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Understanding Your Deductible

Jun 28, 18 • General NewsNo Comments

Deductible

Your home insurance policy includes a deductible- an amount you agreed to pay before the insurance will pay anything on a claim. Decades ago, these deductibles were as low as $250 or $500 but today, they’re anywhere from a set amount of $1,000 or $5,000 to a percentage of 1% or 5% of the insured value of your home. Typically, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium because you, the insured, is taking on more of the risk rather than transferring that risk to the insurance company. A common misconception is that a homeowner can “stack up” losses until they really need a repair and will file all damages under one claim, subject to one deductible. Your policy holds two deductibles- “Wind or Hail” and “All Other Perils”- therefore, if the cause of a loss is water and the cause of another loss is hail, you are subject to two separate deductibles.

Roof Repair

After hail storms in North Texas, you’ll see some roofing contractors offering to “waive”, “eat”, or “cover” a home insurance deductible, or install a new roof at “no cost to you”. Please be aware that “covering” a deductible is insurance fraud if a contractor and/or homeowner falsify an invoice, a proposal, a loss summary or any other pertinent documents relating to the payment of an insured loss in order to circumvent the payment of a deductible.

If you’re not sure what your deductibles are or what they apply to, give us a call and we’ll be happy to review you coverages with you.

Home Insurance 101

Jun 12, 18 • General NewsNo Comments

Your Home Insurance Policy and Your Roof: What to Know About Your Existing Policy and What to Look for When Reviewing or Shopping for a New One

Home Policy

Home insurance policies in Texas are changing and where there used to be a handful of different policies allowed to be written in Texas, there are now close to hundreds of options allowed. If you’re a homeowner, it’s important that you keep up with these changes, review your existing policy to understand exactly what your insurance covers and thoroughly review any revised or new policies.

The Insurance Business

Make no mistake that the insurance industry is a business. And while an insurance company cares about your roof (it protects your home from the elements and expensive interior damages), they must manage the money they take in … and the money they pay out. In doing so, many insurers are becoming more restrictive with homeowners’ roof coverage, especially in significant hail storm damaged areas of the country like Texas.

It’s up to you, the homeowner, to understand your policy and ensure that your insurance carrier covers everything required by your particular policy. If you’re unsure if a certain loss would be covered, get in touch with your agent to find out what specific coverages your policy holds!

May 25, 18 • General News, Jamie WallaceNo Comments

Water

Am I protected from Flood? PROBABLY NOT!

Flooding occurs in EVERY state! Many people find out too late that they are at risks for flooding, and even worse that their property insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.  

Bullet Your Homeowners policy DOES NOT cover flood loss to your home and contents.  

Bullet In certain areas, the chance of a flood loss is 25% greater than a loss due to a fire during a 30-year mortgage.  

Bullet 25% of all floods occur outside of a high-risk flood area.

To ensure that your property and belongings are protected, call your independent insurance agent. Even if you already have a flood policy, you may want to discuss coverages with your agent to ensure that your policy is up to date.

Boat Mechanical Breakdown

Apr 6, 18 • General NewsNo Comments

It’s almost time to put those boats out on the water! #HappyBoatingSeason

 

Want to Check if a potential employee is a Workers’ Compensation Risk?

Mar 5, 18 • General News, Traci DavisNo Comments

Question: How does an employer check to see if a potential employee has filed Workers’ Compensation claims in the past

Answer: According to the Texas Department of Insurance – Division of Workers’ Compensation website, the following applies:

If you have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, you can file a Prospective Employment Authorization and Certification (DWC Form-156) with TDI-DWC to obtain general information about previous work-related injuries. Information will only be provided if the applicant has had two or more general injuries in the preceding five years. To obtain this information, you must have written permission from the applicant prior to the request and if the employee is covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act, the employer must have made a conditional offer of employment.

 

Fire Safety

One of the most serious workplace dangers- fire- can be prevented or its impact minimized with thorough planning and training

It takes only one tragedy to remind us of the critical importance of maintaining a comprehensive fire-prevention program. A good, efficiently managed program that employees understand can make the difference in preventing catastrophe.

Legal Issues

OSHA Regulations: Nine subparts of 29 CFR 1910 contain specific fire-prevention standards. 1910.155 through 1910.165, Subart L is dedicated to Fire Protection, 1910.38,.39 Fire Emergency Action Plan. The other eight are Subparts E,H,M,N,Q,R,S, and Z.

Among the more common fire safety violations are those dealing with:

  • Electrical Grounding
  • Ignition sources
  • Design and construction of storage containers
  • Transfer of flammable liquid
  • Ventilation of storage areas
  • Cleaning of spray areas
  • Smoking Rules

No fire

Management Issues

Specific OSHA requirements vary according to the structure and activity of your workplace, but basically, there are two key managemaent tasks involved in fire prevention and protection.

  1. A system to protect workers from fire. This system must include:
    1. Proper maintenance and testing of smoke detectors, alarms, sprinklers, hoses, and portable & fixed fire extinguishers
    2. Adequate emergency access to, and egress from, the workplace
    3. Training for personnel who maintain fire-safety equipment
    4. Training for all employees in fire-emergency procedures
    5. A written Fire-prevention plan if you have more than 11 employees
  2. First Response Arrangements. If you decide to use a fire-fighting brigade of your own, OSHA provides detailed regulations. Whether you choose that approach or rely solely on local emergency authorities, you need to establish a close relationship with the local force. Invite them to become familiar with your facility and maintain good communication.

