Winter Driving Tips With storm season looming you know that means any kind of weather is possible, especially in Texas. It could be torrential rain, fog, icy roads, tornado, hail, and yes, even snow.

The question is: “How prepared are you if you get stuck in your car due to bad weather?”

If you’re caught in a tornado in a car, your only slightly safer. If you can see the tornado in the distance you might be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Most importantly, seek shelter in a sturdy building or underground if possible.

What about torrential rains that prohibit good visibility? First, pull over preferably under an overpass or shelter of some kind; just stop driving until it lets up. Keep your radio tuned to weather or check your iPhone. Let somebody, friend or family, know where and how you are.

Sometimes fog can be so thick that it’s safer to pull over and stop the car rather than blindly creeping along. If so, let someone know where you are. If you can’t reach friend or family, contact the local police or fire station.

The smartest thing you can do in a hail storm is take shelter under a bridge, overpass, gas station, anywhere that protects you and your vehicle from bombardment.

Snow and ice usually give you fair warning to ‘stay home’ and ‘don’t get on the road’ if you don’t have to. But, if you must travel in snow, make sure your car has snow chains. Driving on ice is another matter and should be avoided; however, if you must drive on ice, drive slowly and leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. If you must pull over, keep the car running for warmth and call someone to come help.

No matter what the weather issue, be prepared by keeping a survival kit in your car. Include plenty of bottled water, a couple of flashlights with extra batteries, packaged snacks, two or three warm blankets, a rain poncho (in case you need to get out of the car temporarily during a downpour), aspirin or Tylenol, band-aids, antiseptic for minor cuts, and a fix-a-flat is not a bad idea. And don’t forget your cell phone charger.

Other handy carry-alongs for your car include a portable car battery charger; plug-in portable heat devices; and a windshield ice scraper with a can of de-icer.

It’s easier to survive unexpected weather if you take a little time in advance to be prepared. Of course, making sure your car insurance is up to date and in force goes without saying. Keep your insurance agent’s number handy in case you need to call.

Do Babysitters Need Liability Insurance in Texas?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.

Umbrella Insurance Policy Odessa & Midland, TexasWhat 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.

Home Insurance Protection in Odessa & Midland, TXHalloween can be great fun for everyone, especially the anticipation of what new funny, scary or unique face will show up at the front door. Fortunately, for most homeowners, the scary unknowns are covered by their homeowner’s insurance policies. Vandalism and so-called ‘tricks’ at Halloween can damage your home, so it’s comforting to know that standard policies cover vandalism, such as dents in your siding caused by eggs thrown at your home, when repair costs exceed your deductible.

All too often candles or decorations cause a fire. A fire started by a Halloween candle or a string of holiday lights is covered. If the fire makes your home unlivable, your homeowners policy will pay your living expenses while you wait for repairs. If a trick-or-treater gets hurt on your property they are covered by the homeowner liability portion of your policy. The same applies to guests attending our Halloween party. The injured person files a claim with your insurer.

Should you crash your car into a telephone pole to avoid hitting a trick-or-treater in your driveway that accident would be covered by the collision portion of your auto insurance (if you have it). If you hurt anyone, the liability portion of your auto insurance would cover the cost of their treatment. If things like this were to occur, your umbrella insurance (if you have it) would kick in to cover costs.

To make your property safe for Halloween, the Insurance Information Institute has these recommendations:

• Pick up anything in your front yard, sidewalk, stoop, or porch that a person could trip over.
• Turn on your outdoor lighting so kids can see where they’re going.
• Use battery-powered lights in your jack-o-lanterns.
• Don’t put matches, lighters, or candles in places children can reach.
• Pets, candles, and trick-or-treaters don’t mix. Keep pets away from the front door on Halloween.
• Look for safety certifications, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), on your decorative lights.

A fun and memorable time can be enjoyed by all with a little forethought and responsible behavior. After all, Halloween comes around every year so you can get better prepared for positive outcomes each time. Anything less could create very scary circumstances.

Car Insurance Odessa & Midland, TXWith 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.

Home Insurance Midland, TXWhether you own a home or rent, you need home insurance to protect your personal property. Everyone needs protection against liability for accidents that could injure other people or damage their property. To get the best rates and coverage, know what to look for when shopping using these valuable tips.

Amount of Coverage You Need
If a disaster strikes, you want to have the best possible coverage. It means you will pay less out of pocket if you do. Your lender may designate the amount of coverage you need based on the mortgage terms. It’s important to know that the amount of coverage you buy for your house, contents and personal property will affect the final amount of your house payment.

