Wildfire Protection: Do You Have It? Do You Need It?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Did you know that Texas ranked #1 by number of wildfires and how many acres burned in a 2016 survey?

Although insured losses from wildfires in the United States is less than those caused by severe thunderstorms, it may be surprising to know that Texas ranked #1 by the number of wildfires and the number of acres burned in a 2016 survey.  A surprising statistic considering Texas is not among the 10 most prone states to wildfires. However, among the three states with the most properties listed as very high risk, Texas is included alongside California and Colorado.

Property loss caused by fire and smoke are usually covered under most homeowners insurance policies, as are renters and business policies. In addition water damage as a result of putting the fire out is almost always covered under these policies.

But depending upon where you live, additional insurance might be worth checking into. Damage from wildfires are usually caused by humans; as many as 90 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Campfires, cigarettes and neglected burning debris are often the cause. Arson figures into that mix as well. Only the remaining 10 percent are caused by lightning or natural causes.

In March 2017, two large wildfires in West Texas were ultimately restrained by firefighters, one of which devastated four homes and caused 1,200 others to be evacuated.  The 2017 wildfire season is from January to June, and so far about 2.3 million acres have burned.

As temperatures are projected to continue to rise, the wildfire season will lengthen. Also the fact that more people are moving to heavily wooded areas, building new homes and many seeking a quitter lifestyle add to the risk of wildfires.

Preventive measures recommended for people building new homes include noncombustible siding, decking and roofing materials.

While wildfires may not seem like an immediate concern, given the fact that Texas has its fair share of wildfire damage, it might be a good idea to ask yourindependent insurance agent if you’re adequately covered for wildfire losses.

Is Your RV Insurance-Ready for Summer Fun?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Your RV insurance deserves a check-up before you hit the road for that summer trip.

One way to be sure your RV is adequately insured is to request an easy, fast online quote.  RV insurance is different from other insurance, so it’s best to understand the details before you hit the road for summer trips and campouts.

For instance, do you know what a Total Loss Replacement (TLR) is?

It means that if your RV is totaled, your insurance cover replacement of a new RV or pays you the initial purchase price. That depends on how old your RV is at the time of the loss.

Do you understand what a Purchase Price Guarantee (PPG) means?

This kind of policy will reimburse you for the amount you paid for the RV toward the purchase of another RV. This policy can extend for the life of the RV or just first 10 years;  then convert to an Actual Cash Value (ACV) policy in the 11th year.

What is an Actual Cash Value (ACV) policy?

An ACV policy pays the depreciated, fair-market value of your RV in case of a total loss. ACV is the most common type of policy offered to RV owners.

Do you need Vacation Liability?

If your RV is parked and someone is injured at your campsite,  at the beach or wherever you’re parked,  you are covered up to the stated policy limits.

What is Diminishing Deductible Coverage?

Good drivers are rewarded with this coverage as comprehensive and collision deductibles are reduced by 25% of your original deductible for every year you have no claims until your deductible reaches zero. After that, you pay no deductible.

Is it best to take out Personal Contents Coverage?

If you’re traveling very light, you may decline this coverage. However, if you’re taking everything but the kitchen sink, you probably should take out personal contents coverage. It covers housewares, tools, clothes and sporting goods. Your homeowner’s policy may provide coverage, but there are often limitations to coverage for off-premises property, items in storage or belongings damaged in a collision. RV insurance specialty policies replace stolen or damaged items at full replacement cost. Items such as awnings, antennas, external racks and signal dishes are usually covered at no additional cost. Dollies for towing and trailers are usually included, too.

Do you really need Emergency Travel Expense?

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. If your RV breaks down because of a covered loss, most RV insurance policies cover the cost of a rental car and/or hotel room while you’re waiting for repairs. If the RV is beyond repair, the policy can cover airfare to return you and your family home.

Do you qualify for Discounts?

Membership in an RV club is on way to qualify for a discount.  Also, installing supplemental braking systems can sometimes reduce your premium. Completing a safe driving course is usually a sure way to receive a discount on your RV insurance. Ask your independent insurance agent about these discounts and more.

Do You Need Cyber Insurance?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Cyber insurance is becoming an important product as hacking and security breaches occur more and more often, inflicting costly harm on businesses of all sizes.