Training Issues

Fire Drill

All employees should have training in the following:

  • Alarms- locations, sound
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Exits, routes, meeting places
  • Use and location of fire extinguishers
  • When/how/if to attempt to extinguish a fire
  • Fire prevention, especially housekeeping and electrical safety

A practice evacuation is the best way to assess how effective your training has been.

Source: Business & Legal Resources

Ensure your Contractor is Insured

Contractors 1

Home improvement projects usually take off in the summer, when many homeowner’s gut the kitchen or add a bathroom. But what happens when a contractor’s negligence causes those plans to go up in smoke- literally?

Doug Clark’s 4,800 square foot home was hit by lightning in 2014, igniting a fire that destroyed the top floor of his home. During repairs, another storm came through and ripped off the roof, causing extensive flooding. Then, the contractor failed to properly secure the home, and the new AC Unit was stolen, along with jewelry, lawn equipment, and two generators.

Contractors 2

The result: a $400,000 insurance claim paid by Doug’s insurance company. Luckily, Doug was insured with a company that specializes in high-value luxury and waterfront homes.

We made a mistake- we hired a friend of a friend, who was a contractor. We didn’t give it a lot of thought. I had four children ad two puppies, and we needed to be back in our house as quickly as we could”, says Mr. Clark.

Often, a high-net-worth homeowner will file a claim with their homeowner’s insurance carrier, versus directly with the contractor who caused the damage. Their homeowner’s insurance policy will likely provide a better claims experience and afford better insurance coverage. For example, if a contractor has a $1 million policy but the renovation damage totaled $3 million, the homeowner would file a claim for the full amount with their own insurer. That insurer would like seem reimbursement from the contractor or its insurance company.

Also, high end homes are more likely to incorporate pricey materials or fixtures, not to mention valuable artwork or antiques, and a contractor’s liability policy may not cover these items.

Claims from renovations frequently include water damage from pipe breaks, broken windows, fire, and sometimes theft of building materials.

There are so many things that could go wrong,” says Dan DiClerico, a home expert at HomeAdvisor.

Contractors 3We recommend that you stay in touch with your insurance agent before and after a home improvement project to ensure you have sufficient coverage. After a major renovation, policy limits may need to be increased so that a homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild the home. Some projects, such as replacing a roof or installing impact-resistant windows, may qualify for an insurance discount as well.

For those about to embark upon a home improvement project or other renovations, here are a few things to consider:

  • Verify Everything. Fully vet your contractor. Make sure the firm holds a state license, is bonded, and has required insurance, including general liability and workers’ compensation. We also recommend verifying the insurance coverage of subcontractors.
  • Keep copious records. Retain copies of all paperwork involved with your project- proof of licensing, binding and insurance, contracts, invoices, proof of payment, progress photos and all project related correspondence.
  • Take inventory. Before starting a home improvement project, make a detailed list of all the items in your home. This includes furniture, appliances, personal possessions, and note the date you acquired them and the purchase price. Consider taking photos or making a video. If you do experience a property loss, your inventory will assist in the settlement of a covered loss of claim.

Source: Jumbo Jungle, Robyn A. Friedman

Workers’ Compensation

IMPORTANT WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INFORMATION!

Did you know that if you elect not to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance, you are still required to follow certain non-subscription procedures, even if you purchase an alternative type product?

A non-subscriber is required to file the DWC Form-005 with the Division of Workers Compensation annually between Feb. 1 and April 30 of each calendar year. The law also requires written notices be posted in the personnel office, and in a prominent place where employees can see them regularly, stating that you do not have workers compensation insurance. A written notice must also be given to new employees upon hire. Employers with five or more employees also have ongoing requirements to report monthly any injury that results in more than one day lost from work, including all occupational illnesses and fatalities.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance provides employers and employees with the MOST COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE & PROTECTION AVAILABLE and it is more affordable than ever with further rate reductions coming!

Please contact our office to discuss the benefits and protections afforded by subscribing to the Texas Workers Compensation system. We encourage you to obtain a quote, so you can make an informed decision regarding what is best for you and your business. In the meantime, questions and answers regarding requirements of a non-subscribing employer can be viewed at the Texas Department of Insurance’s website.

 Failure to follow the Division of Workers Compensation non-subscription rules can be very costly.

Further, in the event that Workers Compensation premium is simply not affordable at this time, there are alternative products available that will provide you some protection. Please contact our office for more details.

Are You at Risk for a Cyber Attack?!

CYBER ATTACKS

Are You At Risk?

Cyber Pic 1

Do you process Credit Card Payments?

Do you have a mailing list with an personal client information?

The following business types are affected by cyber attacks. Your business could be next. Are you prepared?

Cyber Pic 2

To get your quote for Cyber Liability Insurance, visit our Business Insurance tab at the top of this website. The quote is free but could save you thousands!

 

IRS Announces 2018 Standard Mileage Rates

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, or medical purposes.

2018 Standard Mileage Rates Beginning on January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup, or panel truck will be:

  • 54.5 cents per mile for all business miles driven (up 1 cent from 2017)
  • 18 cents per mile driven for medical purposes (up 1 cent from 2017)
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged from 2017)

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

IRS Notice 2018-03 contains additional information about mileage rates.

For more on employer-provided transportation benefits, please see our section on Fringe Benefits.