Dear Insurance Agent...
The weather in Texas can change drastically and can pose problematic conditions especially while commuting. But on any given day, particularly a clear visible day, accidents still occur. Obvious factors such as weather, traffic, aggressive driving, texting, animal collision, and car-manufactured issues continue to be great concerns for the insurance industry. Whatever the cause of an auto accident, will you be prepared and ready to take action? AG Insurance Solutions is proactive and wants you to follow simple steps to take when an auto accident should happen to you.
1. Your first reaction on impact is usually immediate startled. But stay calm; don't panic. You need to be able to process and move quickly, not freeze and endanger yourself and/or others.*
2. Turn on your hazard lights if allowable and remove yourself and others from the vehicle. Check others involved.
3. Call 911 if others are injured. If you cannot decide emergency vs non-emergency, call 911 anyway and they can direct you to a non emergency local #.
4. Obtain the insurance info from the other party. Most cell phones include cameras, use it to take picture of the insurance card. If obvious the other party is at fault, you want to contact their insurance immediately, right there on the spot; verify coverage and start a claim. If not sure who is at fault, contact your insurance agent and start a claim.
Just another reason why an INSURANCE AGENTS, not parents in this case, are beneficial to have on your side if you do not know what to do. Don't forget to CLOSE your claim if the other party is found at-fault. If it stays open, it shows up on the CLUE Report when you start shopping for new quotes. You can say, it's a ding to your CLUE Report.)
5. Make sure if the accident is "on private property", and the police do not dispatch a car to the scene, take pictures, take down the other party's license plate #, drivers license number, write down intersections, the time, and witness info if available. (What constitutes private property? A parking lot of a shopping center, a gas station, a restaurant, get it?)
*NEVER move your car to an isolated area. Or if it appears the other party collided with you in a remote area, take action. Alert yourself to your surroundings and if you feel uncomfortable with the other party, and its safe to stay in your car, don't get out; DIAL 911. Your SAFETY needs to come first.
6. If your car is not mobile, call your insurance tow service. Get to know your neighborhood and keep a log of garages you trust to call for repair. Have the tow service deliver to the garage or to your home. Usually adjusters will travel to where the car is sitting whether it be a garage or your home.
Although you may see it unnecessary to have an insurance agent when you buy insurance direct, an agent serves as your representative for your insurance needs. When an accident occurs, a professional agent will see you from the start to the end of the claims process. We at AGIS, usually give extra care to our customers. By providing them with additional guidance, so they won't get lost in the shuffle, should an issue come up, we research it for you.
Now that you landed your first job after college or a vocational training or better yet, you learned what minimalism is and you've condensed your lifestyle. Congratulations on all three!
Your next move will probably be apartment hunting and we want to help you start a lifestyle to call your own. We have listed 10 helpful tips on what to look for when searching for a place of your own.
1. Proximity. Location close to the office or market is a tremendous benefit. Spending less time in traffic and more time doing things apart from your job is the trend. Sustainable communities are the answer to the modern lifestyle which include important amenities within walking distance. Houston is discovering.
2. Safe Neighborhood. Even though the apartment complex of your choice may be considered a gated community of its own, you still want to be aware of the neighborhood in general. As a former criminal justice case manager, we know criminals have no boundaries. So know the crime rate and always be aware of your surroundings, even in your apartment complex, get to know your neighbors.
3. Interview the Apartment Manager. Before you sign off on the contract and place a deposit have your list of questions(use these tips) for the manager. If the manager blows you off with your requirements, make it your deal breaker. There are plenty of suitable apartment homes ready to welcome you as a responsible and reliable tenant. A better place to re-start is a real estate broker.
4. Security in the Complex. You want a safe place to live and you deserve peace of mind when walking to and fro your car, the main office, to pickup your mail, or to enjoy any amenities within the complex. Cameras, a gated community, security officer, heavily lighted complex, a check-in-check-out sheet for visitors, a get-to-know-your-neighbors gathering are some security features to help keep you safe. Also make sure a list of phone numbers are accessible to you such as the security office and the local police department for non-emergencies.