Nowadays, even if you’re a small business, you probably need cyber insurance. The fact that over 40 percent of small businesses have been targeted in the last two years should be taken seriously. As most business, large and small, is increasingly reliant on the internet, playing it safe is just common sense. The unseen ‘bad guys’ are out there and they seem to be getting smarter by the day.

So what exactly is cyber insurance and what does it cover?

Basically cyber insurance covers your business in the case of a data breach that is related to sensitive customer information. That would include Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, health insurance info, account details and such.

So exactly what does cyber insurance cover?

Cyber insurance covers legal fees and other expenses and it also assists in the following ways:

  • Customers are notified about a hack or breach
  • Personal identities of affected customers are restored
  • Compromised data is recovered
  • Damages to your computers and computer systems are repaired

Contact your independent insurance agent to find out more about cyber insurance. While it is still relatively new to the insurance industry, there are many fine products available to ensure better security for your business.

The National Cyber Security Alliance* advises that updated computer systems, strong passwords and a well trained staff are three important ways to avoid a security breach. In addition to your cyber insurance, think defensively when it comes to protecting your business and the security of your customers.



Boat Insurance Gives You Peace of Mind to Have More Fun!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Having the right boat insurance can mean the difference in great summer fun and the worry of the unexpected.

If you happen to be a proud owner of one of the 580,000 boats registered in Texas*, you’re probably getting her ship-shape for some summer fun, fishing and relaxation on your favorite lake.  Since Texas has more square miles of inland water than any other state, you’ve got plenty of choices.*

Small boats with only a small or no engine at all, may be adequately insured under your homeowner’s insurance. A sailboat would come in this category. But if you're buying a $35,000 (or more) boat or yacht, your homeowner’s policy will not cover everything you need. You can bundle your boat insurance policy with your home and/or auto insurance and probably save a little; another good point to discuss with your insurance agent.

If your boat is insured under your homeowner policy, it is covered only for theft.  It is also subject to a limited amount and the home deductible. There is no liability coverage whether the boat is on or off the water.

Your boat liability insurance protects you if a person is injured while on your watercraft. You can choose between replacement costs or cash value in case you have a total loss. Boat insurance will cover bodily injury if someone is injured while on your boat, damage on docks and other boats caused by your boat, and any physical damage to your boat if it should collide with something or goes onto the ground.

Comprehensive coverage will protect your boat from vandalism, fire/flood, theft, personal property coverage for gear, uninsured boater and roadside assistance, which is handy if you breakdown and require being towed.  

Contact your insurance agent about details of your boat insurance coverage.  Ask which of these items pertains to your needs based on the kind of boat you have and how you use it. If you participate in fishing tournaments, ask your agent if you need any special coverage.

  • Damage Coverage
  • Disappearing Deductible
  • Consequential Damage Clause
  • Fishing Equipment
  • Protection & Indemnity (P&I)
  • Medical Payments
  • Tournament Fee Reimbursement
  • Towing and Emergency Assistance
  • Unlimited Trailering within the continental United States

Boat insurance as well as adhering to good safety protocol will protect you and your boating crew from accidents and will give you the peace of mind to relax, kick back and have more fun concentrating on that “whopper” you’ve been hoping to catch.

A Salute to the Men and Women of the U.S. Military Services

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

If you’re a military service member, you and your family have special challenges that arise. We are here to help you find your way through any obstacles and find the best insurance coverage for your particular needs.

“We at Killebrew Insurance are proud of the men and women who serve our country to protect, honor and defend the values of democracy. We support you by offering affordable insurance for all your family needs. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.” 

If you’re a military service member, you and your family have special challenges that arise. We are here to help you find your way through any obstacles and find the best insurance coverage for your particular needs. We know there are differences based on whether you are on active duty, full time duty, a member living on base, reserve personnel, or soon to be deployed.

You can save money on your auto insurance if you are an active military service member about to deploy and you choose to suspend your auto insurance while away. Be sure to ask your insurance agent all the details because if your vehicle gets damaged while you’re away and your insurance is suspended, that could be a problem for you.

On the other hand, if you are working to improve your credit or insurance rating in order to secure lower rates, you may want to keep your auto insurance active.

You can store your vehicle and pay a small premium, but the vehicle must remain in storage and not be driven while you’re away.

You can always cancel your policy if that’s your only option, but it isn’t the best one in the long run.  Insurers prefer not to see interruptions in your insurance coverage.

