“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”
That’s a quote from author Hal Borland — but another favorite saying might be even more appropriate for this time of year: “Be prepared.”
After all, warmer weather brings plenty of risk to go with its beauty. If you aren’t ready, you could find yourself with more spring cleaning than you bargained for after heavy rains, hailstorms, and other hazards.
Here are five things you can do to get yourself and your property all set for the season.
1. Give your home’s exterior a check-up. This includes your roof, gutters, downspouts, and even your paint. Look for shingles that have come loose, or spots where any have blown away. You’ll want to get those fixed as soon as possible, before moisture starts getting in. Gutters and downspouts should be clear of debris, and if winter weather has worn your home’s paint down in spots, touch it up because exposed wood can lead to rot. Don’t forget your windows, either. Give them a good cleaning, and while you’re at it, make sure the screens are intact and the seals are still solid.
2. Prepare for extreme weather. The maintenance tips above will help with that, but it’s important for you and your family to be as ready as your home. Make sure you have an emergency survival kit and a disaster plan so everyone knows what to do when something unexpected happens. Learn about what to do both before and after heavy rains, hail, flooding, and tornadoes whether you think you’re at risk or not.
3. Get your outdoor appliances and tools ready. Now is the time to get your air conditioner serviced, so it’s operating perfectly when the weather heats up and you really need it. It’s a good idea to clean out the grill, too. Take care to check for cracked or leaky lines if you cook with gas. A little love now will go a long way in the coming months for yard tools like lawnmowers and hedge trimmers.
4. Don’t forget your home’s interior — including the attic. Yes, spring is the time when everybody vows to clean out the junk and get organized. If that’s on your list, good for you. At the very least, you should check on a few things inside, even if you aren’t tackling a deep clean. Look in the attic for any issues, such as moisture or signs of wildlife who got in to escape the winter cold. Clean up any droppings and seal up any openings. Around the rest of the house, see if you’ve got air leaks, which can drive up your energy bills. And don’t forget to change your smoke-detector batteries when the clocks spring forward!
5. Make this the year you do a home inventory. You’re taking steps to protect your home, which also helps to protect all of the stuff inside it. But what if something happened and you lost everything? Would you remember everything you had? Spring is the perfect time to do a home inventory — while that doesn’t protect your stuff, it does make replacing your possessions a whole lot easier after a disaster. If you’re handling spring-cleaning duties, take some time to jot down some notes and take pictures of your stuff (or better yet, use an app). If you’re not quite in spring-cleaning mode, try starting an inventory anyway; you just might be inspired to get organized!
Purchasing the homeowners insurance that is right for you and your home can be confusing, especially for first-time buyers. By learning the basics on how to get the most for your money, you can save on your homeowners insurance and feel confident you have adequate coverage. Wichita Insurance, a leading provider of homeowners and auto insurance in Texoma, offer these tips to lead you in the right direction when you purchase your homeowners insurance.
Shop around. In addition to considering friends, family, the phone book or the Internet as possible sources to find homeowners insurance, consult with an independent insurance agent. Look for a wide range of prices from several companies. Remember, you get what you pay for, so look for not only a fair price but excellent service as well. Check a company’s financial rating with A.M. Best or Standard & Poor’s.
Raise your deductible. Companies generally have deductibles (what you pay before your insurance policy kicks in) starting at $250. By choosing a higher deductible ($500, $750, $1,000 or higher), you’ll have lower annual premium payments.
Consider how much insuring a new home will be. The age of your home may qualify you for savings because plumbing, heating and electrical systems of newer homes have lower risks than outdated systems. Construction of the home (brick versus wooden frame) can affect your cost as well, depending on your home’s location. Also, if you live near your local fire department, your homeowners rates might be lower than if you are many miles away.
Insure your home, not your land. Since homeowners policies don’t provide protection for your land, it would be a waste of money to include its value as part of your dwelling coverage, which should only reflect the price it would cost to repair or replace your home’s structure.
Insure your car and home with the same company. You can save money if you have more than one type of policy with the same insurance company. The more good business you give the company, the more valuable you are as a customer.
Improve home security and safety. If your home has certain types of fire alarms, burglar alarms, locks, or smoke detectors, you’ve reduced your risk and may qualify for a credit.
Look for senior discounts. If you are at least 55 years old and retired, your insurance company may offer you a discount. Retirees often spend more time at home and are more likely to spot trouble and prevent a loss.
Look for group coverage. Many insurance companies offer discounts to groups such as alumni or business associations. Check with your association director or employer to see if they offer a plan.
Stay with one insurer. If you keep your coverage under one insurer for several years, you may be offered a discount from the company. The longer you are a customer, the more money you will likely end up saving.
Compare the limits in your policy to the value of your possessions at least once a year. If you make any major purchases or additions, you want to ensure they will be covered, but you do not want to spend more than is necessary.
How to Stay Safe After a Winter Car Accident
The days are short. The air is cold. And, roads are often slick with rain, snow or ice.
It’s winter driving season in Texoma. 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:
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 Wichita Insurance agent is here to help with your auto accident claim. If you’re unsure whether you’re carrying the right coverage, call now before it’s too late!
4 Things to Know About Taxes and Identity Theft
In 2014, almost 18 million people in the U.S. were victims of identity theft. Two-thirds of them said they suffered a direct financial loss because of it, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
During tax season, your personal information is particularly vulnerable. After all, your Social Security number (SSN) is on W-2 forms, your tax return and other financial documents being sent through the mail, transported to accountants and otherwise used to complete your annual IRS ritual. So it’s a good time of the year to be especially vigilant.
To help, here are four things you should know about identity theft — from what thieves can do to how you can help protect yourself — from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Trade Commission:
Protecting your identity is, of course, something to be mindful of all year round – not just during tax season. For more tips, visit IdentityTheft.gov. And, to discuss adding identity protection coverage to your home insurance policy, contact us at Wichita Insurance today.