Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners Insurance

4 things you should know about Flood Insurance

Dallas Insurance Rates, flood insurance, Homeowners Insurance
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Texas Department of Insurance recently published an article regarding flood insurance.  Keep in mind that your home owners insurance policy does not cover damage from flood.  TDI suggests the following tips  when deciding if you need flood insurance in Texas.

Tip #1:  Determine your level of flood risk.

By visiting the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, you can determine whether you’re in a low, moderate, or high risk flood zone.   This gives you an idea of whether you’re at risk to flood according the government’s latest data.  As an insurance agent, we can obtain this data through one of our many flood insurance providers.  Our software interfaces with NFIP databases as a part of the rating process.  Making it easy to simultaneously get zone determinations and rates.

Tip# 2:  Buy it before you need it.

With the exception of lender required flood insurance, flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect.    Treat flood insurance like a credit, get it before you need it.

Tip #3: Average Cost

Before you do the normal consumer thing and call around to different agents, here’s a tidbit that will save you time.  If you’re like most people, saving time is also saving money.  According to TDI, the average flood insurance policy costs around $700 per year.  The cost is based on a number of factors including home value, flood zone determination, deductibles, and other factors.

Tip #4:  Where to get  flood insurance?

Luckily, we have that covered.  If you need coverage, you can start by filling out the form below.  From there, we will contact you to get the ball rolling.

Flood Insurance

Update your insurance before your next Facebook post

Tags: , Homeowners Insurance
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While Facebook can be a very useful tool for sharing photos, updating your status, and catching up with long lost friends; an errant post could lead to legal action.  Consider the actions of a Melbourne Australia woman who thought she was warning people about a child predator taking photos of children at  the Westfield Knox Target.  The woman (who wishes to remain anonymous) took a photo of a many and shamed him on Facebook; calling him a ‘creep’.

Facebook post about Melbourne man

Subsequently, the Facebook was shared over 20,000 times.  In fact, woman even called the police to notify them of a child predator. However, the man, and father of three, had a perfectly honest explanation for his actions.  After one of his friends told him that his picture was being shared on Facebook, he went to the local police to clear his name and explain his actions.  That’s not the end of the story.

After finding out that she made a mistake, the woman removed the post and attempted to contact the man and ask for forgiveness.  Too late lady!  By that time, the man had already begun receiving death threats for his “activities”.  Now, the woman that shared the post is also receiving death threats for her mistake.

Facebook Image of Melbourne Man

The insurance perspective?

In this case, the woman could face civil litigation for her actions.  While trying to do her civic duty, the woman could face a lawsuit for libel.  Many umbrella policies provide protection against libel and slander accusations.  Have you ever posted something in error?

Consider the following definitions:

li·bel – a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation.
  1. synonyms: defamation, defamation of character, character assassination,calumny, misrepresentation, scandalmongering; More
(in admiralty and ecclesiastical law) a plaintiff’s written declaration.
verb
 1. LAW
defame (someone) by publishing a libel.
“she alleged the magazine had libeled her”
synonyms: defame, malign, slander, blacken someone’s name, sully someone’s reputation, speak ill/evil of, traduce, smear, cast aspersions on, drag someone’s name through the mud, besmirch, tarnish, taint, tell lies about, stain, impugn someone’s character/integrity, vilify, denigrate,disparage, run down, stigmatize, discredit, slur; More
2.  (in admiralty and ecclesiastical law) bring a suit against (someone).
Since the woman’s post caused damage to the man’s reputation, she could face future legal challenges.  The unnamed Star Wars fan has a good case against the woman. Even though she’s attempted to contact him numerous times and offer an apology, death threats and 20,000 shares on Facebook may do irreparable harm to his image.
Hopefully, this woman has a good home insurance and umbrella policy to protect her in case of the possible legal charges she’s about to face. This should serve as a reminder before you share your next Facebook post.  Get your facts straight before you post, share, tweet or re-tweet.  Also check your homeowners insurance and your umbrella policy.  If you make the same mistake, and your policy doesn’t cover libel or slander, your next post could cost you millions!

