First Community Financial Group, Inc. Blog
Everyone loves vacation.
But, vacationing in your own seasonal home? Even better.
However, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to protecting your investment in a vacation home, and you definitely want to protect it. We here at First Community Financial Group can help by making sure you have the insurance coverage you want.
To that end, here are four things that may impact the coverage you choose and how much you’ll pay for it:
1. Separate Policy: Your seasonal home won’t be part of your primary property policy. It needs its own policy, and you can expect it to be similar to the one for your primary residence. However, you do need to watch out for “named perils” coverage, under which your policy explicitly lists the perils it will cover. If a peril isn’t listed, no coverage. We typically steer homeowners away from this type of coverage, in favor of broader coverage.
2. Location and Occupancy: The “where” of your vacation home is no doubt among the primary reasons why you bought it. But, it will also impact your insurance costs. Rural areas are hard for emergency responders to reach, and waterfront homes are prone to flooding. These added risks can mean added insurance costs, such as the need for a separate flood policy. If the home is unoccupied or rented for much of the year, there are even more insurance considerations.
3. Personal Property: Establishing and maintaining a separate inventory of the things you keep at your vacation home will help you select an appropriate level of personal property coverage. If it’s filled with expensive skiing and snowboarding gear, for example, you may need increased coverage or to schedule some of the more valuable items separately.
4. Extra Liability Protection: If you plan to regularly host guests at your summer or winter retreat, you should consider an umbrella policy, which will help to increase your liability limits in case someone is seriously injured on your property. This can go for invited and uninvited guests alike.
We know you want to relax and enjoy your chosen spot in the sun – or snow. Having the right insurance coverage helps you do just that, so give us a call and let us help today, so you can rest easy tonight.
Whether your East Texas home is a three-story Tudor, a skyline-grazing apartment or an RV on wheels, you need at least one fire extinguisher for it. But if you don’t have the right one, or you haven’t checked it recently, you may have a false sense of security rather than a fire-fighting device.
There are a few important things to know about fire extinguishers, but they aren’t complicated. Here are three things to help you get up to speed:
1. There are extinguishers for each type of fire. Class A: ordinary combustibles, such as wood; Class B: flammable liquids or gasses, such as gasoline or propane; Class C: energized electrical equipment like appliances; Class D: combustible metals; and Class K: cooking oils and greases. An extinguisher that isn’t rated for the fire you’re trying to fight likely won’t help.
2. Multipurpose extinguishers are widely available. Typically rated for Class A, B and C fires, they are good for most living areas and also work on small grease fires. You need at least one for each level of your home, and one in the garage is a good idea, too. Store them in an accessible area and inspect them regularly for rust and other damage. Also follow any maintenance instructions included with the device. Some need to be shaken regularly, for example.
3. Remember “P.A.S.S.” when you use your extinguisher.
And always keep your back to an exit when fighting a fire. You need to be able to escape quickly if necessary.
Even more important than knowing how to use your fire extinguisher is knowing when not to use it. If you’d be putting yourself at risk trying to fight a fire, leave the area immediately. You should already have a family fire escape plan in place, so don’t hesitate to use it if there’s any question about your safety.
After all, your life is irreplaceable. Your insurance, however, can help you rebuild your home and replace your belongings. If you’d like to check up on your coverage, give us a call today. Contact Us - First Community Financial Group Inc (firstcfg.com)
Spring is here in Deep East Texas, which means you'll likely see more motorcycles on the road. And the key word here is "see." People driving cars and trucks often fail to notice the motorcyclists around them, partly because they're not accustomed to looking for them.
It's obvious yet bears repeating: Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than car and truck drivers and passengers. Not only are there many more cars and trucks on the road, but there's no such thing as a "fender bender" for a motorcyclist. Even a low-speed collision can seriously injure a rider, not to mention total the bike, so it's important to always give motorcycles extra space and an extra look.
Below are six tips to help you safely share the road with motorcyclists.
