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Safe Travels

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Liability | Comments Off on Safe Travels

young family at airport with a trolley full of luggageWhere’s your dream destination? Soft, warm sand meeting the waves, not a cloud in the sky? Majestic, snow-capped peaks rising up to the heavens? Or maybe a warm fireplace, surrounded by family and friends?

Many people use the summer time to get out of town. But nothing ruins a vacation like an unexpected mishap. Traveling is, by definition, a break from the ordinary routine. It’s a journey into unfamiliar territory. Any break from the comfort zone is a ripe time for complications.

Take a few minutes to prepare yourself, though, and you’ll be able to safely enjoy your travels.
Before You Leave

The best way to stay safe is to fix problems before they ever occur. Before you roll out the driveway, be sure you’re thoroughly prepared for your trip.

1. Weather — Check the climate and forecast before leaving. Have you packed the appropriate clothes and layers for the trip?

2. Travel Alerts — Check online travel alerts for your destination. Some places in the world become dangerous, and you should know the cultural climate before you arrive (note: this applies more for international trips than domestic) http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country.html.

3. Health Concerns — Visit a travel clinic before any international trips. You may need certain vaccinations before boarding the plane. Or there may be general concerns such as food poisoning.

4. Credit Card — Before leaving the country, call your credit card provider and set up a travel alert. This will allow you to use your card without setting off red flags. Even if you aren’t expecting to use the card, you never know when you’ll need it.

5. Itinerary — Whether traveling internationally or domestically, give a trusted friend or family member your itinerary. Let them know when you’re traveling, where to, and what day you expect to return. 6. Home Safety — Ask a trusted friend to watch after your house and keep it safe.
In Transit

The act of traveling provides its own unique risks. Take a few easy steps and ensure you arrive to your destination in one piece.

1. Stretch Often — Whether traveling by car or plane, it’s dangerous to stay sitting for too long. Take frequent opportunities, when the airplane’s seatbelt light is off or when filling up your car’s gas tank, to stand up and stretch. Walk around, get your blood flowing again.

2. Stay Hydrated — Traveling, exhausting as it is, doesn’t expend much energy. Mostly, you just sit there. Thanks to this, it’s easy to avoid drinking water — you almost forget about it. But you can still get dehydrated. If you change altitude (driving into the mountains or boarding an airplane) this happens even quicker. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. It may mean more frequent restroom breaks, but that just means you get up and stretch!

3. Keep Essentials On Hand — If you travel with any essential or valuable items (for example, prescription medicines) keep those within easy-access. This means checked baggage if you’re flying or glove compartment if you’re driving. You never want to spend time tracking down an item you need in the moment.

4. Maintain Vehicle — Remember to tune up your vehicle before driving it across the country. Take it in to a trusted mechanic and find out if anything needs fixing to make it roadworthy. If your auto insurance has roadside assistance, make sure you have the phone number handy.
While You’re There

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, practice a few simple principles to avoid unnecessary risk or hazard.

1. Communication Plan — Before you leave, create a communication plan. When will you let friends back home know you’ve arrived at your destination? If traveling internationally, do you know how you’ll communicate? Does your cell phone plan work, or will you use FaceTime or email?

2. Documents — While at your destination, keep important documents with you, and copies in a safe place. Necessary documents vary depending on destination, but may include passport, drivers license, and emergency phone numbers.

3. Don’t be a Target — Most tourists stand out in a crowd — large camera, loud clothes, wandering aimlessly and looking at a map. In other words, they’re easy targets for pickpockets. If you want to stay safe, sometimes the best method is to look safe. Walk confidently and blend into the crowd.

4. Travel Insurance — The best thing you can do to protect your trip is insure it. The right travel insurance can pay your medical bills for travel-related accidents, reimburse you for cancelled flights, and protect your car insurance rates if something happens to your rental. Some credit cards come with travel insurance, but check your coverage — it may not cover everything you want it to. Purchase your own travel insurance policy to be sure you’re fully covered.

Though traveling comes with its own risks, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. Take the time to properly prepare, and you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation safe and sound!

Common Auto Insurance Coverage

Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Drivers, Liability | Comments Off on Common Auto Insurance Coverage

Two cars crashedMost Auto insurance policies are actually many levels of coverage, combined together to form a single insurance policy. Like items in a first aid kit, each option can cover you from different damages, accidents, and events.