 

Why it doesn’t make sense to get the lowest home insurance rates

Homeowners Insurance
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As an insurance agent, a primary part of my job is to compare coverage between different insurance companies and policies.  As a result, it can get quite hairy when a client asks me to beat a rate they received from another insurance agent.  With all the coverage combinations, and home policy types available to today’s insurance consumer, the lowest rate can get you in trouble.  In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to choose the lowest rated home insurance policy.  To help you, I’ve come up with the following items to help you avoid getting cheap rates that ultimately cover nothing.

Actual Cash Value Policies – Dwelling policies

With all the different insurance policies available, the cheapest policy sold is generally the Dwelling fire policy.  This policy was designed to provide basic financial protection for homeowners and landlords.  Generally, agents write this policy on older homes and properties that do not qualify for traditional home insurance policies.  In the case of the dwelling fire policy, these basic policies are generally written to protect the home against catastrophic total loss due to a covered peril.  While that sounds ideal if you’re looking for the cheapest home insurance policy, the downsides may outweigh the cheap upside.

One major downside of dwelling fire policies is that they are generally coinsurance policies.  In short, this means you won’t be filing any partial claims for roof replacement or broken trees.  Another downside to dwelling policies is that many of them have little or no liability coverage.  Unlike their more expense counterpart, if your neighbor’s kid slips and breaks a leg on your premises, you could be held liability for the child’s doctor bills.  Another gaping hole in the coverage provided by the Dwelling fire policy is the lack of content coverage.  Imagine having a fire, losing all your personal belongings and then finding out that your policy was written to a level that only pays off the mortgage company.  Long story short, if you plan to live in your home, try avoiding a dwelling policy.

Foundation Water Damage Protection

I always say that there are two types of homes in Texas; those with foundation problems, and those with repaired foundation problems.  The housing shortage in north Texas only makes things hairier.  Imagine purchasing a newly remodeled home only to find that you have a water leak underneath your home’s foundation.   In talking to the leak expert, you find the only way to repair the leak is to pay thousands of dollars to access, diagnose, and repair that leak.  Is this covered under your home insurance policy?

This is another case in which choosing the cheapest policy is not the best course of action.  For additional bucks each year, many insurance companies offer some type of foundation coverage which gives you access to the plumbing leak.  While the insurance company does not pay for the actual damaged pipe, the cost to access a slab leak usually exceeds the cost of repair the damaged section of pipe.  With the number of homes with foundation problems, it is probably a wise course of action to ensure your get this coverage.

Slow and Continuous Leak  or Sudden and Accidental Water damage coverage

Aside from slab leaks and water backups, Texas home policies can be a bit confusing when determining the level of water protection.  While most Texas homeowners insurance policies will cover damage resulting from a broken hot water heater, dishwasher, or toilet, coverage resulting from slow and continuous leaks could cause a problem.

Not all policies have the option of both types of water damage.  In the case of covering slow leaks in Texas, each company has a different method of covering the resulting damage.  Some companies will cover a slow leak only if you report the leak within 14 days of the occurrence.  Other companies will cover damage resulting from a slow leak regardless.  The takeaway here is simple.  Ask your agent if the policy provides coverage for water damage.  If he (or she) cannot answer that question, then it’s probably time to find another agent and policy type.

All home policies are different

Since there are so many differences between policies, does it make sense to revert to the cheapest one?  Now that you’ve looked at this article, do you have questions about your home insurance policy?  That last thing you want to do is purchase a useless policy.  The only way you know that is after a claim.  Did you purchase the cheapest policy when you purchased your home insurance?  Give us a shout and let us take a look.

 

What you need to know about insuring older homes

dallas homeowners insurance, Homeowners Insurance
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Texas is home to a hot housing market.  If you’re selling a home or listing home, things couldn’t be better.  The high demand for properties in places like Dallas means you can start a bidding war.  This also means Dallas is a great market for real estate flippers, investors, and renters.  While it is very easy to insure a new home, what about older homes?  Here are a few tips to help insure an older home.

Bundle with Auto Insurance when possible

Everything is bigger in Texas; including the insurance premiums on older homes.  Older homes carry higher insurance premiums.  In fact many preferred insurance carriers will not insure your older property unless you add auto insurance to sweeten the deal.  While you may be happy with your Geico or Progressive premium, you could be paying 30% or more on your homeowners insurance due to your brand loyalty.  Companies that offer discounts for bundling include Safeco, Travelers, The Hartford, Kemper, and MetLife.  On top of that, if you find yourself in situation where you have to file claims on both auto and home due to a catastrophic storm, you’ll be glad you bundled your policies.