5. Parking. If you own a car, assigned parking close to your unit is the best arrangement so make sure the complex offers this feature. Nothing is worse than walking a load of groceries from your car to the third floor from a block away.
6. Washer/Dryer Connection. A standard in most apartment homes but if you come across one that doesn't offer it, keep looking. Lugging your laundry to the laundromat is not a convenience and can become unsafe.
7. Floors. Most new complexes are built with three floors making the third floor the least expensive rent. If you don't see yourself walking three flights of stairs, make sure the complex offers an elevator. If no elevator, don't settle. Keep searching.
8. Pets. If you have a pet you definitely want to search for an apartment home that allows pets. Deposit and monthly may be more than average, but keep in mind that pets tends to cost a complex more work to "make-ready" when you decide to move elsewhere with your pet.
9. Privacy. Independence also means privacy and nothing is more annoying or can even become unsafe when a neighbor becomes unruly. Discuss with the manager what to do in case of unruly neighbors, suspicious activity, or even eye soars.
10. Most apartment home complexes require renters insurance. You want to protect your belongings in the event a toilet from the top floor floods out your entire apartment home. The complex is not responsible for this type of hazard and won't replace your belongings even when they offer their own renters policy. This policy is usually in favor of the apartment complex. Renters insurance comes with liability coverage, too. For instance, your guest slips from the cute rug you placed in your kitchen. Medical attention is required immediately. Who pays? Your liability will take care of the medical attention and a possible lawsuit(up to your limit). Renters Insurance NOW.
When I was a young girl, I wanted to design homes. When my sisters were reading literature, I was busily sketching structures, obsessing with tools, and collecting Architecture Digest, my natural flow of things. So I went on to fill my school class electives with courses that were hands-on building or design such as woodworking and drafting. My dream came to a crashing halt after discovering the fear of math proved the obstacle. Really?
Instead of a studying home/building design in college, I entered the world of the psycho-social sector. Wait..wait, here is the great part of my discovery. While I strengthened my intuitive skills, Fear still continued to lurk and take hostage of me. Over the years, it became evident, Fear would not be removed not matter how long time spent in developing valuable ideas. Many attempts would be launched, but later scrapped.
So my creative side grew disabled and my ideas back-logged simply due to Fear of what I could not see beyond what I knew. I missed the boat of opportunity in my thirties and forties. How did I conquer Fear, learned to move forward and jumped full throttle on the boat of opportunity in my late forties?
1. Accept Fear. Though it took me years to figure it out, my realization should help you find courage earlier. It goes like this: Fear never leaves your mental and physical being. It will creep into every goal you plan, every headache felt when working your plan and every freeze frame your body goes through when you hit a road block. Accept it and make it your nemesis or just like training your pet, make impact that makes it known you are in command of YOUR pack. Fear is ready to rear its ugly head every time you make a productive move toward your goal and even when you hit a road block. Exhaustion will be a major part of your mood but fear tries to disguise itself as exhaustion, don't give in. Take a break, and there will be more than one break to pause in between, remove yourself from the project/plan: go on a mini-hike, a mini-vacation, a mini-pilgrimage, a mini-journey to the highest peak in the world or whatever it takes to return refreshed and able to see your project/plan in a better light. Even the greatest U.S. Generals had to conquer fear before a brilliant move saved the world.
2. Learn to ask for Guidance. Asking doesn't make you look like a goof, not asking does. Its called a stubborn streak. Its not negative but it will make you waste time to reach your goals sooner. No matter how hard you try to understand a formula or study something on your own and it still appears foreign, you are losing the battle against Fear. Retreat! Because you will drop everything in the name of fear. Hey! guess what?! Someone else has been through the same experience but found a way to relate to it easier. Seek that wise man/woman. Whether its a tutor, a mentor, your father, your grandmother, or an executive, pull out that cell phone you rely on for every move you make and don't be afraid to make an appointment with a someone who can jog your memory or provide another way of looking at things differently. They will be more than willing and excited to talk about what they love doing, offering tips, resources, and practical techniques about what you need to move forward. Small Business Administration is where I started. Retired Executives : SCORE.org was my business mentor.
