5 New Year’s Resolutions You Might Actually Stick To

The reason so many New Year’s Resolutions ultimately fail – as psychologists will tell you – is that they are too general. Resolving to “exercise more” is less effective than targeting a specific activity (for example, walking 10,000 steps every day). Let Memorial Insurance Agency in Houston, Texas, inspire you with some ideas for resolutions that you might actually keep!

1. Get to know your neighbors: Not only might you find some deep friendships this way, but from an insurance perspective, having your neighbors keeping an eye on your home is great for security!

2. Learn something new: Regular mental workouts improve brain function as we age. Why not take a college course, learn a foreign language, or play chess twice a week?

3. Tip generously: If you can afford to dine in a fancy restaurant, the difference between tipping 15% and 20% is probably not much to you. You get a warm fuzzy feeling from being generous, and that extra money goes a long way for low-wage workers. Don’t forget parking valets, bartenders, cloakroom attendants, and food delivery workers too!

4. Take a risk: There is probably something just outside of your comfort zone that you know you ought to try. Maybe it’s investing in stocks, traveling alone to a foreign country, finally quitting your dead-end job, or trying online dating. What’s the worst that could happen? Expand your horizons and you may find you increase your happiness and fulfilment also.

5. Forgive someone: Holding on to a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The four-step process to better mental health goes something like this: Acknowledge your pain, visualize what you want the pain to turn into, work through your anger, and finally, expel your rage and resentment.

Please share on our Facebook page any other New Year’s Resolutions you are intending to keep in 2020!

6 Great Gifts for Insurance Agents

Stuck for gift ideas for the insurance agent in your life? Wanting to buy a little something to thank Memorial Insurance Agency in Houston for their wonderful service this year? Take your pick from our great suggestions!

1. Coffee mug: An essential accessory for hardworking, office-based insurance agents! How about this great design available on Etsy?

2. Coffee: Need something to put in that great personalized mug? A subscription to a craft coffee delivery service means your insurance agent won’t get stuck in a rut with the same old coffee beans each day!

3. Fire Extinguisher: In addition to a great insurance policy, a fire extinguisher is something that no self-respecting insurance agent should be without! Why not make a statement with a pink one?

4. Fire Extinguisher USB: It won’t put out fires, but it sure makes a chic and handy gift for those insurance presentations.

5. Portrait: We all know that insurance agents think they are “hot stuff”. So why not treat your favorite big-ego insurance agent to a commissioned portrait of themselves? Ideal when framed and placed on a desk, or choose a life-sized version to hang imposingly on an office wall.

6. An Insurance Agency: If you’re feeling really generous, you can even buy a book of business for your favorite wannabe insurance agent. Now that’s a gift they will never forget!

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Did you know that cooking accidents – and subsequent fires – are up to THREE TIMES more likely to occur on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day of the year?

A house fire on Thanksgiving would really ruin your whole day. So to make sure you’re not left feeling like a turkey when your home burns to the ground, take heed of the following safety tips!

1. Don’t overfill your fryer. When you lower your turkey into the bubbling grease cauldron, oil can spill over the edges, hit the burner, and cause a fire.

2. Thaw your turkey completely before cooking, and lower it slowly into the pot.

3. Avoid using water or ice to cool down oil or put out an oil fire. Water and oil do not mix, and the steam bubbles will cause the oil to spit. If the oil goes into your eyes, a burning house will be the least of your worries.

4. Keep your turkey fryer away from other structures, and – obviously – don’t use it indoors. Avoid placing it on wooden decking or other flammable surfaces.

5. Don’t leave your fryer unattended – if left unwatched, the oil in your fryer will continue to heat, eventually catching fire.

Happy and safe turkey frying this Thanksgiving Day!

Dog Owner Liability

Did you know that dog bites account for one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims? And that half of all dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property?

When your dog bites a visitor to your home, many people’s first question is to ask whether it is covered under a home insurance policy. The answer is – it depends. Some homeowners’ policies include animal liability as standard, and others will allow you to add it by endorsement (usually for an extra premium of around $25 a year).

Another important factor is the breed of dog. If you have an animal that is deemed to be dangerous – from a fairly standard list including Pit Bull, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, and others – then you will usually find that your home insurance policy specifically excludes liability. Some carriers will decline to insure your home – period! – if a dangerous dog is present. Finally, even if your dog is a so-called “safe” breed, you may not be covered if it has a history of biting people.

That is why it is essential to disclose all information about animals in your home, when signing up for a new policy. And also, let your insurance agent know if you obtain a new pet, so they can assist you in understanding what coverage you need.

22 Years Young! Happy Anniversary to us!

It’s not all work and no play here at Memorial Insurance Agency! We celebrated our 22nd anniversary with a fun night of bowling, followed by delicious Italian food. Our customer service representatives work very hard looking after our clients, so it is nice to have an opportunity to relax and unwind.

Here’s to the next 22 years looking after our clients, our community, and our awesome team!

Top 5 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Fall is the time when coastal Texans bid goodbye to our storm season, and other parts of the country prepare for theirs! But although we do not usually get “winter storms”, there are still some commonsense things you can do to make sure your home is ready for the cooler months:

  1. Take care of trees and shrubs: Falling tree limbs are one of the leading causes of damage to homes – and one of the main reasons for home insurance claims. Inspect your trees carefully for any signs of disease, and have a professional arborist prune any dead branches.
  2. Clean gutters and downspouts: After the last of the leaves have fallen, be sure to remove them from roofs, gutters, and downspouts. Clogged gutters can cause rainwater to pool, and lead to roof or siding damage. Moreover, excess leaves constitute a fire hazard – insurance carriers will usually request that you remove the leaves if they inspect your home.
  3. Make exterior repairs: Maybe it’s finally time to replace that roof or siding! It is also important to seal any gaps, to prevent rodents and other vermin entering the home as the weather cools. Thinking of moving your home to another insurance carrier? Be aware that insurance companies will conduct a home inspection, and can refuse to insure your home unless it’s in good condition and any necessary repairs are made.
  4. Check safety devices: Test all your smoke alarms, and replace the batteries if necessary. Check the expiry dates on your fire extinguishers.
  5. Clean dryer vents: Lint buildup in dryer vents not only makes your dryer less energy efficient, but can also cause a fire. If you don’t know how to remove the lint yourself, call a professional to give your vents the once-over and make sure you’re in good shape for the dry winter season.

Give Memorial Insurance Agency in Houston a call if you have any questions about your homeowners insurance!

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!