First Community Financial Group, Inc. Blog
If you live in a climate with snowy winters, you'll most likely be putting your motorcycle away for the season.
Your bike is an investment of your finances and your time, and it's important to think about keeping it clean and safe while the weather is cold and snowy. When you prepare your motorcycle for storage, keep these helpful tips in mind to ensure it's in tip-top shape for next year!
Please note: You should also follow the manufacturer's recommendations for any other winterizing requirements not mentioned in this article.
By taking the time to properly prepare your motorcycle for storage, you'll save more time in the spring when you want to take your bike out on the open road. Stay safe, and ride on!
Content provided by Foremost Insurance www.Foremost.com
Please check our our motorcycle rates! We have some of the best in town!
Snow-mageddon in February 2021 hit all Texans hard.
Many of our customers had losses due to frozen pipes.
It’s hard to think of a worse start to a winter day in Texas than turning on the faucet and … nothing. Maybe there’s a trickle of water, but it’s clear you have a frozen pipe. So, what now?
Here are some smart tips to help you prevent or address what could easily become a very messy and expensive situation:
· See to your outdoor water lines: Before cold weather arrives, drain water sprinkler and swimming pool supply lines, and remove, drain and store outdoor hoses. If possible, close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs, and open the outside hose bibs for draining. Keep them open so any remaining water can expand without breaking the pipe. If you can't shut off the water from the inside, pick up some foam faucet covers.
· Keep your home warm: Maintain an interior temperature of at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even when you’re sleeping or not at home. Seal any drafts and leave interior doors open to help keep an even temperature from room to room.
· Tend to those pipes: Leave the cabinet doors open in the kitchen and bathroom so your pipes aren’t shut off from the warm air. You can also insulate your pipes with sleeves, heat tape or heat cable. Insulation is especially important in unheated areas, such as your attic, basement, garage or crawl space, and for pipes running along exterior walls. During severe cold spells, you may want to leave all faucets, both hot and cold, running at a slight trickle.
· Call in a professional: Frozen water in your pipes can cause them to burst, meaning you’ll have a mess on your hands once that water unthaws. So, act quickly to shut off your main water supply, and call in a licensed plumber to see to the situation.
Finally, be sure to touch base with us at First Community Financial Group to check whether you’re covered for the damage a frozen pipe may cause. We’re happy to answer all of your policy questions this winter, and beyond.
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Protect your family from the ‘silent killer’Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, invisible gas that results when certain fuels do not burn completely. And it can be deadly. That’s why it’s important to know how to prevent it, detect it, and protect yourself and your family from its effects.
In the home, carbon monoxide is most commonly formed by flames and heaters, as well as vehicles or generators that are running in an attached garage. As temperatures drop and more people are cranking the heat and hovering over the stove inside and warming up the car’s engine before hitting the road, it’s especially critical to ensure your family’s safety against this lethal gas.
Since carbon monoxide cannot be detected without a carbon monoxide detection device, it is essential to install and maintain one or more detectors in your home.
At First Community Financial Group, we want you and your family to stay protected, so check out the following tips from CAL FIRE San Diego County Fire Authority for safeguarding your household.
· The International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. A detector should be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door, and there should be one near or over any attached garage.
· Each detector should be replaced every five to six years.
· Battery-only carbon monoxide detectors tend to go through batteries more frequently than expected. Plug-in detectors with a battery backup (for use if power is interrupted) provide less battery-changing maintenance.
· Thoroughly read the installation manual that comes with the individual detector you purchase. Manufacturers’ recommendations differ to a certain degree based on research conducted with detectors for specific brands.
· Remember that carbon monoxide detectors do not serve as smoke detectors and vice versa. You can, however, purchase a dual smoke/carbon monoxide detector that can perform both functions.
· Do not install carbon monoxide detectors next to fuel-burning appliances, as these appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon startup.
In case of exposure
At First Community Financial Group, we hope you never have to use the following tips from the Mayo Clinic, but please read on for good information that could help save a life.
