Flood Insurance, Even in a Non-Flood Zone? You Bet

 

By M Wyzanski

Record breaking flood waters have emerged following one of the most devastating hurricanes the US has come to know. In fact, in the southeast areas of the lone star state, the majority of homeowners do not even own flood insurance. And who can blame them? There was never a precedent in the locality. Although hail and wind storms are a constant concern for property and business owners, no one imagined that rain waters would contribute to enormous damages as those suffered and broadcast throughout the country in recent days. Surely not the home mortgage companies, for they do not even require it from borrowers!

But now that the toll has risen among the dead and those forced out of their homes seeking shelter, one thing remains clear. When things eventually do settle down, home owners and people in the commercial sector will have to deal with the epic losses and damages on their own because of a lack of related coverage.

For homeowners without flood coverage the facts are uncomfortable, as they are painful: a standard home insurance policy does not protect from floods and the damages related to them. The insurance industry stresses in no uncertain terms that compensation is only provided to those who had the foresight to acquire flood insurance in the event of water damage emanating from atmospheric conditions like a hurricane, a tropical storm or other inclement weather.

A little history about Flood insurance:
The year was 1968 when the US Congress mapped out its flood program. Designed to help assist home and business property owners from the financial ravages of a damaging flood, its policies are offered in all communities that are involved in the rules of participation.

Flood coverage shields property owners or renters from building damage and contents damage.
This includes the following:
• The structure, as well as building foundation
• Electric and plumbing systems
• Central air conditioner, furnace, water heater
• Refrigerator, stoves, and any installed appliances, like a dishwasher
• Carpet that has been installed over bare flooring
• Personal clothing and electronics
• Drapery
• Transportable heaters and air conditioners
• Carpeting other than what is included in the property coverage
• Washers and dryers

Typically, flood recompense claims include:
• Replacement Cost Value: up to eighty percent of the amount needed to replace property damages in a single-family, primary residence
and
• Actual Cost Value – replacement costs at the time of loss reduced by physical depreciation

Note: The flood program always uses actual cost value to determine reimbursement of personal property.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/M_Wyzanski/2158115

Note from InsureUS: As a result of Hurricane Harvey and the horrific devastation caused by flooding in Harris and surrounding counties, floodplain maps will likely be revamped in the near future, which means rates for flood insurance could be on the rise. If you believe your home may be in a period that will be on the new floodplain map, NOW is the best time to act on it as the rates will go up after the new maps are created. Call InsureUS today at (281) 640-8888 for your quote.

Visa campaigns for cashless small businesses

 

Money talks to small business and one credit card company is speaking loudly.

Earlier this year Visa unveiled a campaign to encourage small business food service owners to stop taking cash as payment. The effort highlighted the continued move by merchants to make it easier for customers to pay with credit cards, and now even digital currency, like Bitcoin.

For Visa’s campaign, small business food service owners who committed to join its 100 percent Cashless Quest could be awarded up to $500,000.
According to Visa, 70 percent of the world’s people, or about five billion, will have a connected mobile device by 2020.

That is an “incredible opportunity to educate merchants and consumers alike on the effectiveness of going cashless,” Visa noted.

The card company’s campaign was a call-to-action for small business restaurants, cafes, and food truck owners to describe what cashless meant for them, their employees, and customers. It also highlighted the opportunities for small business merchants.

Visa found that if businesses in 100 cities switched from cash to digital, their cities stood to gain $312 billion of savings, largely in the form of labor costs.

Small food service businesses already have been making the move away from cash with the explosion of easy ways to accept with credit cards. Now that tide is even turning as people take advantage of digital currency, like Bitcoin, to make their purchases. The number of ways for merchants to accept digital currency is growing, as Bitcoin, and other types of cryptocurrencies, shed their negative reputations.

Hurricane Harvey highlights small business risk

The devastation left by Hurricane Harvey is a good reminder to small business owners that preparing for disaster is essential. The devastation left by Hurricane Harvey is a good reminder to small business owners that preparing for disaster is essential. Catastrophic hurricanes claim close to 40 percent of small businesses, according to FEMA. It can take years for even the most prosperous businesses to recover. Most Mom-and-Pop operations running on the edge never reopen. According to a 2016 study by Harvard Business Review, small and young businesses, already taking big financial risks, are notably unprepared for a disaster such as a hurricane. The study focused on small and young business recovery one year after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Among its findings:

* Many firms were uninsured. Nearly one-third of companies affected by Sandy had no insurance of any kind. Of firms less than five years old, about 60 percent were uninsured. Those that were insured found that their insurance covered none of their losses.

* Businesses increased their debt load when they could. More businesses applied for credit after Sandy than received insurance payments. * Credit was often constrained. Firms unprepared for disaster found that their interest rates went up after Sandy. Smaller firms were unable to secure credit because they did not meet the requirements, according to an informal survey by the New York Daily News.

* Community banks reduced lending. After Sandy, so many households and businesses were affected at once that small banks found loan defaults depleted capital. They were unable to lend. The study concluded that risk analysis had to be made a strategic priority.