If you are not the only driver on the auto insurance policy, you can exclude yourself from coverage. Your policy stays intact and other drivers covered under it are not affected. 

A vehicle that is financed or leased is required to be covered by full coverage, including collision and comprehensive. This is required whether you are using the vehicle or not.

Why Do Business with an Independent Insurance Agent?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

An independent agent serves as your personal advocate, finding the best rates for auto, home, business and more.

You may have wondered about the phrase Independent Insurance Agent. What exactly does that mean? And why should I use them? In this week’s blog we will try to clarify that for you. 

Insurance agents who work for one company are referred to as ‘captive agents. They will only sell insurance policies from one insurance company. The only way you can buy insurance policies from those companies are through their exclusive agents.

Independent agents, on the other hand, can sell insurance products from a variety of insurance companies.

There are pros and cons to both. For captive agents, knowing the ins and outs of a certain company’s policies has an advantage. Ideally, they know their company’s policies thoroughly. Independent agents however, are able to shop around, negotiate and get you the best price on comparable policies from a number of different insurance companies.

Independent insurance agencies are licensed through 99.5 percent of all insurance companies. An MGA (managing general agent) is used for hard to place commercial risks. Unlike traditional agents, an MGA is vested with underwriting authority from an insurer. Many independent agents are not big enough to get direct contracts with insurance companies, so they broker through an MGA.

Agents working as brokers operate on a lower commission rate because the MGA keeps part of the commission and charges a monthly fee to write policies through them. Brokers have no binding authority through the policies they write through an MGA and are required to tell the insured they are not the “agent of record’.

Working with an independent insurance agent serves you in many ways. They not only find you competitive pricing, they make sure you’re fully and correctly covered. Working with you face-to-face, an independent agent is more like your personal adviser, taking the time to listen to you and understand your individual needs.

Independent agents are often your neighbors who share an interest in the community and the challenges of living in the area. An independent insurance agent also offers the convenience of one-stop shopping by providing you with auto, home, renter, business coverage and whatever specialty insurance you may need along the way.

Renters Insurance for Your Personal Effects

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Having renters insurance protects you so that regardless of what happens on the premises, your renters insurance will cover you.

If you rent a house, apartment or mobile home you should renters insurance coverage. Why?

Personal effects are not protected by the landlord’s insurance policy. Your landlord’s insurance covers damage to the building but does not protect your personal possessions.


If your personal effects are lost, damaged or stolen, renters insurance provides coverage. Renters insurance also protects you against liability claims if a visitor to your rented home or apartment is injured.

How you are compensated depends on the type of loss and the amount of coverage you have in place. You can purchase “actual cash value” (depreciated) coverage for your personal property, or you can buy replacement cost coverage for your personal possessions.

Although you aren’t required to carry renters insurance by law, your landlord can require renters insurance in your rental lease agreement. Having renters insurance protects you so that regardless of what happens on the premises, your renters insurance will cover you.

If you are required to relocate due to repairs from fire, smoke or water damage, for example, your renters insurance can cover temporary accommodations.

Renters insurance is very affordable. Depending on where you live and the coverage amount you choose to carry on the policy, the cost is around $100-$250 per year. The national average for renters insurance is $15 to $30 per month.

Texas renters insurance is very affordable. The average cost is around $15 a month for $10,000 of personal property coverage and $100,000 of liability. You can get more coverage if you need it which might total $20 a month.  Consider what it would cost if you had a major loss and did not have renters insurance. The loss of electronics, jewelry or valuable collectibles could be in the thousands, making the cost of renters insurance minimal by comparison.

Considering the affordability of renters insurance, why do so many people run the risk of not having it?

Insure Against Hail Damage – a Property Nightmare

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hail damage to your property can be costly in more ways than one. Be sure your insurance coverage is intact.

It’s that unsettling time of year when Mother Nature can wreak havoc on your property without much notice. Among the culprits is hail damage. Repairs due to hail damage can often cost thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the hail, the impact angle and force, and the duration of the storm. 

The fact is that hail damage varies widely in total cost and the major categories are roof damage and vehicle damage. Siding, fences, and decking can also potentially suffer harm from hail impacts, but let’s focus on the main two for now.

Hail Damage to Roofing

Because your roof is more exposed to the weather than any other part of the house, it takes the brunt of a hailstorm. Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roof material and are prone to severe damage by hail stones.

