Keeping Your Home Insurance-Friendly Through Fall

Some people are lucky enough to live in climates where the weather stays mild all year long. If you live in a more turbulent environment, then you know all about the damage that weather can do to your home if you don’t take the right precautions. If you’ve gone through InsureUS and gotten a great policy, then you can rest assured that you’ll be covered should something happen. But, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. You don’t want to stay in a hotel while repairs are done on your home, so here are a few things you’ll want to do to keep your home safe through the Fall:

  • Trim any stray tree branches that may do some serious damage to your home
  • Install the storm windows
  • Winterize your pipes with heating tape or insulation
  • Get your firewood supply up if you use a stove or a fireplace
  • Check your propane levels if you use gas for heating or cooking
  • Inspect your home for drafts and leaks and patch up accordingly
  • Check your siding and make sure that it’s in good, stable condition
  • Have your furnace inspected by an HVAC professional, you generally want to get a tune-up once a year, and Fall is a critical time
  • Clean your humidifiers with a little white vinegar if it gets dry in the Fall where you live
  • Prepare your outdoors: Close the pool, rake the leaves, put the Summer furniture away, etc.

You may or may not need to check off every item on this list, it depends on what the Fall is like in your area. But few climates demand no preparation for Fall whatsoever.
 

How to handle two driving emergencies

How much time do you spend in your car?

Most Americans, drive an average of 29.2 miles a day, with trip length of 46 minutes per trip, as the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety’s survey of 2015 revealed. That’s more than 10,650 miles per year, and a whopping 279 hours in a car each year. Most of those hours are uneventful.

Yet, driving emergencies happen. Here’s what the experts suggest to do in two common situations.

Blown tire: Stay calm. Keep the foot off the brake. According to the experts at Popular Mechanics, gently press on the accelerator to stabilize the car, then let the car slow. Once the car has slowed, move toward the shoulder.

Remember that driving on an underinflated tire can increase the possibility of a blowout, as can an object in the road, according to the pros at Popular Mechanics.

Brake Failure: Most cars have dual braking systems, so even if the front goes out, the car may still have back brakes and vice versa, according to Allstate’s blog. There are several ways to slow a vehicle during a brake system failure.

First, slow the vehicle, carefully taking pressure off the gas pedal, and downshifting so the car will slow itself, thanks to the vehicle’s drag. When the car has slowed enough to be under control again, work to get out of traffic and off the road. Do not shut off the vehicle until it is off of the roadway, or it may be harder to control.

Uninsured Businesses Cost More Money Than They Save

Opting not to pay for commercial insurance seems like a way to save a business money. Those premiums really add up quickly. However, it’s worth the money in the long run and for many reasons.

1. It Protects Against Liability Charged

Accidents happen. And unfortunately, they oftentimes happen to a business’ customers and employees. Commercial insurance prevents a company from having to pay for these claims out of pocket. The insurance will cover the cost. It makes it much easier to settle out of court and for a lesser amount. And even if it goes to court, having insurance makes it look better on the business’ part and just makes the outcome more favorable for the business.

2. Lawsuits Are Expensive 

In some instances, the amount is an astronomical amount that the company can’t even afford, so when there’s insurance, a majority of the expenses are paid by the insurance company rather than the business. Although the insurance doesn’t always cover the full claim, it only leaves the business responsible for some of the expenses. 

3. Protects Against Bankruptcy

A costly lawsuit causes the business to need to take responsibility for the money owed. If it’s too much, it can cause the business to go bankrupt.

4. Personal Responsibility 

The owner is sometimes left responsible for a lawsuit. This could cause a person to lose his or her home, even if the company became an LLC.

Having commercial insurance just makes sense and is the best option for a business. For more information about commercial insurance or to start a policy, contact InsureUS, serving the Cypress, TX area, at 281-640-8888.

Ask the Expert

Q. I’m buying my first house. I am pretty sure I can spend $150,000 for my house because I did some calculations online. Problem is, lenders won’t give me a firm quote until I buy something. What gives?