Objects in mirror. The object in your mirror may be closer than it appears — especially if it's a motorcycle. Due to its size, it can be harder to determine how close a motorcycle is and how fast it's moving. When turning into traffic, always estimate a bike to be closer than it appears to avoid forcing a rider to quickly hit the brakes — or worse.
Watch those left turns. One of the most common motorcycle accidents involves a car making a left turn directly in front of a bike at an intersection. Give yourself an extra moment to look specifically for motorcycles coming toward you when turning into traffic.
Double-check your blind spot. Carefully checking your blind spot before changing lanes is always a good idea. When it comes to motorcycles, it's critical. A bike can be easily obscured in the blind spot, hidden behind your car’s roof pillars, or blend in with cars in other lanes, so make a habit of checking carefully before changing lanes. Plus, always use your turn signal.
Don’t tailgate. This is another general rule for all drivers, but it's especially important when following a motorcycle. Be aware that many riders decrease speed by downshifting or easing off the throttle, so you won't see any brake lights even though they are slowing down. Following at least three seconds behind the bike should give you enough time and space to safely slow down or stop when necessary.
Stay in your lane. Obviously, motorcycles don't take up an entire lane the way cars or trucks do. But that doesn't mean you can cozy up and share a lane with a bike. Just because the rider may be hugging one side of the lane doesn't mean you can move into that space. Riders are likely doing this to avoid debris, oil on the road, or a pothole, so a bit of mild swerving within the lane can be expected. Do not crowd into the lane with a bike.
Think about motorcycles. Making a habit of always checking for bikes when you drive will make the above tips second nature and make you a better driver. To personalize it, think about your friends and family members who ride bikes and then drive as if they are on the road with you. Motorcyclists — and everyone else — will thank you.
Content provided by Safeco Insurance.
First Community Financial Group Incorporated (safeco.com)
Your home protects you from the elements, but heavy rains can weaken that protection. With a little maintenance and a lot of vigilance, it’s not hard to stay safe and dry.
Spring rainstorms in Texas are a fact of life in many areas of the state, and they help keep things green, even if they keep you inside. But when they get heavy, it’s time to start thinking about the potential impact all that water has on your home.
The first step is finding and fixing any immediate problems as soon as it’s safe to do so. Then, you’ll want to take measures to prevent those problems from happening during the next downpour!
Where is all that rain going?
Your roof and gutters form a key line of defense for your home – and in a storm, they’re vulnerable, because so many things can damage them. Trees, hail, and other objects can create weaknesses that might lead to leaks in your roof, so check for missing shingles and other issues. And keep your gutters clear so all that water drains properly.
Are you checking everywhere?
Water dripping from the ceiling is hard to miss. Water in your crawl space, however, can easily go undetected because hardly anyone ever checks there. Don’t forget to look down there after a storm (or have a professional do it) to make sure everything is nice and dry. If you do see moisture, you’ll want to get it out with a sump pump as soon as possible.
And don’t just look up – another place to check is your home’s exterior, whether it’s siding, brick, or another material. Weak spots can be hard to see, so look at various times of the day in different lighting conditions.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep the elements out, too.
What about around your property?
Storm water has to go somewhere, and if your property doesn’t drain well, or if runoff goes toward your foundation, you could have problems. So watch for patterns, and grade property so it drains away from your home if possible. Always be wary of hillsides and tilting trees after heavy storms, because the land might not be stable.
And don’t forget to keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris. This can prevent flooding both on the streets and your own property.
What should you do during the storm?
During powerful storms, stay inside. This is not the time to check your roof, your exterior, or your property unless there’s an emergency and you know it’s safe to go out. Monitor your interior, making sure no water is getting in. If it is, do what you can to alleviate the situation in the moment, even if it means just placing something under a leak to collect the water. For more serious problems, though, remember that safety is the most important thing. If your basement is flooding, for example, don’t go down there – you could be trapped and even drown.
Thankfully, powerful storms only hit once in a while. Preparing for them, however, should be on your mind a lot more frequently, because the next one could be tomorrow.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
First Community Financial Group Incorporated (safeco.com)
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many are choosing to take road trips because of the lower health and safety risks, and more affordable prices when weighed next to flying.