Hail may only damage a certain portion of your roof, but it is usually impossible to replace only a portion of the shingles. Undamaged shingles adjacent to damaged ones must be taken up and put back down during the repair process, adding to labor costs. Replacement jobs can run from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars of damage.

When the damage is severe and widespread enough to call for total roof replacement, you could be looking at a $10,000 to $20,000. Your homeowner’s insurance will typically cover this expense, minus your deductible.

Hail Damage to Vehicles

Often overlooked is the cost of hail damage to vehicles, but the total price tag can be quite significant. If the dents are in hard to work on areas like the car's roof, the cost goes up. Finally, broken windshields average about $300 to replace. Comprehensive auto insurance will cover hail damage and if you have not yet paid off your car loan it’s a good idea to carry it.

Hail damage in the U.S. costs homeowners millions of dollars in damage every year. While it often cannot be prevented, there are ways to minimize the risk and homeowner's and comprehensive auto insurance policies will cover it. Knowing the potential costs of hail damage ahead of time should help motivate you to guard and insure against it so you are not caught unprepared.

Fore! Got Golf Cart Insurance?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Golf cart insurance varies based on how you use it and the type cart you own. Get the right insurance before you hit the greens.

Perfect golfing weather may cause you to temporarily forget about your golf cart insurance. But before you grab the irons and head for the links, check to make sure your golf cart is fully covered.  Depending on how you use your golf cart and what type it is will be the deciding factors for the kind of insurance you need. Homeowner’s may be all you need, but you may need more. 

Which type of golf cart do you own?

A basic cart is similar to using a riding mower

A cart that is speed-modified goes up to 25 mph on neighborhood streets

An all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can be used on neighborhood and city streets

How you use your golf cart affects your insurance needs.

Do you drive only on a golf course or on your own property?

Do you do some street driving and use seat belts?

Do you use it for regular use on streets as well as golf course?

If your golf cart is listed on your homeowner’s policy, be aware it is covered for ‘theft only on premise’. There is limited coverage for off premise. 

Motorcycle insurance is what you need to cover your golf cart if it is an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). This covers liability, guest liability, comprehensive and collision. 

Save money on your golf cart insurance by bundling – getting all of your insurance with one company. If you own your own home, you might get a homeowner’s discount. And remember that taking a safety course can often result in a policy discount. Also, if you take a higher deductible on your policy you will pay less for your golf cart insurance.

In some golfing communities, the Home Owner’s Association requires golf cart owners purchase specific golf cart insurance and name the HOA as an additional insured. If live in a community with an HOA you will want to find out what they require.

Is an Independent Contractor Covered by Workers' Comp?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ask your independent insurance agent what works best for you if you have questions about worker’s compensation.

Independent contractors are not eligible for workers' compensation coverage; employers are not required by state law to purchase coverage for independent contractors. Whether or not a worker is an employee is not controlled by what name the employer uses for the worker, but by the circumstances surrounding the employee's work.

Independent contractors provide a service, usually with a contract, whether written or spoken. An independent contractor controls how the service is provided, who provides it, and how it is delivered. The key is that the independent contractor acts independently, free of direction and control of the hiring company (employer).

To be an employee, the worker does not need to be interviewed and formally hired. Independent contractors typically receive payment by the job; on the other hand, employees receive wages on an hourly or salaried basis.

Another factor in distinguishing an independent contractor from an employee is who provides the equipment. An independent contractor typically provides the equipment necessary to complete the job, while an employer typically provides the equipment for the employee to complete the job.

Another thing to consider is the character of the work involved. If the work is highly skilled, and the worker only performs a single job, the worker is likely an independent contractor. Independent contractors almost always work for more than one company. Otherwise, if the worker is trained by and receives regular work from the same company, the worker is more likely to be considered an employee.

The state worker's compensation board will consider all of the above factors regarding the workers' employment situation to determine whether the worker was an independent contractor or an employee. Ask your independent insurance agent what works best for you if you have questions about worker’s compensation.

Killebrew Blog View Blog

Wildfire Protection: Do You Have It? Do You Need It?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Did you know that Texas ranked #1 by number of wildfires and how many acres burned in a 2016 survey?

Is Your RV Insurance-Ready for Summer Fun?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Your RV insurance deserves a check-up before you hit the road for that summer trip.

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