If you suspect that you or someone you know has been exposed to carbon monoxide, check for the following symptoms:
· dull headache
· shortness of breath
· loss of consciousness
If any of the symptoms exist, move the individual into fresh air and seek emergency medical care immediately. REMEMBER TO CALL 911!
The CDC also has a slew of resources:
Frequently Asked Questions | CDC
Emergencies and Generators | CDC
Prevention Guidance | Carbon Monoxide Poisoning | CDC
Every year during the holidays, people in Texas and the rest of the U.S.A. look for ways to give gifts, not just to family and friends but to those less fortunate. It’s the spirit of the season.
Unfortunately, some of the charities out there don’t help people as fully as they claim – or possibly not at all. As if that weren’t enough, bogus organizations take advantage of people’s goodwill by stealing credit card and bank account information, along with identities, from people who think they’re donating to a legitimate cause.
It doesn’t mean you can’t be generous this holiday season. It just means a little extra caution is in order. Here are four tips for making smart and safe holiday donations:
1. Verify the charity is legitimate.
Sure, the name sounds official and you think your friend mentioned what good work they do. Or does the charity simply have a name similar to another well-known organization? Before you donate, do a little digging.
Enter the charity’s name at Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator or GuideStar, and, if you feel comfortable after reading about the organization, go ahead and donate. If not, look for another charity that supports the same cause. A good rule of thumb is to look for organizations with 501(c)(3) status.
2. Steer clear of pop-up charities.
A pop-up charity is anything but charitable. These groups spring into action at opportune times, namely when people are feeling generous, such as during the holidays or following a disaster. The so-called charity is actually a scam designed to steal money, credit card numbers, bank account information and identities from unsuspecting donors. If, during your research, you come across an organization that seemingly appeared out of the blue, do not share any of your personal information with it.
3. Be careful with digital donations.
Now that you’ve researched the charity, how do you plan to donate? If it’s online, be sure to type in the website address correctly. Fraudsters put up realistic-looking sites using a URL similar to a well-known charity’s to trick people into donating. But, they’re not donating at all. They’re lining the pockets of thieves.
Once you know you’re on the correct site, check that it’s secure before submitting any credit card information. Simply look for “https” instead of “http” at the beginning of the URL.
Likewise, that email you received from a prominent charity may be a fake. Instead of clicking on a link in an email to donate, go directly to your Web browser and type in the address yourself.
4. Avoid phone and door-to-door solicitors.
If people call or knock on your door out of the blue asking for a contribution to this or that organization, ask them for the charity’s website or mailing address instead of donating right then and there. Even if it’s a charity you’ve heard of, the operation may be a scam. It’s always safer for you to initiate the donation by visiting the charity’s website or mailing in a check. Plus, fundraising over the phone requires a middleman – that agent calling you – who must be paid, reducing the amount of your donation that goes to the charity.
It feels good to be in a giving mood during the holidays. With a little legwork to look into the legitimacy and practices of the charity, your donation will help others feel good too.
At First Community Financial Group, we can work with you to make sure you've got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 936-327-4364 or send us a note at email@example.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what's important to you is protected!
Content provided by Safeco Insurance.
The holidays have arrived in Livingston and East Texas! For those with one or more four-legged friends in the house, it’s time to go over some safety tips. After all, you want all of your family members to enjoy the festivities – even the furry ones.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which operates the 24-hour Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435, takes calls year round about pets being exposed to potentially hazardous yet common household items. With the house filled with guests, presents and decorations during the holidays, the risks multiply.
Here are some things to remember and consider from Thanksgiving through New Year’s to help keep Fluffy or Fido healthy, happy and safe:
Make sure everyone keeps medicine bottles or pill cases safely tucked away – actually that applies to everyone in your household, both permanent residents and visitors. And, just in case a probing pet gets into some medications, always make sure the containers are labeled with the contents and potency so you know what was ingested.
Of course, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without sharing in feasts and treats with family and friends. Just make sure that doesn’t extend to your pets. After all, some things on the holiday dinner table, such as alcohol and chocolate, are toxic for pets.
