First Community Financial Group, Inc. Blog
The cost to rebuild your home is its replacement value. This can be very different from the estimated market value or actual purchase price. In most cases, it costs more to rebuild the home you own than to buy a new one.
Texas - How much home insurance is right for you?
Based in Livingston, TX, First Community Financial Group understands the home insurance needs of our customers. We’ll work with you to estimate the replacement cost for your home and to adjust your policy limits from time to time as needed.
It is critical that you provide us with accurate, updated information about your home and contents. If your dwelling limit accurately reflects your home’s true replacement cost, some companies will pay more than the limit if a covered loss is greater than the limit on your policy.
Once a review of your home and possessions indicates you are properly insured, it’s a good idea to reexamine your coverages and limits from time to time, especially whenever you make additions or improvements. First Community Financial Group can help you re-evaluate your insurance needs, just give us a call at 936-327-4364 to speak with one of our agents.
Texas - Be Sure You Have Enough Homeowners Insurance
Here are some steps you can take to reduce the danger of being seriously underinsured:
Consider whether you should have more coverage for personal property (contents) than your policy provides. Personal property coverage is usually 70% of the coverage limit for the structure. Your limit may be lower than 70%. Supplemental protection is available for a small additional premium.
Inventory your home. Prepare an inventory of personal property items, update it periodically, and keep it in a safe place outside your home, such as a safe deposit box at your bank. It will save you hours of time trying to list everything damaged or destroyed if you need to make a claim. It will also help ensure you don’t forget some items. First Community Financial Group can advise you on ways to simplify the job of preparing a personal property inventory such as videotaping each room with descriptive information on the sound track.
Besides making sure you have enough protection to cover possible damage to your own home and contents, you should also evaluate your exposure to liability risks. These result from damage to the property of another, or injury to a person, not a member of your household, for which you can be responsible.
In recent years it’s become common for homeowners to be sued for injuries or damages to others, even when there is no evidence of negligence by the homeowner. The reality today is if you have any appreciable assets, you are exposed to the risk of being sued. Even if you ultimately prevail in court, your legal fees and the months or years of worry and uncertainty can be a terrible burden on you and your family.
The Personal Liability coverage provided by your Homeowners Policy usually provides a limit of $100,000 or $300,000. We recommend increasing this protection with a personal umbrella policy. Not only will it increase your personal liability, but also your auto liability. Limits are available from $1 million to $10 million and beyond. The cost of this coverage is usually very reasonable.
Keep in mind that Texas can require certain minimum levels of coverage. The right coverage for you is unique – talk to the agents at First Community Financial Group today to find out how to get the best price and value on home insurance for you.
It's important to know that most home policies don't cover flooding and just a few inches of water damage can cost thousands. Even those who don't live near water are at risk, because anywhere it rains, it can flood. Heavy rains, clogged or insufficient drainage systems, nearby construction projects, broken water mains and inadequate levees and dams can cause flooding that put your Home and belongings at risk.
Your home is one of your greatest investments. It's important to prepare ahead in the instance that a disaster could occur. Here are three simple steps to help make sure you're ready in the event of a Flood.
Call our agency today if you need a flood quote or have questions about your coverage! (936) 327-4364
Everyone needs health insurance, now more than ever. With the COVID-19 pandemic in its second year, there has never been a better reminder that taking care of your health is key to remaining well and safe. The right health insurance can help make certain you receive both routine and critical medical care affordably at the time you need it.
Though health insurance substantially reduces your out-of-pocket burden for medical expenses, it does not eliminate that burden. Most care requires some degree of cost-sharing, meaning you must cover a portion of the expenses yourself. One of these personal costs may be your deductible. A deductible is a specific cost burden that will accompany certain medical procedures or services. Here’s how it works.
How Do Deductibles Work?
A deductible is a fixed, yearly amount that you must pay for medical expenses before your health insurance will cover the remaining costs of care. Deductibles are designed to lessen the cost burden posed to medical insurers. By sharing some costs, insurers can continue to offer affordable premiums and more expansive coverage to all of their policyholders.
For example, suppose that your health insurance plan has a $2,000 annual deductible. This means that you will have to pay up to $2,000 out of pocket in a single year before your insurance plan will cover certain costs of care. After you have paid off the deductible, then your plan will cover additional eligible expenses. In this example, if you received a $5,000 surgery bill, you’d pay $2,000 and your insurance would cover the rest. Once your plan renews, the deductible obligation starts over.
