TXINS June E-News: Don’t Leave Home Without Enough Coverage, Ask the Agent, Agency Happenings, Texas Trivia Contest, and More!

Don’t Leave Home Without Enough Homeowners and Personal Possession Coverage

Summer is here and soon many will be heading out of town on vacation. Exploring new places and getting away from the daily grind is a great way to relax and recharge. But before you leave, make sure you have enough coverage in place in case the unexpected happens. Should your home be vandalized or suffer damage while you’re away, you don’t want to find out too late that your homeowners policy pays less than you thought it would. Below are a few things to consider to make sure you’re not underinsured.

Insure Your Home for the Cost to Rebuild
The amount of insurance you buy should be based on rebuilding costs, not the price of your home. The cost of rebuilding your house may be higher (or lower) than the price you paid for it or the price you could sell it for today.

The cost of rebuilding is based on local construction costs and the kind of house you own. This includes the type of exterior wall construction — frame, masonry or veneer; the square footage of the structure; the style — ranch or colonial, for example; the number of bathrooms and other rooms; the type of roof and the materials used; and whether it was custom built. Other things that affect the rebuilding cost are an attached garage, a fireplace, exterior trim and special features, like arched windows.

A good way to estimate of the cost of rebuilding is to calculate the square footage and multiply it by local building costs per square foot for your type of house. For example, if your home is 2,000 square feet and building costs for your type of house are $100 per square foot, the cost to replace your home would be approximately $200,000.

Make sure your TXINS agent knows about any improvements or additions to your house since purchasing your insurance policy. If you don’t increase your limits to cover the cost of adding improvements or additions, you risk being underinsured, and may only receive portion of the cost to replace or repair damaged items.

Taking Stock of Your Personal Possessions

Your homeowners insurance policy comes with contents coverage based on the overall value of your personal property and up to approximately 50 to 70 percent of the amount of coverage on your home’s structure. For example, if you have coverage on a $200,000 house, your policy may include approximately $100,000 in personal property coverage.

However, if you have lived in the house for a few years and have acquired valuables, your basic homeowners insurance policy may not cover the replacement value of these items if they are destroyed or stolen. In this case, you may need to purchase a rider on your homeowners policy to cover these special items. Be sure have coverage for all possessions of value, such as your new iPhone, furs, golf clubs and carts, computers, fine art, china, musical instruments, or expensive sporting equipment.
Your possessions inventory should be extensively documented, noting any valuable item that is irreplaceable (such as heirlooms). Document your possessions by taking pictures of your home’s contents, including your antique armoire, diamond collection, or firearms.

It is a good practice to provide detailed descriptions with each photograph, such as serial numbers or brand names. Alternatively, you can scan each room of your home with a video camera and narrate each item included in your home’s inventory of contents. Take pictures of receipts, serial numbers, and other purchase information that will be helpful should you ever file a claim. Download the Insurance Information Institute’s home inventory software at www.KnowYourStuff.org. This makes creating a home inventory easy and is the ideal solution for keeping the information up to date. Be sure to store your inventory list in a secure place, such as a fire safe or with a neighbor or relative. If you need to file a claim, a current inventory will help streamline the process.

Understanding Coverage Limits
Personal items like jewelry, fine art, and firearms have a maximum coverage limit, usually around $5,000. If you have a single piece of jewelry, firearm, or silverware piece that is valued at more than $5,000 it’s best to schedule it onto your policy or take out a separate policy to give you maximum coverage.

It is important to understand Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost and how they apply to your policy, especially when it comes to contents insurance.

  • “Actual cash value” accounts for an item’s original cost minus depreciation. This type of coverage is standard.
  • “Replacement cost” refers to the actual cost of replacing a lost item. For example, the actual cash value for an older appliance may be $800, but the current cost of replacing your appliance may be $1,500. Thus you can potentially receive the amount of compensation needed to buy a replacement item at its current cost if you have this kind of home and contents insurance. Note that getting appraisals for very expensive items is an important step in making sure they will be covered in a loss.

Be sure to discuss these two options with your agent and decide which type of coverage is best for your needs. Replacement cost coverage will most likely cost about 10 percent more, but it may be well worth it, given how quickly some items depreciate in value.
Your home and its contents give comfort to your family and make your house more than just a roof over your head. Many of us don’t stop to assess the value and importance of our belongings until something happens to them. Be prepared, and don’t let unexpected events derail you financially.


 We Are Here for You 

Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. is your trusted advocate. As an independent insurance agency, TXINS represents a wide network of A-rated insurance companies, which allows us to find the best insurance policy to fit your needs and budget. We don’t believe in cookie cutter policies and will customize a plan specifically for you. Your overall satisfaction is our top priority. That’s a promise.

TXINS offers complimentary insurance reviews to ensure you are getting the right coverage for yourself, your family, or your business. To schedule your review, contact us today at 800-541-9849 or via email. Together, we will ensure you are protecting what matters most.

The employees of TXINS are active members in our communities. Here’s a quick list of what we’ve been up to as well as what we have planned for the month.

