Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Digs and Staff

We’ve moved -- and grown! To better serve our fast-growing client list, the David Yates Insurance Agency has moved into a larger office space at a convenient Cool Springs location in Franklin TN.

Just as importantly, we now welcome Cassie Rakoczy, our new Customer Service Representative, dedicated to uphold our promise to always serve you politely, promptly, and  professionally.

Our new office is located at 1881 General Our new office building is in the heart of Cool Springs.George Patton Dr, Suite 103, Franklin TN 37067. Phone is 615-778-1816. You’re always welcome to stop by and say hello.

Please accept my sincerest thanks for your friendship and support since my start-up five years ago. We wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season!

 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What’s your biggest threat while driving in November?

Have you seen Bambi lately? No, this isn’t a question to ask your 7-year-old niece. It’s not a movie – it’s real life. Deer-mating season is here, and November gets the award for the month of peak deer-mating activity – and also, not surprisingly, for being the most collision-prone month between deer and motor vehicles.Watch out for deer! 

What’s more, the statisticians say that there are over 1.5 million car accidents with deer every year, resulting in about $1.1 billion in vehicle damage.  Many of those wrecks happen right here in Franklin, Brentwood, and Middle Tennessee.

Help protect yourself. Don’t forget to use your high beams at night when there’s no oncoming traffic. Also use caution when driving near fences and underpasses, in case any animal darts out.

Here’s an important insurance scenario to consider. Let’s say a deer suddenly appears in the middle of the road, and you have a split second to decide whether to hit him/her, or swerve and hit a tree. If you hit an animal that causes damage to your car, you’re covered by your Comprehensive coverage, and even though you file a claim, it will likely NOT impact your rates. If, instead, you swerve and avoid the deer but hit that tree and damage your car, your Collision portion of your insurance pays to fix your car; however, you’ll likely also see an impact on your rates. That’s just the way insurance companies do it.

Hopefully, you’ll never have this happen to you. And even if it does, you may not have any time to make this kind of decision. But, at least, now you know what you’d be dealing with.

 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

National Flood Insurance Program extended to November 18, 2011

Update:  Both houses of Congress and the President have acted to extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through November 18, 2011. The House and Senate are currently working on legislation that would extend the program for five years, while also making reforms. 
If you are purchasing or renewing flood insurance during this time, please consider the options laid out in my previous blog, as we move closer to November 18th.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Federal Flood Program may temporarily lose authority next Friday, September 30, 2011

There’s a chance that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will temporarily lose its authority on September 30, 2011.  The U.S. Senate and Congress are currently considering the funding of a short-term extension of the program.  Will the U.S. Congress and Senate decide to extend the Federal Flood Insurance Program past the September 30, 2011 deadline?It is believed that the measure will likely pass, but might not prior to the end of the NFIP’s current operating authority at midnight on Friday, September 30th.
If the NFIP does temporarily expire, NO insurance companies and agents will be allowed to issue new flood policies, increase coverage on existing policies, nor renew existing policies.  However, policies in effect as of the last day of the program are NOT affected.
If you’re in the middle of a home closing and need flood insurance, specific rules, based on timing, will determine whether flood insurance will be available.   I’ll be glad to help you figure out how these specific rules apply to  your situation. 
Likewise, if you’ve already received your renewal notice for current flood insurance, and pay the renewal premium within the 30-day grace period, you’ll have coverage.  However, renewal notices due to be processed and mailed out after September 30th won’t be sent out, IF the NFIP authority isn’t extended.  Then, all bets are off until the program is funded again.
Hopefully, none of this will come to pass, and the U.S. Government will fund the program.  But time is growing short.  When action, or inaction occurs, I’ll let you know.  Stay tuned…




Thursday, August 25, 2011

But officer, I only looked down for a second…

When I’m sitting at a stoplight, I like to count how many people across the intersection making the left turn in front of me are either on the phone, or texting.  It’s usually at least half of the drivers. 

Also, when I see a car swerving, or slowing down while driving, I no longer think of the possibility that the driver is drunk.  It’s always “I wonder if they’re talking -- or texting -- or both?”  

Finally, it’s always amazing to see a driver, who is obviously distracted, looking up just in time to swerve to avoid a collision, but never putting down their precious phone during and after the whole episode.  Guess they don’t want to miss out on a single bit of conversation or miss out on typing a single character on their keyboard, even though they almost rear-ended someone!