When Do I Have to Pay It?
Health insurance deductibles do not necessarily apply to every medical expense you might face. Some plans require you to pay 100% of the costs of care until you have met your deductible while others exempt certain care from the deductible obligation.
Most plans exempt regular checkups, medically necessary services and preventative care from deductible rules. You may only have to pay the necessary copayment or coinsurance regardless of whether you still owe money on your deductible for a checkup, lab work, vaccination or other routine care. This enables you to still receive the care that is most necessary for you to stay well, without facing an undue cost burden.
Your deductible will still often apply to certain care costs, such as inpatient care expenses, certain imaging services or other care that your insurer might not deem medically necessary. You can examine precisely how your plan outlines your own deductible obligations by reviewing your explanation of benefits document. This will outline exactly how and when the deductible will apply.
For further information on your health insurance deductible, contact our agency today!
In the last decade, the number of auto insurance claims that arise from distracted driving accidents has increased significantly. By definition, this is an accident caused by the fact that the involved driver wasn’t paying attention to the road.
While the use of mobile devices is a big contributor to the rise in distracted driving accidents, it is only one cause of the problem. Many other distractions exist in every car that could divert the driver’s attention from the road. It’s your responsibility to monitor your habits to make sure you are only focused on one thing—the road around you.
Keep in mind these three common mistakes that can help you deduce if you are a distracted driver.
You Don’t Remember Where You Have Just Driven
Driving involves a lot of muscle memory, and when you drive the same routes regularly, then you are likely to form a habit of doing so. While your brain helps you remember what route to take, you might not actively register going through an intersection, stopping at a stop sign, or accelerating or decelerating to follow the speed limit. This could mean that you’re driving distractedly. You might simply be lost in thought, but it’s still a diversion from the road ahead of you. This distraction might occur in an instant, but in that brief time, you might have driven into a very dangerous situation.
You Are Engaged in Conversation
It’s perfectly fine to have conversations with others in the car. However, the road has to be your primary focus, and the conversation should be secondary. That’s why you should avoid having intense conversations, arguments or debates while in the car. Those things can wait until you get where you are going. Even though you can carry on a conversation while driving, a high level of intensity puts you at risk of getting into an accident.
You Engage in Manual Activities While Driving
There are a lot of other activities besides cell phone use that could lead to distracted driving. Some people apply makeup, eat or do other activities while driving. Keep in mind, even if you check your phone while stopped at a stoplight, this is still a distraction, despite that you aren’t moving.
These actions can all lead to distractions, and if you have an accident then the fault could lie with you. Often, if at-fault accidents result in insurance claims, then it is your liability coverage that will compensate all third parties (i.e. other drivers) involved in the wreck. Still, this can cause your auto insurance rates to rise, and sometimes your insurer will even cancel your coverage because you’re too high of a risk to insure. Rather than putting yourself in a situation where you could engage in distracted driving, it’s better to do what you can to avoid the risk.
his post is not intended to offer dietary, nutrition, or health advice. Instead, I hope it clears up some confusion about what people (including me!) mean when they say “plant-based.”
And I cannot stand the word "diet" as it has a negative connotation to most people. I prefer the term "way of eating" or "lifestyle." It truly is that: a lifestyle change!
What is WFPB?
A whole food plant-based diet has the ability to prevent and even reverse some chronic diseases. Here DFN's GP Resources Advisor Dr. Malcolm Mackay discusses the power of a well-implemented WFPB diet and how to get started. Article first published in Nourish Magazine.
"Nothing good removed, nothing bad added"
When we talk about plant-based way of eating, we really mean plants only, so no meat, chicken, fish, eggs or dairy products. The whole foods part is not so black and white though and needs a little more explanation.
When following a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB), the food groups included are whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and small quantities of nuts and seeds. Processed food is kept to a minimum and adheres to the adage, ‘nothing good removed, nothing bad added’.
A WFPB diet has a strong health ethos – we consider not just whether it’s a whole plant food but also whether it promotes good health. For example, coconut products are avoided because the high saturated fat content is not health promoting. However, unlike other vegan diets, a WFPB diet is defined more by what is included rather than by what is excluded.
The key to successfully adopting a WFPB diet is to eat adequate, and even large, portions of ‘complex carbohydrates’ or ‘starches’. You want to get most of your calories from whole grains, legumes and root vegetables, with these making up at least half of your plate. You can load up the rest with salads and vegetables.
