First Community Financial Group, Inc. Blog
Do you remember when you were young and had to check under your bed for monsters before you could go to sleep? I sure do! Because of my hyperactive imagination and the poor decision to watch one too many cheesy 80's horror movies, I was absolutely terrified of monsters when I was a kid. Every night I would thoroughly inspect all of the best hiding places in my room before I reluctantly switched off the light and frantically dashed for my bed, fully expecting to be ambushed by a mob of gremlins as soon as everything was dark. I certainly didn't want any mischievous little critters to snack on one of my exposed limbs as I slept, so I wrapped myself in a cocoon of blankets as an extra precaution. The slightest noise would make my heart race with fear and my mind travel to nightmarish situations. Peace of mind wouldn't arrive until I had finally drifted off to sleep.
Now that I am an adult who is fairly confident that there are no monsters under my bed, I have a more important question to ask: What's lurking below your mobile home? The answer probably isn't monsters, but here are three things that you may find:
Mice, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, insects and other critters may invade the space below your mobile home and cause messes, loud noises, bothersome odors and other damages. Keeping your trash and recycle bins tightly closed and making a point to keep the underside of your home clean of trash and debris are good strategies for keeping otherwise curious animals away. It also helps to keep bird feeders a good distance from your home, as they attract pesky squirrels and raccoons. According to SFGate, sprinkling chili or habanero flakes in the dirt around your home is an effective way to repel many animals. But if you do end up finding an animal under your home, don't try to remove it yourself. Instead, call your local animal control service−they can help you find a safe solution.
If there is an abundance of clay in the soil around your home or if your yard is not graded well, any water that collects under your home may not be able to drain properly. Rainfall and even plumbing leaks can lead to excess moisture, and if you don't act quickly to fix this problem, your home could become musty and moldy. My Mobile Home Makeover suggests addressing the issue of pooling rain water by stapling plastic sheeting to the bottom frames of skirting so that any water that collects will be absorbed beneath the plastic and will not damage the bottom of your home. You can also install gutters to prevent rain water from pooling underneath or around your home.
It never hurts to thoroughly inspect the bottom of your mobile home for holes. Gaps, tears and open spaces enable animals to sneak in and make your home their own. Holes could also expose water pipes and wires, which could easily be damaged by outside elements. If you find holes in the polyethylene belly wrap below your home, SFGate suggests stuffing fiberglass insulation into the space before patching it. Additionally, cleaning the area around the hole will make the patch stick more effectively. Lastly, if you plan to file a claim with your insurance company, be sure to take photos of the holes and other damages and keep careful records of your receipts and invoices related to any mobile home underbelly repairing projects.
Routinely checking under your mobile home for animals, water and holes will help you stay aware of potentially monstrous damages that require your attention.
Content Provided by: Foremost Insurance Group
there are many ways to save money on auto insurance. Many vehicle owners assume they will get the lowest rate available as soon as they request a quote. That is not always the case.
Being a smart driver means knowing what discount options are available to you. You may find a wide range of savings opportunities to help reduce your premium. Nothing is more important than being a safe driver. These five areas can help reduce costs, though.
#1: Don’t text and drive.
Consumer Reports found that insurers are raising rates for drivers who text and drive. If you receive a citation for this, you can expect your rates to jump. The organization found drivers saw a 16 percent increase in their rates when they had a citation. Any type of distracted driving citation could raise your rates.
#2: Driving less can cut your costs.
You know driving less and walking or biking more is good for the environment. It can help you save money, too. If you do not drive your vehicle often, let your car insurance company know. They will likely ask you for your approximate yearly mileage.
#3: Be picky about discounts offered for technology.
Technology is a growing area of development in vehicles today. In the future, car insurance providers will have more data to make key decisions about just how safe a driver is.
Let your insurer know about the technology your vehicle offers. This includes things like collision preparation systems, IoT connectivity, and features like driver alertness monitoring. Connected vehicles may also be able to allow their insurer to track their driving. In doing so, they could see a cost savings for reduced driving.
#4: Get a new policy when you are an older teen.
Here’s a surprising way to save on auto insurance for your teen. As your teen reaches 18 and 19 years old, have the teen request a new quote from a new insurer. Doing so could help them save. Also, note that girls tend to qualify for lower rates sooner than boys.
#5: Going green could cost you green.
Electric vehicles are still very expensive. If you have a hybrid vehicle, you will often pay more for insurance compared to the same model in standard design. This may change in the future. However, you may want to consider this before you buy a new electric car.
Talk to your auto insurance provider or the agents here at our office to find out which discounts can help you save. Ask for the money savings – they do not always give you ever discount.
Whether you are buying your first home or moving to a new home, you have to make sure that your homeowners insurance needs are met. Homeowners insurance isn’t always easy to understand, and it does have its fair share of unique terms. It is sometimes easy to make mistakes when setting up your policy, and this might affect how much money you are entitled to receive from a settlement.
Try to avoid making the following mistakes when putting together your homeowners insurance policy.
Overestimating How Much Home Insurance You Have
It’s common for homebuyers to only purchase a basic homeowners insurance policy and expect it to cover them against any potential property loss. However, the most standard coverage won’t always cover you.