3. Perseverance. Without this quality, your ship won't sail the seven seas. You may believe some people are born with it but not so, it is acquired. Perseverance is an obsession to finish your project/plan. The desire to see what comes out of your creative idea is a strong sense of conquering Fear. It can be as delicate as a flowing stream of water but as long as it continues to flow, eventually the will of its mighty power will break down the hard rocks below it. You can't regret what you haven't experienced.
4. Complacency is a Crime. There is a cycle of fear and complacency and they breed off each other. Neither one allows you to grow out of your shell. Telling yourself that you can't is worse than someone telling you that you cannot. I had a goal, but it took years of insurance experience under my belt to move above and beyond the customer service positions that were in abundance before me. Always take a valuable skill from your organization or employment with you, like a way to organize better, taking courses, how to speak in a crowd, or any positive impact for future growth. Sharpen this skill or behavior and move forward, especially if you know there is no potential for growth in your current position. Waiting for things to happen sabotages the purpose of where you really belong and what you are best at doing.
Today I challenge Fear. And though I never became a home designer, after a start on my second career as a licensed insurance specialist, the boat of opportunity sailed into my harbor. Moving forward as a certified construction risk specialist, I have returned where I belong, back in the world of the building trade where I am surrounded by my own kind: home builders, designers, and construction artisans. I am honored to associate myself among the greatest and it took 2 years to realize where the greatest congregate. Yes, I do continue to feel the fear bug at every corner I turn but I am grateful that the corners exist. No longer does the fear take control. Instead, fear makes me curious to turn those corner and see the fruit of my labor at which I work hard to reach. And guess what? Around those corners are successful people who walked the same journey and are waiting to greet you and help you grow. Hail to the Trade!
The holidays are just around the corner! The end of the year brings joy, family gathering and parties. We want to help you make the holiday season as spectacular as you make it and include safety tips to keep you out of possible sticky liability claims.
Parties are the best during the holiday season which means a house full of guests. As a host, you are responsible for the environment and mishaps guests may encounter.
1. Keep your driveway/walkway, clear of debris. This means clip those shrubs, blow off fallen leaves, and check your holiday outdoor lighting for possible danger. Injuries caused by tripping or sharp branches or edges can turn into possible claims.
2. A lit fireplace is warm and appealing but can pose a fire hazard. Check the shoot for debris and small pest. Contact a chimney sweep or your local pest control tech. Debris and the wood burning in the center can become causes of smoke poisoning. Ongoing maintenance during your party is a must-do.
3. Many theft/burglary claims have occurred during parties or when away during the holiday season. Keep all doors of rooms shut and valuables out of sight. If away, have a trustworthy neighbor or family member come check your home periodically and pick up mail and newspaper.
Although some homeowners make home vaults the choice of storage for valuables, criminal activity is what you don't want in your home and near your family. AGIS recommends valuables stored in a lock box at your bank.
4. Burns. Its easy to get burned when fires are lit. Keep children out of the kitchen area and away from heated sources such as the fireplace, outdoor fire ring, even heaters. Gates and fire screens are essential safety products.
5. Alcohol. The holidays are festive with food and wine. But keep it at minimum for guests to help save the cost of headache, possible injuries and liability. Wine or mixed drinks served with food is probably a better way of managing the meal course. However, having fun non-alcoholic beverages is a sure way to keep the joy in your holiday festivities.
Most importantly, safety concern is not just an insurance matter, its been around forever. Jiminy Cricket said it best: I'm No Fool...
In Texas, cool weather brings out the joy of outdoor fun. But for a home owner, fall is a reminder of weather-proofing or ongoing maintenance to deter claims.
Falling Leaves: The first sign of cool weather is falling leaves, and boy, can they cause a yard to look like havoc. When there is a drought, dry leaves are a major hazard. So its highly important that leaves are rid of properly and a must to adhere to the burn bans in your county.