Long hours in the car still pose their fair share of risks, however. Therefore, if you are planning a summer road trip, you should always take the time to prepare for the worst. Simply put, the costs of getting ready for a trip will prove much lower than anything resulting from a mishap on the road.
Get Your Car Ready for Travel
When on a road trip, you will want to get where you’re going (and back) in one piece. A properly functioning vehicle can help you avoid both breakdowns and accidents, and you should make certain that your vehicle is in prime working order before you leave on your trip.
No matter what you do beforehand, your actions behind the wheel during a road trip will be the factors that ensure that your family remains safe. If you do not drive safely, then your risk of an accident will increase. All in all, when you set out on your trip, remember that you have precious cargo in hand.
What Is Farm Insurance?
Farm insurance (often sold as farm and ranch owners insurance) is a combination commercial and personal insurance product for farmers and ranchers that covers both their business and their home, as most farmers live on the property they use for their farming/ranching business. Farm and ranch owners insurance can provide coverage for a range of agricultural entities from small hobby farms to large corporate farms.
It depends on the policy, but farm and ranch Insurance can cover everything from structures and equipment to ranches and equine operations — in addition to personal homes, vehicles, and household property. Insureds can often tailor policies to fit their needs, no matter what type of agricultural operation they are running.
What Does Farm Insurance Cover?
Specific coverages offered vary by insurer, and policies can be custom-tailored to fit each farm or ranch’s needs. Generally, however, standard farm insurance includes a blend of commercial and personal insurance coverage for the following:
● Dwellings and personal contents against risks usually covered by a homeowners insurance policy
● Other private structures on the same property as the main insured structure
● Outbuildings or other farm structures (such as barns, machine sheds, detached garages, and more)
● Personal passenger and commercial vehicles against risks usually covered by a personal or commercial auto policy
● Machinery and farm equipment (such as tractors)
● Personal, commercial, and professional liability and legal fees for injury and damage to others on your farm
● Additional living expenses if you have to move out of your home due to a covered loss
Farm insurance covers livestock ranches, crop farmers, vineyards and wineries, and everything in between. Your Trusted Choice agent will review your unique ranch or farm operation with you to determine your specific needs — and then comparison shop among numerous insurers for you to find the most appropriate coverages at competitive prices.
What Doesn’t Farm Insurance Cover?
Farm Insurance usually does not cover the following, although coverage can typically be added onto a policy for an additional cost:
● “Agri-tainment,” or opening a farm to the public for activities on your property such as apple picking and hayrides
● Animal waste pollution
● Chemical drift (such as pesticide droplets drifting to areas other than the intended treated area)
● Crop damage due to various covered perils
● Disruption of farming operations due to a covered loss
● Damage to electric gates and fencing due to covered loss
● Employee benefits
● Fire (if your dwellings or structures aren’t located near an adequate water source for extinguishing fires)
● Replacement of irrigation systems
● Livestock and equine operations
● Transportation of property
● Workers’ compensation
Does Farm Insurance Cover Employees?
Farmers with employees can add additional coverages to their farm insurance policy to cover both employer and employees for risks that are specified as covered in the policy. Employer liability can protect farmers from costs associated with employee bodily injuries due to workplace accidents. Workers’ compensation can also be added to help with medical expenses for employees injured on the job and to ensure operations can continue after an employee injury.
Does Farm Insurance Cover Work Horses?
The equine operation is a unique aspect of farm and ranch businesses. Unlike livestock, horses typically are not owned to produce commodities (such as milk, wool, or meat) and instead are raised for various other uses including breeding, show, or work.
Additional coverage for equine operations is available to include in most farm insurance policies. Equine operations coverage typically will compensate for the death of horses due to sickness, disease, disaster, and theft. The amount of equine coverage needed will depend on the use of horses on the farm. For example, a horse bred for show or one used to herd cattle may need more coverage than a horse that is ridden only for pleasure — because the show or work horse is used to earn profit, while the pleasure horse is not.
