Tropical Storm Imelda

In the insurance world, there is a surefire way to tell when a major storm is coming – and you don’t even need to look at the weather forecast! What happens is that insurance carriers issue a moratorium on binding new business policies when a storm or hurricane is 24-48 hours away from making landfall.

Why do insurance companies do this? In the same way that health insurance carriers exclude pre-existing conditions, property insurance carriers decline to insure buildings (and sometimes cars too) if the risk of loss is suddenly increased. This is understandable – otherwise, some people would only buy insurance at the last minute, when property damage from a storm or hurricane seems inevitable.

At the time of writing, many insurance carriers are not binding coverage due to the threat from Tropical Storm Imelda, which is currently deluging coastal Texas with rainfall. Thankfully, at this point, it’s not looking like becoming a major wind event, so the chance of you having to make a homeowners insurance claim is small. Flood insurance is another matter, and we recommend that every homeowner in the greater Houston area invests in this sensible – and usually inexpensive – coverage.

5 Reasons Young Drivers Pay More

Auto insurance premiums for young drivers can be heart-attack-inducing. More than a few parents must have been forced to choose between using their savings for their child’s college fees, or for their auto insurance. But why exactly are teen drivers such an expensive proposition for insurance companies?

  1. Young Drivers Are An Unknown Risk: Insurance calculations partly base their calculations on a driver’s prior history. Teens are an unknown quantity because they only just started driving. Therefore, insurance carriers assume the worst-case scenario when assessing premiums. It’s up to the young driver to maintain a clean driving record for the first few years and then premiums will start to come down.
  2. Young Drivers Have More Accidents: A fact of life is that young drivers have more accidents than older ones. This is supported by a large amount of data gathered over many years. Insurance is a risk pool where everyone must pay for the accidents of others – therefore it is not surprising that younger drivers are expected to pay a higher proportion of the costs!
  3. Young Drivers Are Less Experienced: It takes a long time to build good driving skills, especially when handling emergency situations. Defensive, risk-averse driving is something that takes many years to master. Young drivers tend to misjudge situations on the road, and are more prone to panic or over-correct.
  4. Young Drivers Are More Prone To Distracted Driving: Ever seen a young person NOT using a cellphone?! Take a moment to observe other drivers on the road (but obviously not while you are driving!). It is hardly surprising that distracted driving contributes to an ever-increasing percentage of serious accidents among young drivers.
  5. Young Drivers Are Crazier Drivers: Science supports the assertion that teen drivers are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. High-risk driving on the highway is not an attractive prospect for insurers. Young men are especially likely to speed, tailgate, and have an overly inflated opinion of their own driving skills.

One of the best ways to save money is to shop your auto insurance with a range of different providers. At Memorial Insurance Agency in Houston, Texas, we have a wide range of options to choose from – give us a call for a quote today.

7 Home Theft Prevention Strategies

According to the FBI, a home break-in takes place every 13 seconds – and, contrary to popular belief, more than two-thirds of burglaries occur not at the dead of night but during the day, when homes are more likely to be unoccupied.

Criminals love an easy target, so making use of the following tips may encourage a burglar to target someone else and not you!

  1. Install a home security system: A centrally monitored alarm is not only an effective deterrent, but also brings you discounts on your home insurance premiums. If you don’t want to fork out for a security service, consider “faking it” with an alarm company sign on your front lawn and dummy security cameras.
  2. Lock doors and windows: An astonishing 79% of home break-ins occur through an unlocked door or window. It takes just seconds for an opportunist thief to walk in, grab some valuables, and make their escape. You should also close curtains and blinds, so would-be intruders cannot see inside and identify items worth stealing during a quick raid.
  3. Get to know your neighbors: One of the best deterrents for thieves is a community where people keep an eye out for each other.
  4. Don’t make things easy for thieves: Lock ladders and tools away. Remove items near the home, such as rocks, which could be used to break a window. Install strong doors with high-quality locks. Trim trees and shrubs near the house to eliminate hiding places.
  5. Make it look like you’re home: Leave lights or a radio on when you go out. Better still, put lights on a timer to go on and off at random times.
  6. Replace worn keypads: Have a keypad on your gate or garage? Be sure to change the code regularly, otherwise certain keys are likely to become worn which makes it a lot easier for thieves to guess your code.
  7. Secure your passports, documents, jewelry and cash: The first place a burglar will look for these items is in the bedroom, so buy yourself some time by keeping these items in a locked box or a safe in another room.

