Safety First Won’t Spoil the Fun at Your Business Holiday Gathering

Thursday, December 13, 2018

As the holidays approach, most businesses are planning office parties, pot luck lunches, and closing shop for a few days of downtime. It’s a joyous fun time of the year, but it’s also the time when burglaries, thefts, and accidents increase.

As the holidays approach, most businesses are planning office parties, pot luck lunches, and closing shop for a few days of downtime. It’s a joyous fun time of the year when friends and family get together. But it’s also the time when burglaries, thefts, and accidents increase.

Most businesses realize the value of an alarm system and have one in place year round. But there are also a few safety tips to bear in mind for your business and your employees -- especially during holiday merrymaking.

Make sure your employees fully understand the rules that go along with the holiday office party. If you serve alcohol, be sure to enforce the ‘don’t drink and drive’ policy. Paying for an employee’s taxi ride home could be a lot less expensive than a car crash or accident when leaving the party.

If party decorations are in order, avoid candles and use battery-operated lights. It’s also a good idea to have someone monitor the in/out doors, to keep a keen eye on who’s coming and going.

Minimize access to valuable hardware or software. If you’re a retail business and have cash in registers, remove it or lock up registers along with expensive electronics.

If your industrious employees are working late, make sure they work in pairs. The buddy system is always safer, especially when leaving through the parking garage or street.

If you have a security system that is operational, be sure to advise them of your events and ask for any special monitoring as people come and go. Obviously, someone in charge will be responsible for setting the security system when everyone is gone.

If you do not have a security system for your business, you should consider having one installed. Your property insurance rates can be considerably lower with a security system, saving you up to 20 percent on rates. Not to mention, your employees will feel much safer, too.

And as always, talk with your independent insurance agent and find out how much they can save you on your business insurance.

Winter Weather and Icy Roads

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Although we don’t worry much in Texas about getting too much snow, we are sometimes plagued with the wrath of icy, drizzle that makes the roads a glassy nightmare. That’s when you’re glad you have auto liability insurance.

Although we don’t worry much in Texas about getting too much snow, we are sometimes plagued with the wrath of icy, drizzle that makes the roads a glassy nightmare. Feeling your car go out of control on a slippery, icy highway can be a scare you won’t soon forget.

What happens if you slide into another vehicle?

That’s when you’re glad you have auto liability insurance, something all Texas drivers are required to have by law. Your liability coverage will pay for the damages to the car you smashed into. 

That’s definitely something to be thankful for, but be aware that your insurance rates are most likely to increase. If your car is damaged in the incident, your collision coverage (if you carry it) will pay. Remember, collision coverage is optional, but it is good to have, especially if your vehicle is newer. Collision coverage would also pay for damages if your car slid off the road or into a road sign or guardrail. Of course, you would first have to pay your deductible for the claim.

What if your car was parked in the driveway and a heavy, ice-laden branch fell on it and damaged the hood and windshield?  Comprehensive coverage would pay for it.

Towing assistance is another expense that can occur on icy roads. Depending on your insurance, you may have to pay the tow truck out of pocket, but often you can get reimbursed from your insurance company.

These are all scenarios to be aware of and well worth a call to your independent insurance agent to get clear answers. Be informed and drive safely. When icy roads occur, the best advice is to stay off the road unless you absolutely must go out.

You Deserve the Best Car Insurance Rates

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

With so many options available for car insurance, what’s the secret to getting the best possible Texas car insurance rates? The answer could be in the questions you ask.

With so many options available for car insurance, what’s the secret to getting the best possible Texas car insurance rates? The answer could be in the questions you ask.

What kind of car do you have?

Depending on the year, make and model of your car, your comprehensive and collision coverage will be higher or lower. Newer, more expensive cars usually have higher rates; however, comprehensive and collision coverage rates do not vary much. So, if you're buying a new car, look for one that’s less expensive.

What are your limits?

