Sports enthusiasts are counting the hours and minutes to the biggest sporting event – the Super Bowl.

Auto Insurance Agent Odessa, TexasIf you’re doing a road trip to the Super Bowl next week you will appreciate a few good traveling tips to heed on your journey. Also tips on making sure the ‘party and the vehicle’ are all covered with the right insurance.

Prepping for Your Road Trip

Overall Checkup: Whether you do it yourself or go to a garage, pre-trip auto maintenance is essential to comfortable cruising. Check the wiper blades, all fluid levels (oil, water, etc.), belt and hose connections, tire pressure, turn signals, horn and headlights. If your vehicle is still not instilling confidence, consider an all-out professional inspection.

Trunk 101: Exactly how prepared you want to be as far as your vehicle tool kit is up to you, but a few items go without saying. The following should always be within easy reach when you open your trunk door: a tire iron, bottled water, fire extinguisher, flashlight and first-aid kit and reflectors/flares.

Spare Care: Just because you have a spare tire doesn’t mean it’s in working order. Give it a good look before hitting the road to ensure it is properly pumped and the treads are intact. If you’ve got the space, swap out doughnut tires for a full-size spare.

Mobile Security: Few people travel far without their mobile phone; but you might want to check roaming costs and ask any other questions you might have for your cell provider before you hit the road.

Safe Driving: Traffic for special events is always heavier and driving safely requires more attention to the road. Make sure all your passengers are buckled up and an experienced driver is behind the wheel. Save the alcohol for when you arrive, not in the car. And remember, safe driving ensures your auto insurance rates will stay lower.

Auto InsuranceBefore leaving for the Super Bowl make sure your auto insurance is current and complete. Make sure there is a copy of your auto insurance in your glove box. Be sure that your policy covers all of your fellow travelers, family and friends and double check your deductible to be sure you’re comfortable with it.

Emergency Travel Expense: If your vehicle is incapacitated because of a covered loss, most auto insurance policies cover the cost of a rental car and/or hotel room while your vehicle is being repaired. If your vehicle is not repairable, the policy can cover airfare or funds to enable you to return you and your family or fellow travelers home.

Vacation Home Insurance Coverage in TexasNestled in the mountains your vacation home is the perfect getaway for family holidays, ski outings and hiking trips. But remember an important part of planning your trip is to make sure you have the right insurance coverage on your popular secondary home; something to consider when family and guests are all under one roof.  Your insurance refers to a secondary home as a house, condo, mobile home or a RV that is set up on a permanent basis.

For your convenience, you can choose a prepackaged policy or customize a policy to meet your specific situation; however, not all Insurance companies require you to have your primary insurance with them in order to cover a secondary home.

Seasonal or secondary home coverages and settlement options can include:

Comprehensive Property Coverage

This means we can cover most direct, sudden, and accidental physical losses not specifically excluded in your policy.

Named Peril Coverage

This means “perils” (such as fire, explosion, lightning, windstorm and hail) that are specifically named in your policy are covered, subject to policy exclusions and conditions.

Liability Coverage

Liability insurance covers you if you’re found legally responsible for an accident that either causes injury to someone who doesn’t live in your home, or that causes damage to another’s property.

Actual Cash Value (Partial Loss)

In the event of a partial loss by an insured peril (like if a hail storm breaks a few windows), this covers the cost to replace or repair your damaged property, with a deduction for depreciation and minus any applicable deductible.

Agreed Loss Settlement (Total Loss)

If your secondary home is destroyed by an insured loss, you will receive the full amount of insurance you purchased for your home, minus any applicable deductible. Availability of the “Agreed Loss Settlement” option may depend on the type of policy written.

Replacement Cost

Purchase optional Replacement Cost coverage and receive a settlement that reflects the cost to replace the damaged property with new property of comparable material and quality, without any deduction for depreciation.