A. Online calculators can be excellent tools, but remember there are many costs associated with buying a house. One of those is the tax rate in the area you buy. You won’t know that until you pick a property. You also will have to buy Private Mortgage Insurance if you put less than 20 percent down. PMI can change your monthly mortgage payment significantly.
No lender can give you an estimate until you have an address of the property you hope to buy. An address is required for the Loan Estimate, a three-page disclosure document.
Start your home search by getting pre-approved for a loan. Go to a lender and give basic information about your finances. The lender will pull a credit report and discuss your income and debt. You should have no more than 43 percent debt to income. Usually, 36 percent is preferred.
Once pre-approved you can get an agent and shop for your home. When you do find the property you want to buy, you can apply for a mortgage by going to different lenders and getting a Loan Estimate from each. The Loan Estimate, which has to be issued within three days after you apply, will give you detailed information about the loan, including the loan amount, interest rate, monthly payments and whether these can change.
The Loan Estimate will also tell you the amount of cash you need to close and the estimated costs to close.
It will list fees for things you can’t shop for (appraisals, for instance) and things you can shop for (pest inspection, for example).

Houston Area Homes and Flood Insurance

The city of Cypress, like the entirety of the Houston area, is prone to flooding. Houston lies on a great coastal plain that slopes evenly down into the Gulf of Mexico, and there is simply no high ground for miles around. The Texas countryside is particularly prone to flash flooding, which means that there may be less time for preparation than many people would expect. The Houston area can go from a drought to a flood in a day, and the Cypress Creek watershed can fill up with such rapidity that it can actually endanger unwary people. A Cypress homeowner can wake up to blue skies and find an inch of floodwater in their living room before dinner.

Large tracts of land in the Dry Creek watershed and other parts of town are built on the AE Zone. This means that there was a calculation that showed about a 1% chance of flooding every year for homes in that area. Flood insurance is especially critical in that area. Insurers may request that the homeowner have their property surveyed and issued an elevation certificate before issuing a policy for their home. Because of these risks, Cypress participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. Also known as the NFIP, this government program regulates and promotes private businesses that provide flood insurance.

People who own recreational vehicles in Cypress should consider obtaining insurance for their RVs. Most types of RV insurance offered by InsureUS cover water damage to the vehicle, so long as the damage is sudden and accidental. A flash flood event would certainly qualify. However, if the vehicle is not properly maintained or promptly seen to after the flood, then the insurance may not pay for the damage.

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping for a car online gets easier

You can get just about anything online: housewares, food, and even cars.

There are now companies that take advantage of internet technologies to allow you to inspect a vehicle online, to secure money back guarantees, even deliver your new-to-you vehicle to your door. Popular options include Vroom.com, Carvana, TrueCar and Beepi.

Vroom (Vroom.com) is a car buying site that allows users to purchase cars in just a few steps. Choose a car, review coverages and pay. Delivery of your vehicle is scheduled once they receive your payment. Vroom offers a 90-day/6,000-mile warranty that covers all of a vehicle’s mechanical parts. The company also offers 24-hours roadside assistance, Inside-Out Guard for protection of paint, interior fabrics, and the windshield. You can even get a warranty booster and extend the manufacturer’s warranty for up to five years. Vroom handles titling and registration of your new vehicle. Vroom owns the vehicles they are trying to sell and reconditions the vehicles before selling.

Carvana (Carvana.com) allows you to shop from your desk. This company offers only Carvana certified vehicles, and allows people to see the vehicles they are interested in – inside and out – so they know a vehicle’s imperfections. Once you buy, you’ll have the option to fly in and pick up your car, or have it delivered. Upon delivery, you have seven days to return the car and get your money back. If you keep the car, you’ll have a 100-day/4,189 mile guarantee.

Beepi (Beepi.com) allows one to search by vehicle make, body type, year, and a wide range of other options. Beepi delivers your chosen vehicle and gives a full-service warranty as well as a 10-day money back guarantee.

TrueCar lets you shop used cars in your immediate area, showing you market price compared to dealer’s price.

3 Reasons Your Home Insurance Can Help You Feel Secure

You can’t stop terrible things from happening, no matter how fancy your alarm system is or how many times you double check the weather reports. Home insurance may not help you sleep at night right now, but it might if you start thinking about the many ways it keeps you safe in Cypress, TX. 

1. Protecting Your Property 

You’ve already invested in not just the land and structure of your home, but also all of the things that you’ve managed to acquire in a lifetime. Whether it’s an antique sewing machine or a brand-new painting by an up-and-coming artist, home insurance can help you recover some of what’s gone if it’s all lost to a natural disaster or theft. 

2. Giving You a Friendly Place to Turn 

When something goes wrong, there are a lot of negative emotions that flying through the air. Having someone to call that you know is going to be unbiased and caring can help you put an event in perspective. For those who choose cut-throat carriers, they’re sacrificing comfort and security during what are often the worst times in people’s lives. It’s not worth it when the cards are on the table. 

