Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Out With the Old  

In With the New!

So 2018 is over and 2019 has begun. The start of a new year is a time for many to re-evaluate their closet, their pantry, their decor, their vocation, their relationship, their lives in general. People make New Years Resolutions many are unable to keep longer than a few weeks (or days if you are like me!)
Now I don't propose to help you with your relationships or vocation, but I may have a few tips for making some changes to your home this new year.

If you are anything like our family, you have packed away the Holiday decorations. But somehow the house doesn't look the same as it did before you put them up. That small time of unfamiliar is the perfect time to make some changes. You are already in the mood for new and different and you have created space in your home by removing the decorations. 

 #1 Did you get something new? Donate something old!

If you get a new robe, give away the old. How about a new blanket? Maybe you can give an old one to a shelter or a person in need. Even if they are a bit ratty, animal shelters can use old blankets and towels! Did you get new sneakers? Are the old ones still in decent condition? There are many people in need of decent shoes!

#2 Did you get gifts you don't want? You don't have to keep them.

I am a pack rat and I also worry that anyone who gives me a gift will want to see it used. But I have to admit that many gifts end up in a cabinet or closet somewhere. We had a rule, if we didn't use an item in the last year, it's time to give it away. But now I try to give away unwanted items as soon as I realize I will not use them. This helps you not have to do a massive clean up down the road. (Do you have one of those closets you cannot open?)

#3 When did you last clean out that medicine cabinet?

There may have been a time or two when I cleaned out our medicine cabinet and found medicine that was over 2 years old! If you are anything like me, you buy some over the counter for some temporary symptom and then it gets shoved to the back because it's no longer used. It's unsafe to use medicine after it's expiration date.  Do you always check the date before you take the medicine? Does your spouse or your kids? I know it doesn't happen in our house. Try to go through and throw out the expired medicine once a year.
Do the same for your refrigerator and your pantry. Expired food needs to go!

#4 Do you really need two of those?

I am also a gadget queen. I LOVE gadgets, especially kitchen gadgets. I also, forget that I have already bought things. Go through your kitchen cabinets every so often and give away things you haven't used at all in the last year (even if you just KNOW you might need it sometime), Also look for things you have more than one of. At one point I had 5 different sets of measuring spoons. Same measurements, just different spoons! I am a firm believer you cannot have too many bowls or too many spatulas. But if you don't have the space for multiples, I promise you can survive with only one of each!

#5 New year, new insurance?

Most insurance policies are 12 months long. But that does not mean they start at the new year. Since cleaning and reevaluating is already on your mind, you will likely begin thinking of other things you can re-evaluate. And you can reevaluate and make changes to your insurance policy any time. You don't have to wait for the renewal. Take a look at your policy. Look at things like contact information, housing value, coverage amounts. Sometimes the most obvious things (like changes to your contact information) are the very things we overlook. Things that may affect your coverage are adding a swimming pool, a trampoline or a new dog. Check in with your agent and discuss your policy.

There are three ways to request a quote for your insurance needs: 
* Visit our website
* Call Brockman Premier Insurance  877-987-8683  

Friday, November 30, 2018

Holiday Home Hacks

12 Helpful Holiday Home Hacks

1. Buckle lights with binder clips.

Plastic light hangers tend to bend and break easily. Ditch the over-promisers and use office binder clips to easily – and evenly — attach holiday strands to your roof instead.

2. Dry boots with a DIY drip tray.

Wet shoes can warp floors, track grime through the house, and cause slips and falls –
especially when you’ve got a lot of guests. The solution? Fill a simple tray with river rocks (find them at garden centers or the dollar store). The moisture will drip right through.

3. Save money with creative storage.

Opening last year’s organizers to find broken ornaments and tangled lights is a real
bummer. Take a cue from the experts and skip the expensive organizers. Instead, store ornaments in egg cartons and wrap Christmas lights around clothes hangers. This way, you’ll start every season on a good note. And you’ll save money too!

Read the rest of the tips from HomeAdvisor

There are three ways to request a quote for your insurance needs: 
* Visit our website

* Call Brockman Premier Insurance  877-987-8683  

Monday, November 26, 2018

Cyber safety

Are You Safe to Shop Online this Holiday Season?

Cyber shopping is all the rage these days. I worked in retail for 15 years so I would rather shop online than ever go into another store! Nearly 25% of online buying occurs between Nov. 1 and Dec 31. It is convenient to shop online, but there are risks (of course there are!)

Hidden fees

  Many retailers will claim free shipping, then tell you it is only after your spend a specific dollar amount.  Or they add in "extras" like the software to run the laptop. 

Counterfeit items

   It is rather easy to put items for sale online now. Everyone is doing it! Just because you see it on the internet does not mean it is real. Remember if the price seems too good to be true- it probably is! Shop for specific brands on their own site.