Minimums for liability insurance coverage are usually set by each state and that includes bodily injury and property damage. If you're getting a loan to buy a new or used car, your lender will require you to carry a certain amount of comprehensive and collision coverage.

How high should my deductible be?

If you want a lower monthly rate on your auto insurance, take a higher deductible. Just remember that should you be responsible for an accident, you'll pay the deductible up front before the insurance payment goes into effect.

What’s your credit score?

Some states (Texas included) allow insurers to take your credit history into account when determining your insurance credit score. That is then uses to calculate your premium rate. Bad credit could mean paying higher insurance rates.

Do you know a reliable independent insurance agent in your area?

Finding a reliable independent insurance agent close to home could save you time and money. An independent agent has access to many difference insurance carriers. This means they will do the ‘heavy lifting’ of sorting through which carrier would be the best fit for you. It’s also nice to develop a friendly, long-term relationship with good people you can trust.

Do you trust your insurance company?

If your choice for an independent insurance agent is with a solid group that has been around 10, 20, or more years in the community, you’re probably making a wise choice. Ask friends and neighbors, business associates and colleagues about your selection and see what they have to say.

Does your independent agent offer discounts?

Discounts can make a difference and are often available to retirees or cars with car alarms installed.

Also, if you're over 55, you can take a defensive driving course and get a usual 10 percent off your rate. Group discounts can include discounts with some agents. Also, ask your agent about ‘bundling’, which means you do all your insurance needs through one agent. This can be a money saver.

What coverage do you really need?

You may not really need to carry comprehensive and collision coverage if you have an older car and own it outright. Keep your liability insurance though, after all it’s illegal in most states to drive without it.

Does the insurance agent you select offer a yearly review?

If your agent doesn’t mention it, then request a yearly review of your policy. If you have moved, changed jobs, or you’re driving more than usual or less, it could affect your insurance rate.

Don’t Let Black Friday Make You Blue

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Black Friday comes with bargains and excitement. But it has an ominous side as well. Here are some tips to help your shopping experience be a success.

It’s that seasonal day that occurs every year, bringing savings and bargains so humongous, people travel for miles to buy, buy, buy. It’s Black Friday. Black Friday comes with bargains and excitement. But it has an ominous side as well.

All those crowded malls and parking lots afford huge opportunities for fender benders, flaring tempers, and worse. Theft increases during these busy times, so it pays to be cautious. Lock your packages safely in the trunk rather than leaving them out in view on the car seat.

If you’re out among the shoppers on Black Friday, follow a few safe tips. Find a parking spot at the mall that is well lit and gives good access into the stores. It’s also a good idea to shop with a friend or spouse, rather than alone. Try to avoid parking spots on the end of a lane, as this makes your vehicle more susceptible to scrapes and bumps of passing drivers who may be in a big hurry.

Before you even leave the house, make sure you know for sure that your auto insurance is current. If you’re not sure, contact your local independent insurance agent and find out. Also, check to be sure you have your current proof of insurance in your wallet or glove box of your car.

Generally, be on the lookout for suspicious-looking characters and keep a grip on your purse and packages. We would rather not think about such things around the holiday season, but the fact is that more thefts occur on Black Fridaythan any other day.

As the classic adage goes, ‘better safe than sorry’ when it comes to being prepared for that calendar event huge savings. After all, the idea is to save money, not come away with less than you started out with. Be safe by thinking ahead and make smart decisions so your holiday shopping can get off to a fun and lucrative start.

Why Educators Need Professional Liability Insurance Coverage

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Do teachers need professional liability insurance to teach or work in a school? Following are some valid reasons why you may want to take out a professional liability insurance policy.

It can be confusing about whether teachers need professional liability insurance to teach or work in a school. Many believe that because their district, union, or professional organizations covers their liability insurance, they are well protected.  However, that’s not necessarily the case.

Depending on the school district in which you work, you may not be protected individually as a teacher or school employee.