And, because all of the seasonal commotion may become too much for your pets, be sure they have a quiet place to which they can retreat. Let others know your pets shouldn’t be disturbed when they are in their quiet spot, whether it’s a bed, a cozy blanket or a kennel.
Those beautifully wrapped presents under the tree or covering the fireplace mantel can also be harmful to your oh-so-curious felines and canines – especially if a present contains treats for them or food for humans. Animals have a keen sense of smell and, once they sense that food is nearby, they’ll be more than happy to unwrap and eat both the outer and inner contents of the gift. Those ribbons and bows that you worked so hard on perfecting may end up wreaking havoc on your pet’s digestive tract.
Besides the obvious precautions of making sure wires, batteries and poisonous/toxic plants (such as holly, mistletoe and poinsettias) are all out of paw’s reach, make sure that plastic and glass ornaments are far away as well. If chewed or eaten, these items can cause electrical shock, acid burns, dermatitis and mouth abrasions.
You should also remember that, as beautiful and fun as they are, snow globes contain ethylene glycol, a highly toxic substance to all pets. Another substance that you may not think of as harmful to pets is salt, and homemade play dough is loaded with it. Watch pets while your children are playing with it or around ornaments made with it. The dough can cause life-threatening electrolyte imbalances.
Scented candles may also be a holiday staple, but they may be enticing to our pets, which are at risk for serious burns and other injuries. Best to keep those candles completely out of reach.
Finally, make sure you have the phone number for your local emergency veterinarian or the ASPCA hotline on hand for emergencies.
With these tips in mind, you can help keep your four-legged family member safe during the holidays – and all year round. We here at First Community Financial Group wish you a very happy holiday season!
Texas' roads are full of cars — but often, they’re also full of wildlife. That’s why an estimated 2 million vehicle-animal collisions happen each year across America, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Fall and winter constitute the most dangerous periods for these incidents. Visibility is reduced, thanks to the shorter days and inclement weather, and it’s also migration and mating season for many animals. But, you can still take steps to decrease the chances you’ll hit an animal. Here are five things to do:
1. Be particularly alert at dawn and dusk. Visibility is low at these times, and animal activity is high.
2. Keep an eye out for signs. If you’re in an area where wildlife is common, you may see posted warnings.
3. Watch your speed. Avoiding any kind of collision is easier if you’re travelling at an appropriate rate of speed. And, it’s not just about the speed limit. In certain conditions, driving under the speed limit is more optimal.
4. See an animal? Look for more. Missing one animal doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods, so to speak. There are probably others around.
5. Don’t swerve. If possible, don’t make any wild maneuvers. You could end up hitting something worse than an animal — like another car — or going into a ditch or down an embankment. Use your brakes, use your horn, and use your good judgment.
Sometimes, though, collisions just can’t be avoided. If you do hit an animal, here’s what to do next:
· Call 911 for assistance, especially if there are injuries to you or passengers.
· Don’t touch the animal. They can be dangerous, even when hurt.
· Document the accident scene and the damage to your car.
· Get in touch with your insurance carrier or with us.
Keep in mind that the same attributes that make for safe everyday driving can also help you avoid animal collisions: Remain alert, maintain a safe speed for conditions and avoid distractions.
Also, be sure to carry adequate car insurance in case something – animal-related or otherwise – does happen.
10 Things to Do to Prepare Your Home for Fall
Fall is a wonderful time in Livingston, TX and all of East Texas — if your home is ready for it.
Yes, this is the time of year to fix small problems before they become big, and big ones before they become catastrophic. Here are 10 tips to help:
1. Look up. Examine your roof closely. Remove moss, clear debris from your gutters and downspouts, and repair any damage.
2. Look down. Check for signs of animals and insects around your home and garage, including in the basement and crawlspace. Bring in a professional to get rid of unwanted guests.
3. Keep things warm. Heat escapes through leaks around windows and doors, so seal up any drafty areas. Outside, put covers over faucets before temperatures drop.
