What Are the Benefits of Having a Security or Landscape Lighting System?

Landscape and lighting go hand in hand when you are trying to beautify, as well as protect, your home. In Cypress, TX, the agents of InsureUs are constantly working with their clients to make sure they understand the many ways they can minimize their potential risk and improve their home security.

Landscape Lighting

Landscape designers use ambient lighting to spotlight focal points. In the process of illuminating your landscaping, it also sheds enough light to be able to identify possible intruders that may be lurking around your property. When landscaping is placed directly beneath or adjacent to windows or other entryways, the additional lighting is a deterrent for potential criminals who may be looking for a way into your home. The lighting doesn’t have to be overpowering to be effective and can be set up to turn on and off through the use of a motion sensor.

Increased Security

The type of materials and foliage you include in your landscaping can also make it difficult for intruders to gain access to your home. Trellises, thorny bushes or prickly succulents are ideal if you want an added layer of protection. When coupled with the benefits of ambient lighting, both can be extremely effective at turning away intruders. Landscape designers work to help homeowners create beautiful, landscaped areas that double as protective barriers against both human and animal intruders.

If you live in the Cypress, TX area and are interested in learning about more about ways to increase your home security, call the agents of InsureUS. They can help you to identify different ways that you can use to protect your home and family from financial loss. Call their office today to schedule an insurance evaluation.

Buying your first house

Buying a new house is easy: Dive into some websites. Pick a house you like. Press “Add to Cart” and 10 minutes later you’re picking new furniture.
…Nah. Doesn’t work that way.

Like all pivotal decisions in life, the fun part is rarely the most important.

The best way to buy a home is to start answering the dull questions first.

Start by building a basic financial profile about yourself: First, pull your credit report and get your credit score. You can do this at freecreditreport.com or at other sites, such as creditkarma.com. If your score is under 620, you’ve got some work to do on your credit. Start by making absolutely sure every account is paid on time, every time, not one day late. During your credit building period, make sure you don’t apply for loans on cars or anything else. Do everything you can to pay off any loans or credit cards you may have.
With a credit score of at least 620 in hand, start gathering documents that show how much money you make and what your expenses are. You’ll need pay stubs and a list of your bills.
You will also need cash.

A good rule to remember: The more cash you have, the better the terms of any deal you make. You’ll have more flexibility and loans will cost you less, especially if you also have a high credit score.
But how much is enough? Down payments vary depending on the type of loan. With an FHA loan, for example, you might need no more than 3.5 percent of the selling price. But you’ll also need some cash available for closing costs — maybe up to 2.5 percent or more.

One of the best places to start the process is with a lender. Gather your financial information and chat with your bank or credit union to find out how much house you could possibly afford. They will tell you how much cash you will need. Once you have the cash, get a pre-approval from your lender. Then the fun part begins. Visit some websites and find your best home.

Good idea: Start small with a home, buying one that is easy to afford with a short mortgage. Then, add some elbow grease to fix it up to increase its value, while paying off the mortgage. Soon, you’ll have value in the house and you can sell with more money to put down on your next house. This is the way wealth is built over time.

Ask the expert: What is a USDA loan?

Many people are currently hoping to live the American Dream of becoming a homeowner, and according to Nerd Wallet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s special home loan might just be the ticket they are seeking.

While this department might seem an unlikely place to find a loan for a new house, the point of the program is to help growth in the more rural parts of the country where incomes are typically lower than their urban counterparts. To spur that growth, USDA loans come with excellent benefits.

One of the most significant incentives for going after a USDA loan is that they require no money down at all to secure the loan and it guarantees lower interest rates. This will help young buyers or families that otherwise struggle to save up for a down payment on a traditional loan. Nearly 140,000 families were able to take advantage of this in 2014 alone.

The loans work in a couple of ways: loan guarantees and direct loans. With a loan guarantee, a buyer will use a local lender affiliated with the program. Then, the government will act as the guarantor on that loan so that the buyer will have access to better terms, much like how it would work using a co-signer. A direct loan is one issued straight from the USDA, and these are found among the low- and very low-income applicants to the program. Subsidies with direct loans can bring the interest rate down to as little as one percent.

The supply of houses that are eligible for the loan are located in rural areas. There are, however, some options in more suburban locations that could strike a right balance for daily commuters.

Applicants must also fall within some specific income, debt, and credit score thresholds and these vary from location to location. Typically, the monthly payment on the home cannot exceed 29 percent and credit scores should be at or above 660. USDA mortgage lenders will also be looking for a good payment history to other creditors, and applicants with a score under 580 will have to undergo a more thorough review.

Does Home Insurance Cover Storm Damage?

One of the most important aspects of understanding the limits of coverage on your homeowners’ insurance is the ability to cover storm damage. Many people assume any storm damage is covered by their homeowners’ insurance, which is not true.

What Damage Is Covered?

In the event of a natural disaster or storm, you should know what the limits of coverage are for your home. If your home insurance does not cover certain aspects of damage that you are vulnerable to, you should purchase additional insurance so you are not left unprotected. For example, you are not covered if you experience a flood either from a storm or because of mechanical failure in the home. However, wind, hail, and lightning are usually covered by a homeowners’ insurance policy. Ask your agent for specifics when choosing your insurance, and ask them to help you determine what other types of insurance you may need to cover yourself completely based on the area you live in, and the risks associated with your location.

