Monday, January 20, 2020

Do Home Inspections matter?

Do Not Ignore the Inspection!

There are two common types of home inspections. 


Presale Inspection: You should have one done before you buy a home. Do not let someone talk you out of this. They may "know" the home is in great condition, but you want to make sure it is. You should get the inspector yourself so you know they are working for you and not your realtor. Nothing against realtors, but their motivation is to get you to buy the house. Your motivation is to buy a home in good condition. I strongly urge you to go to the presale inspection and walk with the inspector. Listen to him/her. Ask questions as he/she walks. This is going to be your home. Make sure you know what you are getting into. Maybe you are a Do-It-Yourself kind of homeowner and you are looking forward to doing some repairs. Great! But if you are not, then it is a nightmare to buy a house and realize (after the closing) that there is major repair work to be done. There are some things you absolutely want to know about before you buy the house! The carrier doesn't want to insure a hazard they will most likely have to pay to repair/replace in the next few years. And you (as the homeowner) do not want to buy a house that will not protect you the way your home should.

Carrier Inspection: Most carriers will conduct a home inspection. They usually employ a third part inspection company to complete the inspection.  It is the carrier who will pay out the claims, so they want to make sure it is a good risk going in. One of the most common issues on a carrier inspection is roof condition. Often we get an Underwriting notice citing the roof condition from the inspection. When we reach out to the client, they tell us their home inspection said the roof was just fine. Many times the presale inspection didn't say the roof was fine. It might have said replacement was a good idea but the client didn't walk and talk to the inspector so they didn't read the inspection. Even if the presale inspection does say the roof is in fine condition, the carrier's inspection may disagree. Now, you can argue all you want, but the carrier can still cancel the policy if you do not make repairs. 

The best way to avoid a bad carrier inspection is to make sure you have a good presale inspection!

Things to Look for during a PreSale Home Inspection


Exterior of the Home

Windows: Depending on the age of the windows, you may need to replace them. At the very least, they need to be caulked once a year to keep them energy efficient.  
Tree Trimming: Tree limbs hitting the roof or side of the house will need to be trimmed back away from the house. If they are hitting the home, they will cause additional wear on the roof/siding. 
Termites: Hollowed or Damaged Wood. Wood damage can be found below and behind surfaces like walls, floors and windows.


Interior of the Home

Heating/Air: Filters need to be change twice a year. If they have not been, the buildup in the filters will make the system very inefficient, particularly for people with allergies. In some cases, the system will need to be replaced.
Water Heater: Most hot water heaters need to be replaced after 15 years. If your hot water heater breaks down, it is expensive and a royal pain to replace. 
Ventilation / Insulation: Ventilation and Insulation matter most in the attic. If either are in poor condition, you will have increased energy bills and possible increased damage to your roof (from the inside)

Roof: Carriers (and hopefully you!) would require the condition of the roof to last at least 5 years. With all of the wind/hail/storms we have here is Texas, roofs rarely last longer than 10 years. If you are looking at a house with a roof over 10 years old, it is a strong possibility the inspector will inspect the roof closely, looking for any indication the roof will not last. And many carriers will not insure a roof over 10 years old.
Electrical: Older homes may have quite a bit of electrical work to replace. Many carriers will not insure homes with fuse boxes so you may have to replace it with an updated breaker box. 

Presale Home Inspections look for issues that can be improved.  Carriers Inspections look for hazards that are more likely to cause a claim pay out  in the near future. They do not want to intentionally take on that risk. Since they are the ones that will pay out thousands or more, the carrier gets to decide if they want to take on the risk. You, as the homeowner, can disagree. But you will most likely NOT change their mind. So again, intentionally look at your home inspection before you buy the home.


Have questions? Need a quote?    

* Call us  877-987-8683  * Visit brockmanpremierins.com


Monday, January 13, 2020

Prevent Child Identity Theft



Prevent Child Identity Theft


Identity theft is a constant threat these days. With the number of major data breaches that have occurred in the past few years, such as the unprecedented Equifax breach in 2017, you’ve most likely experienced some form of financial fraud.

You might keep a close eye on your own finances for that reason, but your child can also be susceptible to identity theft. An identity thief can use your child's Social Security number to open a credit card, a bank account and apply for government benefits.

