Friday, February 27, 2015

Franklin Tennessee flood maps have been revised -- is your home safer, less safe, or still the same?

No one in Franklin TN will forget the severe flooding in May of 2010.  Now, FEMA has revised the flood plain mapping for Franklin TN.  Some folks will now be required to get flood insurance, where they didn't previously.  Is your home affected?  Here's a quick and easy way to find out:  The City of Franklin will present the revised FEMA flood maps for our area, at a community open house held between 4pm and 7pm at City Hall on Tuesday March 3, 2015.  I think every homeowner should see what's changed.  I'll be there, and hope to see you, too.

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Water leak in your home -- should you call your insurance company 1-800 claims number or your agent first?

If you have a water leak and possible damage in your home, who should you call first (after calling a plumber) -- the insurance company claims number, or your agent?


Call your agent first!  He or she can counsel you on whether it makes sense to file a claim.  Sometimes it does, oftentimes it doesn't.  A situation that seems huge and costly initially, often turns out to be not so much, and if you've started a claim for what will turn out to be only a few hundred dollars paid by the insurance company for the repair, the impact to your future rates may be higher than the amount you received.

It always depends on several factors, including what happened, how it happened, the estimated cost to fix, and your deductible -- items you should fully discuss with your agent before starting a formal claim. 

Insurance companies keep track of claims
Did you know that whenever you call an insurance company's claims phone number, and someone comes to check out your home, it's likely to be recorded as a "claim" or "loss" even if the insurance company ends up not paying anything to fix it?   The number and type of claims that are recorded could have an impact on your current homeowners insurance rates, in addition to your future pricing if you're out shopping for home insurance.  You can help control this by really evaluating whether filing a claim makes sense in the first place.

Of course, things happen, and I encourage my clients to use their insurance if something bad happens, because that's what it's there for.  To use an obvious example, if your upstairs toilet line breaks and floods the upstairs and downstairs, don't hesitate to get a claim started.  For less severe situations, though, take a little time to discuss it with your agent, who is there to give you some good advice. That's what they're getting paid for.

Be smart about your insurance.  Contact your agent first when something happens and take advantage of their experience. 

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com


Monday, December 15, 2014

Best tips I've ever seen for teaching a teen to drive...

When my second daughter was learning to ride a bike without training wheels, I Googled the subject and came across a simple, yet highly effective tip.  Instead of holding to the seat to steady them, gently hold the child by the back of the neck to keep them upright while riding, yet letting their body naturally learn to come into balance.  It literally took 2 or 3 uses of this technique, and my daughter was riding like the wind!

It is in this spirit of improving an important parental teaching moment that I want to share a terrific article I came across in the October 22, 2014 edition of The Wall Street Journal: "Better Ways to Teach Teens to Drive" by Sue Shellenbarger.  It was so helpful, that I thought I'd paraphrase the real salient points for you lucky(?!) parents who are teaching their teenagers how to drive, like me (on my second one -- the same one with the bike!). 

Apparently, we do an okay job with teaching our kids how to steer, park and generally control a vehicle.  But, parents are not expert in teaching the skills new drivers need to avoid accidents.

Parents tend to follow routine daytime driving along familiar routes, but don't go on to teach how to spot and avoid possible hazards, such as slowing when coming to a crosswalk where there might be people waiting to cross.


Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council, says, "The most important things parents can teach teens are how to develop hazard recognition and judgment -- making the left turns into oncoming traffic, how to merge on and off highways at high speed."

Other successful tactics gleaned from the article include:
 
--Take your teen into gradually more challenging and varied roads, at night and in bad weather. 

--Teach the young driver never to glance away from the road for more than two seconds.

--Require them to silence cell phones and keep stored away while driving.

--While accompanying your teen in the car, parents need to stay calm and avoid being overly critical.  Don't bring up touchy issue (like poor grades, or a significant other issue).

--Be specific and sensitive in any constructive criticism.

--Stay calm.  Try to not panic and stomp on the imaginary brakes if you think they're going too fast.