Look at completely renovated homes first

If your budget permits, ask your real estate agent or realtor to show you homes that have been newly renovated.  Home insurers offer discounts for older properties that have been either turned into green homes or newly renovated.  While it varies by company, insurance carriers are looking for updates to the Roofing, Plumbing, Electrical, and Air Conditioning systems.  The previously mentioned systems are the ones that normally lead to major losses.  On the other hand, some insurance carriers want a home to be rebuilt from the ground up.

In a recent phone call with an insurance company, the underwriter said, they were impressed with the quality of the home’s workmanship.  She felt the home was great risk.  However, this particular carrier only gives credit if the home is demolished down to a point where only one wall was standing.  If that happens, they would offer new home credits on  an older home.  Needless to say, we chose another carrier that gave credits for the home system updates.

Avoid Home with Non-Weather Related Claims

Here’s an important fact.  Texas insurance carriers are prohibited from increasing your rates due to weather related claims.  That means your home can get struck by lightning and burn to the ground.  As along as your claim is weather related, the insurance carrier will neither increase your rates nor disqualify you for that claim.  Keep in mind, there are ways of tracking lightning strikes.

On the other hand, older homes with claims for water, theft, vandalism and malicious mischief are subject to more underwriting scrutiny.  As a result, it is important that you double check this prior to purchasing your home.  In fact, you should check these during an option period if possible.  This will keep you from losing earnest money or paying more for your insurance.

Look for homes with one layer roofs only

If you come across a home with a 2 layer roof, get ready to work.  While wood roofs are generally a thing of the past, they tend to come up when you least expect it.  I’ll make this one as simple as possible.  Composition overlay roofs are fine as long as the first layer is also a composition roof.  Some insurance companies will baulk because they may be forced to remove two layers during a claim.  However, comp over comp is not impossible to insure.

Unlike comp over comp roofs, older homes with composition (or another other material) over wood shake are nearly impossible to insure for a number of reasons.  After a roof loss, the insurance company has to pay to remove all layers and then re-deck and re-roof the entire property.  On top of the high expense associated with comp over shake roofs, wood shake roofs burn like toilet paper.  So, older homes with wood roofs and knob and tube wiring could mean a recipe for disaster to an insurance company.  It’s best you avoid those hazards unless you can have the updated before purchasing your home.

In the end, no home is impossible to insure.  Some are more difficult than others.  It’s up to  you, the buyer or seller, to make sure your home is in the best insurable condition.  For older homes, renovated homes with updated wiring and one layer roofs make it much easier for insurance companies.  Since the majority of older homes now require visual inspections, these tips will help you save money and time on your insurance premiums.

Back to the basics of Personal Insurance

Auto Insurance, Homeowners Insurance

In 19 years as an insurance agent, I’ve forgotten more about car insurance than most people know.  As a result, I over think topics for the blog.  In reality, we all need to get back to the basics when it comes to insurance.  As a result, my next few blog posts will cover will help you in building a foundation to help your family remain safe and secure through out your life.

A Holistic Approach to Personal Insurance

Generally, we look at our insurance in silos.  It goes something like this.  Get the auto insurance bill, check that rate.  If it increases, shop for another one or look around for better car insurance.  Need renters insurance, go to the people that gave you a flyer at the leasing office.  You need homeowners insurance, ask your mortgage broker.  While you may have cheap insurance, beware of  gaps in coverage.

In 2014, Take a more holistic approach to your insurance and get to know an agent that understands you.  Think of your insurance portfolio as a puzzle.  How do you put that puzzle together so that the picture makes sense when you file a claim?  Will your personal injury protection cover out of pocket medical expenses after an accident?  Can you confirm that type of information by rate sniping  your insurance?

Auto Insurance is more than you think.

I officially declare war against all insurance agencies in Texas that specialize in nothing but minimum non-standard liability only policies.  From there, I’ll just bite my tongue.  If you bought your car insurance from a store front that has a sign in the window stating something like the following:

Liability starting at $39 per month… No License, No Problem… 

The policy that many of these  non-standard specialists sell is an inferior policy to one you would have gotten from Travelers, The Hartford, Safeco, Progressive; the list goes on.  So when that guy comes on TV and scares you into thinking your credit is too bad to get a preferred rate, remember the U.S. Government has shaky credit too.