To build the policy you want it’s important to understand what each common type of Auto insurance covers:

Liability Coverage – There are two types of liability coverage – coverage for Bodily Injury and coverage for Personal Property. Most states require you to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage, or post a bond, to register your vehicle or obtain a driver’s license.If you’re legally responsible, or “liable” for damages, Liability coverage helps pay for them. Legally required for drivers in almost every state, Liability coverage includes Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage, which pay for someone’s medical expenses, personal injuries, and property damage if you’re at-fault.

Collision Coverage – If you hit something like another vehicle or a fixed object like a guard rail, lamp post, or telephone poll, Collision Coverage helps pay for the damages to your car.

Comprehensive Coverage – If your car is broken into, or dented in a hail storm, Comprehensive Coverage would help cover the losses to your car. Sometimes called “Other Than Collision” or “Fire and Theft,” Comprehensive covers losses from things other than an accident, like vandalism, riots, floods, hail, fire, animal collisions, and theft.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – These days, about 1 in 7 drivers are completely uninsured…and about 30% of drivers don’t have enough insurance. That’s why it’s important to consider Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist Coverage. It provides Liability (Bodily Injury and Property Damage) coverage for you, if an uninsured or underinsured motorist is at fault in an accident. If you or anyone in your car is ever hurt in an accident, Medical Coverage can pay for their medical expenses.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – Pip is similar to Medical Payments coverage, but it covers a wider range of costs. It can help pay for medical and rehabilitation expenses, work loss, funeral costs, and even replacement services. Many states require drivers to carry a minimum level of PIP coverage. When deciding on your Auto insurance policy or making changes to your coverage, it’s important to understand what each option does, and how it would work if you ever needed it. Some coverages are required by your state, while others are extra options you may want to expand your coverage.

How you’d like to customize your car insurance depends on your needs, budget, and the amount of coverage you want. Get an Auto insurance quote or work with Nancy Kuznieski, your local Farmers agent, to choose the coverage combinations that provide the best car insurance coverage at a price that fits your budget.

How to Lower the Cost of Car Insurance

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Drivers | Comments Off on How to Lower the Cost of Car Insurance

Not all car insurance premiums are created equal. From your driving record, to how far you live from work and the type of car you drive, there are many factors that impact your car insurance costs.

Try these 5 smart tactics to reduce your car insurance rates:

 

1. Keep your driving record clean

When it comes to driving, it’s wise to leave racing to the pros over at NASCAR. Why? While using caution on the road may not win you any checkered flags, it could translate into substantial car insurance savings down the line.

In fact, Farmers offers a safe driver discount* if you’ve managed to avoid accidents and citations, and maintained a spotless record over a period of time.

2. Choose your car wisely

There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a new car – comfort, options, fuel economy, and (most importantly) cost. But a factor that’s often overlooked is auto insurance.

Auto insurance rates are calculated based on a host of factors such as make and model, cost of replacing parts, crash test rating, history of theft claims, price, and more.

(Believe it or not, if the SUV you’re planning to buy is considered theft-prone, that could possibly drive up your premiums.)

Before you walk out of the dealership with a new car, consult with your insurance agent, who can help you compare insurance rates on different models.

3. Research your car’s safety reputation

Keep in mind that owning a car with a high safety rating not only makes you and your family safer on the road, but with a reduced risk of accidents, it could lead to a lower premium too. Also, cars with factory-installed safety features such as air bags, automatic seat belts, anti-lock brakes, or an anti-theft device, may help you qualify for additional savings.

View the 2015 Top Safety Picks to see if your car’s a top performer from a safety and insurability standpoint.

4. Look into teen and senior discounts

As any parent will tell you, it’s hard not to picture the worst case scenario and worry about mounting expenses when your teen gets behind the wheel for the first time.

There’s a silver lining though! Teen drivers who have good grades or live away at school may be eligible for policy discounts. So you’re usually better off adding them to the family plan rather than purchasing a separate policy.

Seniors, too, enjoy some auto insurance perks. Farmers, for example, offers discounts to residents of most states, who are 55 and older, and have completed an approved driving course.

5. Cut down on your driving

Driving less could save you a bundle not only on gas but also on your premium. If it’s an option, try moving closer to work or carpooling. Infrequent drivers are at a lower risk of being involved in an accident, and may therefore enjoy low-mileage discounts.

Remember, it’s never a good idea to let your car insurance policy collect dust. Doing a yearly check-in with your agent and reviewing your existing policy can really pay off.