Select the Right Deductible
Make sure when choosing your deductible that you’re comfortable paying that amount if you make a claim. You pay a deductible on each claim you make and it applies to coverage on your house and personal property. The lowest deductible most insurance companies will do is 1 percent; some companies cap it at 2 to 5 percent. A few companies will do a split deductible 1 percent (and up) Wind and Hail and $1,000 on all other. Higher deductibles may be available at a reduced price. That’s a question for your independent insurance agent.

Which is Best, Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value?
There are two options when insuring your home and belongings — replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement cost is the cost to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation. It is important to insure your home for at least 80 percent of its replacement value. Actual cash value is the dollar amount it would cost to repair or replace damage to your home after depreciation.

Choose Your Insurance Company Wisely
You’re not required to buy insurance from the company your lender recommends. To find out what different insurers charge for identical products and services, speak with your independent insurance agent, or consult with your state insurance department or consumer publications.

Ask Your Independent Agent About Discounts
Discounts are available in some states for things such as bundling your home and car with the same company, installing deadbolt locks or alarm systems or replacing the roof. Your independent agent will know.

Basic Available Coverages
Whether you own or rent, there are different packages of home insurance offered to protect your home and possessions. Each package protects against a specified number of events that cause damage to property. Three examples are fire, windstorm and theft. In addition, each package policy usually contains four additional types of coverage: property damage, additional living expenses, personal liability and medical payment.

Understand Your Policy and Review It Annually

Remember, a home insurance policy is a legal contract. Your rights and responsibilities as well as those of the insurance company should be clearly stated. When you purchase home insurance and receive your policy, read it carefully to make sure you understand the language and contents.

Keep your policy in a safe place and know the name of your insurer. If you make changes to your home such as an addition an additional room, new insulation or remodeling, discuss this with your independent agent. These changes add value to your home and may increase replacement cost.

We at Killebrew Insurance are available to assist you in your insurance questions. Give us a call today!

Texas Cyber Insurance PolicyThink about all the various digital devices that now connect to business networks. These devices, in addition to the internet, amplify opportunities for people to access your company’s assets. The worst year ever for cyber attacks was 2017. Although many people think cyberattacks happen mainly in large enterprises, the fact is small businesses are increasingly becoming targets for cyberattacks. Whether your business is small or large, if it stores and maintains customer information. collects online payments, or uses the cloud, you should consider adding cyber insurance to your budget.

What is Cyber Insurance?

Sometimes referred to as cyber risk insurance or cyber liability insurance coverage (CLIC), a cyber insurance policy helps mitigate risk by lessening costs involved with recovery after a security breach. About one-third of U.S. companies currently purchase some type of cyber insurance.

Digital devices and the internet are gateways to cyberattacks, which can cause moderate to extreme losses for companies, large, medium, or small. Your business hopefully has a risk management plan, in which decisions are made to decide which risks to avoid, accept, control or transfer. When you transfer risk, that is where cyber insurance steps in.

Cyber insurance is still evolving and cyber risks change often. Sometimes an organization does not report the full impact of a breach to avoid negative publicity and damage its reputation. That can mean underwriters have less data on which to determine the financial impact of  cyberattacks.

The cost of cyber insurance coverage is usually based on a company’s industry, the type of services provided, data risks and exposures, security posture, policies and annual gross revenue.

A good first step is to create a cyber risk profile for your company, then create a list of expenses you want to have covered in the event of an incident. Then, you can speak with your independent insurance agent to get answers about cyber insurance and feel confident you will be given solid advice to make the smartest decision.

Auto Insurance Rates in Odessa or Midland, TexasAuto Insurance is based on risk and reward. Your insurance company must balance the risk-to-reward ratio to be a profitable business. But there are factors which influence how and if that happens and how you drive is a big one.

If your driving habits change (for the worse), the insurance company may need to raise your insurance rates to stay in business. In other words, a car crash, a speeding ticket, or some such altercation you experience, will likely cause your rates to go up. Fortunately, most insurance companies will remove accident claims and minor violations from your record after a designated length of time.

Fender benders are one thing, but offenses such as leaving the scene of an accident or repeated DWI violations, means you will be placed in a high-risk pool which could cost many times more than normal premiums. And once you are earmarked with such violations, insurance companies will be wary of your driving record going forward.