Seriously, your auto insurance has more than just the limits listed on the declarations page.  Your standard auto insurance policy has lots of hidden goodies their non-standard companions change, reduce, or remove altogether.  Two examples include coverage extending to rental vehicles, and having automatic coverage on newly acquired vehicles.   So the next time you’re shopping for auto insurance, ask a few questions about the coverage you might be missing.  If the agent can’t answer your questions, find one that can.

The Foundation Endorsement is a must.

Millions of Texas homeowners are unknowingly exposed to major loss due to a slab leak.  Imagine this, after 10 years in your home, you’ve consistently gotten water bill ranging from $30-$50 per month.  Then all of a sudden, poof!  You get a $500 water bill.  When you call the plumber, he says that you have a broken pipe underneath or inside your home’s foundation.

The costs of accessing and repairing damage of this nature can range from $1000 for a bare floor with stained concrete to thousands if you have hardwoods, or tile, or any other special flooring.  The harsh reality that many Homeowners in Texas have had this experience but purchased insurance without this coverage is almost criminal.

So, if you’re like most Texas homeowners with a slab foundation on a ground, get a quote for the foundation coverage.  The $100 a year over 50 years in your home will save you thousands if you ever use it.

You mean Obamacare doesn’t cover life insurance?

I just said the L word; no pun intended.   First off, the federal government only pays $255 in survivor’s benefits. If you love your family and you want to be buried somewhere other than the backyard, get life insurance.  I’m not referring to the old kind where the guy drives by your house and picks up your cash payment and pays out $5000 when you die.  I’m talking about the new kind, that term life insurance that’s cheap, it’s got all kinds of riders and attachments.  I’m talking about the new kind that helps build up tax free cash and gain stock market like interest.

Regardless of what kind suits you, that should be a part of everyone’s portfolio.  The life insurance industry has evolved from the old debit agent to online life quotes, purchasing through e-signature.  With the cost availability of medical and policy requiring no medical, life insurance is a no-brainer.  Thank modern medicine for helping us live longer.

Put it all together – Insurance is a no-brainer right?

Now all you have to do is take the auto, homeowners, life and health insurance and put them all together and make that puzzle fit together.  You have two options, you can call GEICO for your car insurance or call their insurance agents that help them with their auto, home, life, and health insurance.  Odd are, if you a that agent needs help on his life insurance or homeowners insurance, he’s probably going to call me.

Your realtor doesn’t know jack about homeowners insurance

Tags: , Dallas Insurance Rates, Homeowners Insurance
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Recently, I received a request from a real estate agent and friend.  She wondered why I turned away quotes from real estate agents and Realtors looking for lower rates (namingly her).  After explaining that giving me a name and an address is not enough information to get a quote, she responded with the following:

If Realtors and loan officers calling you quotes, that’s a good thing; don’t you think so? Sometimes (quotes), work for their clients and sometime the quotes do not work for their clients.

My main goal is to get the lowest insurance for my clients and an insurance quote is too high it won’t work for DTI which means have to fine cheaper quote to fit for his DTI so they can get an approval.

I do not understand what the problems is getting quotes from you. The numbers got to work for an individual borrower in order for borrower to get an approval. You can always change the policy on next renewal; can’t you?

How long does it take to rebuild a home that has the wrong insurance?

My response to her question was candid.  Unfortunately, it takes less than a year to burn a house down and gets sued by the insured for failing to properly cover them at the time of closing.  I’ve witnessed too many instances where doing what you request leads to financial devastation.  It is important to understand that things happen and when you JUST get a LOW RATE.  Your clients should expect and deserve better.

When I realtor or a loan officer sells a home, they get their commission and move on.  When I sell a home, I marry the customer and deal with the late night calls.  As a result, make sure to I look out for 3 parties on every transaction.  Not only do I write policies, but I protect my client, my agency, and the insurance company relationships.  If I fail to properly protect my client, many people get hurt.  Ultimately, I find that good protection always trumps lows rates.

Remember the 2012 Tornadoes in Lancaster, TX

This reminds of a story.  A church member that told me my rate was too high.  She purchased a house for the loan amount, which was well below the actual replacement cost.  Unfortunately, she was one of the poor folks caught in the Lancaster Tornado.  Her $60k policy was enough to pay off the loan and satisfy the lender, but the level of coverage kept her from getting her home properly rebuilt.  As a result, she had to worry about whether she could get assistance from local charities, the state of Texas, and FEMA.