Extended Replacement Cost

You may receive up to an additional 25% of the amount of insurance necessary to replace your home. Extended Replacement Cost is not available in all states.

Business Interruption Insurance in TexasBusiness interruption insurance can be as vital to your survival as a business as fire insurance. Most people would never consider opening a business without buying insurance to cover damage due to fire and windstorms. Too often small business owners don’t think about how they would manage if a fire or other disaster damaged their business premises to the point of being temporarily unusable. Business interruption coverage is not sold separately. It is added to a property insurance policy or included in a package policy.

A business that has to close down completely while the premises are being repaired runs the risk of losing out to competitors. A quick resumption of business after a disaster is essential.

If a major event or disaster occurs, sometimes your business cannot operate or will be forced to operate below full capacity. Not only will this result in a loss in profit, but you will still have to pay regular costs like rent, salaries and utilities. In some cases, renovation and re-building work may even have to be done before your business is back to normal.

Business interruption insurance helps pay ongoing costs while you rebuild. It can help you retain key staff during an interruption, and can cover you if there’s an increased cost involved in resuming your business operations at an alternative location.

Business interruption insurance compensates you for lost income if your company has to vacate the premises due to disaster-related damage that is covered under your property insurance policy, such as a fire. Business interruption insurance covers the revenue you would have earned, based on your financial records, had the disaster not occurred. The policy also covers operating expenses, like electricity, that continue even though business activities have come to a temporary halt.

Make sure the policy limits are sufficient to cover your company for more than a few days. After a major disaster, it can take more time than you may think to get the business back on track. There is generally a 48-hour waiting period before business interruption coverage kicks in.

It’s impossible to predict the future, but if you make sure you have the right coverage to protect your business against interruption and loss, you can ensure that your business has a safe and secure future.

Insurance Gifts that need insurance coverage in TexasWith holiday season just around the corner, give some thought to things you may need to add to your personal insurance coverage. Whether you know in advance what that might be or receive a gift that’s a surprise, it’s best to be prepared.

Following is a helpful mind-jogger if you’re not sure about coverage for certain items:

  • ATV’s, motorcycles, boats, and RV’s are not covered for damage or liability without an endorsement to your personal insurance
  • An expensive ring, watch, or other item needs to be insured separately for loss and theft.
  • Drones are considered aircraft and there are many new laws that could impact your personal liability. Call your independent agent to review these issues.
  • If you are buying a new car for a family member, you will need to add it to your auto insurance policy.
  • Smart home technology systems may actually help reduce your homeowner’s insurance, especially if the technology includes alarm systems.
  • Guns, art and antiques may also need to be added to your policy if they are valued over a certain amount. Each policy is different, so call your independent insurance agent to be certain.

If you added any other personal items of value you may want to review your personal property limits to make sure you are covered correctly. For most consumers, a home is the largest investment they will ever make. You worked hard for your house, and you should have a comprehensive plan that will give you peace of mind. Your home also has a lot of intrinsic personal value, which is why you need personal insurance protection that works best for you and your family.

Home Insurance Midland, TXHomeowner’s insurance can compensate you when your home or property is damaged in ways that your policy covers. Damage to the foundation is one of the most serious — and one of the most expensive — types of damage your home could sustain. Though homeowner’s insurance companies sometimes cover foundation damage, a homeowner with a damaged foundation can often left holding the bill. Most insurance companies have limited coverage to slab —  generally a dollar amount from about $3,000 and up. It’s important to clearly understand what you’re getting as each company does it differently

Foundation Coverage Rider

Damage to the home’s foundation is typically excluded from a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. That’s because the foundation is the structural basis of a home, and insuring it presents a financial risk to an insurance carrier, so many simply don’t. Most major insurance carriers offer a “dwelling foundation” rider on your homeowner’s policy for an additional fee. This rider typically covers specific, limited perils, such as water damage due to a ruptured pipe or water seepage. Foundations are NOT covered for settling of the earth (ground). Ask your insurance agent which perils are covered on the foundation rider before you agree to anything.