September is National Preparedness Month

A few easy steps can prepare for disaster
No part of the country is immune to natural or man-made disasters.

During September, the Department of Homeland Security joins with national, state, and local agencies to encourage Americans to prepare their homes for disasters of all kinds.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), engaging citizens in disaster preparedness is a critical first step in effective response and recovery efforts.

In other words, if you know what to do when a disaster is predicted, what to do when it occurs, and what to do afterward, you will be in a better position to save yourself and your home before help arrives.

While there are obvious differences in preparing for a hurricane and preparing for a forest fire, there are similarities in preparedness for all types of disasters. You should know where you will go to escape, what your mode of transportation will be, and when you should leave. (It’s never a good idea to let your car be almost out of gas.)

Assemble important documents to take with you including copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account numbers. Use a waterproof container and include some cash.

It may not be necessary to leave your home. Do what you can in advance of a storm or earthquake to make it safer. Remember the basics of survival: water, food, clean air, and warmth.

Consider the amount of water and non-perishable food your family will need to stay in place without power for at least three or four days. Always have extra batteries for portable radios. Also have a backup battery for cellphones.

Drivers of all ages can increase their comfort, safety

All vehicle drivers should check this advice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Older drivers particularly should check it out.

* Visibility: Be sure your seat is adjusted correctly. Drivers should be able to see at least 10 feet in front of the vehicle. Headlights should be aimed at the roadway. A mechanic can determine if they are aimed and aligned right.

* Check with an ophthalmologist to be sure your eyeglasses are correct.

* If your night vision is less than it once was, drive only during the day. Arrange your activities so you are not caught outside in the dark. You still have your independence, but remember: safety first.

* Ease of entry. When you are having trouble getting in and out of a car with low seats, consider buying a minivan or SUV, which have higher seats. People of all ages should consider this.

* Ease of driving. Almost all cars have power steering today, which takes much less strength to guide the car. An automatic transmission is easier to drive than a stick shift, even if the stick shift is thought to be more sporty.

Many people feel that small cars are easier to drive. If your big car no longer seems comfortable, a smaller car might be right for you.

* Check your medications. Today, the average person takes several, some of which can produce drowsiness, dizziness or nervousness. If you think a medication has one of these effects, ask your doctor for an alternative medicine

ADHD teens and car accidents

Teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) are more likely to have a car accident, according to a new study.

According to Allison Curry, director of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, ADHD teens are less likely to get a license after they become eligible and more likely to have an accident.

Curry’s study compared New Jersey health records to car accidents. Of the 2,500 teens with ADHD, nearly 43 percent had a car crash. About 36 percent of teens without ADHD had a crash, the study found.

Only 12 percent of ADHD teens had been prescribed medication in the month before driving.

The study was reported in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Does Renter’s Insurance Cover Damage to the Rental Property In Cypress, TX?

The agents of InsureUS in Cypress, TX offer Renter’s Insurance that protects your personal property from theft and damage. The protection only extends to your personal belongings. It doesn’t cover the building or the personal property of the owner of the home or apartment. In order for their building and possessions to be covered, they must carry an insurance policy that includes the building and the physical property itself. Your renter’s policy will cover the following elements.

Personal Liability

Personal liability protects you if someone is injured while visiting your apartment or home. If someone is injured and chooses to sue you, your personal liability coverage will pay the damages up to a specific percentage. The amount your insurance company pays will vary according to the policy and amount of coverage.

Personal Property

Your Renter’s Insurance will cover the cost to replace your personal items if they are damaged or stolen. The dollar amount is determined the type of policy you have and the amounts you have chosen. It will also cover your luggage while you are traveling.

Loss of Use (Living Expenses)

When it comes to Renter’s Insurance, Loss of Use means the use of your living area. This part of the policy pays for living expenses such as a hotel, food and rent if your apartment is damaged and not inhabitable. It may also pay a portion of your moving expenses. 

In Cypress, TX, you can speak to a licensed agent at InsureUs and find all of the information you need on Renter’s Insurance as well as personal liability coverage. Make an appointment today to find out what type of coverage and how much you need to keep your belongings safe and protected. 

Finding top talent on small budgets

Key to any successful business is being staffed with the field’s top talent. Small business owners understand this, but their small budgets may limit their efforts.

However, there are steps that small business owners can take to attract top tier talent, and be just as competitive as their larger counterparts.

Your brand

Monster highlights building a strong brand as key to attracting the best talent.

“For example, when describing your company or writing job ads, avoid generic language, such as ‘lots of opportunity, great place to work,'” Susan Strayer LaMotte, founder of Exaqueo, told Monster. She added:

“You have to focus on what’s yours — what makes your company great that’s different from everyone else.”

Local help

Your local chamber of commerce is a good start for listing your job opening. They may list your opportunity in their periodic communications, like emails and newsletters, to members. They may be willing to list it for free. Also, if you are a member of any professional organizations, reach out to them. These groups often have the best access to top talent that could be great fits for your business.