Your agent can point out any discounts you may be missing out on, and help revise your policy to cut costs. For example, did you know that raising your deductible or bundling multiple policies together may help slash your monthly premium even further? Find out more with 5 Ways to Reduce Your Auto Insurance Premiums.

Pet Insurance Can Take the Bite Out of Veterinary Bills

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Pet Insurance Can Take the Bite Out of Veterinary Bills

puppy and kittens sleepingOften times, when picking out the perfect puppy, or deciding which feline you favor, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the adorableness of your future pet, that you don’t think about the associated costs. Aside from the food, vaccinations, toys and accessories a furry companion requires, illnesses and injuries can make for painful dents in the finances if there’s no money in the budget.

Just like for human patients, broken bones, surgeries, long-term medications, special dietary requirements, emergencies and/or accidents can amount to a lot of money needed to get and keep our pets healthy. Even so-called “free” dogs or cats never are, because for those lucky enough to avoid serious injuries or illness, being a responsible pet owner still dictates regular shots, wellness exams and teeth cleanings — and none of THAT is free.

That’s why pet insurance might be something to consider. There are many different options for insuring a pet’s medical care, but not many people know about them, evidenced by the fact that less than 10 percent of pet owners carry pet insurance, according to Consumer Reports.

Whether pet insurance makes sense for you depends on several things, including the availability of a savings account for unplanned trips to the vet (or a willingness to take on the debt of expensive procedures,) and the breed and general overall health of your pet. If using a breeder, find out about any health issues your pet’s parents may have had to give you an idea of possible future expenses. Talking to your veterinarian can also be helpful. Pet care professionals should know if your type of pet is prone to hip problems (Labrador retriever,) back issues (Dachsund,) or certain cancers (many cat breeds.)

Like human health insurance, you never know if you’re going to need a certain coverage until you do, and by then, a “pre-existing” condition clause might eliminate a lot of options. But also like people policies, pet coverage plans can offer a lot of peace of mind for those who don’t want to risk having to get rid of their pet or put it to sleep because they can’t afford to treat it. Monthly payments range from $10 to more than $100, and can include X-rays, MRIs, surgical procedures and ongoing care. Some policies have wellness or dental add-ons and most require you to pay the bill up front and will reimburse you afterward.

Farmers now offers pet insurance from Pets Best. Pets Best is providing special pricing for Farmers customers by giving current clients a 5% discount when purchasing pet insurance through Pets Best. Plans are offered beginning at $19 a month and can cover many aspects of your animal’s health with coverage ranging from accidents, illness and optional coverage for routine care.

It’s hard to put a price tag on your pet’s health. After all, they are part of our families!

Benefits of Travel Insurance

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Liability | Comments Off on Benefits of Travel Insurance

Family at the airportSpring break is coming up which means you’re most likely putting the final touches on your travel plans. Whether you’re headed to an island getaway, a cozy mountainside cabin, or visiting family across the country, one of the most important things to consider is Travel Insurance. From unexpected flight cancelations to lost luggage, a care-free vacation can quickly become a stressful nightmare.  Consider some of these benefits that Farmer’s Travel Insurance:

  • A complete range of coverage options from a basic coverage to a complete package called “Zmart”. This provides: medical evacuation, higher limits for property damage as well as liability and towing services to the nearest U.S. city, as long as the accident happens anywhere with 200 kilometers of the U.S. border.
  • Best-in-class claims service whenever you choose to repair your car (U.S. or Mexico)
  • Medical, Roadside, and Legal assistance
  • Bilingual support in all locations

A Travel Insurance policy from Kuznieski Insurance Ageny can help save you from any of the unexpected events that can ruin your plans. Get peace of mind for your upcoming adventure by contacting me today. I’ll help answer your questions and get you the insurance coverage that you need. That way, the only thing you’ll need to worry about is making sure to pack the toothpaste and extra sunscreen.

Tips to Driving on Icy Roads

Posted by on Mar 4, 2015 in Drivers | Comments Off on Tips to Driving on Icy Roads

afternoon shower on a highwayWinter weather is back on its way to Austin late this evening and staying until late Thursday. Freezing rain and sleet make the roads slick and difficult to drive on. Make sure you are taking the proper precautions if you’re out on the roads the next couple of days. Here are some things to remember when driving in icy conditions:

