One of the most exciting times in life is purchasing a home, whether it’s your first starter home or your final retirement home. It’s an investment of money, but more importantly, it’s a commitment to family, life, and love. Purchasing the appropriate homeowners policy is the first step to protecting your investment, but continuing to update the policy as you make any substantial life changes is what will give you the peace of mind that your investment is fully protected.
Most of us know that at its core, a homeowners policy covers damage to your property as well as offering liability protection for you, subject to certain exclusions and conditions. As time moves on, you will acquire new possessions and make life changes that may outdate your current homeowners insurance contract.
Here are a few life changes that may require modification to your insurance coverage:
Marriage or life partnership. You may need to add your new wedding ring, your new spouse/family member, or their belongings to the policy.
Getting a pet. Some breeds of dogs or exotic pets may cause concern for your insurance carrier. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance agent before bringing a four-legged loved one into the family dynamic.
Buying a new toy such as a boat, golf cart, or trampoline may require an update to your policy. Some insurance carriers may have stipulations when adding these.
Home renovations or remodeling.Coverage may need to be increased for new a home addition, deck, or patio.
Home rentals. Options like VRBO, HomeAway, and Airbnb may seem attractive from an income standpoint. However, they may negate coverage under your existing policy. The same is true if you decide to rent your home rather than sell it. The type of policy to ensure that type of situation is different than a traditional homeowners policy. In either of these instances, please consult with your insurance agent.
Home Vacancy. If your home is vacant for an extended period of time, your coverage may be in jeopardy. Please consult your policy and/or insurance agent for guidance.
The bottom line is that it’s important to protect the one thing that protects your family — your home ... it’s where your heart is!
The National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) recently conducted a study concerning the increasing dangers from deer-related vehicle accidents. Deer-related car accidents have consistently risen over the years due to increasing deer populations and destruction of their habitat.
There are approximately 1.5 million deer-related car accidents annually
The cost of these accidents results in over $1 billion dollars in vehicle damage
There are around 175-200 fatalities every year and 10,000 injuries
The majority of these accidents occur between October and December, but can happen year round
Preventing Deer and Car Collisions
Deer can appear suddenly and without warning, but knowing how to react and where and when they are most likely to strike can greatly reduce your chances of being involved in an accident.
The leading cause of accidents, injuries, and deaths from deer-related accidents is when vehicles swerve in an attempt to avoid hitting a deer. Swerving can result in vehicles moving into oncoming traffic, crashing into trees and other objects, or evening rolling over. While it may be against a driver’s first instinct, the safest thing to do is slow down as much as possible, blow your horn (one long blast to frighten the deer away) and let your vehicle strike the deer. Instincts tell us to avoid an obstruction in the road, but if you can train yourself to not swerve to avoid deer in the road you will keep yourself, your passengers, and other drivers much safer.
Deer Crossing Signs are There for a Reason
Pay attention to posted deer crossing signs. These signs are placed in areas known for high deer traffic. It is important to note that even if there is no posted deer crossing sign it is important to remain vigilant as deer may appear anywhere.
Know How Deer Travel
While deer can be active any time of the day, the majority of deer-related car accidents occur starting at dusk and during the evening. It is important to pay special attention during 6 and 9 P.M.
It is also important to always be aware that deer mostly move in packs, and that when you spot one deer, it is likely that there are more deer nearby.
Use High Beams When Possible
High beams should be used at night as much as possible to spot deer in the road ahead or deer that may be lurking along the side of the road. Make sure to use your high beams only when no other oncoming traffic is visible and make sure to turn them off if a vehicle approaches.
If your vehicle strikes a deer, do not touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you or further injure itself. The best practice is to get your car off of the road and call the police.
In the event a deer damages your car contact your insurance agent or agency to report the incident.
Fall is the perfect time to winterize and prepare for the season ahead. You might want to look at getting this preparation started sooner than later as it looks like we might be dipping into some freezing temperatures later this week. Below is a list of 10 tips to help you winterize your home.
1. Fill all of the voids on the outside of your home. To help keep cold air out, find any gaps or voids on the outside of your house and fill them with properly rated expansion foam.
2. Insulate all of your hose spigots. Be sure to remove any connected hoses from the spigots and drain completely of water. It's important to insulate your spigots with some type of spigot cover that you can find at your local hardware store.
3. Insulate water lines. Many homes have water lines that run in uninsulated areas like crawl spaces beneath the home or in attics. Even though these pipes aren't out directly in the weather, they are definitely still affected by outside temperatures. As water freezes inside a pipe, it expands, potentially causing damage to the pipe, which could lead to some serious water damage inside your home. To prevent, even the potential of this happening, wrap all of your uninsulated water pipes in properly rated foam insulation.
4. Clean your deck. Throughout the year, mold and mildew tend to buildup on deck surfaces which can lead to wood rot. Routine cleaning and the use of a proper sealer can help extend the life of your deck. However, the removal of the mold and mildew isn't just to protect your deck surface, it's also to protect you and your family. Surfaces covered in mold and mildew are slippery by themselves, but with the addition of cold weather, these surfaces can be really dangerous. Save yourself a trip to the ER and keep it clean!
5. Check and/or replace weather stripping around sliding glass doors. The weather stripping that surrounds sliding doors tends to wear out overtime. Replacement weather stripping comes with an adhesive strip on one side, all you have to do is remove the old and set the new!
6. Seal any gaps or voids around windows and doors. A great "hack" to check the areas surrounding your windows and doors is to use an incense stick. The small amount of smoke produced will help show you where your drafts are making their way through! Caulk those deficient areas with the proper product.
7. Switch the direction of your ceiling fans. That's right, fans aren't just for the warmer seasons! During cooler seasons fans should be set to have a clockwise rotation as to help move the heated air that rises back down into your living space.
8. Inspect wood burning fireplace, chimney, and flue. Largely ignored in warm weather, a wood-burning fireplace and chimney can be a major source of cold air leaks and other issues in winter. Clear any obstructions in the chimney of any nests from small animals. Check the damper and make sure it opens and closes fully, and can be locked in either position. And lastly, inspect the firebrick in the fireplace. If you see any open mortar joints, have them repaired immediately. A fire can spread into the stud wall behind the masonry firebrick through open mortar joints.
9. Test and replace any faulty smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
10. Give yourself a pat on the back for being prepared for the upcoming season. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate while enjoying your roaring fire.
From our offices in Weatherford, Texas, we serve clients anywhere in the State of Texas, though the following areas are geographically closest to us: the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Johnson, Parker and Hood and the cities of Arlington, Bedford, Brock, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Decatur, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Granbury, Grapevine, Hurst, Keller, Mansfield, Millsap, Mineral Wells, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Watauga, Weatherford, and White Settlement.