Pests: Look for warm places to hibernate and what a better place than your home. This is the time to call in pest control to spray for bugs and to diagnose those areas likely for mice or even raccoon to squeeze through. Pests like to create holes and damage your home.
Windows/Doors: Your home experiences weather penetration from the beating hot sun and storms throughout the spring and summer. Cracks are likely to appear on exterior siding, even brick, and around doors and windows. This is a job for caulking and possibly touch-up of paint. Paint seals the exterior while caulk insulates the windows and around exterior doors from those breezy autumn winds.
Fireplace: If you haven't checked the flute, early fall is the right time to do so. Most often, families want to use the fireplace during the fall season. It is warm and comforting and can lower your electricity bill. But maintenance is required because you may need repair or even worse, find an unwelcome guest living in your chimney.
Gutters/Roof: Cleaning out your gutters is essential to upkeep of your home. Meanwhile, maintenance of your roof is a must-do when owning a home. Leaves and debris cause wet spots in your gutters and on your roof. Not a good thing to delay because water causes rust and forms decay on your roof. This is troubling for insurance companies since claims caused by slow leaks can be preventable. Periodic leave blowing will be on the agenda for the fall season. However, its important that you understand walking on your roof is hazardous to your well-being. Its dangerous and not advisable. It also wears on the shingles so hiring a professional may be in order.
Take note: Your insurance company may send out an inspector to do a quick review of how you maintain your home anytime throughout your policy period. If they are insuring your home for thousands of dollars, you bet, they have every right to make a report.
Not many notify their insureds before the visit, unless there are locked gates or security-monitored neighborhoods for access. Some companies can flat out cancel a policy without allowing for the insured to make the changes. Other companies will give 30, 60 even 90 days to make the changes. So be a responsible home owner and keep your home in order. You homeowners insurance company won't wait for the seasons to change to check off your home from possible claims.
Scenario 1: You throw a birthday party for your 1 year old at your lovely home and everything was perfect until your best friends' mother trips on your child's sand box. You do everything to make her comfortable but in excruciating pain, you rush her to the emergency room and pay the medical expenses.
Scenario 2: You love your pet and love to share his presence with everyone. But one day, you invite a guest into your home and "Bruiser", the sweet Silky Terrier, becomes territorial and takes a nip at your guests ankle. You apologize, remove your pet from the room, and apply first aid to your guest.
Which one of these scenarios, where you acted appropriately, will keep you from a possible lawsuit?
Neither. Both are possible lawsuits. That's where homeowners insurance kicks in.
Home Owners Liability: Meanwhile, when an accident occurs in your home, you are obligated to act swiftly. A trip to the emergency room is not cheap. Most homeowners policies come with coverage for Medical Payments. This means your policy will pay up to that stated limit for emergency care(up to $3000) which includes ambulance service(up to $1200), not cheap either. So make sure you have adequate coverage; a smart start is at $5000.
The liability portion of your homeowners policy is the coverage most injury lawsuits target. So if you policy only includes $100,000, this is as far as your insurance company will pay out. A $300,000 limit is practically the same cost as $100,000 limit. But be smart and include a higher coverage limit. Most policies range up to $500,000 but if you have assets to protect, purchase an umbrella. Umbrellas can range from $1 million to $10 million in coverage and pick up after your homeowners liability coverage of $500,000 is depleted from a lawsuit.
What to take from this? Increase your homeowners liability. But Crowd Control is what you want in your personal space when inviting guests. Remove the likelihood of liability. Be the radar and comb the room(s) or areas.
Pets are loved but not everyone else knows him/her like you do. Don't believe your pet is likable to all. Keep them out of view for safety and from possible unpredictable behavior.
De-clutter space you intend to use for guests whether indoors or outdoors. Reducing the likelihood of possible tripping and brushing against sharp or pointy objects. And let your guests know where bathroom facilities are located so they don't wonder into the unknown.
It is 6 a.m. Got your morning brew on the percolator, printed your to-do list, your route map schedule and heading out to market. En route to market you stop to check your food truck to make sure all equipment is in order and ready to fire up on the spot. The storage garaging your truck has been broken into. The generator and register is stolen off your truck. Any loss may be expensive if no insurance is involved. But what if life is at stake?