 Getting the right homeowners insurance protection is everything!

Understanding this makes it  I make a policy to only offer policies that will allow me the ability to sleep during a storm rather than worry about whether one of my clients is missing coverage.  If the margins are that tight for your clients, then I may not be a good fit for your clients.  If they want protection, then I am the agent for them.

 

Texas Insurance Policy and Pricing changes resulting from hail losses

Auto Insurance, Dallas Insurance Rates, Homeowners Insurance

If you are like most Texans, then your homeowners and auto insurance rates have probably increased recently; leaving you to wonder why.  If you want a scapegoat, then look no further than our wonderful Texas weather.  According to a recent article published in PropertyCasualty360, “…hail storms frequently cause severe property damage…every state is susceptible to hail…”   In fact, the State Farm, one of the nation’s largest auto and home insurers reported paid losses of more than $3.9 billion to its policyholders in 2012 alone. 

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Texas leads all states with 47,000 hail claims in 2012. Now take State Farm’s alarming statistics and combine them with the Texas Department of Insurance statistics and you will notice an alarming trend.

[note style=”white”] According to the Texas department of Insurance, hailstorms accounted for $1.7 billion in statewide-insured losses in 2011. For residents in the Dallas Forth Worth Metroplex, the number are even more shocking. The Dallas-Fort Worth area accounts for $1.2 billion of the state’s total hail losses. [/note]

For those of you living in Dallas and Fort Worth, you may find your home insurance rates going up at a faster rate.  Due to their sheer size and market share, larger companies like State Farm, Allstate, and Farmers will more than likely continue their trends of rate increases coupled with policy limitations.

Expect continued rate actions

As of 2013, Texas insurance consumers should expect a trend of rate increases and policy changes from home insurance providers.  In fact, a number of current and former Farmers policyholders have provided us with copies of their new policies.  We noticed rate increases on many policies and increased wind and hail deductibles on most.  In the cases we examined, Farmers wind & hail deductibles increased from 1% to 1.5% on some and 2.0% on others.  That means for a home with $100,000 dwelling protection limit, their wind & hail deductible increased from $1,000.00 (1%) to 1,500.00 or $2,000.00.

Following weather trends, State Farm has also taken rate increases in excess of 20% for many Dallas and Fort Worth residents.  Citing their profitable 2012 results, consumer advocates continue urging Texas’ largest home insurer to roll back their rate increases from December 2012.   While advocates make valid points about State Farm’s overall profit of 14.4 percent, removing investment returns could paint a different picture of State Farm’s financial position relative to the Texas market.  Look for State Farm to continue their trends of higher rates and renewed focus on making underwriting profits over investment profits.

Rounding out the Texas 3, Allstate had a relatively quiet 2012. The good hands folks continue flying below the radar and out of the site of consumer advocates.  According to PropertyCasulaty360.com, Allstate’s 9.8 percent increase from March 2012 continues to be their most recent and significant change to Texas homeowners.   In 2012, Allstate rolled out their new “House & Home” insurance policy in many states. According the Insurance Journal, Allstate CEO Thomas J. Wilson  stated that their new policy will help the company properly price roofs in particular.  The roll out is scheduled to continue in phases from 2012 to 2014.  When information comes available about changes to their Texas policy, we will post that information online.

Take Control of Your Insurance

As insurance companies step away from their reliance on investment returns and return to their underwriting roots, Texas insurance rate increase could be around for a while.   Texas consumers looking to take control of their insurance policies should begin by looking at insurance holistically rather than in silos.  Shopping for home at one place while shopping for auto protection at another will yield less than desirable rates in most castes.  We compiled these tips to help you get the best rate on homeowners insurance.

Consider Package Pricing

Insurance shoppers will find rate increases more common on policies where no auto discount exists.  When shopping for insurance, shop your auto and home together.  A good home insurance claim history combined with a good driving record could reduce premiums by as much as 30%.  If you are married to Geico or Progressive, expect limited home insurance coverage and options at best.

Maximize Home Discounts

Carrier additional discounts many of the following including: Gated Community, green home, impact resistant roofing, home systems renovations within 10 years, having home alarms and smoke detectors, and remaining claims free.  As companies continue making changes to their policies, expect the discounts to change as well.   Always ask the agent to review coverage discounts.  It helps.