Covered Perils

Your insurance agent is legally required to list, in detail, the perils that are covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Your policy and dwelling foundation rider lists the perils covered, such as burst pipes, water seepage and fire damage. Perils typically excluded in a standard policy and its riders are defective construction, flood damage and earthquake damage. Flood and earthquake policies can be purchased separately.

Endorsements

Another way to insure against damage to your foundation is to purchase different types of “endorsements” that can be added to your policy. No specific endorsement applies to foundation damage, as it is considered a specific peril. But if you have an endorsement for a specific peril that damages your foundation, your foundation repairs will be covered. For example, if you added an endorsement covering sewers and drains, and your foundation is damaged due to a sewer problem, it will be covered under the endorsement. Few if any offer foundation coverage due to earthquake.

Working with an independent insurance agency give you options you might not have with a brand name agency. An independent agent is like your personal advocate for all of your insurance needs and you can manage all your insurance needs in one place.

Fireplace Maintenance for Better Home Safety in TexasBefore you hang your stockings by the chimney with care remember that, while fireplaces can provide warmth and comfort, if you’re not careful, they can also be a hazard and jeopardize your home safety. Keep in mind the following precautions to help ensure home safety during the winter season.

Keep Your Chimney Fireplaces Clean

  • Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned by a licensed chimney specialist. They should be maintained annually to help ensure they are functioning safely and efficiently.
  • Be sure to keep the area around the hearth clear of debris, decorations and any other flammable materials.

Keep Fires Burning Safely

  • Be sure the flue is open before lighting your fire to help ensure the fireplace will vent properly. Do not close your damper until you are sure the fire is out.
  • When starting a fire, only use a match or commercial firelighter. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Glass doors of a fireplace should be kept open while burning a fire. This allows the fire to receive enough air for complete combustion and to help reduce creosote build-up in the chimney.
  • Metal mesh screens should remain closed whenever your fireplace is in use to help keep embers in the fireplace.
  • Only use dry wood in your fireplace. Wet wood can increase creosote buildup, which can lead to chimney fires.
  • Do not burn plastic because it can release toxic chemicals and cause damage to your chimney, fireplace or wood stove.
  • Never leave a fire in a fireplace unattended. Before leaving the house or going to bed, you should make certain to fully extinguish the fire.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing of them — ashes can take several days to cool completely. Never empty ashes directly into a trash can. Instead, place ashes in a covered metal container located at least 10 feet away from your home and any other building.

Keep the Outside of Your Home and Your Chimney Safe

  • Firewood should be stacked at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Your roof and chimney should be kept clean of leaves, pine needles and other debris. Prune trees and branches to keep them away from your chimney for optimum home safety.
  • Install a chimney cap with spark arrester to help keep debris, leaves, branches and animals out, and to help prevent burning embers or sparks from escaping and creating a fire hazard.

Keep the Inside of Your Home Safe with Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

To help make your winter even safer, test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A smoke detector is the most effective way to detect smoke from a fire and signal an alarm so that you can get out safely. A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the buildup of this dangerous odorless and colorless gas. Make sure you test the detectors monthly and after you change the batteries to ensure they work properly. Keep your home safe year-round.

Insurance for Historic Homes in TexasIf your idea of a new home really means you want an older home with style and character, you will want to consider the factors of insuring an older home before you sign on the dotted line.

While home insurance for older homes isn’t always more expensive, there are several factors that could lead to higher insurance rates.

Dodgy wiring

Building standards are different from what they were several years ago and some older homes haven’t caught up. For example, some use a 60-amp electrical system rather than the 100- or 200-amp service which is common today. Others may feature knob-and-tube wiring, referring to the ceramic knobs used to hold wires in place and ceramic tubes that act as protective casings for wires running through wall studs or floor joists. It all adds up to an increased fire risk, especially when multiple appliances are in use.