Why Do I Need Farm Insurance?
Farms and ranches face many of the same perils and risks as homes and commercial businesses, such as fire, storms and theft. They also have a whole host of unique risks —including death of livestock or destruction of crops by hail, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). Farm Insurance allows you to package a variety of policies into one contract for the optimal coverage for your specific business.
Your farm or ranch is a home that generates income. Getting the right coverage is crucial to protect both.
Do I Need Farm Insurance if I Lease or Rent My Property to a Farmer?
The owner of a property that is used for farming or ranching has liability exposure whether or not they themselves do the farming, or if they rent or lease their land out to someone who does. For example, property owners can be liable if the renting farmer or rancher is injured on the property. So, farm insurance is a wise investment for farmland owners even if they rent or lease the property.
How Do I Get Farm Insurance?
A variety of insurance companies offer farm Insurance — and what’s covered under their policies can be just as varied. What one insurer considers a standard coverage can be considered an add-on by another.
A Trusted Choice agent in your area like First Community Financial Group can help you find the best coverage options for your needs. Your agent is a trained professional who will know your business and the carriers, or insurance companies, that provide the coverages you need. That agent will comparison shop for you to find appropriate coverage at competitive prices. Your Trusted Choice agent can give you peace of mind that you can keep your farming business and lifestyle going strong, no matter what risks come your way.
How Much Does Farm Insurance Cost?
Because coverage needs vary according to the unique characteristics of each farm or ranch operation, the cost of coverage will vary as well. With pieces of machinery and buildings valuing hundreds of thousands of dollars alone, insurance is a small price to pay now to prevent the downfall of your business due to an unforeseen calamity.
Working with your Trusted Choice agent at First Community Financial Group is the easiest way to ensure you get the best bang for your buck when it comes to farm insurance.
Swimming is a favorite summer past-time. If you own a pool, you’re probably looking forward to the warm, sunny weather so you can enjoy swimming with your friends and family. However, it’s important to keep safety in mind if you are a pool owner. Many injuries occur every year in backyard swimming pools.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average, there were 397 reported pool-or-spa-related fatal drownings per year for 2016 through 2018. To prevent a tragedy from happening in your pool, consider the following six pool safety tips for families.
1. Always Supervise Young Swimmers
Children should always be supervised when they are in or near a pool. Supervision involves giving your full attention to the children swimming. This means that the adult responsible for supervising should not be texting, reading or doing any other activity. Drowning happens quickly and doesn’t typically involve cries for help. Instead, drowning is often silent. The best way to prevent drowning is to have someone focusing on the swimmers at all times.
2. Safely Use Pool Inflatables
Inflatables do not prevent drowning and therefore should not replace supervision. Children can still drown while wearing water wings or floating on a pool noodle. For children who are not strong swimmers, consider staying within arm’s length so you can assist quickly if needed.
3. Get CPR-certified
If you own a pool, you should be trained in CPR. That way if you encounter a situation in which you need to start resuscitation, you will know what to do. Victims that are treated with CPR immediately are more likely to have a positive outcome.
4. Sign Your Children Up for Swimming Lessons
When you own a pool, it’s a great idea to enroll your children in swimming lessons as soon as possible. They will learn how to tread water and float, as well as pool safety rules, such as never swim alone.
5. Safely Secure Your Pool
Consider adding a fence with a self-locking entrance around your pool for added security. Make sure a child cannot climb or squeeze through the fence. You can also use door alarms, locks and safety covers to go a step further in ensuring that no one is able to sneak into the pool unattended.
6. Increase Your Homeowners Liability Insurance
A backyard swimming pool provides a fun way to cool off and be active throughout the summer months. Following the above safety tips will help keep your family safe this summer as you enjoy cooling off in your pool. If you are looking forward to inviting friends over to enjoy the pool, you may want to review the liability coverage of your home insurance policy. Many home insurance policies include at least $25,000 of liability. Depending on whether your pool is above ground or in-ground, and if it has extra features such as a diving board or slide, you may want to increase liability insurance. If a guest is insured while swimming in your pool, the liability insurance can cover medical costs incurred.