Amount Of Coverage

Determining the amount of coverage you need to protect you from storm damage is based on the value of your home and other factors such as contents and additional structures. Gather all of your information and receipts and get an accurate total of the value of your home and let your agent help you get the right coverage amount. For more information about storm coverage and coverage amounts, call or stop by Cypress, TX, InsureUS.

Our professional insurance agents can get you the insurance you need so you can be fully protected from storms and other covered events. Don’t leave your financial well-being to chance. Get the right coverage you need today.

 

Hurricanes and Home Insurance: What You Need to Know

Hurricanes have been all over the news lately, and Texas was particularly hard hit by recent Hurricane Harvey. If you live in Cypress, TX, you may have found out too late that your home insurance didn’t cover enough when you were hit with hurricane damage. With more hurricanes continuing to hit the United States, it’s time to learn more about hurricanes and home insurance so you make sure you’re covered.

Does Home Insurance Cover Hurricanes?

There’s no one policy that is going to cover all the damage a hurricane has the potential to do to your home. You may need to consider a mixture of several policies from InsureUS, such as home insurance, flood insurance, and wind insurance. Keep in mind, if you’re living near the coast, it’s possible that you may need to have a special windstorm policy along with your home insurance.

Do I Need Flood Insurance?

If you think you may need coverage for water that enters the home as a result of a hurricane, such as pooling water from heavy rains or water damage from storm surge, then you probably do need flood insurance along with your home insurance. Many homeowners think that their home insurance will cover them, but you’ll probably need a good flood insurance policy to ensure you’re well covered.

Will I Need to Pay Special Deductibles?

Living in a hurricane-prone area may mean that you do pay some special, higher deductibles. You may be asked to pay a percentage deductible when dealing with hurricane damage. When buying insurance to keep you covered during a hurricane, make sure you find out the deductible information.

What to Do After a Hurricane Hits

If a hurricane does hit your home in Cypress, TX, make sure that you document your damage with video or photos and work to prevent further damage to your home. Make sure you keep track of temporary repairs that are made. You’ll also need to make sure that you notify the insurance company immediately.

Don’t wait until another hurricane hits to make sure you’re well covered. Contact InsureUS to learn more about your options and the coverage you need. 

Besides Insurance, How Can a Business Prepare for a Hurricane?

Besides Insurance, How Can a Business Prepare for a Hurricane?
By M Wyzanski

Any insurance professional will stress the importance of a good commercial policy that includes wind and hail as well as flood coverage in relation to protecting your business from the elements. Case in point is the fact that many stricken by current hurricanes do not even own flood insurance.

We won’t get into the implications of damages and losses recovery in regard to this unfortunate set of circumstances. Suffice it to say, in wake of the destruction, these home and business owners have to deal with the financial stress on their own, save for whatever government assistance they can get.

Besides having a proper insurance plan in place, businesses can prepare for the worst weather scenarios by doing the following.

Review your company’s impact study:
• Make a tally of what type of losses you may incur.
• Consider the amount of risk loss and severity probability that may impact your business.
• Look over your business process flow agenda: Should one portion of your company become unworkable, assign another unit to take over.
• Choose which operations are vital for continued survival and recovery.
• Ensure all records of sales and customer-base, as well as tax data and documents are stored in a secure off-site location.
• Assign others to take over executive management if those in place are not able to carry out duties.

Partner with Other Businesses
• Have vendors ready to outsource services in case of a hurricane disaster.
• Mark down important vendor and business partners and store this info in an off-site multiple employee-accessible location.

Make Alternate Plans for your Facility
• Contemplate the use of other locations in the event your main office is rendered inaccessible or inoperable.
• Plan for security of people and property.

Ensure Payroll Efficiency
• If it is pertinent, ensure the vendors you will deal with understand how to continue with payroll.
• Partner with your vendors to ensure employee info is stored securely in an off-site location.

Team up with Other Operations
• Group together with other corporations at your building site to prepare for continued business in a weather-induced crisis.
• Reach out to emergency personnel and power companies to show them how your operations are conducted.
• Devise a plan together with your suppliers, shippers and others you rely on so that you will know how to carry on in the event of an emergency.

Keep Up with Your Protection Plans
• Review your plans on how to deal with an emergency situation yearly. Revise them if you feel changes need to be made.
• Conduct consistent emergency drills.
Risk control is part of any major insurance company’s policyholder’s benefits. Contact an independent agency that does direct business with many of the leading providers for more information on how your company can protect itself from a hurricane or other natural disaster.

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

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.

Insuring your coastal Texas property for wind and hail damages

Tornado and hurricane season means an increased chance of wind and hail damage to homes. If you are a new resident in coastal Texas, you may be surprised to learn that wind and hail damage aren’t covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies in the 14 coastal counties of Texas. Instead, you’ll need a separate policy to cover your home and other structures from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. If you want to enhance your financial protection against hurricane and tornado damage, you can add endorsements like replacement cost-dwelling and replacement cost-personal property that can make hurricane and tornado season damages easier to bear.