In general, your dwelling insurance limits should be worth at least 80% of your home’s replacement cost value. Should your home be destroyed in a catastrophic event, then this coverage can help you rebuild your home similar to how it was before the hazard. Keep in mind, certain types of damage, such as earthquake and flood damage, will not be covered under your standard dwelling insurance.
Waiting Too Long to File a Claim
If you ever have to file a claim on your homeowners insurance, then you need to do so promptly. If you wait months (or even years) then your insurer will have a harder time verifying your claim, and as a result, they might decline to cover you. Most filing periods cut off from 30 to 90 days past the loss occurrence. The earlier you file, the sooner you will get a settlement for your losses.
Having a Deductible that is Too High or Too Low
Your dwelling and possessions coverage will likely contain deductibles, which are dollar amounts that you must pay for losses before your insurance will pay. So, if you have a $500 possessions deductible, then you must pay for $500 worth of damage to your possessions out of pocket before insurance will cover any damages. A deductible that is too high can make it difficult to pay when you need to. On the other hand, a deductible that is too low can result in high premiums.
Not Notifying Your Insurer of Changes
When you make changes in your home, you must notify your home insurer. For example, if you add a new wing to the home, then you must notify your insurer. This will guarantee that your policy will provide the appropriate coverage. Failing to notify the insurer could result in a lack of coverage later on.
Don’t forget, while it is important to save money on home insurance, it is also important that you consider other aspects of coverage. It’s imperative to have the right balance of coverage, rather than the cheapest policy altogether. Our agents will help you ensure that you always have the perfect balance of coverage.
When your car brakes, then you are initializing a complex system of mechanical components that will work together to bring your vehicle to a stop. The average car weighs about 3 to 5 tons, and the fact that your brakes help stop this heavy machine within a few meters, countless times per year, is a testament to their reliability. You need your brakes to always be there for you at a moment’s notice.
However, everything mechanical will have problems from time to time. Periodically, you will need to have your brakes serviced, repaired or replaced. Consider six of the warning signs that will usually indicate that it’s time for a brake check:
You Hear a High-Pitched Squeal
Brake pads contain a metal component known as an indicator. Over time, the pads will wear down and expose the indicator. At this time, the exposed indicator will rub against your rotator, causing a loud, high-pitched and unmistakable squealing sound. This is a clear indicator that you need to change your brake pads.
The Brake Warning Light Turns On
Your brake warning light is designed to turn on when problems within the braking system are detected. Sometimes, the light will come on and turn off sporadically, which can make drivers feel tempted to ignore the signal. However, even one light-up of the brake light is an indicator that you need to make an appointment with the mechanic.
The Brake Pedal Goes to the Floor
Sometimes, you might be depressing your brake pedal only to feel the pressure give way and the pedal goes to the floor. This could mean that you have a bad master cylinder. You need the master cylinder to work appropriately to have appropriate brake pressure.
Your Brakes Pulsate
Brake rotors sometimes become warped or corroded, which can lead to you feeling a pulsating vibration when you try to stop the car. You might need to replace the brake rotors or to have them turned. Turning involves smoothing the rotor by shaving metal off.
Your Brake Fluid Looks Milky
At times, condensation in the line can make your brake fluid have a milky color. At this time, you should change the fluid because letting it stagnate could do damage to the master cylinder and wheel cylinders. Your owner’s manual will include directions to help you locate the fluid container under your hood.
Your Brake Lines Are Rusty
Rusted brake lines can become disjointed and cause fluid to spill. Brake lines have a very thin protective coating that will wear out over time, and which can expose the metal under the coating to rust. A small amount of rust is okay, but heavy flaking or bubbling rust is not.
Avoid costly repairs and possible brake failure by recognizing the signs of problem brakes. If your brakes feel weak and require more stopping distance than usual, get them checked.
Anyone who's been through a flood knows that recovering after this kind of disaster isn't easy. You're forced to accept that irreplaceable family treasures and memories may be gone forever, your furniture is destroyed, potentially along with your home. It's a devastating and emotional moment and a lot to take in all at once. But you know the only thing you can do is move forward, and begin the steps needed to restore your home.
As soon as the floodwaters recede, you can return to your home as long as officials give the OK to do so. Before entering your home, however, make sure it is safe!
Tips for staying safe upon return:
Bring waterproof boots, a first aid kit, cleaning supplies and a battery-powered flashlight with you before entering the house! You never know what you'll run into.
Tips for claim reporting: Another important step to take when recovering from a flood is reporting your loss immediately to your insurance agent or carrier. While flood coverage is typically not provided under most homeowners and renters policies, flood insurance may be available to you through the federally regulated program known as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you need assistance to locate your flood insurance carrier, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). A claims adjuster should contact you within a day or two after report of the claim, depending on the severity of the flood event.
When reporting a claim, you should have the following information available:
When the adjuster arrives, they will inspect your property including taking measurements and photos and give you an overview of the NFIP flood claims process. Remember that some flood insurance claims are more complex than others. Some may be opened and closed quickly, while others may take weeks or even months to resolve.