Economic conditions can also affect rising insurance rates and when sluggish investments occur, businesses often must increase their rates. And, there are conditions you and I have no control over that cause insurance rates to go up, such as state auto insurance laws.

As an individual, you can have an impact on your insurance rates by driving safer and avoiding risky situations when you’re behind the wheel. Here are some interesting statistics for Winkler County that shuld encourage everyone to drive more defensively and keep rates and accidents down.

ODA                All Crashes
Counties 2016 2017 2018
Andrews 238 243 388
Crane 61 80 96
Ector 2691 3477 5170
Loving 18 66 103
Martin 158 256 267
Midland 3940 4656 5587
Pecos 437 429 379
Reeves 387 727 922
Terrell 15 20 34
Upton 49 47 59
Ward 206 403 577
Winkler 97 187 313
TOTAL 8287 10591 13895

 

From 2016 to 2018, total crashes in the Odessa District were up 67% and the fatalities were up 97%. In addition, Commercial Motor Vehicle crashes in the Odessa District during that same time-frame were up 160% and CMV related fatalities were up 122%. Let us ALL be a defensive driver in 2019 and make these numbers go down.

Home Insurance Fire ClaimAs summer slowly phases out and autumn leaves begin to fall, our thoughts turn to the cooler days of winter. With that comes the need for heat, fires in the fireplace, space heaters, fire pits and such. The question is, how are you covered for the possibility of fire damage or total loss?

If your house is totally destroyed in a fire and you have $150,000 worth of insurance to cover the structure, will this be enough to rebuild your home?

If the cost of rebuilding your home is equal to or less than $150,000 you would have enough coverage. The Homeowners-3 (HO-3) policy, the most common homeowners policy in the United States pays for structural damage on a replacement cost basis. If the cost of replacing your home is, say, $120,000, then that is all the insurance you need. On the other hand if the cost of rebuilding your home is $180,000, then you will be short $30,000.

If you live in an area that is frequently hit by major storms, ask your insurance agent about an extended or guaranteed replacement cost policy. This will provide a certain amount over the policy limit to rebuild your home so that if building costs go up unexpectedly, due to high demand for contractors and materials, you will have extra funds to cover the bill.

If you choose not to rebuild your home, you will receive the replacement cost of your home, less depreciation. This is called actual cash value. You should make sure that the amount of insurance you have will cover the cost of rebuilding your house. You can find out what this cost is by talking to your real estate agent or builders in your area.

Do not use the price of your house as the basis for the amount of insurance you purchase. The market price of your house includes the value of the land on which the house is situated. In almost all cases, the land will still be there after a disaster, so you do not need to insure it. You only need to insure the structure.

Odessa, Texas Insurance AgentOut here in the Permian Basin, people have a particular set of values based on honesty, trust and respect. We understand that and work hard to embrace those values in our business and community outreach.

As an independent insurance agency for more than 35 years, we know you have the option to shop for insurance at any number of agencies. From large to small and all the in-betweens, we know you have choices for selecting the insurance agency that works best for you.  We respect that.  That’s why we offer custom-made insurance plans that suite both your personal insurance needs as well as your business insurance needs. Military families, too, rely on an insurance agency that will understand their special requirements.

Much of the time our customers have questions about how a particular policy works. We take time to explain the complexities of insurance in simple terms, helping you make smart decisions. We will take stock of your insurance needs and match them with the insurance carrier best equipped to meet those needs at a price you can afford. Think about it. While you might research wording for wills on the internet, you’ll likely go to an attorney to be sure the document is drawn up correctly. Why wouldn’t you seek the advice of a licensed insurance professional to be certain that your home, your auto, or your business is properly protected?

An aspect of how an independent insurance agent serves you is that we not only find you competitive pricing, we make sure you’re adequately covered. Working with you face-to-face, we serve as your personal adviser, taking the time to listen to you and understand your individual needs.

Independent agents are your neighbors so it’s natural that we share your interest in the community and understand the benefits and challenges of living in your area.

Convenience is always a welcome thing and as an independent insurance agent, we offer one-stop shopping, providing autohome, renter, and business coverage.

We will work with you to periodically review your coverage and help you through all the changes in your life, whether you’re going from renting an apartment to buying a home, starting a business, getting married, renovating your home, adding a teen driver to your auto policy, or looking to cover your retirement condo.

Honesty, trust and respect are values we live by and earning your confidence is a goal we strive to achieve one new insurance customer at a time.