Outmoded Plumbing

Galvanized steel pipes are common in older homes. The problem with this particular material is its tendency to rust, which can prohibit water flow and lead to leaks and flooding.

Roof Type and Age

What kind of roofing materials does your older home have? Depending on the answer, you could be at extra risk for wind, hail, or other damage. Is it the original roof or has it been replaced?

Antiques

Reclaimed wood, antique doors and hand-painted windows are lovely to live with — but not to replace. If older homes are seriously damaged, their hard-to-find materials and architectural accoutrements can make reconstruction a costly challenge.

Old Appliances

Old homes often have old appliances to match. A wood-burning oven, for instance, despite being a quaint accent some homeowners desire, greatly increases the risk for fire and explosions and can consequently affect your insurance cost.

These are just a few of the factors to look for in older homes. Depending on your situation, your insurer might ask for certain updates or repairs before issuing a policy. In some cases, if the home is simply too unsafe, it may not qualify for traditional homeowners insurance.

Increase Your Dwelling Protection

In general, it’s best to have enough dwelling protection to cover the cost of rebuilding your home should it be destroyed by a fire, storm, or other risk. Take careful stock of the rare or expensive architectural elements and be sure to factor them in when deciding how much it will take to restore your home.

Extended Roof Surface Coverage

If your roof is vulnerable to wind or hail, you’ll want to know that you can get damaged materials lp. If your home is destroyed, your dwelling protection can get it back to where it was, but construction may not end there. Extra rebuilding could be needed to bring your place up to today’s safety regulations. Without building codes coverage, this cost would fall to you.

Check with Your Independent Insurance Agent

Overall, the wisest advice is to meet with your independent insurance agent and go over the details of your insurance needs for your new ‘older’ home. Chances are very good that he will even have some sound advice that you didn’t know was available to you.

Distracted Driving Nowadays the first thing that comes to mind when talking about distracted driving is texting and cell phone use, but the fact is it isn’t just texting or using a cell phone. Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention puts that driver, passengers and everyone else sharing the road at serious risk.

A partial list of what counts as a distraction besides texting and cell phone use are: eating and drinking, smoking, attending to or disciplining child passengers, grooming, reading, including maps, using a navigation system, watching a video, adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player or adjusting temperature controls.

Traffic safety experts classify distractions into three main types: Manual, visual and cognitive.

  • Manual distractions are those where you move your hands away from the task of controlling the vehicle. Reaching for a soda in the drink carrier is an example of a manual distraction.
  • Visual distractions are those where you focus your eyes away from the road. You drop your soda, and when it spills all over the floor of the car, you look down at your ruined shoes and stained slacks: that’s a visual distraction.
  • A cognitive distraction is when you’re mind wanders away from the task of driving. You start to consider whether you can afford to replace the clothes you just ruined, and what stores have sales this week, and you’re no longer paying attention to the essential job of driving — cognitive distraction.

This is why texting has such a bad reputation: it always involves all three types of distraction, all at once.

Researchers found that talking on a cell phone quadruples your risk of an accident, about the same as if you were driving drunk. That risk doubles again, to eight times normal, if you are texting.

Sending or receiving a text message distracts a driver for about five seconds; at highway speeds that represents a distance of about 300 feet in which the car is essentially out of human control, driving itself.

According to the NHTSA, over 3,331 people were killed and over 387,000 injured in motor vehicle accidents connected to drivers who are distracted. That represents 10 percent of all fatal crashes and 17 percent of all accidents that caused injuries.

Young drivers are at the greatest risk for distracted driving incidents. Some researchers speculate that this is because inexperienced drivers are the most likely to overestimate their ability to multitask.

Insurance Options after Retirement in TexasInsurance plays an important role in your life no matter what stage of life you’re in. But the real challenge comes with managing your assets after you retire. Besides life and health insurance, your auto and home insurance are important to maintain during retirement.