And finally …. consider owning a dog for maximum deterrent value. Small dogs make a lot of noise and attract attention to an intruder, and if you have a big dog, may God help anyone who decides to gain unlawful entry to your home!

10 Ways to Cut Energy Bills This Summer

Light photo created by kues

When the mercury rises in Houston, so does anxiety about the size of your next electricity bill. With temperatures topping 103F in the city this week, and no end to the heatwave in sight, stay cool with Memorial Insurance Agency’s tips on keeping energy costs as low as possible!

  1. Use fans: While a fan won’t actually make the room cooler, the circulating air will make it FEEL more comfortable. Try and get into the habit of using fans instead of AC whenever possible.
  2. Line-dry your clothes: An electric dryer hits your pocket twice: it uses a lot of power, and it generates heat so your AC has to work harder. Humidity is highest in Houston in the mornings, so hang out your clothes on a sunny afternoon and they will be dry in no time.
  3. Close your blinds: In the height of summer, the best place for the sun is outside – not streaming into your living room!
  4. Keep AC vents open: Yes, even in rooms that are not in use. Keeping all vents open allows for better circulation of air throughout your home, and lower energy bills.
  5. Spend more time on lower floors: Cool air sinks lower, so staying downstairs during the day will allow you to be more sparing in your use of the AC. Now, if only Texas homes had basements!
  6. Set your thermostat to 78 or above: For every degree higher than 78, you save on average 8% on your energy bill.
  7. Turn down your water heater: Your boiler accounts for 18% of your household energy bill. If your thermostat is set to 140 or 150, turn it down to 120 – you might be amazed at the savings.
  8. Seal cracks around doors and windows: For obvious reasons – you want to keep that nice cool air inside the house.
  9. Properly insulate your home: See above!
  10. Go somewhere else: Prefer someone else to pay the AC bill to keep you cool? Malls, coffee shops and restaurants are all excellent places to linger during the heat of these summer days!

Road Rage and Auto Insurance

Want to know why “road rage” is not covered by many auto insurance policies? The simple answer is that property damage or liability claims resulting from aggressive driving are not considered to be accidental, but rather, an avoidable consequence of risky behavior.

Even if you’re feeling calm, you don’t want to become part of someone else’s auto accident as a result of their bad driving choices. The following tips may save your bacon on Houston’s high-octane highways:

  1. Stay far away: Slow down or change lanes to leave as much space between you and the offending driver as possible. If you are being tailgated, move aside to reduce the chance of being run into from behind if you are forced to brake sharply.
  2. Note the vehicle details: Pull over and report the aggressive driver to the police. Remember – do not make a call on your cell phone while driving!
  3. Don’t use hand gestures: A middle-finger salute could quickly escalate the situation out of hand if the other driver is already feeling angry, aggressive, or upset.
  4. Don’t confront another driver: In a moment of madness, it may be tempting to follow the person who just cut you off, force them off the road, and teach them a lesson using a tire iron or firearm. Don’t do this.
  5. Practice empathy: Maybe the aggressive driver is running late for work, or just had an argument with his wife. Perhaps the slow driver is lost, or has a mechanical issue with his vehicle. At some point, everyone has been one of those drivers – try not to take the bad driving of others personally.

Stay safe on those crazy roads and if you need auto insurance advice, call your friends at Memorial Insurance Agency in Houston, Texas!

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Applying For Auto Insurance

When it comes to auto insurance in Houston, “honesty is the best policy”. Leave out important information on your application, and you could end up incorrectly insured – which is a scenario you may come to regret if you are involved in an auto accident.

Full disclosure applies not only to new business, but to renewals as well. Your account manager at Memorial Insurance Agency will review all your policies with you on an annual basis, as part of our service. Those discussions often revolve around premium, liability limits, and deductibles – but it is also important to let us know if you have made any major life changes, changed your garaging address, vehicle use, or added a household member of driving age. So please make sure you mention all relevant information to your agent!

CLICK HERE for a full rundown of the things you need to consider!

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!

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.