Following are some valid reasons why you may want to take out a professional liability insurance policy:

Technology Effects

With social media and cell phones being prevalent in and out of classrooms, teachers are concerned about how their actions are perceived by students. Any kind of lawsuit that results is difficult to overcome and can affect a teacher’s career.

The Unexpected

Accidents happen and if a well-meaning teacher inadvertently knocks a student’s laptop to the ground and property damage occurs, guess what? A professional liability policy would help cover the cost. If a field day with students playing softball results in a student’s injury, the teacher could be liable. Another reason to have the right insurance.

Fibs and Falsehoods

It’s fairly, normal for kids to get into altercations at school. But if a teacher is accused of not properly supervising the students, things can escalate. Accusations of wrongdoing by the teacher or inappropriate behavior can be a major problem. Some teachers say keeping their door open while meeting with students individually helps quell this situation to some extent.  In either incident, professional liability insurance could be helpful.

Rely on Yourself

If teachers face a litigious charge, they cannot always count on peers and supervisors to stand by them. That’s even more reason to have a professional liability insurance policy that protects a teacher in these instances.

Teachers as Civil Lawsuit Targets

While most schools usually run smoothly without severe problems, there are thousands of fraudulent lawsuits filed each year against teachers with no basis in fact. The past few decades have seen a rise in litigation against educators.

Teachers have enough on their plate to do a good job teaching without the worry of lawsuits. Professional liability coverage is a support that gives teachers the comfort of having more control in their classrooms and their professions.

Ask your local independent insurance agent about professional liability insurance and get the best rates possible.

Umbrella Insurance Can Protect You from the Unexpected

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What is Umbrella Insurance, and how can it benefit you? Here is information that should clear up any questions you may have.

What is Umbrella Insurance, and how can it benefit you? Here is information that should clear up any questions you may have.

Umbrella insurance is a liability insurance supplement to your basic liability policies that would include your auto, home or renter’s insurance. An umbrella liability policy is extra protection that covers a much higher limit than basic auto or home claims.

You will be protecting your assets with an umbrella insurance policy in case of an unforeseen event. For instance, a tragic accident in which you are held responsible for damages or bodily injuries would be covered by your umbrella policy.  If you are faced with a lawsuit, your umbrella coverage will pay for the damages which are your legal responsibility, up to the limit of the policy.

An umbrella policy provides what is called “excess liability”. If you are faced with claims for bodily injury liability or property damage liability, your umbrella insurance will cover these. Umbrella policies also provide a more extensive coverage and can help cover legal fees, false arrest, libel, and slander.

An umbrella policy only pays once your basic liability limits have been exhausted or the claim is excluded from the basic liability coverage. The claim will be made against you, the policyholder, on behalf of the wronged party. Then your insurance company may pay the settlement amount up to the limits of your coverage. If the settlement amount exceeds your coverage limits, you are responsible for paying the remaining amount out of pocket.

Everything you own: your house, car, investments, stocks, checking and savings accounts and even your future income are all assets. It’s good to consider that if you are sued for a large amount of money and your liability insurance won’t cover your loss, and you do not have umbrella insurance, all your assets are at risk.

An umbrella insurance policy could prevent financial ruin if you were faced with an unexpected event. People who choose to carry umbrella insurance can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are protected against an unforeseen, damaging scenario.

If you still have questions, give us a call to find out more from your reliable, independent insurance agent.

Do Babysitters Need Liability Insurance?

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

There are a number of things that you need when you babysit - the safety checklist, the contact numbers, the bag of games, but what about one question that comes up - whether a babysitter needs liability insurance.

Very often, babysitting is a young person’s first job, usually starting with siblings, cousins or close friends. Usually 11 to12 years of age is considered the youngest recommended age, depending on the babysitter’s level of maturity and responsibility. And there are a number of things that you need when you babysit - the safety checklist, the contact numbers, the bag of games, but what about one question that comes up - whether a babysitter needs liability insurance.