According the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are three types of Texting and drivingdistraction…

Manual (taking your hands off the wheel)

Visual (taking your eyes off the road)

Cognitive (taking your mind off what you’re doing)

Over the years, distracted drivers have been able to “get away with” things like talking on a cell phone, quickly glancing at a map, or even shouting at the kids, because these activities, though distracting, don’t necessarily incorporate all three types of distraction.

Texting is a real menace, though, because it does involve all three types of distraction.  It’s virtually impossible to text without taking your hands off the steering wheel; same with taking your eyes off the road; and you have to think about what you’re reading or texting -- rather than paying attention to the road.

Don’t forget, if you’re going 55 mph and texting, every time you look down for a few seconds to text, you’ll travel further than the length of a football field, without looking at the road.  Just think about how many potential things that can go wrong in that short time span:  A dump truck suddenly swerves into your lane, someone slams on their brakes ahead of you, a pedestrian tries to run across the road, a large piece of debris is in the road, requiring a split-second maneuver to avoid it – the list goes on and on.

The statistics say that distracted driving causes 20% of all auto accidents that result in personal injury.

Here are a few more sobering stats:

-- The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers is the  under-20 age group – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

-- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

-- Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)

Hang Up and Drive

Here are some suggestions from Farmers and my agency:

* Try not to drive after an argument, or if you’re upset about something

* Store the phone somewhere you can’t reach it, like in the back seat or even the trunk.

* If you have children, enlist them to hold you accountable to no distracted driving (they’ll like that!).

Stay safe out there!

 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Keep ‘em from stealing home

Tell Burglars they're NOT welcome!My friend’s home was broken into recently. He and his family were not there at the time. As with the earlier burglary I told you about earlier this year (also when the family was not around), this makes me think again of how to better protect your home, particularly while you’re gone.

 

  • Automatic timer or motion sensors on lights can help make it look like your home is occupied, even when you’re not at home.
  • Key-hiding systems aren’t worth the risk. Burglars usually know where to look.
  • Make sure all door hinges are on the inside.
  • Make it difficult to break in. Security systems are always a good idea, and try to avoid planting trees or bushes near windows.

Anything that makes a burglar think twice about trying to break in is a good thing. Don’t make it easy on ‘em!

For more ways to keep your family safe, visit the Franklin TN Police Department, the Brentwood TN Police Department, or the Spring Hill TN Police Department websites.

I hope you and your family are having a great summer!

 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is it time to give your home insurance deductible a raise?

Do you know the amount of your home insurance deductible? Many people don’t. That’s too bad, because giving this figure a little thought could add up to some big savings on your insurance premium.

People generally don’t think about, nor even care how the deductible works – until there’s a potential claim. I learned about deductibles first-hand, long before I got into the insurance business. A windstorm blew four shutters (those cheap, plastic, glue-on contractor-grade ones) off the front of my house. I naively thought, “I’ll call my insurance company, and get those paid for.” I figured those shutters were worth $100, and what else was insurance for? Well, after a call to my agent, I learned that I had a $500 deductible, which meant I was responsible for that first $500 toward paying for the shutters. It didn’t take long to see that insurance wouldn’t be involved in replacing those shutters. Actually, I never did replace them – never liked ‘em anyhow!

After I realized that home insurance wasn’t for little stuff like my shutters, I soon then figured out that lower isn’t always better in deductible-land. Raise your deductible and give yourself a raise!Raising your deductible to get a better rate is often a smart move, particularly if you’ve recently had a new roof installed. Lately, repairing or replacing roofs has been a very common occurrence here in Franklin, Brentwood, Spring Hill, Murfreesboro, and the rest of Middle Tennessee. If you have a newer roof, you’re highly unlikely to need it repaired or replaced for many years, so, “without” this possibility, your chances of needing to file an insurance claim for “other things” is dramatically lessened.

That’s why I suggest you at least consider raising your home insurance deductible in order to lower your premium. You can bank the savings. That way, in the unlikely event of a claim, you’ll have money available to pay the higher deductible. I’d rather have this money in my control, rather than give it to the insurance company in the hopes it “might” pay off for me down the road.

Home insurance is really for catastrophes, like a tornado blowing your home away, or a fire burning it to the ground. If that happens, you won’t much care  whether your deductible is $500 or $2,500! Be sure you review the pros and cons of changing your deductible with your agent before deciding.