3. You Can’t Predict the Future 

Just because you’ve had years and years without something going wrong, doesn’t mean that you can continue to count on that kind of good fortune. Having the right insurance means having a net that can catch you when it all falls down. InsureUS serves Cypress, TX and has years of experience helping those who go through events that could never be planned for. If you’re looking for a quote, we’re here to make sure you know all of your options. We can help you figure out where to go when you’re dealing with the unknown. Call us to find out more about how we can help you feel more secure during every season. 

 

Hope for baldness cure

When it comes to hair, three truths stand out: Many people have lost it, many want it back, and the person who invents that cure will have plenty of customers.

According to the Hair Society, about 35 million men, and 21 million women suffer from hair loss.

The best hope is two new drugs that have been demonstrated to grow thick, normal hair in mice.

Reported in 2015 in the journal, Science Advances, two drugs, approved by the FDA for other uses, have been demonstrated to grow coats of hair on bald mice in just 10 days. The drugs are enzyme inhibitors reawaken the hair follicles from their resting state to their active state. The drugs, Ruxolitinib and Tofacitinib, have been tested in cases of Alopecia Areata, but new trials will test their effects on male pattern baldness. Alopecia Areata is the sudden loss of hair in patches.

In fact, hair growth in the case of Alopecia was a surprise side effect in a Yale study on plaque psoriasis. At the end of the seven-month study, one patient who had not shown hair growth for seven years ended up with a full head of hair.

The drugs are promising, but trials, expected to be completed in 2016, are still incomplete.

On the scale of fake promises, hair regrowth has to be in the top 10, right behind miracle weight loss pills. From herbal supplements to laser hair brushes, the claims to cure are legion, but the results are sketchy to non-existent.

Medications like Rogaine and Propecia can regrow hair in cases of Alopecia. The treatment is lifelong. But people can see some results in three to four months.

Speak to a doctor and do your research before you choose a hair loss treatment.

Hate needles? Dentists may soon use nasal spray

Forget those scary needles; an anesthetic nasal spray is on its way to the dentist’s office.

Kovanaz is a pain-killing nasal spray which has now received FDA approval for use in dentistry. Patients must weigh at least 88 pounds to use the spray, according to the FDA. More tests might expand use to smaller children.

According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, Kovanaz is a combination of the anesthetic Tetracaine and the nasal decongestant Oxymetazoline. In its Phase 3 trial, the spray was demonstrated to be as effective at preventing pain as a shot for 88 percent of patients during a simple filling operation. This is comparable to the success of numbing injections. Side effects were minimal.

The product was developed by medical research company St. Renatus, named after the 5th-century patron saint of anesthesia.

It was discovered after a serendipitous accident. Co-founder Mark Kollar took a basketball to the chin and required 21 stitches. The doctor who stitched him up also diagnosed him with a deviated nasal septum. On Kollar’s follow-up visit, the doctor gave him a nasal spray containing Tetracaine to remove a nasal stent.

But Kollar noticed that his teeth were numb. And, it so happened that other patients had reported this.

A practicing dentist, Kollar tested his teeth with a pulp stimulator and found that his teeth were, in fact, numb.

The company hopes the new anesthetic will make trips to the dentist much less stressful.

Taming college costs: Start with a 529 plan

College is an expensive proposition and costs vary widely, from public to private universities.

According to the College Board, in-state students in a public four-year college can expect to pay about $9,500 per year; out of state students pay approximately $24,000. A private four-year college, costs about $33,000, as of 2016 for tuition and fees. That doesn’t include housing, books, food, and incidentals.

Preparing for this expense can be daunting for parents, but one option is the 529 plan. This is a type of savings and investment plan, which has been around since the late 1990s.

There are two types of 529 plans. The first is a prepaid tuition plan, which can be used to purchase 1-4 years of tuition, and when a student reaches college age, pays out at the tuition rates at the time of purchase. The second is a college savings plan.

With the college savings plan, there are a variety of ways to invest the funds. Account earnings are based on how investments perform. This type of plan is available in 49 states and Washington D.C.

The College Board notes that the published price and the “net” price of college often differ greatly. So you may not have to save as much. Some investment professionals suggest that families save about 25 percent of what their child’s education will cost

There’s another aspect that could bring a college tuition bill to a lower-than-expected level: tax credits. The IRS offers the American Opportunity Tax Credit, up to $2,500. Student loan interest can bring a deduction of as much as $2,500.

Funds in a 529 plan can be used for a variety of college-related costs. These include tuition, room and board, computers and supplies, even food. A word of warning: look at what the school would charge, because that is the limit of what is considered a qualified expense for spending 529 plan funds.