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Nichols Insurance Services Blog and Resources

We put value on education, and we believe the more our customers understand about the benefits of insurance, the more protected they’ll be when they need it. The blog and resource area of our website is a repository of our knowledge. If you have any questions it’s likely you can find some answers here. If not, don’t hesitate to call us.

 

Take Control of Your Home Fire Safety

Written on March 11th, 2016

Simple ways to reduce your chances of having a fire

According to the National Fire Safety Prevention Association (NFPA), over 2,700 people die, and 12,000 people are injured each year as a result of home fires. Home fires cause over $6,000.000 each year in damage. The top causes of these accidental fires can be tied to cooking, heating systems, electrical, and smoking.

Homeowner’s insurance and fires

Most homeowner’s insurance will cover damage or losses due to a fire. One exception is if it is determined that you set the fire intentionally.  We hope you never have a fire, or have to deal with the stress that comes afterwards.

Home fire safety prevention tips

  • Never leave candles unattended. Always place candles in an enclosed holder and place at least one foot away from anything that can burn.
  • Keep cooking areas clear of combustibles.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly andchange the batteries at least once a year.
  • Never leave food cooking unattended on the stove.
  • Keep portable and space heaters at least three feet from anything that may burn.
  • If you have halogen lights, make sure they are away from flammable drapes and low ceiling areas.
  • Learn how to use your fire extinguisher.
  • Get a home insurance check up to make sure you have the best possible combination of coverage, price, and service.
  • Inspect the attic and crawl spaces for wiring which may have been damaged by pests or insects.
  • Never use extension cords for air conditioners. An overheated cord is like an out-of-control electric heater.

 

 

Ten Things Burglars Don’t Want You to Know

Written on February 25th, 2016

 

The majority of home burglaries do not involve violence or the use of a weapon. The average dollar loss from a burglary in the United States is just over $2,000, and there are over 2 million burglaries in the US every year.

Your house is more than just an investment, it is a place where memories are made and dreams are built. Whether you are a first time home owner or celebrating many happy years in your dream home,  We are here to help you protect the home you love and the life you’ve built. The good news is about 80% of home burglaries are considered preventable. As you plan your holiday travel, here are a few things to remember.

  • Most burglars are afraid of getting caught, and will only go through unlocked doors and windows.
  • Thieves love to see piled up newspapers on your lawn. It lets them know you aren’t home.
  • If a burglar sees that no lights are on, chances are no one is home.
  • Attractive ornaments or pricey “kids’ things” outside your home can indicate to a potential intruder that your house is full of valuables.
  • Cyber thieves hope you put your old financial records in the trash without shredding them, because they want to collect your personal information.
  • Leaving your cars unlocked and valuables inside is an invitation to a burglar—even if it is in your own driveway.
  • If you post your vacation pictures on Facebook while you are away, it lets burglars know that your home is unoccupied.
  • People who fail to lock their guns in a gun safe are more likely to get them stolen. Lock all guns in a cabinet and use trigger locks as well.
  • If do don’t tell your neighbor you will be gone, it is just one less person for the burglar to worry about.
  • If you have a security system, use it 100% of the time. Burglars will generally not enter a home with a security system.
  • Create and maintain a detailed household inventory, and call our office today.  We can provide information that may help you determine if you have adequate insurance coverage on your home and belongings if, despite your good planning, the worst case scenario occurs.

 

 

Now Is a Good Time To Assess Your Home’s Replacement Value

Written on February 11th, 2016

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Many people have seen their home’s market value increase recently.  This is good news as home values have declined from a high in 2009 according to Trulia.

Homeowners need to be aware of their home’s replacement cost, as this value is what will determine any claim settlement. Replacement cost is the actual cost to replace any personal property or structure to its pre-loss condition. Replacement cost can change from year to year, regardless of real estate trends.

How To Determine Your Replacement Cost

Personal property

The most important thing you can do to determine the replacement values of your personal property is to create a home inventory.

  • Create a digital record of every room. While you are videoing, describe each item and identify a replacement cost.
  • It may be useful to categorize clothing. For example, 10 pairs of men’s pants, 12 tee-shirts, 6 pairs of Nike shoes, etc.
  • Make sure you focus on high end items like jewelry, guns, computers and art work.
  • If you have expensive art, guns or collections, it would be good to have it appraised.
  • Update the inventory from time to time.
  • Keep the inventory in a safe or at a secondary location.

Your Home

Having an accurate replacement cost is critical in having the right amount of insurance.