Following a WFPB diet is easy to sustain for many because of the improvements in well being that people experience.
Your best defense against disease
While there are many areas of uncertainty in nutritional science, there is a core of knowledge that is not controversial.
Diets that include significant amounts of processed foods and animal products are a leading cause of modern diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Conversely, a healthy plant-based diet can provide improvements and even reverse these and other lifestyle-related diseases. If we consider all the published data on dietary treatment of disease, the known physiological mechanisms behind these diseases, and the experience of clinicians who treat them, they all point towards a plant-based diet that is low in fat and based on whole foods as a solution. Indeed, this is the only diet that has been proven to reverse coronary heart disease.
The Adventist Health Study 2 demonstrated a reduction in the risk of chronic disease with each step along the dietary spectrum from omnivore through to vegan. However, it should be noted that this and other studies also find some vegans still suffer from hypertension, diabetes and heart disease – conditions shown to be rare in populations with traditional diets that are mostly plant-based. The difference is that these populations ate minimally processed plant products, whereas a modern vegan diet can have more in common with the standard Western diet in terms of low dietary fiber content plus added fat, sugar and salt.
A whole food, plant-based diet has an impact on multiple diseases, whether for prevention, treatment or even reversal of disease. It also has a powerful therapeutic effect: a symphony of nutrients working on a multitude of bodily mechanisms that contribute to good health.
This is particularly powerful when compared to a pharmaceutical drug that inhibits a single chemical reaction. The effects of a WFPB diet is as much due to the inclusion of the many biologically active phytonutrients in whole plant foods as it is to the exclusion of harmful components in animal products and processed foods. Phytonutrients enhance normal physiological function, including:
A WFPB diet has a powerful therapeutic effect: a symphony of nutrients working on a multitude of bodily mechanisms that contribute to good health.
WFPB dos and don'ts
Grains are an important component of a WFPB diet, and gluten free diets are easily accommodated by choosing grains other than wheat, barley and rye. Humans have been eating grains throughout time and research consistently observes better health outcomes for those who consume more whole grains. Intact whole grains such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, are better than flour products for weight loss and reversing insulin resistance. You want to keep any flour products as close to whole meal as possible.
Avoid refined grains such as white rice, white pasta, processed gluten-free products and non-whole meal flour. These have had good things removed – dietary fiber, iron and other nutrients, and phytonutrients including antioxidant polyphenols.
Fresh fruit is a health supporting whole food, rich in fiber, nutrients and water and low in calories, so great to include.
Dried fruit is still a whole food, but a lot more concentrated, so good for extra calories if you need them. While smoothies retain nutrients, they provide less satiety and more rapid sugar absorption, so chewing your food is the healthier option. A WFPB diet may include small amounts of partially processed foods, for example plant milks and tofu (which have had some fiber removed).
Sugar, sugary syrups and fruit juices are not whole foods, but if you choose to use them, try to keep this to small amounts.
A big adjustment for many who follow a WFPB diet is that all vegetable oils and margarines are excluded, even olive oil.
Oils are not whole foods and while there is debate as to whether oil can be part of a healthy diet, the consensus among plant-based nutrition experts is that oils are health-damaging foods. This has a lot to do with its composition. Oil has the maximum calorie content of any food and very few nutrients – zero fiber, zero protein, zero iron, zero calcium and so on. And even if oil were somehow healthy, it would displace a lot of food calories that should have provided fiber, nutrients and phytonutrients. Oils are not your friend if you are struggling to maintain your iron levels without supplements or you need more dietary fiber for better gut function. Further, joint pain and other health problems often only resolve when the last bit of oil is removed from the diet. Rest assured, while it may seem like a big change, it’s easy to prepare food without oil and there are plenty of resources to help you do it.
One more thing – plant protein supplements are unnecessary on a WFPB diet and have the same nutrient displacement issue as oil and sugar. Supplementing with isolated and concentrated nutrients is not a good insurance policy because excessive amounts of one nutrient can counteract the action of other nutrients. So, eat peas, not pea protein! (Vitamin B12 supplements are an exception here and are recommended for plant-based diets.)
Calorie density is key
Understanding calorie density is the key to managing weight whether you need to lose weight, maintain weight or bulk up. You do not need to practice portion control when you eat foods that are high in fiber, low in fat and calories, and naturally satiating.
