Latest Happenings at MIA!

Our Director of Operations, Dominic Le Croissette, with other real estate professionals at Sweet Bribery in The Heights.

What has the team at Memorial Insurance Agency in Houston been doing recently?

Last week, we sponsored a fantastic Champagne Floats event for real estate professionals at Sweet Bribery in The Heights. It was great to see such a big turnout of realtors, mortgage brokers, and other people involved in the flourishing Houston real estate market.

Our team continues to go from strength to strength! The new arrivals on our production team, Shannon Broll and Kevin Feehery, are really proving their expertise when it comes to writing home insurance, auto insurance, and flood insurance policies. It’s great to have them both on board!

And finally ….. our customer service manager, Denise Martinez, is leading by example with her awesome service to her clients – check out this lovely, heartfelt thank you letter from one of her customers.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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!

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.

Coming Soon: Flood Endorsement!

We had some exciting news from one of our most innovative insurance carriers this week. Starting this spring, a Flood Endorsement will be available for all home insurance policies with XYZ Insurance (not the carrier’s real name because this product is still confidential).

What does this mean? Well, instead of purchasing a separate flood policy through the NFIP, homeowners will be able to add flood coverage to their home insurance.

Remember the old days when you had to purchase separate home insurance and wind insurance policies? Nowadays, most carriers combine these coverages in the same policy, even in coastal areas. Continuing this trend towards value and simplicity, the same thing is going to happen with flood!

XYZ Insurance is set to be the first company to “go live” with this endorsement, but it seems likely that other companies will follow suit because it makes so much sense for consumers.

XYZ Insurance’s new Flood Endorsement will offer:

  • Choice of flood coverage levels up to the limits of the home insurance policy (in other words, not limited to $250,000).
  • Full Replacement Cost coverage, including for your personal property.
  • Loss of Use coverage (for hotel stays and living expenses while your home is flooded).
  • Claims handled by XYZ Insurance adjusters (not FEMA).
  • Premiums likely to be lower than NFIP policies (in Preferred zones, probably around $150-$300 per year depending on coverage level).

So, when will this coverage be available to you? Watch this space for updates, or contact your agent at Memorial Insurance for more information!

Flood Insurance Increases!

Dwelling ContentsDeductiblesPrimary HomeRental Home
$100,000$40,000$1,000$371$596
$125,000$50,000$1,250$389$614
$150,000$60,000$1,250$415$640
$200,000$80,000$1,250$453$678
$250,000$100,000$1,250$480$705

In breaking news that will surprise no one in Houston, flood premiums under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) have increased, effective January 1st, 2019. The table above shows the new rates in flood zone X; premiums in other zones will vary.

The increases are in fact remarkably small, considering the huge losses incurred by the NFIP after Hurricane Harvey; the top-level X-zone policy has gone up from $450 to $480, a rise of just $30 per year. Flood insurance premiums are set by the government and are the same no matter which agent you go to, or which flood carrier you use.

For more information about flood insurance, give your friendly agent at Memorial Insurance a call today!

6 Things You Forgot to Insure!

Insuring your cat may help to keep those vet bills down, but what about the other things that people often overlook? Don’t forget to protect yourself against the following:

  1. Half of your car accident: Liability insurance will pay for damage to other people, their vehicles and property. But what about your own car? Omit comprehensive and collision coverage from your policy, and you’ll be paying the full cost of repairs by yourself.
  2. The bad decisions of others: 1 in 4 drivers is either driving around with no insurance at all, or has woefully inadequate limits. If one of these guys crashes into you, guess who could end up paying for the accident? That’s right: YOU. If injuries are involved, the bills could be astronomical. To avoid this nightmare scenario, be sure to add UM/UIM coverage to your auto policy.
  3. Your valuables: High-value items such as jewelry, art, or antiques need to be scheduled on your home insurance …. or can be put on their own policy. If you make a big purchase, don’t forget to protect it! Also, take a look at your policy every year to make sure you have enough coverage for any additions or upgrades to your home. As your home grows, so should your insurance.
  4. Flooding: No one in Houston should be without flood coverage, which is NOT included in your home insurance. If you aren’t in a designated flood zone, flood insurance offers high coverages and unlimited peace of mind for $450 a year or less.
  5. Extra liability: If you’re doing well in life, the sad fact is that you are at risk from people coming after everything you’ve got, especially if you’re at fault for a serious accident. Umbrella insurance is inexpensive and will give you up to $5 million in extra protection.
  6. Replacement cost: be sure your policy includes these two magic words, for both your home and your personal property. Some agents are sneaky and will give you Actual Cash Value coverage in order to reduce premium, and this means your insurance will pay you only a depreciated value for your home, roof, or contents. What is the actual cash value of a 10 year old roof? A lot less than it costs to replace it, for sure. And when you factor in the deductible as well, an ACV policy may give you almost no payout at all after that Category 4 hurricane hits Houston.

