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!
Deer vs. Car Statistics
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.
No matter your age or stage of life, you may have asked yourself at some point: “Do I need life insurance?” The topic of life insurance can be confusing, with several different types available. And sometimes it’s difficult to know how much coverage you need.
It might help to understand the two main types of life insurance. Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified period of time — usually between 5 and 30 years. Permanent life insurance lasts as long as you’re living, as long as you continue paying the premiums.
While it’s generally a good idea for everyone to have life insurance, there are some situations in life where it’s even more important. Explore the profiles below, and find where you fit in.
Even a Single With No Dependents Needs Life Insurance?
If you’re young and single with no dependents, you might think you are one of the only people who can technically get away without life insurance. If no one else is depending on your income, you don’t need to plan for anyone else’s financial future… right? One exception, though, could be if your parents would need help covering your end-of-life expenses or outstanding debts, like school loans or credit card payments. In this case, having a life insurance policy could go a long way. Even if this doesn’t apply to you, purchasing life insurance when you are single with no dependents is still a smart and forward-thinking decision. The price of life insurance increases as you age, so there’s never a better time to buy than when you’re the youngest and healthiest.
Just Got Married
When the wedding bells ring, it’s time to get serious about purchasing a life insurance policy. You’re now sharing your financial life with someone else. “What’s yours is mine,” applies to more than just the high-tech coffee maker. It also applies to debt. Whether that’s from credit cards or student loans.
And after saying, “I do,” it’s likely that more big financial decisions are on the horizon. Remember, the best time to buy life insurance is when you’re young. You can expect lower premiums from the insurance companies, so lock in your low price when you can. Buying life insurance when you get married is the perfect way to start your financial safety net and plan for the long-term.
Buying a House
Taking on a home mortgage is a significant expense that depends on a stable income for years in the future. When a family breadwinner passes, it can create a financial burden for those left behind. They may not be able to continue making mortgage payments, causing an unfortunate situation of loss to become even worse.
While mortgage insurance is one option for protecting against this outcome, a term life insurance policy is generally the better choice for the following reasons:
- You can choose your benefit amount
- Your beneficiary is in control
- Your policy can extend beyond your mortgage term
- They generally cost less
Starting a Family
First comes love, then comes marriage. You know the rest: a baby. And maybe more than one, right? Then — if you haven’t done it already — comes the wise decision to purchase a life insurance policy.
Buying life insurance when you become a parent is one of the best things you can do to protect your family for years in the future. A 20- or 30-year term life policy might be exactly what is needed to ensure your spouse has financial support and your children are cared for up until adulthood. Death benefits from a life insurance policy can do more than just keep everyone fed. They can also contribute to ongoing household expenses, and even assist in paying college tuition.
According to a Pew Research study, 18% of U.S. parents stay at home. If that’s you or your spouse, don’t discount the importance of having a life insurance policy. While stay-at-home parents may not be “breadwinners,” they are providers for the family. A sudden loss could have a financial impact in a different way. Such as needing to find daycare or childcare services.
Even if you already have a life insurance policy, milestones such as the birth of a child are a great time to re-evaluate your life insurance coverage.
Business Owners Need Life Insurance
If you’re a business owner, your family isn’t the only one depending on you. Your business partners and employees are also relying on you to manage the company and provide them with an income. But just like buying a home and taking out a mortgage, your family may not be equipped to take over your business expenses if you die.
They may be unable to sell it. And if loans were involved, they would bear the burden of paying off those loans. In the worst-case scenario, personal assets could be repossessed, or the company could fold altogether. Not only would your family be impacted, but all of your employees as well.
Having a life insurance policy, or multiple policies, can do a lot of good in protecting your family’s future. This would give them the ability to pay off any business debt, as well as the time to decide how to best move forward with the company.
If you haven’t bought life insurance by the time you retire, the timing may not be ideal as the price increases with age.
But at this age, if you’ve planned your finances carefully, retirement income should provide everything a surviving spouse needs. Your mortgage may be fully paid off. Your children will be grown and able to support themselves. In this case, you may not need life insurance.
Still, life insurance could make sense even after achieving the retirement milestone.
Who Needs Life Insurance? You Do.
Through almost every stage in life, life insurance is a worthwhile investment. But remember, it’s always cheaper to buy it when you’re younger.
No matter the milestone, Paschall Insurance Group is here to help you find the right policy that meets your family’s needs. For now. And for the future.
The waiving deductible practices of some contractors has been a widespread issue throughout Texas and other states. Policyholders are duped into fraudulent insurance claims with promise of “rebates, deductible waivers, and credits” for their business. Most commonly done in the roofing industry, shady “deductible eaters” (contractors who have been knowingly breaking the law) are cannibalizing reputable contractors with promises of a “free” roof. Their practices are illegal but ignored due to an improperly worded doctrine developed in 1986 in attempt to stop fraudulent practices.
The revised House Bill 2102 signed last month by Governor Abbott is designed to combat the devastating effects of roofing fraud. It clearly states that contractors are violating the law if they pay, rebate, credit, or decline to charge or collect a deductible. Insurance companies may ask for reasonable proof of payment which are: canceled check, money order receipt, credit card statement or an executed installment plan. If there is not a proof of payment for the deductible, the insurance company can then refuse to pay the replacement cost hold-back. The new law also imposes a Class B misdemeanor offense of 180 days in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000 for both the violating contractor and/or the policyholder.
This important legislation will both protect Texas consumers from illegal fraud schemes and ensure that reputable contractors are on an even level playing field in competitive business.