Shipping issues

   One time my sister in law ordered my niece's entire Christmas online and nothing showed up before Christmas! I ordered a laptop one time that just never came in. (after 3 phone calls they finally refunded my money!)

Identity theft

   Did you know if someone steals your debit card number, they can empty your bank account in record time? I have had people open credit cards in my name, take loans out in my name. These scams can be hard to fight (and prove!).

Fake reviews

   If a site has all 5 Star reviews, be wary. No one has a perfect score when it comes to public opinion. Even the best of sites has upset some customer at some time. If it looks perfect- I would guess they are padding their reviews.

So what can you do to protect yourself and still shop from home? 

* Shop at websites you know and trust- check to see if it is a secure website. If it is secure the URL will begin with https, not http. 
* Avoid using public wi-fi (identity theft!)
* Create strong passwords - many sites will tell you if you password is strong. Do not use obvious passwords like your birthday, your child's name or your pet's name. You might want to see if a Password Manager is something that would work for you.
* Beware of sites with deals that look too good to be true.
* Be wary of third party sites. 
* Pay by credit card online- not by debit card.
* Check out a company's social media to see if it is real, engaging and what its customers have to say.
* Research the company before you buy from it. Make sure it's been around a while.
* Keep/print receipts. Pay attention to your statements. Verify you accept all of the charges on a timely basis so you can dispute fraudulent charges quickly.

Be smart- if a site gives you an unsure feeling, move onto another site. Ask family and friends who may have ordered from a site you are looking at about their experience. Online shopping is convenient, until it's not. Be careful and pay attention to the possible risks!

There are three ways to request a quote for your insurance needs: 
* Visit our website
* Call Brockman Premier Insurance  877-987-8683  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Home inspection

Inspections Matter!

One of the most common issues that come up on carrier inspections is roof condition. I cannot tell you how many times we get an Underwriting notice citing the roof condition and when we reach out to the client, they tell us their home inspection said the roof was just fine. Often, it didn't say the roof was fine. It said replacement was a good idea and the client chose to ignore it. Even if the inspection says the roof is in fine condition, the carrier's inspection may disagree. Now, you can disagree all you want, but the carrier can still cancel the policy if you do not make repairs.

When you have an inspection done before you buy a house, pay attention! I strongly urge you to go to the inspection and walk with the inspector. Listen to him/her. Ask questions as he/she walks. This is going to be your home. Make sure you know what you are getting into. Maybe you are a Do-It-Yourself kind of homeowner and you are fine with needing to do some repairs. But if you are not, then it is a nightmare to buy a house and realize (after the closing) that there is major repair work to be done. There are some things you absolutely want to know about before you buy the house! The carrier doesn't want to insure a hazard they will most likely have to replace in the next few years. And you (as the homeowner) don't want to buy a house that will not protect you the way a home is supposed to.

Exterior of the Home

Roof: Carriers (and hopefully you!) would require the condition of the roof to last at least 5 years. With all of the wind/hail/storms we have here is Texas, roofs rarely last longer than 10 years. If you are looking at a house with a roof over 10 years old, it is a strong possibility the inspector will inspect the roof closely, looking for any indication the roof will not last. 

Windows: Depending on the age of the windows, you may need to replace them. At the very least, they need to be caulked once a year to keep them energy efficient. g 

Tree Trimming: Tree limbs hitting the roof or side of the house will need to be trimmed back away from the house. If they are hitting the home, they will cause additional wear on the roof/siding. 

Interior of the Home

Electrical: Older homes may have quite a bit of electrical work to replace. Many carriers will not insure homes with fuse boxes so you may have to replace it with an updated breaker box. 

Heating/Air: Filters need to be change twice a year. If they have not been, the buildup in the filters will make the system very inefficient, particularly for people with allergies. In some cases, the system will need to be replaced.

Water Heater: Most hot water heaters need to be replaced after 15 years. If your hot water heater breaks down, it is expensive and a royal pain to replace. 

Ventilation / Insulation: Ventilation and Insulation matter most in the attic. If either are in poor condition, you will have increased energy bills and possible increased damage to your roof (from the inside)

Home Inspections will always find issues that can be improved.  Carriers are looking for hazards that are more likely to cause them to pay out a claim in the near future. They do not want to intentionally take on that risk. Since they are the ones that will pay out, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, the carrier gets to decide if they want to take on the risk. You, as the homeowner, can disagree. But you will most likely NOT change their mind. So intentionally look at your home inspection before you buy the home. 

