Preparing for a Hurricane

As the weather gears up for another long hot summer, it is easy to forget that a major hurricane could be just weeks away. That’s right, folks – June 1st was the official start to “Hurricane Season”!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season this year. But don’t be reassured by the word “normal” – it means that we can expect 9-15 named storms, 4-8 hurricanes with wind speeds up to 110mph, and 2-4 major hurricanes in category 3 and above with wind speeds over 111mph. There is no way of telling if or where these storms will make landfall. Before they arrive – in other words, right now! – it is a very good idea to not only check that your home insurance is in order, but also to follow some basic steps to prepare. Thanks to our friends and partners at http://velocityrisk.com/¬†for the following excellent tips!:

  1. Create an emergency communication plan: Pre-arrange an evacuation route and destination with other members of your household, and be sure to know how to share warnings and alerts with your family members.
  2. Stock up on emergency supplies: What you’ll need: lots of water, non-perishable foods, can opener, flashlight and spare batteries, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, whistle, plastic sheeting and duct tape, can opener, cell phone with chargers and a backup battery.
  3. Check your home insurance: Make sure your home insurance policy covers damage caused by wind, hail, and named storms/hurricanes. Verify that you have low deductibles so your out-of-pocket costs in the event of a claim are low. Check that you have a Replacement Cost (not Actual Cash Value) policy. If in doubt …. speak to your friendly insurance agency in Houston, Memorial Insurance!
  4. Consider buying flood insurance: Don’t wait until the next Hurricane Harvey is bearing down on you before you get flood insurance, because even if you buy it today, there is a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect. So plan ahead and get yourself covered BEFORE the next hurricane is on the horizon. And remember – flood insurance is NOT included in your home insurance policy!

When Your Home Insurance Coverage Backfires

We at Memorial Insurance Agency have helped people like you get through problematic situations with their insurance for years now. Unfortunately, many cases exist in which your policy might backfire on you. These typically occur when you don’t buy a good enough plan for your needs.

When You Don’t Get Various Emergency Insurance

Ignore certain types of disaster insurance coverage at your peril! For example, you might decline flood coverage and end up experiencing a sudden flood of water. This problem is particularly an issue in places that don’t get a lot of rain but then suddenly get a lot. For example, floods in Houston, TX do occur, and you must be prepared with great insurance.

When Mold and Leaks Strike

One of the most common problems you’ll experience in your home is mold or leaks. These issues occur in out-of-the-way areas of the house and may trigger a variety of concerns. For example, mold can cause respiratory problems that make your home unsafe for many individuals.

Even worse, leaks can wear away at the structure of your home and cause serious issues. And your standard homeowner’s policy will not offer this type of coverage. As a result, you need to expand your options to ensure that you don’t experience this problematic issue.

Make Sure You Get the Best Policy

So if you live in Houston, TX and you’re worried about any of these problems, contact us at Memorial Insurance Agency. We serve this area and will provide you with the high-quality insurance you need to ensure that you don’t experience problems with your coverage.

Investors: Insure Those Rental Homes!

Insuring Rental Properties

We partnered once again with Priority Investor Loans for another highly successful INVESTOR EVENT, in the swanky Lounge 26 @ Catalyst in downtown Houston. In this short video, Memorial Insurance's very own Justin Vance explains why landlords should always make sure their rental homes are correctly insured!

Posted by Memorial Insurance Agency, LLC on Friday, May 31, 2019
We partnered once again with Priority Investor Loans for another highly successful INVESTOR EVENT, in the swanky Lounge 26 @ Catalyst in downtown Houston. In this short video, Memorial Insurance’s very own Justin Vance explains why landlords should always make sure their rental homes are correctly insured. Contact your favorite home insurance agent in Houston, Memorial Insurance, and find out about our dwelling fire/landlord insurance products today!

What Makes Home Insurance Expensive?

Insurance carriers take hundreds of factors into consideration when calculating premiums. Here are the six things that make the biggest difference to your home insurance rate:

  1. The location of your home: Texas is prone to hurricanes, and past events have shown insurers that homes close to the coast or to large bodies of water are more likely to incur losses. Consequently, these homes are more expensive to insure against weather-related perils. Some inland areas – particularly around Dallas/Fort Worth – regularly get devastating hailstorms, which have intensified in recent years, and have subsequently caused big premium increases in those areas. There are also less obvious factors at play, meaning that some zip codes are consistently more expensive for insurance than others, which is related to past losses in an area and the complicated algorithms that insurance companies use to determine risk.
  2. The age of your home: The days of sturdy, stone-and-brick homesteads built to last hundreds of years are long gone. These days, the chance of something going wrong with your home starts to rise rapidly after about 10 years of age. Roofs become less weather-resistant and need replacing, plumbing and other internal systems are more likely to malfunction, and nearby trees grow larger and become more likely to topple onto your house. The equation is simple: older home = higher chance of a claim = more expensive insurance!
  3. The age of your roof: Today’s shingle roofs are designed to last about 15-20 years. Insurance companies know this, and will therefore charge a higher premium for older roofs, offer an Actual Cash Value policy only, or even refuse to insure your home at all. Tile or metal roofs have longer lives, but the flip side for insurance companies is that they cost more to replace if destroyed by a hurricane.
  4. Type of plumbing: Homes built before 1985 that have not been completely updated may still retain all or some of their original galvanized pipes. Statistically, these kinds of pipes are far more likely to corrode and develop leaks than modern PVC piping. If your home still has galvanized plumbing, you will have a smaller choice of insurance carriers, and premiums will be more expensive.
  5. Your “insurance score”: Whenever you get a quote, insurance carriers run an “insurance score” on one or both applicants. This is a bit like a credit check and takes lots of factors into account, but it does not affect your credit score in the same way that a loan application does. If your insurance score is low, you could be paying more for the exact same policy than someone who has a high insurance score.
  6. Prior claims: While there is some leniency towards weather claims (after all, a hurricane is not your fault!), insurance companies are wary of homeowners who have multiple claims on their record for things like water damage, theft, and – especially – liability. Any zero-paid-out claims (where the amount of the claim costs less than your deductible) can also hike your premium at renewal. So it’s best to make absolutely sure BEFORE you file a claim that it’s going to be worthwhile to do so – your agent will be able to advise you.

The golden rule is – as always – to give your agent a call! Memorial Insurance Agency’s licensed agents will be happy to provide you with a quote, help you to decide whether to file a claim, and answer any questions that you may have about insurance.

Do I need flood insurance?

If you own a home in the Houston, TX area, it is important that you have it fully and properly covered by insurance. For most homeowners, this will mean having home insurance in place at all times. However, there are other types of insurance that you may need as well. Depending on your situation, you may also need to get flood insurance. There are several situations in which you will need to have flood insurance.

Required by Lender

One of the most common reasons why someone may need to get flood insurance is if their mortgage lender requires it. If your home is located in a FEMA flood zone, it is very likely that your lender will want you to have flood insurance. This is especially true if your mortgage is part of the FHA program. In these situations, you will likely need to escrow your payments on a monthly basis.

Flood Zone

Even if it is not required by your bank, you could still benefit greatly by having flood insurance if you are in or near a flood zone. Flood insurance will provide you with very valuable protection in the event your home is damaged by a flood. Further, your standard home insurance policy may not cover it if you are at risk of being affected by floods. 

There are a variety of situations in which someone in the Houston, TX area should have flood insurance. When you are trying to better understand your flood insurance needs and requirements, you should contact the team at Memorial Insurance Agency. The insurance professionals at Memorial Insurance Agency fully understand the complexities and importance of flood insurance. Because of this, they can help you get into a flood insurance policy that provides you with the right level of coverage. 

Happy 5th Anniversary, Mayra!

If you’ve ever picked up the phone and called our agency, then you’ll most likely be familiar with Mayra Reyes. One of our most experienced staff, Mayra will always go to great lengths to make sure her customers are happy. You need only glance at our Google reviews to see how much Mayra’s customers love her!

Yesterday, Mayra celebrated her 5th anniversary with our agency – so we all had a great reason to go out and celebrate with some yummy food and a cocktail at Brio’s in the City Centre!

Happy Anniversary, and thank you so much for your dedicated service, Mayra – your warmth, friendliness, professionalism, and insurance expertise are very much appreciated by your colleagues and customers alike! Here’s to the next five years growing with Memorial Insurance Agency!

Ten Things to Look For in a Home Insurance Policy

There are many different coverage options available in a home insurance policy. Which ones do you really need, and which ones can you go without? Let Memorial Insurance guide you through the small print!

Really Need

  1. Enough Coverage: As a rule of thumb, it will cost at least $100 per square foot to rebuild your home. So, if your home is 2,000 square feet, you will need an absolute minimum of $200,000 in coverage. If your home is custom built, or uses higher-than-average-quality materials, the replacement cost will be higher.
  2. Replacement Cost: If the worst should happen, you want the insurance company to pay the full amount that it costs to rebuild your home and replace everything inside it. So the policy needs to state Replacement Cost, for the dwelling and the roof. This also applies to your Personal Property (coverage C) – otherwise you’ll get only Actual Cash Value for your belongings, which will be a lot less than the items will cost to replace.
  3. High Liability Coverage Limits: The difference in premium between $25,000 and $300,000 in liability coverage is just a handful of dollars per year, so you should go for the highest available amount to make sure you are well protected if you are found legally responsible for someone else’s medical bills or lawyer’s fees.
  4. Low Deductibles: The deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket before the insurance takes care of the rest. In a natural disaster-prone area such as Houston, insurance claims due to weather events are common, so it makes sense to have low deductibles. Standard in this area for good policies is a 2% deductible for wind, hail, and hurricane, and 1% for all other perils. 1%/1% is also available in many areas away from the coast.
  5. Water Coverages: These include water backup, slow seepage, and foundation coverage, and are included as standard on an HOB policy form but have to be added (“endorsed”) to other kinds of policies. They are generally inexpensive to add, but give you protection against very expensive potential losses.