If you are looking for assistance updating your homeowners insurance policy, we’re here to help! Contact us today for a quote!
Solar panels can be economically and environmentally sound, and they’re more accessible than ever. According to one research firm, U.S. homes and businesses installed a new system every four minutes in 2018.
But, is solar power right for you here in East Texas? It is sunny here a lot of the time, but to help you address the question here are five things to think about before making the switch:
1. The different options for installing a solar system. Oftentimes you don’t have to foot the full cost of going solar yourself. Instead, you may be able to lease a system from a company that installs and maintains it, or enter into an agreement where a third party actually owns the system and bills you (likely at a reduced rate) for electricity. Just keep in mind that installing and owning your own system may provide the best long-term return, and tax credits or rebates may help to lower upfront costs.
2. Your current energy costs — and your future needs. Depending on your situation, you could have relatively low energy bills now and not be as motivated to pursue solar as someone with higher costs. But what does the future look like? If your family is growing, your energy costs are probably about to grow, too, and investing in solar might be worth your while.
3. The power a system would generate. Have a reputable solar company measure the amount of sun your home gets, taking into account things such as shade, trees, etc., so you can make an informed decision about expected savings.
4. What your homeowners policy says. With any improvement that increases the value of your home, you need to make sure your insurance policy reflects the change. Give us a call to see if your policy already covers solar panels. If it doesn’t, we can help you amend it.
5. Your goals. Are you mainly looking to save money? Help the environment? Both? Knowing your goals will help you determine whether solar is the right choice for you, as well as which option makes the most sense. No matter what you choose, even considering solar means you’re thinking about energy a little differently. And that’s a good thing.
Renewable power – it can help protect your from rising energy costs and even power outages, not to mention the good it does for the environment. Just be sure to consider your options and all the costs involved before making the leap.
Content provided by Safeco Ins.
First Community Financial Group Incorporated (safeco.com)
What is an SR-22?
An SR-22 is an insurance document that shows proof of financial responsibility and verification of auto liability coverage. The DMV may require you to provide an SR-22 in addition to your car insurance if you drive under the influence of a drug or alcohol, drive without proper insurance, are a habitual traffic offender, or are involved in a motor vehicle accident.
How does an SR-22 affect you?
An SR-22 must be carried for a designated time period, depending on the severity of your violations. Most offenders can expect to have an SR-22 for up to three years. During this time, you must maintain continuous liability coverage. Any break in coverage will be reported to the state, resulting in the suspension of your license. On top of securing adequate insurance, drivers with an SR-22 status should adhere to traffic laws and refrain from driving after alcohol consumption. After the proper fulfillment of this time period, a driver’s SR-22 status will expire, and driving privileges will be restored.
How much does an SR-22 cost?
The cost of premiums varies depending on the severity of your violations. Minor offenses, such as neglecting to pay a parking ticket, are often paired with more affordable policies. However, major offenses, such as drinking under the influence, are more likely to raise your premiums.
To get a free quote, call us today at First Community Financial Group for more information on SR-22 insurance.
Hurricanes. Just the thought of them can make a person tremble in fear. Whether you've experienced a hurricane yourself or you've just heard about their destructive patterns, these bad boys know how to make their name heard.
The technical definition of a hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph. A major hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph. To put that into perspective, imagine sticking your head out the window of a car as you travel down the highway – that's the speed of wind you would be up against during a low-scale hurricane. Sound scary? It is. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions to take, you may be able to reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.
Hurricane season runs June 1 through November 30. Foremost wants to share some tips to ready your home and family prior to a severe storm, may it hit. It's never too early to:
Whether the hurricane threats are immediate or they seem off in the distance, it's important for all residents of hurricane areas to be prepared and think ahead. Foremost offers detailed hurricane preparedness plans, emergency checklists for storms, and what to do after a storm hits your area.
Stay safe through these storm seasons! Your safety is number one to us.
Hurricane Preparedness Checklist | Foremost Insurance Group
Content provided by Foremost Ins.
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