Use Independent Insurance Agents

Using an independent agent or broker can open the door to many insurance carriers that you may have never heard.  A state as large as Texas is home to dozens of home insurance companies that want your business.  Independent agents often have relationships with more than 1 home insurance provider making the job of finding coverage much easier.  Instead of getting one quote per phone call or email, and independent agents can provide you with several quotes from multiple A rated carriers admitted Texas carriers.

Best Time to Shop for Insurance

Auto Insurance, Homeowners Insurance
header call to actionWhen shopping for insurance in Dallas, whether it’s auto, home, or umbrella, it’s important to keep in mind the policy effective date.   Once you receive a renewal notice, delaying could cost you money.  As a rule of thumb, shopping at least 8 days ahead of renewal gets you the best rates.  While everyone knows that coverage is coverage, the savvy shopper will get better rates if they shop in advance.
Aside from shopping in advance, there are still additional ways to save money on auto insurance.  Other discounts available include multi-policy discounts, discounts for carrying higher limits of liability, and even discounts for low commuting, carpooling, and even pleasure use.  The key is to make sure you complete a thorough review with your agent.
In a recent case, one of our clients auto insurance rates increased by over a $1000 per year.  Since the rate increased was primarily caused by adding an 18 year old teenager and his brand new car, we couldn’t do very much to lower his rates.  As an independent insurance agent, representing more than one insurance company made it possible for us to reduce his auto insurance premium by approximately $400 per year.  In this case we placed the younger driver on his vehicle on a different policy while keeping the coverage the same.    As a result, the family received an auto insurance rate reduction of 20% on the auto insurance.  In  this case he got the same level of coverage for less money.
Next time you have a renewal, check with an independent insurance agent to determine whether you can save money.  If you call me, perhaps I can help you and your family get the same coverage or more coverage for less money.  If you’re like most people, saving money on their auto insurance is a good thing.

Safeco Insurance

Auto Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, Texas Property Insurance

Safeco Insurance Company

Carrier Details
A.M. Best Rating: A

At TXInsurancePro.com, you can buy with confidence, because we research and select only top companies with a proven record of customer service and financial stability.

Why Safeco Insurance?

Safeco has insured drivers and homeowners through independent agents and brokers since 1923. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Safeco is a member of Liberty Mutual Group and offers its personal auto and home insurance programs under the nationally recognized Safeco brand. After adding Safeco to their group, Liberty Mutual Group became the fifth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. Liberty Mutual Group ranks 94 on the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. corporations based on 2007 revenues.

Excellent Customer Service

Safeco offers 24/7 toll-free service for policyholders as well as online access at Safeco’s My Account where you can:

  • pay your insurance bill
  • track a claim
  • view policy documents
  • print insurance ID cards
  • update your name, address and more

Rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best for Strength and Stability

Safeco receives an A (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best Company, an independent firm that rates the financial strength and performance of insurance companies. An A is one of the highest ratings and means you can trust the stability and endurance of Safeco.

Innovative Online Services

Safeco Claim Service is available 24/7 toll-free from a national network of claims offices. Last year, Safeco representatives helped approximately 1 million families, individuals and businesses with their claims.

  • Quality damage appraisal is available through claims representatives, drive-in service or PACE shops (Premier Auto Claims Experience). PACE is a partnership program between Safeco and selected collision repair facilities. If you choose to have your vehicle repaired at a PACE facility, the repair shop can handle both your damage estimate and repairs.
  • The Safeco President’s Guarantee™ ensures that all repairs completed through a Direct Repair Program, Drive-In Facility, or Glass Network will meet industry professional standards. This guarantee applies as long as you own the vehicle.
  • Safeco OneStop™ Claim Service allows you to drop your car off at a OneStop™ repair shop, drive off with a rental car (if you’ve purchased this coverage) and your claims representative will monitor your repairs and inspect the completed work for you. Safeco OneStop™ Claim Service is now available in Texas.

Valuable Discounts and Coverage Options

Safeco offers many discounts that reward safe drivers. Your TXInsurancePro.com agent can help you get the best rate on your Safeco quote. You can also get the same great Safeco discounts using our easy online quote process.