Go Without

  1. “Actual Cash Value”: Some insurance carriers (including several very well known household names) depreciate your roof. In other words, you’ll receive less from the insurance company than the amount it will cost to replace your roof, and the potential payout shrinks every year as your roof ages. If your roof is 10 years old and you have an Actual Cash Value policy, you’ll receive next to nothing for your roof claim – or even nothing at all, after your deductible is taken into account. Also see above for what Actual Cash Value means for your personal property.
  2. Personal Injury Coverage: This sounds great until you realize that it does NOT mean physical injury to a person. “Personal Injury” is coverage for slander, libel, and other lawsuits that most homeowners will be very unlikely to face. In other words, with this one you’re paying extra for something you don’t need. Tricky agents love to add this to a policy because it sounds like it offers a lot of coverage.
  3. Extended Replacement Cost: If your home is insured for $200,000, and you have 25% extended replacement cost coverage, this does not mean you will receive $250,000 from the insurance if your home burns to the ground. Extended replacement cost only applies if an entire area is affected (for example by a major hurricane) and the ensuing demand drives up the cost of labor and building materials, so your home costs more to rebuild at that particular time than it normally would. Adding extended replacement cost is a devious way that agents “add coverage” without actually giving you the correct protection. If your home is going to cost $250,000 to replace, opt instead for that full amount of coverage under the “dwelling A” section of your policy.
  4. Identity Theft: This is one of a number of optional endorsements available on a home insurance policy. If you want this kind of coverage, it is best to buy a specific policy and not mix it in with the homeowners insurance. Otherwise, you might find you are having to make an identity theft claim under your home insurance which can potentially increase your premium on renewal.
  5. Wind/Hail/Hurricane Exclusion: If you live in a coastal area (Galveston, Brazoria, and some parts of Harris) and you receive a home insurance quote that looks too good to be true, then it probably is! Some companies won’t insure your home in these areas unless windstorm coverage is excluded, due to the high risk of hurricanes. So while you’ll be covered for fire, lightning, vandalism and malicious mischief, you’ll be getting zilch from your insurance if the next Category 4 takes your roof with it. Thankfully, Memorial Insurance has many options for coastal homes, including specialist companies that do include wind in high risk areas, as well as standalone windstorm policy options.

If you have any questions, give your agent at Memorial Insurance a call and we’d be happy to explain further!

Excess Flood Coverage: Do You Need It?

As the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey looms ever closer, the thoughts of many homeowners are turning to flood insurance. Floods are one of the most common and most expensive home hazards, and it pays to make sure you’re properly protected, especially in this era of ever more violent hurricanes and unpredictable rainfall patterns.

What Kind of Flood Insurance Do I Need?

While the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers suitable coverage for most homes, people with high-value properties ought to consider supplementing their NFIP policy with Excess Flood insurance. If there is potential for a flood to cause more than $250,000 of damage to the structure of your home, and $100,000 of damage to its contents (the maximum coverage limits available under the NFIP), then Excess Flood insurance is worth considering.

How Does Excess Flood Work?

In a nutshell, an Excess Flood policy kicks in once the limits of your coverage under the NFIP have been exhausted, so you typically won’t pay another deductible. You also get some attractive additional coverage options, including loss of use, which pays for you to live somewhere else if your home is rendered uninhabitable due to flood.

How Much Does It Cost?

Excess Flood is available from private insurers and is not subsidized by the NFIP, which means it costs more than an NFIP policy. Premiums vary depending on the location and construction of your home, the foundation type, and even the way your home faces! But on average, reckon on it being at least twice as expensive as the equivalent amount of NFIP coverage.

How Can I Find Out More?

Give your agent at Memorial Insurance a call on 713-461-8272, and we will be glad to answer any questions you may have, run an Excess Flood quote, or simply help you decide whether this coverage is necessary for your home.

Is Hail Damage Covered by my Homeowners’ Insurance?

The exterior of your home is constantly being exposed to the elements. While it is designed to withstand all types of weather and protect you while you remain cozy and comfortable inside, there are times when damage can occur. Thunderstorms bring heavy rains and strong winds but they also bring damaging hail that can poke holes in your roof and siding, as well as crack or even break your windows. In Houston, TX, residents can call on Memorial Insurance Agency if they have any questions about hail damage.

More Common Than You Think

Hail can cause extensive damage to your roof, especially if it’s older and already in need of repair. There are times when the rain is so heavy, many people don’t realize hail is also present. Hail damage is much more common than many people believe. That is why most types of hail damage are covered by your homeowners’ insurance policy. While hail doesn’t occur all that often, it can wreak havoc on a home, damaging your roof, siding, and windows.

Call An Inspector

If you believe your home may have suffered some hail damage, don’t wait to take action. Call an inspector today. They can evaluate your roof and identify any potential hail damage that could lead to significant problems in the future. Making the necessary repairs promptly will ensure there is no further damage inside the home.

The agents of Memorial Insurance Agency have the answers Houston, TX residents need if they are concerned about hail damage. Call and schedule your meeting today to find out what types of damage your homeowners’ policy covers. They will give you the information you need so you will have peace of mind knowing your home is protected.