Regulations are heavy in regards to food safety and truck maintenance. But the safety of operators need to be on the daily agenda just as the importance of the menu and the location map. AGIS keeps abreast of the food truck industry and safety in mind. We have listed life concerns for food truck operators and what to do to keep yourself, your staff and your business safe:
1. Theft: When you are not looking, your unlocked or unbolted equipment is swiped. Although insurance can get you back in operation, as a policyholder you are obligated to prevent theft. Installing cameras, locks, alarms, and mirrors makes thieves aware that you are one step ahead of their game.
2. Robbery: Robberies are rampant these days and can turn violent. Don't operate your truck alone. Involve an operation circle of other food trucks is safe and usually can deter a desperate criminal.
3. Heavy Crime Hot-Beds: Know your surroundings: Routing a map of locations takes awareness. Not all street corners are a smart move. So learn the areas crime rate.
4. Don't allow cash as payment: Criminals stake out easy targets. Accept other forms of payment. Hang a sign out about forms of payment.
5. Keep Law Enforcement #s Within Reach: Know the cop on the beat. And keep rapport with law enforcement because they too have tips on how to be safe on the streets.
6. Lock all Doors: Doors and sliding windows need to be tamper proof too. Smart trucks use small openings to accept payment and distribute food. Never open doors to a knock even if you think you know who it may be. And don't leave the truck unattended.
7. Invest in Your Staff: Not just monetarily, benefits are essential to keeping a strong operation. Workers Comp is an important tool when you have staff on board. If they become hurt on the job due to a criminal activity or any unsafe incident, you as an operator are responsible. Take care of your staff and they will take care of you and your business.
8. Opening and Closing Shop: Founder of AGIS was a food trailer operator and knows it takes at least a 2-man operation to make a daily schedule. If you must operator alone, make sure you operate in a food truck circle. No need to have someone stay the entirety. Have a back-up help you open and set-up. Do the same at closing.
9. Restroom breaks: Don't operate in a deserted location. If you have no restroom in your truck, as a responsible business owner, you must have an available restroom location for your staff. Placing mirrors at openings helps you see out before exiting the truck.
10. An Emergency Plan: A regular fire drill is important but a handbook outlines emergency situations and what to do. Get one in place and train your self and your staff about situations that could happen. A customer choking on your food is an emergency, and you will have to act. Being inside a food truck doesn't mean you don't have to handle an emergency outside your window. Get First Aid and CPR under your belt.
You don't have to live and work along the Gulf Coast to experience a flood in Texas. When sudden storms erupt causing excess rainfall, rapid levels of water flow into the streets and neighborhoods causing floods. Floods occur due to the run-off water over filling the bayous,creeks, lakes and rivers.
Although Texas includes one of the fasting growing segments in jobs and neighborhoods, expansion comes at a price. Construction weighs heavily on communities causing traffic and noise. But add construction debris into the mixture of excess rainfall and get drainage back-up flooding the streets.
Being caught at rush hour when a flash flood occurs makes matters worse. The fear of not making it home on time before the flood sets in is enough to produce panic. Most often, drivers maneuver through water hoping to make it home. But when water reaches the engine through the exhaust pipe, a vehicle will stall. Two-three inches of fast flowing water can lift a car. Now your life is in danger. Its time to abandon the car.
Next day the waters rescind and you locate your flooded-out car. Not only is the flood damage costly but now you have towing and rental cost to boot. Though you cannot control weather patterns, as a vehicle owner, do you have control over coverage. Respect your ride, respect your life. Don't be caught off guard without the right coverage for flood, towing and rental.
Being labeled as a high-risk segment of the population for insurance purposes is determined by various classifications. According to the Insurance Information Institute the highest risk is due to poor driving habits. AGIS countdown on the top 10 high-risk segments of the population and what to do on lowering insurance rates.