You may be eligible for these money-saving Safeco discounts and benefits:

  • Safe Driver Discounts
  • Teensurance™ Discounts
  • Good Student Discounts
  • Multi-Policy Discounts
  • Future Renewal Discounts
  • Education Discounts
  • Anti-Lock Brake Discounts
  • Home Owner Discounts

And, your TXInsurancePro.com agent can explain the valuable, optional coverages Safeco offers, such as:

  • Roadside Assistance
  • Rental Reimbursement
  • Gap Coverage
  • Worldwide Rental Coverage
  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Personal Umbrella Policies
  • Specialty/ Classic Vehicle Insurance

Policyholders can call Safeco toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for Customer Service or Claims Service. Or, securely access your Safeco policy online.

Keep your home safe with these winter fire safety tips

Tags: , Homeowners Insurance

The day after Thanksgiving markes Black Friday and more importantly; the beginning of the Christmas Holiday season.  Aside from shopping for gifts, many families will soon decorate their Christmas trees and light their fireplaces for the first time of the year.  For most, this is the time of the year to enjoy eggnog, while singing Christmas carols and sharing memories by an open fire.  Did you know that this time of the year also results in an increased number of avoidable home fires?

In fact, the National Fire Safety Administration and Chimney Safety Institute of America estimate that approximately 26,000 residential fires originate from chimneys, fireplaces, and solid fuel fires each year.  While the majority of these fires are avoidable, they represent  they representthe loss of millions in property damage and the loss countless lives.  Following a few tips can keep your holiday from becoming a trajedy.

Practice Chimeny and Fireplace Safety

The National Fire Protection Association suggests you hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect your fireplace and chimney each year.  This will ensure your chimney and fireplace remain safe and sound;  Having your chimney inspected and cleaned annually also reduces the potential buildup of creosote; a major cause of chimney fires nationally.  It is estimated that 39% of rural chimney fires result from a buildup of creoste.

Friendly Fires versus Unfriendly Fires

A friendly fire is an intentionally kindled fire that remains within its intended confines, such as in your FIREPLACE.  An unfriendly fire or a hostile fire is fire that moves beyond its intended confines regardless of the orginal intent.  Use the following tips to ensure fire in your fireplace remains friendly and "within its intended confines".

  • Use  completely dried wood to avoid creosote buildup.
  • Maintain at least 3 fee of clearance around your fireplace to ensure proper air circulation
  • Never over fill your fireplace and start your fire near the rear of the fireplace on proper grating.
  • Never leave a fireplace unattended.  Make sure your fire is completely extinguished prior to going to bed or leaving home.
  • Never burn Christmas trees, paper, or cardboard in your fireplace.
  • Always store firewood at least 30 feet away from your home's exterior.

Christmas Tree Safety

For most families, Christmas is not Christmas without having a beatifully decorated tree in the family room.  The smell of a natural tree coupled with the joy experienced by the lighting of the star and placing of gifts is shared by many.  Due to electrical shorts and small flames from various sources, Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires each year.  The following tree maintenance tips willhelp your family enjoy a safe and secure holiday season at home:

  • Pick a fresh tree.  your tree should be green and the branches should hard to pull back.  Also, your tree's needles should not break easily if freshly cut.
  • Keep your tree watered daily.  A dry and neglected tree is a dangerous tree; especially when decorated.
  • Place your tree away from heat sources; especially fireplaces and heaters.  Heat causes your tree to dry quickly; making it more susceptible to sparks and flames.
  • Never leave your tree up for more than 2 weeks.
  • Properly dispose of your tree.  Never burn your tree or its needles in the fireplace.  Always take your tree to a recycling center or have it ahuled away by your city's disposal service.

Check your Smoke and Carbon Detectors Regularly

Nothing is more annoying than a screeching smoke detector.  While the sound is annoying, this is one of your home's most important safety devices.  Regularly chekcing your alarm batteries will ensure that ensure that you are alerted in case of a build up of smoke and carbon monoxide. Remember, carbon monoxide is colorless, tasteless, and ordorless.  

This time of the year is normally reserved our fondest memories.  The times we share can easily change if we forget simple safety measures.  For the majority of the year, most fireplaces remain dormant.  Therefore, it is easy to forget these safety tips.  Share this post with your family and friends.  Keep your family safe, and remember that fire and smoke safety starts and stops with us all. 

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