Sell your strengths

Considering many top-talented workers are drawn to large, established companies, you must make sure you stress any standouts for your business. For example, if you have a patent on a product you sell, which shows it’s unique to just your business, point that out.

Logistics

Many top-level professionals have become accustomed to being able to telecommute. While this option may give you pause if you want to keep tabs on your new employee, you should consider it. Telecommuting continues to be one of the things workers rank high on their list of desired perks.

Ready to sell?

Step up strong with these six first steps

If you are ready for the adventure of selling your home and starting a new chapter in your life, congratulations!

It’s going to be great. And some work. But still great.

Here are the first six steps you can take to get your home ready for sale.

1. Pack up, pick up:

Pack up pictures, knick-knacks, books, files, decorations, out-of-season clothing, old purses, and sports equipment. That includes extra sets of anything, including dishes, pans, vases, glasses, lamps, supplies and linens. Sell, store, or trash. You might even love this minimalist living.

2. Clean. And clean again.

Nothing sells like a clean house. That means corners, drawers, cabinets, and all fixtures. Detail!

3. Fix up.

Inspect, paint and replace as needed: floors, walls, baseboards, molding, light fixtures. Don’t forget the landscape. Clean and tidy.

At this point, you might wonder about professional staging. You’ve seen it on TV: An earnest home stager backs up a moving truck filled with fine furniture and clever decor and suddenly the house is remade. People ooh and aah at the pretty picture it makes.

This is actually true. According to the Real Estate Staging Association, professionally staged homes sell five to six times faster.

Real Estate agents have heard plenty of skepticism about this from buyers who already are overworked getting their homes ready for sale.

You might think your decor will already make people say ooh and aah but experience says no. Your listing will bring people from outside your social circle who may not see home design your way. Neutral colors and fabrics help sell a home.

4. Plan to open your house to visitors.

Be ready to show your house. That means packing up the kids and pets when it is time. Make that plan early.

5. Get an inspection and spill your secrets.

Get an inspection before you put your home on the market to uncover problems. You might have to fix some things, but it’s better than stalling your home sale. Be prepared with a list of things about the house that the inspection might miss, but you know of. For example, that crack in the cement deck that is covered with the lovely plant platform. List it.

6. Hire a full-service real estate agent.

You have enough to do without trying to suddenly learn another profession. Experience pays in home sale price.

Beware dangers of lawn mower fires

The hum of lawn mowers ring through the country in summertime.

Homeowners rarely consider this task dangerous, but the fact is mowers can and do cause fires.

A lawn mower was responsible for a 2015 wildfire in Oregon that cost millions to fight. The fire raged through more than 26,000 acres, threatening 158 homes.

Every summer, mowers are responsible for devastating house fires, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 2013, a Virginia homeowner parked a hot mower under a wooden deck. The heat from the mower sparked a fire that rapidly consumed the house.

Fire in lawn mowers is not a commonly acknowledged problem.

Any lawn mower, electric or gas, can catch fire. As with any powerful tool, many things can go wrong. Nearly every mower brand has had a recall due to fire potential. In 2011, John Deere recalled mowers after cooling fans failed, causing a reported 83 fires. Toro recalled its zero-turn mowers in 2013 after an idler pulley rubbing against the fuel tank posed a fire hazard. Craftsman mowers were recalled because of fuel line connections, according to classaction.org.

Fuel hazards are one of the leading causes of fire in gas-powered lawn mowers. Fuel leaking onto the motor can cause a fire. Fuel vapors around a hot muffler also cause fires.

According to Underwriters Laboratory, the exhaust of a mower is 240 degrees and the engine can heat to 200 degrees. A gas cap leak or sloppy fueling can easily spark a fire.

Experts recommend that you fill a mower only when it is cool.

Gas-powered mowers are not the only types responsible for fire. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, this year an electric mower by Hong Kong Sun Rise Trading, was recalled when it was discovered that a short in the circuit board could cause a fire.

Another common cause of fire has nothing to do with the machine itself and everything to do with how it is used. Mowers frequently cause brush fires when tall, dry grass becomes stuck in the mower deck. This grass can get packed into the blazing hot muffler and catch fire. Not only does it burn the machine, but usually sets off a grass or field fire. This could have been the cause of the Oregon wildfire of 2015.

Rock strikes cause fires when the mower’s metal blades, traveling 200 mph at the tip, hit even a tiny rock, causing a spark and igniting dried grass.

Fire experts recommend homeowners wet down dried grass or brush before mowing. An even better idea is to not mow at all in hot, dry, windy weather.

Best practices for using your lawn mower:

* Start mowing near the house and mow outward to create a firebreak.

* Never fuel up a hot mower.

* Replace any leaky gas caps.

* Once you have fueled up, keep the gasoline container at a safe distance.

* Disconnect the spark plug before doing any service on the mower. A spark plug can cause the mower to start unexpectedly.

* Clear rocks from the mowing area.

* Keep the mower clean of fuel.

* Routinely clean out grass from the mower blades with a hose. Never put your hands near the blade unless the spark plug has been disconnected and the unit has completely cooled.