  • Get an estimate or appraisal of the replacement cost of your home.
  • Talk to a new home builder in your area.
  • Determine the square foot construction cost (new) in your area and multiply by your home’s square footage.
  • Your insurance agent will have resources for you.

Beckerman & Company provides insurance for homes, condos, and apartments whether you are an owner or a renter. A well-written homeowner’s policy will pay to replace any of your personal property that is destroyed in a fire or other disaster. Having an inventory will allow the insurance company to completely replace items that were damaged or lost.

 

 

Texas Cyber Liability; Exploring Your Risk

Written on January 27th, 2016

According to the FBI, cyber crime is now ranked as the number one law enforcement concern. Anthem Health recently had a data breach and lost 80 million records of current and former customers. Sony Pictures was recently hacked and it caused them to cancel a movie release.

Welcome To The Next Generation Of Business Loss

Cyber Liability continues to be a major issue for many businesses. In today’s data-driven social media world, businesses of all sizes have had a cyber-attack or data breach. Statistics show that 40% of all cyber incidents affect businesses with fewer than 100 employees. According to Business Insurance, a small business now has a greater chance of a cyber-breach than it does of having a fire.

Cyber Myths and Facts

“If I have a data breach I can just call my customers.”  Myth – New laws now require you to provide written notification and even provide identity theft coverage for a period of time. A data breach could cost you up to $250 per individual breach. The government can also fine you if they feel you have not taken appropriate actions.

“Only large companies need the coverage.”  Myth – Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are the latest targets of cyber thieves. Often small businesses fail to have adequate protection making them an easy target. Companies with less than 75 employees endured 70% of the total attacks.

“Traditional business liability insurance will cover cyber liability.”  Myth – Traditional liability insurance does not cover your business for internet exposure or data breach.

“We don’t use the internet for business and therefore don’t have any exposure.”  Myth –According to the 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon, 13% of all data breaches that occurred were caused by an employee or other internal source.

“My company does not store credit card information; therefore I don’t have any risk.”  Myth – Confidential information is defined as any kind of personal information including addresses, email, social security numbers, Federal ID numbers, family member information, bank information and more.

Cyber liability coverage has evolved from insurance for information technology companies, to coverage that nearly every kind of business should have.  All types of businesses including retailers, banks, contractors, distributors, restaurants and medical offices, are often unaware of the severe data breach exposure they face. In short, any business not making an effort to protect personal private information is seriously out of step with the emerging landscape of privacy law.

We will be offering a number of articles on this subject over the next few months including; cyber risk prevention and personal identity theft issues.

 

 

What to Do When There Is a Deer in Your Headlights

Written on January 11th, 2016

As the outdoor temperature gradually drops, animal activity and deer-vehicle accidents increase. Every year across the country, deer and other animals cause millions of dollars in vehicle damage as well as thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities. Whether you are taking your family on a trip through the woods or just traveling on business, the following safety tips are intended to save your life and prevent accidents.

Drivers should review their auto insurance policies since not all policies cover damage caused by deer strikes. Comprehensive coverage is optional insurance but it does cover deer strikes. If you only have collision coverage or liability coverage, your insurance carrier will not cover damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with an animal.

Actions to Consider

  • Heed the warning signs.  Posted warnings of deer and animal crossing are there for a reason.
  • Always drive at a safe speed.
  • Many animals move around at dusk and early morning.
  • Observe your surroundings. Actively scan the sides of the roads as you drive for any signs of wildlife.
  • September through January is a time when deer and elk are particularly active.
  • Deer and elk are herd animals, so if you see one, there may be more.
  • Don’t rely on vehicle-mounted whistles or reflectors to keep deer away from your vehicle. Studies show they are not effective.
  • Notify the local law enforcement agency if you have an accident with an animal.
  • Contact the local emergency services if anyone is injured.

If you have comprehensive coverage, deer accidents are covered.  However, if you swerve to avoid hitting the deer and hit another vehicle, that would be considered collision coverage, and is many times more expensive for your insurer and you.

We hope you never have to worry about hitting a deer or other animal.  Please slow down and be safe. Taking simple precautions can be the difference between having an accident with a deer, and almost having an accident with a deer.

Nichols Insurance Services is a full-service independent insurance agency offering a wide range of cost effective solutions to individuals, families and businesses.

 

 

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Nichols Insurance Services

3110 Webb Avenue, Suite 150-A
Dallas, TX 75205
Main office: 972-666-4163

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