  • Mr. Sorrel and Kara Wood will be attending the 2016 IIAT Annual Conference in San Antonio on June 16-17. The IIAT Annual Conference is a great opportunity to catch up on the latest news in the insurance industry as well as visit with our carriers.
  • Celebrating her 8th anniversary with the agency is Cindy Robinson from our Crop Dept. Cindy is a valuable member of our team and we are grateful for her dedication to providing excellent service to her customers!
  • Congratulations to our April Texas Trivia Contest winners Chelsey Sless, Michael Kelling, and Wayne Allen. Don’t forget to check out our new Texas Trivia contest question! Be one of the first people to email us the correct answer and win your very own Texas flag!

All three TXINS offices participated in Red Nose Day on May 26 and donated money to different charities. The El Campo office collected money for the Boys & Girls Club of El Campo, the Needville office donated to Crossover Community Fellowship, and the Georgetown office supported The Caring Place. We are proud to support these worthy organizations doing great work for our communities!

My husband and I are considering building a pool in our backyard. Is it necessary to let my insurance agent know if we decide to move forward with the project?  – Reagan S., Buda, TX

Dear Reagan:

With summertime just around the corner and the temperatures on the rise, a new pool is a great way to keep cool during the heat. But pool ownership also comes with responsibility. Whether it’s damage to the physical structure of the pool or your own liability, you’ll likely want to have certain safeguards in place.

A backyard pool is officially termed “attractive nuisance” by insurance companies. That means it creates a risk that a child may be attracted to trespass on your property, use the pool without your knowledge and be at risk of injury or death. You can be held legally liable for any such incident. When you put in a pool you should always disclose the change to your insurance agent, otherwise you could find that your insurer refuses to cover any claims.

Necessary Coverages

Property Coverage: The property component of your homeowners policy likely extends to your backyard swimming pool, so if a tree falls on your pool, your coverage may help pay to remove the tree and cover repairs to your pool, up to the limits included in your policy. Your agent can help you determine whether you should consider increasing your policy’s property coverage limits based on the value of your pool and any accessories, such as a deck or water slide.

Liability Coverage: Thousands of people go to the emergency room each year with pool-related injuries. If someone suffers an injury at your pool, you could potentially incur medical or legal expenses that stem from the incident. Liability protection is a standard part of a typical homeowners policy, but because a pool can increase your liability risk you may want to consider increasing your coverage.

A homeowners policy typically provides $100,000 in base liability coverage. We recommend increasing those limits to $300,000 or $500,000 if you have a backyard pool.

Extra Protection
To add an extra layer of protection, pool owners should consider purchasing a personal umbrella policy (PUP). A PUP provides liability coverage above the limits of your homeowners policy, generally up to $1 million. PUP protection begins when you’ve exhausted the required underlying insurance amount of your homeowners policy.

By taking a few safety precautions, you can help reduce the risk of accidents at your pool. You should install a fence at least 4 feet tall around the pool along with gates that are both self-closing and self-latching. Installing a pool cover is another good safety measure. Avoid installing slides and/or diving boards as these features will spike your premiums. It’s best to discuss your plans with your agent before you break ground so you make an educated decision on how best to move forward with your design plans.

By being proactive with both safety measures and insurance protection, you will gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re prepared while spending time enjoying your backyard swims.

Do you have a question for our agents? Email it to us! If we choose your question, we’ll send you a thank you gift! Be sure to include your mailing address and phone number in your email.

Learn Something New Every Day
– The first passengers in a hot air balloon were a duck, a sheep, and a rooster. The animals were sent up in balloon designged by the Montgolfier brothers of France in 1782. The balloon traveled about 2 miles in eight minutes.

– The Peanuts comic strip ran from October 2, 1950 to February 13, 2000, a day after the death of its creator, Charles M. Schulz. Reprints of the comic still run in almost every syndicated newspaper across the United States.

– There are more TV sets in the U.S. than there are people in the United Kingdom.

– June is National Ice Tea Month. A staple of the South, a ice cold glass of sweet iced tea is the best way to get through the sweltering summer heat. Here are some fun ways to liven up your ice tea.

Grilling Safety Tips
Summertime is the perfect time to grill out with family and friends. Throw on a few burgers and hot dogs and you’ve got an instant party atmosphere. But according to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 9,000 homes home fires are caused by grilling. Here are a few tips to help you grill safely:

– Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors
– Keep grills away from the house, deck railings, and out from eaves or overhanging branches
– Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the grill
– Avoid flame-ups by keeping your grill and trays clean
– Always make sure the grill lid is open before lighting it
– If using a propane grill, check your gas tank hose for leaks before lighting it. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least five minutes before relighting it.


We LOVE Referrals!

Congrats to Margaret Smidt of El Campo, TX, our May Referral Program drawing winner! Thanks for your referrals, Margaret!

If you love Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., tell a relative, friend, or co-worker about us. When they call to receive a quote make sure they let us know that you referred them.

As a thank you, you’ll receive a surprise gift and will be entered into our monthly $50 gift card drawing and our annual Grand Prize drawing for a $1,500 gift card!!!

(Grand Prize drawing will be held on December 1, 2016.)

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