More Information Online Means More Child Identity Theft

According to the The Federal Trade Commission, many school forms require personal information and many are now online. Even novice hackers can get into systems easily to steal identity information. (My dog once received a credit card solicitation!) How your child's personal information is collected, stored, used and thrown away by their school can make a difference. As a parent or guardian you have the right to question the school and request they safeguard your child's information.
You can find a list of red flags to look for and how to repair the credit damage here. If you believe your child's credit may have been compromised, check to see if they have a credit report.
You can file an Identity theft claim with the FTC online or by phone 877-ID-THEFT


Avoid and Repair
 

Fortunately, a law went into effect in 2018 that lets you freeze your credit ― a helpful preventative measure ― for free. This can help avoid identity theft and or repair the credit damage afterwards if needed. You can freeze your child's credit so no one is able to use the information. (You can also freeze your own credit.)
The FTC suggests checking for a credit report in your child's name before they turn 16. You will need to fix any issues with the report before they apply for jobs, scholarships, loans or rent an apartment. Their credit plays a big part in all of these.
Identity thieves are ruthless and they do not care how much trouble they cause you. It can happen to anyone (or anyone's child). Even yours. Report any irregularitie you see and stay safe online!

Have questions? Need a quote?    

* Call us  877-987-8683  * Visit brockmanpremierins.com 



Monday, December 30, 2019

New Years Changes

Here's to a New Year!   


Well, 2019 is ending and 2020 is beginning. I have to say I am not sad to say goodbye to 2019. Here's to a wonderful 2020!

The start of a new year is a time to re-evaluate our closet, pantry, decor, vocation, relationships. It is a great time to look at our lives in general. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. I have not been good at keeping them long. But I do think it is a good time to look are our homes and make some changes.  

If your family is anything like our family, you have packed away the Holiday decorations. Yet somehow the house doesn't look the same as it did before you put them up. That small time of unfamiliar is the perfect time to make some changes. You are already in the mood for new and different and you have created space in your home by removing the decorations. 


 #1 Did you get something new? Donate something old!

If you get a new robe, give away the old. How about a new blanket? Maybe you can give an old one to a shelter or a person in need. Even if they are a bit ratty, animal shelters can use old blankets and towels! Did you get new sneakers? Are the old ones still in decent condition? There are many people in need of decent shoes!


#2 Did you get gifts you don't want? You don't have to keep them.

I am a pack rat and I also worry that anyone who gives me a gift will want to see it used. But I have to admit that many gifts end up in a cabinet or closet somewhere. We had a rule, if we didn't use an item in the last year, it's time to give it away. But now I try to give away unwanted items as soon as I realize I will not use them. This helps me not have to do a massive clean up down the road. (Do you have one of those closets you cannot open?)


#3 When did you last clean out that medicine cabinet?

There may have been a time or two when I cleaned out our medicine cabinet and found medicine that was over 2 years old! If you are anything like me, you buy an over the counter medicine for temporary symptoms and then then shove it to the back because it's no longer used. It's unsafe to use medicine after it's expiration date.  Do you always check the date before you take the medicine? Does your spouse or your kids? I know it doesn't happen in our house. Try to go through and throw out the expired medicine once a year. 
Do the same for your refrigerator and your pantry. Expired food needs to go!

#4 Do you really need two of those?

I am also a gadget queen. I LOVE gadgets, especially kitchen gadgets. I also, forget that I have already bought things. This is a good time to go through your kitchen cabinets and give away things you haven't used at all in the last year (even if you just KNOW you might need it sometime). Also look for things you have more than one of. At one point I had 5 different sets of measuring spoons. Same measurements, just different spoons! I am a firm believer you cannot have too many bowls or too many spatulas. But if you don't have the space for multiples, I promise you can survive with only one of each!

#5 New year, new insurance?

Most insurance policies are 12 months long. But that does not mean they start at the beginning of the year. Since making changes are already on your mind, you may begin thinking of other things you can re-evaluate. You can reevaluate and make changes to your insurance policy any time. You don't have to wait for the renewal. Take a look at your policy. Look at things like contact information, housing value, coverage amounts. Sometimes the most obvious things (like changes to your contact information) are the very things we overlook. Things that may affect your coverage are adding a swimming pool, a trampoline or a new dog. It's a good idea to check in with your agent and discuss your policy.

Have questions? Need a quote?    

* Call us  877-987-8683  * Visit brockmanpremierins.com 




Monday, December 16, 2019

Flood Insurance

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

The Basics


People often assume flood is covered by their home insurance policy. No home insurance policy covers flood damage.  Consumers are not required to carry flood insurance unless they are in a high risk Flood Zone. In that case, their home mortgage company (if they have one) will require a flood insurance policy. You should talk to your agent and make sure you know if you should have a flood policy or not, regardless of which zone you are in. 