Any questions? Give your friendly agent at Memorial Insurance a call and we’ll be happy to help!

Why Hurricane Harvey Will Happen Again

Flooding and devastation was widespread throughout Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

 

Ever heard the following words?: “My house has never flooded, not even during Hurricane Harvey, so I don’t need to purchase flood insurance”. In the following interview, featured in Texas Monthly, local expert Professor Samuel Brody explains exactly why this is the wrong kind of thinking. A must-read as we approach peak hurricane season!: Why Hurricane Harvey WILL Happen Again.

Why You Should Take Photos Of Everything You Own

Apart from having adequate flood insurance coverage, one of the most valuable lessons that emerged from Hurricane Harvey was the importance of documenting your possessions. Just one hour spent photographing your belongings now could save you a lot of time and stress later.

If your possessions are damaged, displaced, or destroyed by fire or flood, it can be surprisingly hard to remember what you had. Not only that, but your insurance company is going to want copies of receipts or photos in order to prove you actually owned the items in the first place.

Here is how to do it right:

  • Use your cellphone, iPad or digital camera to take high quality images in daylight.
  • Open drawers, cupboards and closets and take photos of the contents.
  • Take photos of valuable items separately, with a card alongside them showing price and date of purchase.
  • Back up your photos to a cloud server, to make sure you can access them even if your computer, phone and camera are destroyed.
  • Don’t forget to update your photo inventory when you make a new purchase!

Why not take this opportunity to make sure you have enough personal property coverage on your homeowners’ and flood insurance policies? Be sure to call your account manager at Memorial Insurance if you need expert guidance.

6 Reasons Why You Should Purchase Flood Insurance Right Now

As of July 2016, just 15% of homeowners in Houston carried flood insurance. This number has increased since Hurricane Harvey, but far too many homeowners in this bayou city are still without flood protection. Here is why you should purchase flood coverage:

Flood insurance is not included in your home insurance policy: Some people don’t even realize they are without coverage until the worst happens. Your home insurance carrier will deny all claims relating to rising waters entering the home.

Flood insurance is not expensive: With rates starting at just $349 a year for $100,000 in building coverage and $40,000 in contents coverage, flood insurance is the best value insurance that money can buy.

Disaster assistance is not enough to rebuild or elevate your home: Even a few inches of flood water can cause devastating and costly damage, and a handout from the government will likely cover just a small fraction of your expenses.

Flooding is unpredictable: Many homes that flooded during the Memorial Day floods in Houston in 2016 were unaffected by Harvey …. and vice versa. Urban development, weather patterns, and other factors mean that literally anywhere in Houston is at risk of flooding.

You’re grandfathered in: Flood maps in Houston are expected to change as more severe weather events become the norm. Buy a preferred zone flood policy now and keep it active, and you’ll keep the same low rate even if your neighborhood gets rezoned and premiums double.

Flood season is coming: June through October is when the most severe weather events occur in Houston. There is a 30-day waiting period after you purchase flood coverage before the policy takes effect, so get your protection in place before the rain arrives!

Seven Things Your Home Insurance Policy Really Should Include

 

1. Replacement Cost This means that the insurance company will pay to replace your roof and contents. If your quote does not include the words Replacement Cost, you’ll be stuck with an Actual Cash Value (ACV) policy, which factors in depreciation before paying out on a claim. Memorial Insurance offers only Replacement Cost policies.

 

2. Low deductibles The deductible is the portion of the claim you pay before the insurance company takes care of the rest. Common deductibles are 2% for wind and hail, and 1% for all other perils. Any higher than this, and you’ll be paying a lot of money out of pocket before the insurance kicks in.

 

3. NO policy fees Some insurance agents charge a policy fee to their customers, over and above the commission they already receive from the insurance company. Why pay $150 to your agent to do a job that other agents offer for free? Memorial Insurance never charges policy fees.

 

4. Adequate coverage If your home isn’t insured to the full cost of rebuilding, you are going to find yourself seriously out of pocket in the case of a total loss. Remember that even if you have an older home, the cost to rebuild it will be at 2018 prices, so you’ll want a 2018 insurance policy to match!

 

5. Water backup This is when a blocked drain causes sewage and waste water to back up into your home. Coverage is inexpensive, but not included in a standard home insurance policy, so make sure your insurance agent adds it!

 

6. Reputable company Hopefully you never have to put this to the test, but some carriers routinely outperform others when it comes to paying out on claims. Ask your agent for impartial advice on which carriers are best when the worst happens.

 

7. Flood coverage Protection against flood is not included in any home insurance policy – it must be purchased separately. No home in Houston should be without flood coverage, so ask your agent about purchasing a flood insurance policy today!