You do not need to practice portion control when you eat foods that are high in fiber, low in fat and calories, and naturally satiating. Minimally processed grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits are satiating, resulting in unintended ‘calorie restriction’, which benefits many aspects of metabolic function. The high carbohydrate foods that have been demonized by low-carb ideology – potatoes, beans, brown rice and other whole grains – are moderately low calorie-density foods, with about half the calorie density of meat. You can healthfully eat large serves of phytonutrient-rich plants on a WFPB diet.
Be aware that nuts and seeds are naturally very high in fat and low in water, and consequently have at least five times the calorie density of basic starchy foods. This makes them appealing to eat, but easy to overeat. Eating a lot of nuts and seeds can give you a very high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. For a healthier ratio include nuts and seeds that are higher in omega-3 such as flax and chia seeds.
There is legitimate debate over how much high-fat whole plant foods to include in a healthy WFPB diet. However, it’s the more starch-based, low-fat end of the spectrum that has the runs on the board in terms of disease reversal studies, effective lifestyle programs and clinical experience.
Of course, part of the personal empowerment is that it’s up to you how plant-based and whole food you eat, but every step you take towards a WFPB diet will improve your health and wellbeing.
WFPB top tips
See article in whole here: What is WFPB? (doctorsfornutrition.org)
Read more for yourself here:
Beginner’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet: Food List, Meal Plan, Benefits, and More | Everyday Health
Beginner's Guide to a Plant-Based Diet | Forks Over Knives
Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet Guide - Center for Nutrition Studies
Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet Plan | EatingWell
I Tried a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet: Here's What Happened | The Beet
Are you getting enough hours of sleep at night? Do you wake up each morning feeling refreshed and ready to go?
For many people, that’s not the case. It’s more common for individuals to struggle through those first hours of the day, longing to be back in bed for a few more hours. The problem is that a lack of sleep—especially a chronic lack—can lead to a number of health risks.
If your health insurance claims are increasing because your health is suffering, it could be due to a lack of quality sleep. How can you reduce these risks?
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep impacts many of your day-to-day functions. As a result, your brain health, physical health and emotional health can all be severely impacted if you aren’t getting enough quality hours of sleep at night.
How can you reduce the health risks associated with a lack of sleep?
You can prevent complications to your health by making changes to the way you sleep. Paying attention to your sleep patterns (or the lack of them) can be lifesaving.
Your health is our priority. Contact our agency for more information on health insurance.
When you insure yourself under a life insurance policy, you will name a beneficiary who will receive the policy’s payout in the event of your death. This settlement is called a death benefit, and it can ease your survivors’ financial burdens in numerous practical ways.
You might decide that leaving life insurance to family beneficiaries is the best way to enable them to settle your estate. However, a death benefit is different from other types of inheritance. Here’s what you should consider when you are choosing the death benefit for your life insurance policy.
How Do Death Benefits Work?
You buy life insurance while you are still alive, but it is only designed to pay out in the event of your death. You can choose the sum of the death benefit included within the plan, and you can also choose for how long you want the policy to cover you. Some plans only cover you for a certain term of years (term life insurance) and others last for the rest of your life (permanent life insurance).
At the time of choosing the plan, you will also name the beneficiary to who you want to receive the policy funds. You cannot be both the insured and the beneficiary on the policy since you must die for the policy to pay out benefits. Should you die while the policy is in place, your beneficiary will receive the death benefit. Some life insurance plans allow you to name primary and contingent beneficiaries, and you can also instruct that each beneficiary receive a certain percentage of the death benefit.
One positive aspect of life insurance death benefits is that they are not considered part of your estate. As a result, they will not go through the probate process. Therefore, your beneficiaries won’t automatically be obligated to repay creditors or others using this money.
Still, if you want to put stipulations on how the death benefit money is to be used, then you have the option of placing the money into a trust. The trust will be the technical beneficiary on the policy, and you can set rules within the trust on how the named trustee is to distribute the money within.
You should let your beneficiaries know that you are naming them on your life insurance policy. That way, they will know that, upon your death, they need to notify the life insurer and start the claims process. At that time, they should receive the money within a few weeks. However, they will have to provide proof of your death, and the insurer might take longer to pay out benefits (or even deny a claim) if there are suspicious circumstances surrounding your passing.
If you are unsure your loved one will know what to do with your life insurance death benefit, you can let your will or attorney provide instruction to your beneficiary after your death. Additionally, your life insurance agent can help your loved one through this process.