October 31, 2008
If you’ve spent much time at all in Texas, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” Our weather has been known to do some pretty unpredictable things in this area. It’s not uncommon to go without any rain at all from June to September. And when it does rain in the summer, it’s usually only a brief shower. Normally severe weather passes through in about a hour, maybe two.
That’s why it was so surprising to have floods in Sherman last summer. The same storm kept circling back again and again and again. I was awakened by thunder at two in the morning. When I woke up at six, the same storm was still going strong. It finally started to let up around eight. That’s six straight hours of very heavy rain. Roads were impassable, the high school football stadium was under water, and sadly a couple of people died in rapidly rising water. Our county and the next one over were featured on CNN.
There’s a very large creek that runs parallel to Highway 75 on the south side of town, which happens to be a relatively low-lying area. Guess where all that water went? First into the creek, and then into the nearby houses after the creek overflowed its banks. People who live in that area reported floodwaters four feet high in their homes. You would be amazed at how many of your belongings are lower than four feet from the floor.
A lot of people were reminded in the days to come that homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damage from rising waters. And as you can imagine, those who had purchased flood insurance were very grateful they had. And those who hadn’t take out coverage . . . well, they weren’t very pleased at all. They learned a very important lesson: Just because insurance isn’t required doesn’t mean you don’t need it!
You can use freeflood.net to determine whether your home lies in a flood zone. But remember, homes that weren’t necessarily considered at high risk for floods had high water marks last summer. Don’t let yourself be one of those left saying, “If only I’d had flood insurance!” Contact us today to discuss your needs.
October 28, 2008
Say you’ve been driving without auto insurance. You know you’ll probably get a fine if you’re caught, but do you know how much it will be?
The minimum fine for driving without insurance is $175. That’s assessed by the State of Texas, and your city or county can charge an additional penalty.
You’ll then be charged $250 a year for the next three years. That’s another $750.
If you don’t pay these fines, your drivers license can be suspended.
After paying at least $925 in fines, you still have to purchase auto insurance. And that premium will now be 30% higher (or more!) because driving without insurance counts as a violation.
Obviously, the simplest solution is to just carry auto liability insurance in the first place. But let’s be honest: most uninsured drivers simply don’t think they can afford coverage. But it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think. Contact us today for an auto liability quote.
October 22, 2008
Most people also know that they should exchange insurance information after a fender-bender. But just because the guy that ran into the side of your car has proof of insurance doesn’t mean that his policy is in force. All too often a person will take out a six-month policy, make their downpayment in the office, and then conveniently “forget” to pay the bill for the second month. But the insurance police don’t show up to their house to destroy their proof of insurance, do they?
Until recently, the only way to be certain that a policy is in force is to call the insurance company or the agent listed on the proof of insurance. (And believe me, it happens!) Now Texas law enforcement officers have instant access to the insurance database. Officers can verify your coverage during a routine traffic stop or at the scene of an accident. The average citizen, however, doesn’t have the means to verify another person’s coverage due to privacy issues.
Sometimes the parties involved in an accident don’t want to wait for the police, or the police won’t come to the scene unless there’s been an injury. If it turns out the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you could attempt to sue them, assuming the contact information they give you is accurate. That can be a lengthy process, though, and your vehicle is still damaged in the meantime. And let’s face it, you can’t get blood out of a turnip. If the other doesn’t have the money to pay for auto insurance, they’re not going to have a few thousand dollars laying around to fix your car.
The best way to protect yourself is to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and comprehensive & collision coverage. If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, your insurance company would pay to repair your vehicle, and would then use its own considerable resources to recover damages from the other driver. Make sure you get the following information to help the claims process:
- Name, address, and phone numbers of the other driver and any witnesses. Don’t just assume that the contact information listed on their driver’s license is correct.
- Driver’s license number of the other driver.
- Name of the insurance company and policy number of the other driver, and the phone number for reporting claims. This should all be listed on their proof of insurance card.
- License plate number of the other vehicle.
- Name, address, and phone number of the owner of the vehicle, if different from the driver.
- Photos of the vehicles before they’re moved.
October 14, 2008
Not all life insurance policies are created equally. By adding riders, you can completely customize your term life policy. A rider is a clause that is added to a policy that changes the coverage provided. A rider can add or remove coverage. Let’s take a look at some of the common riders.
- Child Rider
This rider is typically added to a parent’s policy, and provides a benefit in the event of a death of a child listed on the policy. The amount of coverage is usually lower than what an adult would need, because children do not have dependents. It can actually be preferable to add a child rider to an adult’s policy rather than issuing an entirely new policy for the child, which would have an additional policy fee.
- Accidental Death & Dismemberment (ADD)
Some policies allow the ADD rider, which pays an additional benefit if the insured dies or loses a limb or two in an accident. I usually do not recommend adding this rider because your family doesn’t need more money just because you died in a car wreck rather than from a heart attack. Any property damage involved in the death would most likely be covered under some kind of property insurance, such as auto or homeowners. The increased premium usually does not justify the small increase in the amount of the death benefit. Additionally, if you are a member of a credit union, you may already have a stand-alone ADD policy.
- Terminal Illness
This rider allows you to receive an early payout of your life policy in the event that you are diagnosed with one of several pre-defined illnesses or conditions. Some companies require that the insured be given one year or less to live (cancer); others will pay out regardless of the prognosis (heart attack, stroke). This is a handy rider that helps to replace lost income during illness and to help pay medical expenses.
Contact us for a free life insurance evaluation or quote.
October 13, 2008
It’s a wonderful day when you finally pay off your mortgage. After thirty years, you finally get to free up about a quarter of your income! But in the aftermath of your mortgage-burning ceremony, don’t forget about your homeowners insurance.
Mortgage companies will require a homeowner to purchase insurance on the property that’s been financed. While they don’t necessarily do this for the borrower’s benefit, it’s certainly in the homeowner’s best interest to maintain coverage on their home. In the event of a total loss, homeowners insurance would pay off your remaining balance on your mortgage. This means you wouldn’t be stuck paying off a mortgage for a house that doesn’t even exist anymore.
If you don’t owe anything on your home, it’s still a good idea to maintain homeowners insurance. If you were to lose your house to fire, tornado, or any of the other things that could destroy your home, the insurance money would provide you the funds to not only rebuild your home, but also to find other accomodations during the rebuilding process. Otherwise, you’d have to depend on your cash reserves and investments. Replacing a $100,000 house out of pocket could put a serious dent in your retirement savings!
It’s also important to know the replacement cost of your home. You may have purchased that house for $20,000 thirty years ago, but it’s probably worth considerably more on the market now, and the cost to build a similar new home could be even more. If you do have a mortgage, the lender probably only requires you to have coverage equal to the purchase price. If your coverage is less than 80% of the replacement value, you may get hit with a larger deductible than expected if you have a claim.
Contact us today for an estimate on homeowners insurance, or for a free evaluation of your current policy.
October 10, 2008
Jerry Hejny Insurance Agency was recently appointed with Progressive, an industry leader in automobile insurance. We’re very pleased to offer our customers another company known for its competetive rates and ease of use. We recently provided a quote for one family and were able to save them over $1200 with Progressive!
Progressive doesn’t cover just cars. Customers can also purchase coverage on their motorcycles, ATVs, boats, personal watercraft, motor homes, travel trailers, and snowmobiles. Even though there may not be a lot of people who need snowmobile coverage in North Texas, we can find coverage for almost anything with an engine.
Contact Jerry Hejny Insurance Agency today for a custom auto quote.