10. Under-insured Driver: This driver is a major risk for all other drivers on the road. He doesn't carry enough liability to cover damage he does to a vehicle. Say he drives an SUV and carries 30/60/25 on his liability. You drive a 2015 Mercedes Benz and he slams into your car causing it to total. His insurance damage is limited to $25,000. Not enough to cover your new Mercedes. Type of vehicle needs to be on the minds of the consulting agent. 50/100/50 plus is more suitable for an SUV liability.
9. Over 65: This driver can see the suitable rates starting to diminish with standard carriers. Why? Visual perception decreases as we get older, however carriers at AGIS believe this age group is living long and the stats are looking healthier. We care about baby-boomers and the vibrancy they share to remain dependent.
8. Under 25: This type driver cannot avoid the inexperienced issue. However, a responsible teen can build a driving history without the tarnish of a claim or tickets to follow them into the "get out of high rates" zone at age 25. AGIS writes policies for under-25 drivers as long as the driver OWNS the vehicle, we can help with suitable rates.
7. Over 25 and no Driving History: Most often, the foreign driver is included in this category. However, Americans who work overseas can also be found with no driving history record upon return to the states. A smart move for Americans would be to be included on a relatives policy as they visit. For the foreign driver, AGIS carriers can help you develop a start.
6. Bad Credit Score: Yes, a poor lifestyle habit has just taken a toll on your insurance rates. You are now officially classified in the high-risk pool. The insurance industry relates continuous bad credit score with future claims. Life altering events happen which can affect your credit score, such as divorce. However, remaining with a bad credit score throughout your lifetime will keep your insurance rates in the worst shape possible with standard carriers. Give AGIS a call for the non-standard option.
5. Distracted Drivers: This category includes drivers with life-altering events, texters, and anyone whose mind is distracted from the road, most of the time, it involves a cell phone. An accident is waiting to happen because your eyes and mind steer away from the pilot seat. If available, do purchase accident and minor violation forgiveness under your insurance plan. Don't be misguided in believing your are a super-multitasker. Multitasking is about chaos not made for the road.
4. Bad Driving Habits: Continuous claims, tickets, accidents spells a chaotic lifestyle. Changes in lifestyle improve driving habits, credit score as well as other aspects in your life. Need I say more?
3. Lapses in Coverage: This means requiring your insurance company to surcharge your rates because of late pay, or cancelled policy. This driver is worse than the driver with no insurance because he places other purchases above insurance liability. Most standard carriers include the surcharge but after the first lapse won't re-instate. Reducing unnecessary coverage, increasing deductibles and bankdraft payment plan can help this type driver. Call AGIS.
2. No Insurance: Get caught in the state of Texas for no insurance and get your vehicle towed and compounded. DPS and law enforcement agencies have teamed up with TexasSure.com to spot a violator. How? Running a license plate can immediately notify patrolling officers which vehicle has coverage and which one does not.
1. DUI/DWI: Risking other lives is not a choice. The state of Texas will not tolerate this type driver. Rates as #1 under our segment for 11 Dumb Ways to Increase Your Auto Insurance Rates. This type driver carries the Scarlet Letter for the rest of his life. Driving while intoxicated or under the influence is not only endangering others, its a costly decision.
Change your lifestyle, change your driving habits.
It is peace of mind to have coverage for your small business so when the major mishaps occur, you have protection. But as a policyholder, you must do your part to prevent claims. AGIS has outlined the top 5 business claims and what to do to prevent a loss and rising rates.
1. Burglary/theft: 20% of claims derived from burglary/theft. Ways to prevent this type of loss are installing cameras, an alarm. These type of systems can also lower your insurance rates. Lessen the number of personnel who has access to codes, passwords, and keys to the business.
2. Water and Freezing Damage: 15% of claims derived from cold weather or water hazards. Maintenance even on rented space can be done with little cost and simple steps.
3. Wind and Hail Damage: 15% of these claims occur during storms but there are ways to prevent excess damage.
4. Fire: 10% of claims happen due to fire. Ways to prevent fires on your premises is crucial especially if a restaurant or food truck.
5. Customer Slip/Fall and other liabilities: 10% of these claims are preventable. It starts with safety on the sales floor.