In Texas, the answer is no. A homeowner’s policy can cover a babysitter while visiting your home; however, be sure to check your policy for limits and exclusions. If you feel the coverage is not enough, you may want to adjust your policy accordingly. Your independent insurance agent can advise you on what’s best.

Of course, babysitting every week or two in someone’s home is very different from providing professional childcare in your home or in an independent building. In Texas you can care for up to four (4) children at a time without a license. However, if you provide regular child care for fewer children than this, you may only need to list your home with the state, but need no license. Childcare centers are required by law to carry professional childcare liability insurance.

If you occasionally need a babysitter, there are several good things to know when start looking:

  1. Check the sitter’s references thoroughly
  2. Ask relevant questions that pertain to your children, their needs, and yours
  3. Find a babysitter that fits what your requirements, location and timewise
  4. Have the sitter over to meet your children and see how they interact
  5. Trust your instincts and if it feels odd, keep looking

It’s comforting to know you have someone reliable and trustworthy to call on for babysitting, allowing you to have some free time. Just remember to do the groundwork to settle on the right person for your personal babysitter.

 

Does Your Family Have an Emergency Plan?

Friday, October 19, 2018

If your family does not have an emergency plan, you should make one today. Discuss the following with your family, friends, or anyone in your household to begin creating your individual emergency plan.

 

It’s the middle of the night and the knock at the door tells you it’s time to evacuate. Immediately. There is no time to think about what you need to do. If your family does not have an emergency plan, you should make one today. And it’s important that ALL your family members know how to respond, no matter what type of disaster it is. There will be different scenarios for different emergencies, so be aware of the kind of disasters that are most likely to strike in your area, e.g., tornado, flood, hurricane, wildfire, etc.

Since there’s a chance your family may not be together if a disaster occurs, have a solid understanding of how you will contact each other and reconnect if separated. Determine a good family meeting place that is easy to find and familiar.

Discuss the following four questions with your family, friends, or anyone in your household to begin creating an emergency plan.

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is my shelter plan?
  3. What is my evacuation route?
  4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Consider each person’s needs in your household. As you prepare your plan, remember certain supplies, medications, etc., that each person needs. Discuss responsibilities and how each of you can support one another whether by communication, childcare, business, pet care, or operation of medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas of your community where you need assistance and assess whether you will be able to assist others.

These are important factors to remember as you create your plan:

  • Each household member’s age and mobility
  • Special dietary foods needed
  • Medical prescriptions and/or equipment
  • Disabilities or challenges that require certain equipment or monitoring
  • Languages spoken
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Household pets or service animals
  • Households with school-aged children

Once you have created your emergency plan, practice it with your family/household; have a dress rehearsal to make sure it works for everyone. It’s a way to iron out any problems.

Keeping your insurance current is obviously important anytime, but it is especially important if you’re faced with an emergency. Stay in touch with your local independent insurance agent to double check periodically that all of your insurance policies are active and cover everything they should be.

What Type of Truck Insurance Do Truckers Need?

Friday, October 12, 2018

You’ve passed your testing requirements, you have your truck, and you have your route. Be sure you have your truck insurance requirements as well.

You’ve passed your testing requirements, you have your truck, and you have your route. Be sure you have your truck insurance requirements as well.

Interstate Truck Insurance is a requirement by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. To get an Operating Authority/MC number. the FMCS requires that you first get public liability insurance which has coverages for both bodily injury and property damage.

Public liability Insurance protects truck drivers and the public from accidents where the trucker is at fault. The bodily Injury portion of liability insurance pays for hospital bills incurred by pedestrians or other motorists who are hurt in accidents. Property Damage, pays for repairs to other people’s property damaged in an accident.

The FMCSA requires interstate truckers to meet minimum limits of coverage which depends on the type of freight being hauled.

