilling without mishaps.

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when it is in use.
  • Never grill indoors or in any enclosed area, whether it’s your house, camper or tent.
  • Keep pets and children away from the grill.
  • Locate your grill in an open area, away from the house, deck, trees, or anything flammable.
  • Use long-handled tools made for cooking on the grill.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.

It’s always a good idea to check with your independent insurance agent about your homeowner’s policy and what it covers before having a houseful of revelers in your backyard firing off mini-rockets. Better safe than sorry.  Happy and Safe 4th!

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Poor Gutter Maintenance Can Affect your Home Insurance Cost

Monday, September 17, 2018

Your home’s rain gutters and downspouts drain water away from the foundation. If leaves, dirt and other debris get jammed inside, you can have problems. Here are some tips to help avoid the worst.

Why an Insurance Agency Wins Out Over Online Insurance

Friday, September 7, 2018

There are many questions to consider when you purchase your insurance – do you buy from an insurance agency or go it alone and buy online? We hope this will answer some questions for you.

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