   Your flood policy has a Dec page, just like every other insurance policy. It will “declare” who you are, what property you have covered, the insurance limits you have chosen and how much you are paying.


   Flood Insurance is written through the federal government under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program regardless of who you buy the policy from. There are various levels of coverage and deductibles to choose from. You will have a separate deductible for both the building and the contents. Unlike Home and Auto insurance, Flood insurance only covers You. There is no “other party” liability in a flood policy. Keep in mind- two properties, or two acres, have to be flooded for the event to be considered a flood. Your hot water heater overflowing and flooding your hallway is not covered by flood insurance.


Building Coverage: This covers physical damage to your home due to rising flood waters, and it covers the building and its foundation, electrical and plumbing systems, a/c equipment, furnaces, walls, flooring… etc. The amount of building coverage should be based on your dwelling/replacement cost amount on your home insurance policy. The flood cannot be higher than the home insurance amount and it usually caps at $250,000 for residential homes.


Contents Coverage: This covers physical damage to personal property such as clothing, furniture, electronics, certain valuable items, such as artwork (up to $2500). It will not cover currency or precious metals.


Deductibles: The Building and Contents coverage have a separate deductible. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium, but the more you will pay out of pocket in the case of a claim. (Just like in Homeowners insurance)  

  That’s Flood coverage. It is a simpler Dec page than home and auto with fewer coverages to understand. But please make sure you do understand what it will and will not cover and how much coverage you need to have. 
Have other questions? Need a quote?    * Call us  877-987-8683  
    * Visit brockmanpremierins.com 



Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Motorcycle Insurance Basics

Insurance Basics- Motorcycle Insurance  

Have you tried to read your insurance policy and just given up? Even your motorcycle policy can be very confusing! Let me make it a little easier for you with the coverage basics.
Every policy (regardless of type) should have a Declarations Page, commonly referred to as the “Dec Page”. This page “declares” who you are, what property you have insured, your coverage choices and how much you are paying for this policy period.

Similar to Auto insurance, there are 2 types of coverage on your Motorcycle insurance policy; Coverage that protects the other party and coverage that protects you.

COVERAGE THAT PROTECTS THE OTHER PARTY

Bodily Injury Liability: This protects you from having to pay medical costs, lost income and funeral expenses of other people involved in an accident that is your fault.
Property Damage Liability: This protects you from paying for the repair or replacement of the other person’s property.

There is no deductible for liability coverage. You have many amount options for this coverage. The state minimum in Texas is $30,000/$60,000/$30,000. This means you are covered for $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident and $30,000 for property damage. I would suggest going with higher liability limits than the state minimum. If you cause an accident and the liability claim is 75,000, if you have state minimum coverage, you will pay the additional $15,000 out of pocket! It is not expensive to increase your liability limits. Ask your agent to explain your options.

COVERAGE THAT PROTECTS YOU:

Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury: This covers your injuries (or death) in case the responsible party has little or no insurance. It also covers anyone riding on your motorcycle.

Uninsured/Underinsured Damage: This covers damage to your motorcycle or property in case the responsible party has little or no insurance.  There is a state mandated $250 deductible in Texas for Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage.

Medical payments: This covers medical or funeral expenses if you or anyone on your motorcycle is injured in an accident.

Personal Injury payments: This covers medical or funeral expenses and possible lost wages if you or anyone riding on your motorcycle are injured in an accident.

Collision Coverage: This pays for damage to your motorcycle if you hit another car/motorcycle or something else (like a tree or a building).  You must pay a deductible. Deductible amounts determine the cost of this coverage. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

Comprehensive Coverage:  This pays for damage to your motorcycle if something other than a collision occurs. This could be fire, theft, hit by an animal (yes, the animal hit your motorcycle!) The same type of deductible rules apply to Comprehensive as they do to Collision. They are two different deductibles though. Comp coverage may also be listed as  Other than Collision.

Optional Coverages that protect your motorcycle:

            Towing: This pays for towing and some basic roadside assistance, depending on the carrier and towing option you choose.
            Trip Interruption: This pays for lodging, alternative transportation and food while the motorcycle is being repaired in the event of a breakdown or covered loss that is more than 100 miles from home.
            Rental Reimbursement: This pays for the cost of renting a car while yours is being repaired after an accident.
            Loan/Lease Gap Insurance: This pays the difference between what you owe and the total value of your motorcycle if it is totaled in a claim. 
            Accessory Coverage: This covers customer parts and equipment. You must have Collision and/or Comprehensive coverage as well.
             