According to a 2011 study of 257,000 accidents by Robert Foss, of the Highway Safety Research Center, teens still make mistakes for their first few months of solo driving, then, as the learning sets in, the potential for accidents does start quickly tapering off. 

So, if you follow these tips and do a little praying while your teen starts driving solo for the first few months, you should be able to rest a little easier after that.

I have access to an excellent, free, teen driving video that Farmers created.  Let me know if you're interested in having your teen watch it.

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com
 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Is there mystery behind your walls, or under your floors?


Got sucked into a mystery movie on TV last night. This teenager in a ritzy neighborhood lives next door to a middle-aged man, whom he suspects is a killer.  The climax of the movie, of course, is at the end, when the teenager sneaks into the man's house, and discovers a hidden room that leads to a basement, containing a huge, deep body of water, in which he discovers some bad things.
I won't get into anymore details about the movie, which, although it started out well, became more unbelievable as it went on.  When the teen went into the man's basement, my insurance-nerd mind started drifting to how poor an insurance risk that "nice" house was.  I started evaluating this home on its insurable merits. Water in the basement can lead to foundation failure, not to mention growing mold everywhere.  I was telling myself, "Gee, I'd hate to be this killer's insurance agent", and "How did he ever get a policy in the first place, with a lake in his basement?"!
Water in and under your house can lead to all kinds of problems.  And to add more insult to injury, insurance policies likely won't cover damage done by water when it's been going on for some time.  Say you've got a pipe in your shower that's leaking behind the wall, and over time, rots out the subfloor in the bathroom. By this time, this situation is likely NOT covered by insurance, because it happened over time and was not addressed earlier.

Same thing with a leak that causes mold to develop.  If it's been growing as a result of all that water, that means the original leak started a long time ago, and your insurance probably won't cover anything.
The insurance industry, as a whole, sees long-term water leaks and its resulting damage as a customer maintenance-related issue, where the homeowner should have known about it far earlier, when it could have been addressed easier. 
In general, insurance covers things that are "sudden and accidental" like a pipe bursting, a tree falling on a house, or lightning striking the house and starting a fire. That's why we have to be vigilant to all things related to our home plumbing, because they are not always readily visible.  Look for warning signs -- spots on the ceilings, a wet crawlspace, the sound of dripping behind a wall, water collecting cabinets under a sink -- are a few examples.

Good luck in solving any potential water mysteries in your home!

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com

Monday, October 20, 2014

Frankly my deer -- watch out!


In my opinion, I have one the most beautiful commutes from my office here in Franklin TN.  I take the back roads, and in the middle of the route, climb a hill on a fairly windy road, but am rewarded after reaching the crest of the hill by seeing the beautiful, expansive, green valley below.  Almost like a moment out of "The Sound of Music."  It's also great to see the usual four or five deer who graze, rest, and frolic on the sloping meadow that starts just on the other side of the guard rail, all along the twisting downward roadway.


The only thing wrong with this picture is that deer routinely jump that guard rail and run across the road to the woods on the other side, and vice versa, not to mention simply standing there in the middle of the curvy two-lane road.  So I slow, way down, to grandpa-speed when I'm in that area, up and down the hill.
And so I've seen, unfortunately, carcasses of deer that didn't make it, hit by cars, all along this road.  Every year, about this time, deer mating season reaches fever pitch. In fact, most deer-related crashes occur between October and January, with the peak occurring in November.
According to the Tennessee Wildlife resources Agency, there are over 900,000 deer in the state, and the herd grows by about 1 percent to 2 percent each year, so there's plenty of deer-auto collision potential out there, of course, depending on where you are driving.  You're not out-of-the-woods, so to speak, on the Interstate, either.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol indicates that over 9 percent of deer-related crashes took place on the Interstates during a recent four-year period. "Watch out for deer" just needs to be another thing on your To-Do list while driving.
Is your "Comprehensive" coverage up to date?  Do you know what Comprehensive coverage is?  It's the part of your insurance that pays to repair or replace your vehicle if you hit an animal (in addition to covering for theft, vandalism, hail. etc.).  Make sure it's a part of your overall coverage if your vehicle is worth $1,500 or more.
Also, if you are ever forced to make a split-second decision of either hitting a deer or swerving off the road and into a tree or other object, please choose the deer.  You risk less injury that way, and may avoid an increase in your insurance rates (i.e. you don't get dinged on your premiums by colliding with a deer, but possibly would if you hit a tree).
If you haven't reviewed your current insurance in a while, especially to make sure you're properly insured for deer collisions, this might also be a great time to do so.  Just give me a call if I can be of assistance.
David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