  1. Slow down– This may seem obvious but it is the most important thing to do if the roads are icy. Slowing down can reduce your chances of sliding on the ice and decrease your chances of being involved in a car accident.
  2. Ease up on your breaks– Antilock brakes, or ABS, do not work well on ice. Because of this, pressing on your breaks too quickly or too hard can lock up your steering wheel. If your steering wheel is locked up, you are unable to control the direction of your vehicle.
  3. Avoid steep hills– This can be difficult living in the hill country but ice tends to accumulate on higher surfaces. If you’re attempting to tackle a steep enough hill, gravity will take its toll.
  4. Turn into a slide- If you do happen to slide, it’s best to turn your wheels in the same direction that the rear of your car is turning. Be careful not to turn your wheel too sharply and overcorrect because your car will slide in the opposite direction that you want it to go. Make sure you’re gently turning your wheel and letting off on the break during a slide.
  5. Wear your seatbelt- Another tip that is common sense but is so often forgotten. Wearing your seatbelt can save your life in the event of an accident. As accidents are more common in inclement weather, wearing your seatbelt is a must.

Be extremely careful if you’re out on the roads the next few days and try and keep these tips in mind while driving. If you are in an accident, Kuznieski Insurance Agency has 24/7 Roadside Assistance.

Tips to Secure Your Home While On Spring Break

Posted by on Feb 25, 2015 in Homeowners | Comments Off on Tips to Secure Your Home While On Spring Break

Family holding houseYou pull into the driveway, eyes drooping from a full-day’s journey. In the backseat, the kids have been asleep for hours. You exit the car, approach the front door, and turn the key. Flick! The lights reveal what looks like a hurricane scene. Your belongings litter the floor, rifled-through drawers are left open. The clean house you left has been ransacked.

Quite the way to end a vacation.

It’s the sort of scene that only seems to happen to “other people.” After all, you live in a safe neighborhood. But the reality is, uncommon though they may be, break-ins can happen to anyone. While you’re gone, you’re nearly powerless to stop it.

The good news is you don’t have to be Kevin McAllister to defend your home. Take some simple precautions before you leave, and you’ll go a long way to prevent breakins.

1. Illusions!
The house least likely to be broken into is the one with people in it. If thieves don’t know you’re gone, they won’t target your home. Use this checklist to create the illusion that you never left.

Mail — While you’re gone, envelopes, newspapers, flyers, and boxes pile up by your front door. This is the most obvious, clichéd way to recognize an empty home. One fix is to ask the post office to hold your mail until you return. This is an easy solution, but doesn’t solve the problem of independent Chinese take-out menus stuck to your doorway. Consider asking a trusted neighbor to collect your mail while you’re away.

Blinds — Most people close their blinds while they’re away and leave them open while they’re home. Intuitively, this makes sense. But there’s one problem — this makes “closed blinds” a tell-tale sign of an empty home. Consider closing your blinds for the few weeks leading up to your trip — when you’re obviously home — to not create any signals.

Lights — A dark house is an empty house. Lamps can easily (and cheaply) be set on a timer, to give the illusion of people in the living room.

Lawn — How often do you mow the grass? Imagine how obvious it would be if you missed even a couple weeks. Consider hiring lawn care for the time you’re gone, or getting a friend to do it.

Garbage — Once a week, everyone’s trash cans go out to the curb. Don’t let your stick out like a sore thumb. Ask a neighbor to move your can on garbage day.
Sitter — The easiest way to make a house look lived-in is for it to literally be lived-in. Get someone to housesit while you’re away — an added benefit is someone can take care of your dog and water your plants!

Stay off Instagram — We all love posting pictures from our vacation, but wait until you get home to brag about that view of the beach. It’s surprisingly easy to find out where someone lives, so make it a #lategram and don’t tip your hand.

2. General Safety

Sometimes, your illusion will fail and thieves will try to break into your house anyways. Don’t make it easy on them, but take some simple precautions to fortify your home.

Deadbolts — If you don’t have deadbolts on every door, add them and be sure to lock everything when you leave. It sounds obvious, but sometimes the simple careless mistakes are the worst.

Garage Door — Electric garage doors are easy to hack. Disconnect the door opener before you leave, so that a universal opener can’t set it off.

Doggie Door — Movie break-ins 101: enter through the doggie door. Don’t let this happen in your house. Secure the doggie door.

Secure Vault — So you keep your valuables in a safe. Great, but is there anything stopping a thief from just taking the vault and dealing with the lock later? While you hope it never reaches that stage, a vault isn’t much use if it’s not secured to the ground.

Hide Valuables — This is a last-resort guideline. If you have something truly irreplaceable, don’t keep it in an obvious place. Hide it someplace no one would ever look.