4. Keep things dry. Drain outdoor hoses, faucets and irrigation systems. Look in the basement and crawlspace for wet spots. And, make sure your water heater or boiler isn’t leaking.
5. Clear the air (or vents and filters, at least). When’s the last time you checked your dryer vent? You should take a look at attic vents and exhaust ducts, as well. And, change that furnace filter!
6. Take a walk. Cracks in your driveway or walkways will only get bigger, so get them fixed soon. If your deck has signs of wear, make repairs now.
7. Get a tune-up. You or a professional should clean and tune your furnace, boiler and/or water heater, as well as your oven and range.
8. Don’t play with fire. Before building your first fireplace fire of the season, check for soot or creosote build-up.
9. Don’t play with fire extinguishers, either. But, check them to ensure they still have pressure. Don’t have fire extinguishers? Put them on your shopping list, ideally one for each floor.
10. Don’t forget those smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. Replace batteries when needed, and test regularly that alarms are working.
Keeping your home insurance policy in tip-top condition is smart, too. Remember to check in with us at least once a year to update your policy so you’re covered for your new remodel, additions or personal possessions.
There’s never been a more critical time than now to protect yourself against the flu. Even with widespread public health initiatives and disease prevention, the flu remains a potent and deadly threat to the American public. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a worldwide health hazard, it’s essential to do all you can to prevent any instance of illness, the flu included.
Fortunately, the flu vaccine provides powerful, accessible protection against this widespread seasonal illness. Even if you’ve never had the flu, that doesn’t mean you are immune to it. This simple immunization serves as one of the best and most surefire disease prevention mechanisms this flu season.
Getting a Flu Shot? Use Your Insurance!
The Affordable Care Act requires most health insurance plans to cover a yearly flu vaccine as a preventative service. The flu vaccine is crucial in disease control and prevention. Under the law, insurers must cover these items at no cost to the insured patient.
Use caution when verifying your insurance coverage for a flu vaccine. You may have to follow specific insurance regulations to get a free shot, and some older plans still might not cover the cost of the vaccine in full. For example, you might have to visit a particular provider within your insurance network to receive the vaccine.
State health departments and other regulators have put various programs in place to help uninsured and underinsured individuals get flu shots. Contact your insurer or your local health department to see if you qualify for a free or reduced-cost vaccine.
Getting the Vaccine and Preventing the Flu
Before receiving your flu vaccine, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Get the most updated vaccine. To ensure you receive full coverage for your flu shot, make sure you’re getting the correct vaccine. The flu vaccine changes from year to year, so always get the most recent version.
Ask which shot your insurer covers. For example, one form of the flu vaccine, the flu mist, was a non-shot alternative to the traditional immunization. However, questions about the reliability of this method have caused many insurers to drop coverage for the mist. If your insurer is one of them, you may only qualify for a free vaccine if you get the traditional shot.
Plan to get your flu shot early in the season. It is best to get your flu shot earlier in the flu season. The flu vaccine usually takes full effect a couple of weeks after you get the shot. If you’re already sick, you won’t benefit from it. So, make sure you’re healthy, and then get the shot when it first becomes available.
Prepare for mild symptoms. After getting the vaccine, you may experience mild symptoms, such as headaches, fever and lethargy. This is normal as the vaccine takes effect in your body and your immune system begins to produce antibodies. The symptoms should diminish within two to three days of receiving the shot.
We have answers to your questions on health insurance coverage for flu shots. Contact our agency today for more information.
When the air feels crisper, the leaves start changing and the pumpkin spice products make their reappearance in stores … you know the best time of the year has arrived: fall! One of the best parts of fall is the food, the warm cider and of course … decorating your home! Changing up your home décor is always fun reminder to enjoy the seasons changing, and can make your space feel a little cozier. However, it can get a little pricey if you don't take advantage of DIY projects. Here's some easy and inexpensive ways to brighten up your home for autumn!
Once you've redecorated your space, don't forget to relax and enjoy this time of year!
Content provided by: Foremost Insurance Group