Type of Freight with Minimum Limits:

  • Non-hazardous freight moved in vehicles under 10,001 lbs. - $300,000
  • Non-hazardous freight in vehicles over 10,001 lbs. - $750,000
  • Oil moved by For-Hire & Private Carriers - $1,000,000
  • Other Hazardous Material moved by For-Hire & Private Carriers - $5,000,000

These represent bare minimum limits. Many shippers and brokers require you to have at least $1,000,000 as a liability limit, regardless of what type of material being hauled.

Other Insurance for Interstate Truckers

Cargo Insurance  

Depending on the type of cargo you haul, the cost of insurance can vary. Cargo insurance covers the goods hauled in your trailer, and while not required by the FMCSA, interstate owner operators need it anyway. Most shippers will not do business with you without it.

Bobtail

If you’re an owner-operator with primary auto liability insurance, then you are not required to get bobtail insurance. But, if you’re leased onto a motor carrier and you are running under their authority, you might need it. Your lease agreement should spell this out.

Physical Damage

If you’re financing your truck, Physical Damage Insurance is required. It protects against accidents on the road. However, if you own your truck, it is not required, but it’s still good to have this coverage. All it takes is one accident to create a financial disaster.

Contact your local independent insurance agentto get the best possible rates on your truckers’ insurance. They will do the shopping for you and make it easy, fast, and affordable.

And be sure to be safe and alert out there!

Getting Your Vacation Home Ready for Holiday Rental

Friday, October 5, 2018

Now is the best time to prep your vacation home for rentals during the holiday season.  Making sure your property insurance is current and coverage is complete should be priority one.

Now is the best time to prep your vacation home for rentals during the holiday season, starting with a call to your independent insurance agent.  Making sure your property insurance is current and coverage is complete should be priority one. And while it may seem too soon to start to prepare, it isn’t. Giving yourself the full month of October to evaluate what needs to be done is a smart idea to have it ready by November.  After all, if anything major is needed beyond fix-ups, like replacing appliances, repairing water damage, roof problems, and such, you’ll have plenty of time to get it resolved.

When you rent out your vacation home or apartment, make sure it’s equipped to make your guests stay as nice as possible. Here are a few quick tips to check off your list:

  • clean towels and linens (not necessarily the same ones your family uses, but you should have a set of at least two towels, hand towels, and washcloths for each guest
  • extra blankets and pillows
  • an ironing board and iron
  • dishes, silverware, and pots and pans for the maximum number of guests you host
  • kitchen towels
  • a microwave oven
  • coffee maker, teapot, and toaster
  • cleaning supplies including hand soap, dishwashing liquid
  • basic toiletries like toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues
  • a first-aid kit
  • a fire extinguisher
  • functioning smoke detectors
  • all remotes necessary to operate the television and other devices
  • trash can liners
  • pillow protectors and mattress pads
  • extra light bulbs
  • flashlight

Most guests will expect to have access to the Internet. If it’s not available, make sure you let them know up front.

The more written instructions you leave for your guests the better, such as how to operate various appliances and devices. If you have ‘house rules’  (and you should) make sure they are clearly understood and posted somewhere on the premises. Things like whether smoking is allowed or if you allow pets and what specific pet rules there are.

Finally, be sure to leave your contact information -- email and phone -- if your guests need to get in touch with you. Also provide local emergency numbers and the address and number of the nearest hospital.

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Safety First Won’t Spoil the Fun at Your Business Holiday Gathering

Thursday, December 13, 2018

As the holidays approach, most businesses are planning office parties, pot luck lunches, and closing shop for a few days of downtime. It’s a joyous fun time of the year, but it’s also the time when burglaries, thefts, and accidents increase.

Winter Weather and Icy Roads

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Although we don’t worry much in Texas about getting too much snow, we are sometimes plagued with the wrath of icy, drizzle that makes the roads a glassy nightmare. That’s when you’re glad you have auto liability insurance.

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