Also, if you want to discuss changing deductibles or anything relating to insurance, my door is always open…

 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do you have a clothes dryer? You’d better read this…

Lint. Harmless little thing, right?  Not when it comes to your clothes dryer.  Lint build-up causes about 15,000 dryer fires per year in the U.S..

Fortunately, you can easily protect yourself and your family by focusing on a few key areas.

Of course, make sure you clean the lint trap every single time you use the dryer.  This not only lessens the risk of it overheating and causing a fire, but also reduces energy costs and ensures your clothes dry quicker.

The dryer duct, which is a length of tubing that connects your dryer to an exterior wall Sagging Dryer Ductwhere hot air exhaust can be released, must have the air flowing through freely.  If the dryer duct is made of foil or plastic, it can sag over time and trap lint.  This prevents the hot air from escaping, causing your dryer to overheat and wear out prematurely, but even worse -- possibly causing a fire.

Telltale signs are a dryer that doesn’t dry clothes completely after a normal cycle, and heats up too much to the touch, on the outside.  I’ve seen this issue first-hand, and it’s no joke.  To help prevent this possibility, Metal  Dryer DuctI strongly suggest you replace a plastic or foil dryer duct with a metal duct (either rigid or flexible).  In fact, I know the City of Franklin TN began requiring metal dryer ducts in new construction several years ago.   Another advantage to a metal duct: If built-up lint does catch on fire, it’s likely the metal duct will better contain the fire.

Regular maintenance:

Regardless of what kind of dryer duct you have, it should be checked regularly, while the dryer is running, to make sure air is escaping freely.  If it’s not, and you’re handy, unplug the dryer and detach the exhaust duct from the dryer. Use a long brush and vacuum to clean out the inside of the duct as far up as you can.  Don’t forget to re-attach the duct to the dryer when done.

Every month, vacuum inside, behind, and under your dryer. Those “dust bunnies” are there, and are just waiting to multiply and eventually clog the dryer.

If there’s a serious Clogged Dryer Ductblockage in your duct that can’t be remedied by these tips, stop using the dryer and call a reputable air-duct cleaning service asap.  If the duct is clear, but the dryer is heating up too much and not properly drying clothes, call a qualified dryer service technician. But you can likely avoid some, or all, of this extra hassle and expense by performing simple, regular maintenance.

While we’re at it, here are some other tips that I had never thought of, until I started researching for today’s blog:

If you have clothes or rags stained with volatile chemicals (like gas, alcohol, cooking oils, cleaners, etc.), they might still give off vapors that could ignite in the dryer.  Consider washing these items more than once and bypassing the dryer in favor of hanging them on a clothes line.

Make sure the items you place in the dryer won’t cause problems – things like rugs with foam backing, rubber items including athletic shoes, plastics, etc..

Never leave the house while a dryer is running.  My wife has always told me this, and I never listened – but will now!

When you buy your next dryer, consider one with a moisture-sensor rather than a thermostat, which might let a dryer run longer than is needed.

Use dryer sheets?  Several sources say dryer sheets could add a sticky, clogging coating to the lint trap over time, and keep air from getting through, which might cause lint build-up.  If you use dryer sheets, just periodically clean your lint trap with soap, water and a brush. 

The next “tip” sounds a bit extreme, but I’ll mention it, just FYI... 

Some in Google-land suggest you should not use liquid fabric softener on all-cotton clothing made of fleece, terry cloth, or velour, for fear it might rev up the burning speed in these fabrics.

I’m not losing much sleep over this one, personally.  Sounds more like an urban legend.

Speaking of urban legends, whatever happens to those socks that disappear in the laundry?  Well, supposedly, there have been reports of socks sneaking past the dryer lint trap and getting caught inside.  If you’re missing a lot of socks, that could solve the riddle once and for all.

Seriously, though, I hope we all keep a closer eye on our lowly but handy clothes dryers, and continue to keep our homes and families safe.

 

 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Free Child ID Kits provided by David Yates Insurance Agency at WCSA Soccer Picture Day on April 2

Did you know that over 2,000 children are reported missing every day? Quick, could you immediately supply a current picture of your child, if needed? 40% of parents can’t. Do you know your child’s correct weight, eye color, and height? 34% of parents don’t.