There are three ways to request a quote for your insurance needs: 
* Visit our website
* Call Brockman Premier Insurance  877-987-8683  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Teen Drivers

Let's Talk About Teen Driver Safety

According to the CDC, six teens ages 16 to 19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries. 
Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. As a parent of teenagers, those are very scary numbers!
When people call in about adding their teenager to their policy, we tell them part of the reason it is so expensive to add a teen driver is because of the risk associated with new drivers. It isn't a matter of if they get into an accident. It's a matter of when.

Inexperienced drivers struggle with judging the space needed to change lanes in traffic, driving safely in poor weather conditions and making turns safely. Your child may be a very conscientious driver, but it isn't just their driving you have to worry about. More experienced drivers know how to drive more defensively. They know to look at how others are driving to avoid accidents. New drivers assume everyone else will drive the same way they will. Now of course I am talking about conscientious drivers. We all know those kids (and some adults!) who think they (1) own the road and (2) are immortal. There was a kid who drove a white jeep in our neighborhood. When you saw that jeep coming you were automatically on guard! You do not want any of your children to be that kid!

The National Safety Council says that at least half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before they graduate from High School. Half! They strongly suggest parents drive with teens even after they get their license. Teens who drive with their parents in the car decrease the probability of causing a crash. So I know for many parents it seems a very stressful and harrowing experience to be a passenger in their parent care, so think of it as a way to pass your experience and knowledge onto your young drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sponsors Teen Driver Safety week each year in October. This week actually! 
So there are some tips for some rules before letting your teen take off in the car.

NHTSA reminds parents to set the rules before the teens hit the road with "5 to Drive":
·         No cell phones while driving
·         No extra passengers
·         No speeding
·         No alcohol
·         No driving or riding without a seat belt

Parents must be involved in teaching their young drivers! Safety!Safety!Safety!

There are three ways to request a quote for your insurance needs: 
* Visit our website
* Call Brockman Premier Insurance  877-987-8683  

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Winterizing Your Home 

Can Save You Money!

A little work now can save you when winter hits.

What can you do?

Install Weather stripping and Caulking

Stand in front of your window and door frames. Do you feel any cold air coming through? If so, you have found a place you will want to seal better. Home insulation will make a big difference in your energy costs. Seal these spots with caulk or weather stripping. You may want to consider using an insulating film on windows. It isn't only about keeping cold air in. You want to prevent the warm air from getting out also.

Buy a Programmable Thermostat

Newer homes come with these, but older homes may need to replace them. You want to program the thermostat to turn down when you are not in the house and come back on right before you return. (especially if no one is at home during the work day!) This can save you quite a bit of money!

Run Ceiling fans in reverse 

Heat rises, so reversing your ceiling fans to turn clockwise will push the hot air down. This will circulate warmer air through the room which will lower the time the heater will kick on.

Install a "Chimney Balloon"

You can lose quite a bit of heat through your chimney flute. You can insert a chimney balloon and blow it up until it fills the chimney walls. If you want to use the fireplace, simply let the air out and pull the balloon down. Re-insert it when you are done using the fireplace.

Turn Down the Water Heater Temperature

Most water heaters are set up at 140 degrees, but you can reduce the temperature to 120 and save money on water heating costs. Experts suggest running your hot water for 3 minutes and testing the temperature. Do this on 2 days to see if the temperature is consistent. If it is over 120 on both, you could lower your water heater temperature.

Insulate Water Pipes

You should always insulate outdoor faucets and pipes. You also want to look at pipes that may be exposed indoors as well (basement, attic, under sinks). You can wrap them with a towel and tape or buy foam covers at a hardware store. This can save you thousands of dollars on avoidable damage from burst pipes!

Most of these fixes are inexpensive and can save you money for years to come!

There are three ways to request a quote for your insurance needs: 
* Visit our website
* Call Brockman Premier Insurance  877-987-8683  

Friday, October 5, 2018

Identity Theft

Prevent Child Identity Theft-

Freeze Your Kid's Credit!

Identity theft is a constant threat these days. With the number of major data breaches that have occurred in the past few years, such as the unprecedented Equifax breach in 2017, you’ve probably experienced some form of financial fraud by now.

You might keep a close eye on your own finances for just that reason, but there’s someone else who is especially susceptible to becoming an identity theft victim: your kid.
Fortunately, a new law went into effect on Sept. 21 that lets you freeze your credit ― a helpful preventative measure ― for free. Here’s how and why you should freeze your child’s credit, too.

Child Identity Theft Is A Growing Problem
A study by Javelin Strategy and Research found that more than 1 million children were victims of identity theft in 2017. Two-thirds of those victims were under the age of 8.

Read the rest of the story from the Huffington Post...

There are three ways to request a quote for your insurance needs: 
* Visit our website
* Call Brockman Premier Insurance  877-987-8683