While there are many factors in Motorcycle insurance, they do not have to overwhelm you. If you have any questions, please contact your agent. That is what they are there for. If they cannot answer your questions, please contact us. 

Have other questions? Need a quote?
    * Call us  877-987-8683  

    * Visit brockmanpremierins.com 


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Auto Insurance Basics

Back to Basics-Car insurance

    Have you tried to read your insurance policy and just given up? It can be very confusing! But I am going to try to simplify it for you. Over the next several weeks I will attempt to simplify each type of insurance, begining with Car insurance:

    Every policy should have a Declarations Page
This page “declares” who you are, what cars you have insured, your coverage choices and how much you are paying for this policy period.

    There are 2 types of coverage on your auto policy: Coverage that protects the other party and coverage that protects you.

Coverage that protects the other party:

Bodily Injury Liability: protects you from having to pay medical costs, lost income and funeral expenses of other people involved in an accident that is your fault.
Property Damage Liability: protects you from paying for the repair or replacement of the other person’s car.

            There is no deductible for liability coverage. You have many amount options for this coverage. The state minimum in Texas is $30,000/$60,000/$30,000. This means you are covered for $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident and $30,000 for property damage. I would suggest higher liability limits than the state minimum. If you cause an accident and the liability claim is 75,000, and you have state minimum coverage, you will pay the additional $15,000 out of pocket. It is not expensive to increase your liability limits. Ask your agent to explain your options.

Coverage that protects you:


Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury: covers your injuries (or death) in case the responsible party has little or no insurance. It also covers those riding in your car.

Uninsured/Underinsured Damage: covers damage to your car or property in case the responsible party has little or no insurance.  There is a state mandated $250 deductible in Texas for Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage.

Medical payments: covers medical or funeral expenses if you or anyone in your vehicle are injured in an accident.

Personal Injury payments: covers medical or funeral expenses and possible lost wages if you or anyone in your vehicle are injured in an accident.

Collision Coverage: pays for damage to your car if you hit another car or something else (like a tree or a building).  You must pay a deductible. Deductible amounts determine the cost of this coverage. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

Comprehensive Coverage: (also called Other than Collision) pays for damage to your car if something other than a collision occurs. This could be fire, theft, hit by an
Animal (yes, the animal hit your car!) The same type of deductible rules apply to Comprehensive as they do to Collision. They are two different deductibles though.

Optional Coverages that protect your car:


 Towing: pays for towing and some basic roadside assistance, depending on the carrier and towing option you choose.

 Rental Reimbursement: pays for the cost of renting a car while yours is being repaired after an accident.
Loan/Lease Gap Insurance: pays the difference between what you owe and the total value of your car if it is totaled in a claim. This is only valid if you have a new car (less than 3 years old).

So there you go. There are many options to consider in Auto insurance, but they don't have to overwhelm you. If you have any questions, please contact your agent. That is what they are there for. If they cannot answer your questions, please contact us. 

Have other questions? Need a quote?
    * Call us  877-987-8683  

    * Visit brockmanpremierins.com 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Home Insurance Basics

Back to Basics-Homeowners Insurance

   Have you tried to read your insurance policy and just given up? It can be very confusing! Our goal is to help you understand your insurance policy.
    Every policy (regardless of type) should have a Declarations Page, commonly referred to as the “Dec Page”. This page “declares” who you are, what property you have insured, your coverage choices and how much you are paying for this policy period. You will get a new one for each policy period.

There are 2 basic types of coverage on your Home insurance policy: Coverage that protects you and coverage that protects the other party.


Coverage that protects you:

Coverage A- Dwelling Value:  The dwelling value is set at or above the estimated replacement cost of the home. This includes the cost to haul away debris, the materials and contractor’s overhead & profits. This coverage can be written at Actual Cash Value (the value to rebuild the home minus depreciation based on the age of the home) or at Replacement Cost (value to rebuild the home at today’s quality and price). I suggest Replacement Cost policies. Many people ask us to match the coverage to what they bought the house for. Remember- Insurance is meant to make you whole again after a loss. The Dwelling Value isn't isn't based on how much it would cost to buy your home again. It is based on what your carrier is willing to pay out if you had to build your house from the ground up.

Coverage B- Other Structures: This covers buildings SEPARATE from the house, such as a pool, fence, storage shed, detached garage, etc. This usually defaults at 10% dwelling value. It can be lowered to save money or raised to increase coverage.