Auto Insurance

Mature drivers are some of the safest on the road. They have fewer accidents and tend to drive safer cars. Your insurance company may give discounts to safe drivers between the ages of 50-70, so be sure to ask. Bear in mind that statistics show that older drivers also have higher rates of fatal crashes based on miles driven. In fact, more so than any other group except very young drivers. As an older driver, you should expect to see your rates begin to rise. Many states mandate discounts for seniors who have successfully completed driver refresher training. The AARP, for example, offers one such state-certified program.

If you’re a senior driver, it’s good to know that you are considered among the most experienced drivers on the road. Being mobile and getting around is important to you, especially if public transportation is not readily accessible. Yet, as a group, older drivers, particularly after the age of 70, are involved in more serious accidents and more vulnerable to injury. It should be an individual and family decision when it is no longer safe to get behind the wheel.

Home Insurance

Unlike auto insurance, where the state sets minimum coverage limits, the bank that holds your mortgage usually requires you to have homeowners insurance. Once you pay off your mortgage, it’s still important to have protection in case of fire, burglary, and natural disasters. Ask if your insurance company provides discounts for retirees, because you spend more time at home; take time to properly maintain your property; and take prompt action to correct small problems before they become big problems.

If you work at home, you may need a supplemental liability policy that covers your work-related activity. Consider also an umbrella policy to protect your accumulated assets. Real estate, securities, and savings could be wiped out by one lawsuit. Umbrella coverage adds another layer of protection above what is provided in your standard homeowners and auto policies. Generally, an umbrella policy is very affordable, and provides an additional million dollars or more in liability insurance.

Business Owners Insurance Odessa, TXIf you’re a small business owner, carrying the right insurance coverage is essential to protecting your business and personal assets. Fire, theft and vandalism can shut down your business or require replacement of expensive equipment. A business owner’s policy (BOP) can protect you against all of these risks and more. It is simply a policy that provides both property and business liability insurance in one packaged policy and is designed to cover the basic needs of small to mid-sized businesses at an affordable rate.

Here are three of the most common BOP insurance myths and why they are wrong:

Myth 1: Business owner’s insurance policies are only for bigger businesses, so you don’t need one.

The exact opposite is true. Business owner’s insurance policies are designed specifically for small businesses. A BOP insurance policy conveniently rolls property damage and business liability insurance into one policy, making full coverage very affordable.

A business owner’s policy also includes business interruption insurance, which compensates you for any business income you lose due to a covered peril. A major disaster can shut your business down for weeks or even months. Business interruption insurance will ensure that you survive the closure.

It’s not just disasters that can close a business. A kitchen fire can easily shutter a restaurant for weeks. The property damage portion of a BOP covers damages to the kitchen equipment, and business interruption coverage helps cover any lost income.

Myth 2: Your general liability insurance covers a business interruption and business property loss.

Absolutely not.  General liability does not protect you from property damage or business interruption, both of which can be very costly.

General liability covers acts you commit, or things that happen at your business location. If a customer slips and falls in your grocery store, or a customer gets food poisoning from a pizza served at your shop, general liability covers their medical expenses as well as any resulting lawsuits.

A general liability policy does not cover damage to your business property. The property damage portion of a BOP covers loss or damage to your physical space, equipment, inventory, machinery, furniture and supplies, as well as losses due to theft.

Myth 3: Your personal umbrella policy covers a business equipment loss.

Personal umbrella policies are designed to cover personal, not business, liability. While coverage does extend to business equipment in certain circumstances, low coverage limits usually apply.

Personal umbrella policies cover bodily injury and property damage liability and pay legal fees for libel, slander and false arrest. Unfortunately, business coverage is extremely limited. In most cases, the maximum allowed for business equipment under a personal umbrella policy is $2,500. A personal umbrella policy is usually associated with a homeowners or personal auto policy and only extends coverage to business property if those underlying policies offer business coverage, which is rare.