When seconds count, rapidly distributing a photo and vital statistics can be the difference between a fast recovery and a prolonged search. Are you prepared?

milk&cop-babyAs part of my community service efforts, I provide to all parents, free of charge, the widely regarded m.i.l.k. (Managing Information on Lost Kids) Digital ID kit.

With it, you can instantly print or send via e-mail your child’s photo and identifying information to proper authorities, and also forward it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which can broadcast it to over 17,600 police departments across the nation.

This digital ID is not only endorsed by the NCMEC, but was designed at the request of NCMEC.

Let's keep our kids safe!I’ll be handing out free Child ID Kits on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at the Williamson County Soccer Association (WCSA) picture day from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.. Look for my booth at the entrance to the indoor soccer arena at 1878 Downs Boulevard, Franklin TN 37064. It’s where teams will have their team pictures taken, starting at 7:30 a.m.

What’s more, I’ll have my digital camera on hand and will offer to take a head-and-shoulders picture of your child(ren), put it on a CD and hand it to you, all within about 2 minutes. You’ll also get a do-it-yourself fingerprinting kit. Everything is free of charge.

I’ve been providing this complimentary service to parents and grandparents for the past 5 years now. Even if your child doesn’t play soccer, you’re welcome to come by. For more details, please call me at 615-778-1816.

 

 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is it Time to Give Up the Keys?

Last time we talked about a special insurance discount you might be able to get, just for being a senior driver. But what if you’re an even more “seasoned” driver, or if you look after an older loved one, and you feel the time may be approaching when the keys need to be given up? Big question. The decision to not drive anymore is an important one, for many emotional and practical reasons. How do you know when it’s time?

Gretchen Geagan, co-owner of Life Links Geriatric Care Management, a local senior care organization helping families with difficult situations such as these, says in addition to observing your loved one behind the wheel you should also “look for any poor decision-making in their other realms of life, including memory, vision, and reaction time”, which of course, can relate to how well they’d do driving a car.

Not sure whether it’s safe to get in the car with them behind the wheel? When this is the case, Gretchen suggests taking your senior for a walk through busy intersections first and observe how they react to street signals – whether they’re aware of when to go and when to stop, for example. “If you feel like it’s time for them to stop driving, it’s probably past time,” she explains.

When you believe it best that someone shouldn’t drive, but all parties concerned are struggling with the decision, you might consider getting a professional analysis of your senior’s driving ability. Gretchen suggests consulting with Vanderbilt’s Bill Wilkerson Center. Here, medical and counseling professionals conduct both an in-office and road-test evaluation. Should they feel your senior is not safe to drive, they will let you all know, but will also inform the State of Tennessee, which will take away the license permanently, so be aware that this could be a life-changing visit for all concerned.

If I can be of any assistance where seniors dovetail with insurance, please let me know. I also know a lot of people serving this constituency and can likely refer you to folks who can help.

 

 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You don’t have to be a senior to get this “senior” discount!

Just yesterday, I was telling my daughter how I used to think that anyone over 30 was old! Now, as I approach my 50th birthday this year, I’ve officially updated my obviously premature and erroneous point of view, by pushing that “old” designation way, way ahead. From now on, I’ll think about other things, like senior discounts!

Speaking of discounts, here’s an auto insurance discount that you may not know about. If you’re a “seasoned” or even “moderately seasoned” driver, check to see if your insurance company offers a ”Mature Driver” discount. Defensive driving training is good for everyone.Usually, it requires you to be 55 or over, and to have taken a defensive driving class approved by your state.  You’re usually required to repeat the class every three years to maintain the discount.

In Franklin, TN, there appears to be only one state-certified vendor offering courses in town. It’s DISC/Middle TN Safety Council (615-794-2352). This organization holds classes every Saturday morning and Monday evening at Freedom Middle School (750 New Hwy 96). Cost is $25 for a 4-hour course, providing you tell them upfront that you’re specifically attending in order to get a discount on your insurance.  Just take the class, and provide the certificate of completion to your insurance agent.

Of course, be sure to first check with your insurance company to make sure it offers the discount, and to understand any specific requirements it may have. However, what I’ve outlined here is pretty typical.

Please go to the State of Tennessee Department of Safety website for listings of all state-approved defensive driving vendors and class locations.

 

Next time: Is it Time to Give Up the Keys?