Coverage C- Personal Property:  Covers your contents of the home. This can also be written at ACV or Replacement cost coverage. If you have a total loss to the home, the carrier will write you a check for the total personal property, regardless of whether you have RC or ACV coverage. If you have a partial loss such as a small fire or theft, they will only give you the coverage you have paid for; meaning if you have ACV coverage, your 8 year old TV will only be covered for the value of an 8 year old TV. If you have Replacement Cost, your coverage will cover the cost of a new TV.

Loss of Use:  This provides reimbursement for reasonable increases in living expenses (such as a hotel room or apt) due to a covered loss, if your home is uninhabitable. There is usually a set amount as well as a set time period. Once the home is inhabitable again, you are expected to move back in (Regardless of how much you are enjoying the hotel!)

Deductibles:  This is the amount you pay out of pocket when you file a claim for a covered loss. There are 2 main types of deductibles;

            Wind/Hail Deductible: This covers your home in the case of high winds or hails, usually seen during severe storms. 

            All Other Perils Deductible: This covers your home for the remaining perils listed in your policy, such as fire or theft. Keep in mind, home insurance policies do not cover floods. You will have to buy a separate policy for flood insurance.


Coverage that protects the other party:

Personal Liability: This covers you if someone is injured on your property due to your negligence.  It can help pay for their injuries and any legal costs. We had a neighbors dog bite a visiting child once. The child is fine, but there were some medical costs and their Liability on their Home Insurance policy paid it in full.


Medical Payments: This will provide reasonable and necessary medical expenses to a guest on your property injured in an accident. If the UPS guy trips and falls and needs medical attention, this would cover minor needs, like ER and stitches.

Insurance coverage can be confusing, but it doesn't have to be!


Have other questions? Need a quote?
    * Call us  877-987-8683  

    * Visit brockmanpremierins.com




Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cyber Safety

Are You Shopping Online Safely?

Chances are you shop online. Studies show 79% of Americans shop online. Nearly 25% of online buying occurs between Nov. 1 and Dec 31. People who have traditionally shopped "Black Friday" deals are waiting to shop "Cyber Monday" deals at home. (Dec 2 this year!) I worked in retail for 15 years, so I would rather shop online than ever go into another store! It is convenient to shop online, but risks can outweigh the convenience if you do not shop safely! 


Beware of online Hazards

Hidden fees
Many retailers will claim free shipping, then tell you it is only after your spend a specific dollar amount.  Or they add in "extras" like the software to run the laptop. 
Counterfeit items
It is rather easy to put items for sale online now. Everyone is doing it! Just because you see it on the internet does not mean it is real. Remember if the price seems too good to be true- it probably is! Shop for specific brands on their own site.
Shipping issues
One time my sister in law ordered my niece's entire Christmas online and nothing showed up before Christmas! I ordered a laptop one time that just never came in. (after 3 phone calls they finally refunded my money!)
                                                          Identity theft (This is very common these days!)
Did you know if someone steals your debit card number, they can empty your bank account in record time? I have had people open credit cards in my name, take loans out in my name. These scams can be hard to fight (and prove!).
Fake reviews
If a site has all 5 Star reviews, be wary. No one has a perfect score when it comes to public opinion. Even the best of sites has upset some customer at some point. If it looks perfect- I would guess they are padding their reviews.   


What can you do to protect yourself and still shop from home? 


* Shop at websites you know and trust- check to see if it is a secure website. If it is secure the URL will begin with https, not http. (The "s" stands for secure!)
* Avoid using public wi-fi (identity theft!)
* Create strong passwords - many sites will tell you if your password is strong. Do not use obvious passwords like your birthday, your child's name or your pet's name. You might want to see if a Password Manager is something that would work for you.
* Beware of sites with deals that look too good to be true.
* Be wary of third party sites. 
* Pay by credit card online- not by debit card.
* Check out a company's social media to see if it is real, engaging and what customers have to say. (One of the perks of social media today)
* Research the company before you buy from it. Make sure it's real, and well respected by previous shoppers.
* Keep/print receipts. Pay attention to your statements. Verify all of the charges on a timely basis so you can dispute fraudulent charges quickly.

Shop smart- if you do not feel good about a site, move onto another site. Ask family and friends who may have ordered from a site you are looking at about their experience. Online shopping is convenient, until it's not. Be careful and pay attention to the possible risks!


Have other questions? Need a quote?
    * Call us  877-987-8683  

    * Visit brockmanpremierins.com