If your vehicle was also damaged in a flood event, it's best to call your auto insurance provider to see if you're covered for the loss.
Contact us today for a free Flood Quote.
If you have life insurance, then you will name a beneficiary. The beneficiary is the person who will receive the death benefit payout upon your death. You want your life insurance to help your survivors move on financially. However, choosing the right beneficiary might feel like a big challenge, particularly if you are single.
Still, if you are single and are in the process of getting life insurance, you have a lot of freedom to choose the beneficiary who you think will be most capable of settling your final expenses. Choosing a beneficiary for your policy is completely up to you. Still, you should put appropriate thought into naming the right recipient.
Consider how the following individuals might benefit from your policy:
Plus, there are countless other people who you might decide to make beneficiaries on your policy—friends, siblings, business partners or extended relatives. In reality, the decision of who to name as a beneficiary is entirely up to you, and as a single individual, you have a lot of room for leverage.
The choice of beneficiaries is an important part of life insurance decisions. And, it always helps to have more than one listed on the plan (in case the first person cannot accept the funds). Take a few minutes to discuss your needs with your loved ones so you can make the best decision going forward.
Christmas trees are a beloved holiday tradition in Livingston, Texas, but they can pose a fire risk. On average, says the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the country respond to more than 200 blazes related to holiday trees each year.
Despite how much we here at First Community Financial Group support our local firefighting heroes, we hope they won’t have a reason to show up at your doorstep this holiday season! So, here are our common-sense suggestions for enjoying a Christmas tree safely:
1. If you opt for an artificial tree, be sure it has a flame retardant label or certification. If you’re picking out a live tree, forgo the one with brownish needles that are falling out – it’s too dry. Instead choose one with fresh, green needles that don’t fall out even when you shake the limb.
2. Place your live tree in water as soon as possible, using about a quart of water per each inch of stem diameter. Before you do, however, make a fresh cut from the stem bottom – straight across – to help the tree get water. Replenish the water regularly.
3. Situate the tree so you can still access the exits in the room, and keep it at least 3 feet away from open flames or heat sources, such as your fireplace or radiator.
4. Now it’s time for the best part – trimming the tree. Choose lights and other decorations labeled as flame retardant, and make sure your lights don’t have frayed or worn wires. Leaving the house or going to sleep? Be sure to unplug those lights.
5. It’s always a chore – and somewhat of a bummer – to take down the tree each year, but do so sooner rather than later, especially with a live tree. Otherwise you prolong your risk of a fire. Check for tree recycling options in your area for responsible disposal.
No matter if you trim your tree with popcorn or with heirloom ornaments, we hope it brings the magic of the season alive for you and your loved ones this year. Happy holidays from all of us at First Community Financial Group!
The days are short. The air is cold. And, roads are often slick with rain, snow or ice.
It’s winter driving season in Texas. And, while most people know what to do to try to avoid an accident, many don’t know what to do after one. It’s vital knowledge to have, because the aftermath of a crash can be just as dangerous as the crash itself — especially when it’s cold and snowy.
Here are five things to do (or not do) if you’re in an accident this winter to help keep yourself and others safe:
1. Make sure everyone’s OK — then get off the road if you can. The safety of everyone involved in a crash is the first concern, of course. So, check on the occupants of each vehicle and call for emergency assistance if it’s needed. Then, if the vehicles are drivable, get them off the road as soon – and as carefully – as possible.
2. Stay in your car if you can’t safely move away. If you can’t get your car off the road, but you can get off the road, wait until there’s no traffic around and then move well out of the way. Otherwise, stay in the car so you’re protected from other vehicles.
3. Stay visible — and warm. Turn on your hazard lights and put up road flares so other vehicles know something is wrong. And, grab your vehicle emergency kit (you have one, right?) for blankets and extra clothing. If you’ve run off the road and you’re still in your car, make sure nothing is blocking your exhaust pipe. Otherwise carbon monoxide may build up.
4. If you’re stranded, stay put. Running off the road in a remote area is scary, but resist the urge to try to walk for help. You risk getting lost, especially during a storm, if you set off on foot.
5. See a crash? Don’t always stop to help. Being a Good Samaritan could cause more problems than it solves. So, if those involved aren’t in immediate danger, call 911 and let the professionals help with medical aid and traffic control.
It’s not always easy, but keeping a cool head after an accident will do more than help everyone get through a stressful situation — it will help keep everyone safer, too.
And, remember, if something does happen on the road this winter, your First Community Financial Group agent is here to help with your auto accident claim. If you’re unsure whether you’re carrying the right coverage, contact us now and let us review your policy before it’s too late!
If you're anything like me here in Livingston, TX, you look forward to the cooler seasons of the year — a break from the heat and a little kiss on your nose from the chill is welcome. However, once that first cold morning hits, you often wish those days of humidity and heat were back with a passion.
Here are a number of tactics to help you survive the cold and keep your toes warm in your mobile home this winter.
Content provided by Foremost Insurance Group 2021
Mobile Home Insurance in Livingston, TX and surrounding areas (firstcfg.com)