These shocking stats may make you think twice about life insurance...

Do you have life insurance? If you do, is it enough?  Here are some truly surprising statistics about life insurance usage in America, courtesy of LIMRA:
 
-- The average amount of life insurance coverage for U.S. adults has dropped to $167,000 -- which is DOWN $30,000 compared to the average amount of coverage in 2004!  That really surprised me. Costs of living generally go in the opposite direction, so it appears more folks are worse off than they were 10 years ago. 

-- There are 11 million fewer American households covered by life insurance today compared to just six years ago.  Could that be related to the Great Recession's impact, with folks cutting all kinds of costs?

-- Just as bad, right now, 30% of U.S. households have NO life insurance at all. 
 There's really no excuse for a family to not have at least a basic term policy in place, particularly when there are children involved.  Term policies are very reasonably priced. 

However, you don't want to skimp on the company you buy it from.  I've heard of people with "no-name" life policies find that their original insurance companies went out of business, and that their policies were SOLD to other no-name life insurance companies.  You don't want your policy to backed by "Lloyd's of Lubbock" (sorry, old joke from the Odd Couple TV show from the '70s)! 

Quality companies, like Farmers Insurance, of course, offer excellent pricing, so you can get cost savings AND a company that will be there when you need it.

How's YOUR life insurance plan -- or IS there one?  It's very important to me, personally, to make sure families are properly covered, because my mother passed away when I was three, and our family had NO life insurance in effect.  I know it was hard on my Dad and all of us kids in the days that followed.  How a simple insurance policy would have made a difference.

So during September, which is Life Insurance Awareness Month, please take some time to sit down with your trusted insurance advisor, and make sure you have a good plan in place to protect your loved ones, now and in the future.

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817
dyates1@farmersagent.com
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Three crucial changes to make to your auto insurance policy RIGHT NOW...

Change your bodily injury liability coverage to a $500,000 limit -- if you hurt somebody in a car accident, your policy's bodily injury limit represents the highest amount your insurance will pay for the "other guy's" medical expenses, funeral, etc. If you're not my customer, you probably only have a $100,000 limit -- which seems like a lot, but it's NOT, considering the average "bodily injury" lawsuit jury award nationwide is now about $400,000. Where does the rest of the money come from? From your assets, current income, and future income. Isn't it worth a few extra dollars to properly protect yourself?
Make sure you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist bodily injury coverage -- if someone with little or no insurance hurts you in an accident (half of the drivers out there), you need to have at least a $500,000 limit covering your own injuries, loss of future income, etc., etc..
If your vehicle is worth $1,500+, you need Comprehensive and Collision coverages -- covers physical damage your own vehicle. Comprehensive coverage pays to fix or replace your ride due to vandalism, theft, or if you hit an animal. Collision coverage pays to fix or replace it if you have an accident that's your fault. If you don't have these basic protections, then your insurance won't pay if you wreck your own car or truck! Of course, if the "other guy" is at fault, then their insurance is responsible.
These are basics, but you'd be surprised how many folks are driving around without the proper insurance. Are you at risk with not enough coverage? Remember, you can't choose when you have an accident, so please make sure you're properly insured today. Call me if I can help review your current insurance with you.

David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816  Fax 615-778-1817


dyates1@farmersagent.com