Wind and Hail
Eligibility for TWIA  coverage is not automatic. Each building must meet windstorm building codes and the property owner must hold a Certificate of Compliance (WPI-8 or WPI-8-C) for each structure. According to Texas Insurance Code Chapter 2210, this applies to "any building constructed, altered, remodeled, enlarged, repaired, or added to on or after January 1, 1988." A TWIA policy covers wind and hail damage only. Winds include damage from tornado or derecho.

Water or Flood Damage
Throughout the US, a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program covers flood damage. Home owner’s insurance covers other water damage. For example, if high winds tear off your roof and rain water enters through the hole, home owner’s insurance covers the water damage. If rising water from heavy precipitation enters your home at ground level due to seepage, flood insurance covers the water damage. An NFIP policy lets you insure the structure, its contents or both.

You Need an Umbrella
You may desire a higher level of coverage on personal property such as boats, sporting equipment, etc. An umbrella policy can help you round out your insurance coverage and protect expensive items with a level of coverage that provides full replacement value if needed. 

Come see us at InsureUS in Cypress, TX to talk about the level of coverage needed to protect your home and belongings from Texas coastal storms. We’ll help you weed through the paperwork, so you can enjoy the Texas sunshine.

Tips to Prevent Mold Damage to Your Home

Mold can cause severe damage and time-consuming, costly repairs to your home.  Save your time and money by addressing these suggestions to rid your house in the Cypress, TX area before it takes hold. 

  1. Use a critical eye to eliminate unnecessary clutter, especially around airflow points that prevent your HVAC air circulation.
  2. Controlling your indoor climate by setting the thermostat at 78 degrees F to prevent the air conditioning unit from dehumidifying during humid summers.
  3. Make sure our AC unit is the proper size for your home.  If it’s too small or large, it will not run efficiently and can lead to mold.
  4. When running the AC, shut windows and doors to prevent humidity in the air that leads to condensation and mold.
  5. Monitor the indoor humidity level in humid climates and keep it below 60 percent to prevent mold growth.
  6. If the humidity level regularly is above 60 percent, check your AC is working properly.  For example, is the temperature correct, is it cycling periodically, does it blow cold air, and are the coils clean?
  7. Watch for standing water or dampness around sump pumps, freezers, hot water tanks, refrigerators, windows, and basement doors.
  8. If groundwater is an issue in your area, cover the crawl space floor with a plastic barrier to trap the moisture in the ground and keep moisture vapor from rising into the home.
  9. Consider using a dehumidifier if you have high humidity regularly.

InsureUS

At InsureUS in the Cypress, TX area, we understand how difficult it can be to fight indoor mold.  We have a commitment to helping you keep your home safe and mold-free for your family, and help you ensure that you have the home insurance coverage necessary.

Signs That You Need To Replace Your Roof

Signs That You Need To Replace Your Roof
Studies show that most homeowners don’t know the right time to replace their roof. This puts them at the risk of getting injured in the event the top crushes. To help you out, here are signs that the top of your house is ripe for replacement:

It’s already too old
Experts report that top of the house can last up to 25 years. If your top is of this age or older, it’s time to think of replacing it. If you aren’t sure you should hire a professional to inspect it. If it’s in bad shape and puts your home and family members at risk, you should hire an expert to replace it.

The top is leaking
Most of the leakages can be fixed without having to replace the entire house top but if your top is leaking, it’s a sign that top is worn out and you should give it some attention. When the top of the house is leaking, it means that the flashing is damaged and you should replace it. When you notice a leak, you should have it fixed as soon as possible. This is because the leak allows a lot of water into the top that promotes the growth of mold which reduces the lifespan of the roof.

The shingles have buckled or curled
Curled or buckled shingles expose your home to outside elements. They also put your house at the risk of shingle blow-offs in the event of a storm. Two of the main reasons for buckled shingles are old age and moisture. To keep your family safe, you should replace your top when your see curled shingles.

There are algae on the top of the house
Algae are always in the air but germinate when they land on damp surfaces. If your top has moisture, the algae will grow and feed on the roof which weakens the top and over time, the top can come down. You should inspect the extent of the damage and if it isn’t that much, you should scrub off the algae from the top of your house. You can also remove the algae using zinc strips.

The chimney is leaking
The chimney should be properly flashed for it to work properly. If the chimney is leaking it means that the flashing isn’t properly connected to the top of the house. In most cases, this problem comes about when the top is deteriorated and needs repair. You should work with your contractor and confirm if you can fix the flashing. If you can’t, you should replace the entire top of the house.

You are having high energy bills
High heating and cooling bills mean poor ventilation and insulation brought about by a poor performing roof. You should ask a contractor to inspect the top and if in bad shape, replace it.

Conclusion
These are some of the signs that your roof needs to be replaced. To make the decision, you should hire an expert to first inspect the top of the house. For ideal results and for the unit to last for a long time, ensure that the new unit is of high quality.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Satvik_Mittal/1728302
By Satvik Mittal | Submitted On January 31, 2017