3. Weatherproofing
Home safety goes beyond preventing break-ins. If you travel during the winter, an empty house could be at risk of various weather-related problems.

Gutters — Clean the gutters before you leave, to ensure proper drainage, should a rainstorm come in while you’re away.

Pipes — If the weather freezes, your pipes could too, causing expensive damage. Be sure your pipes are properly insulated, or give a neighbor a key and ask them to turn your faucets to “drip” when the freeze comes.

Spare Key — Regardless of your pipes’ insulation, it’s wise to give a trusted neighbor a spare key, in case someone needs to get into the house and fix something.

Final advice — be sure you’re properly insured. Despite your best efforts and precautions, sometimes break-ins still happen. Check with your insurance agent or let Kuznieski Insurance Agency review your policy to make sure you are covered for both structural damages and loss of property. Don’t be caught without coverage!

Airbag Recall

Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Drivers | Comments Off on Airbag Recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a second recall notice for more than 2.12 million automobiles in danger of experiencing unexpected airbag deployment after repair as a result of the initial recall.  This repair has proven ineffective for certain models of Acura, Dodge, Jeep, Honda, Pontiac and Toyota and these vehicles are still prone to inadvertent airbag release in non-crash situations.

While it can be a major inconvenience to schedule an appointment for automobile repairs — especially a second time on the same issue — safety recall notices are not something to postpone.  The force with which an airbag deploys can cause potentially fatal injuries if deployment occurs unexpectedly.

Specific makes and models affected by the additional recall include:

• Acura MDX
• Dodge Viper
• Jeep Grand Cherokee
• Jeep Liberty
• Honda Odyssey
• Pontiac Vibe
• Toyota Corolla
• Toyota Matrix
• Toyota Avalon

If you are unsure whether or not your car is subject to this or any other safety recall, visit www.safercar.gov and click on the “Look Up” tab. You will need your vehicle’s VIN number to complete the process.

Article provided by: Hensley Law Firm

10 Things to Remember In a Car Wreck

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in Drivers | Comments Off on 10 Things to Remember In a Car Wreck

Stressed Driver Sitting At Roadside After Traffic AccidentIt is estimated that 20% of all motorists on Texas streets and highways are uninsured. This poses a problem when there is a car accident. Make sure you are insured but also remember to do these 10 things when you’re involved in a car wreck.

  1. Call the police: have them make a report
  2. Go to the hospital and get checked out if you’re injured at the scene. You may also want to see a specialist who deals specifically with car wreck victims.
  3. Get identification. Driver’s license, ID card, license plate number or VIN number are means of proper identification.
  4. Take pictures of ALL cars involved including yours.
  5. Take a picture of the person who hit you.
  6. Record an apology, if possible.
  7. Get the witnesses’ names and addresses. The police will take them but you should keep a copy for yourself in case information is lost.
  8. Do NOT agree to a recorded statement until you have consulted an attorney.
  9. Hire an attorney that specializes in Personal Injury. You don’t want a criminal, tax, or family lawyer handling your auto injury case.
  10. Make sure you have proper car insurance. You don’t want to have to rely on the person who hit you to be insured.
    1. Rental
    2. Uninsured motorist
    3. PIP/personal injury protection: wages (80%) and medical bills

Article written by: Deborah Hensley

Easy Ways to Add Instant Value to Your Home

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Homeowners | Comments Off on Easy Ways to Add Instant Value to Your Home

Happy Couple Dream New HomeWhether you’re getting ready to put your house on the market or your home just needs a little updating, consider trying some of these easy ways to add value to your home. Most of these tricks are inexpensive yet they can make a big difference.

 

First Impressions

You can’t sell your home if you can’t get anyone inside of it, so make sure it has the all-important curb appeal, or buyers may keep driving.

Paint is the easiest and most cost effective way to give your whole home a facelift and make it look well maintained.  On the exterior, replace rotten boards prior to painting if necessary, and make the front door stand out with a pop of color or fresh stain.

A new coat of interior paint hides a multitude of sins — dirt, scuffs marks, scraped wood — and makes everything look clean.   Remember to go with soft neutrals, because everyone’s tastes are different.

Just before putting the house on the market, freshen up the landscaping. Nicely trimmed shrubs, a neatly mowed, edged lawn and fresh mulch around colorful flowers make a home look inviting.

 

Eye Catchers

The most important rooms in any house are always the kitchen and the bathrooms, so you want to make the biggest statement possible in those spaces. High quality appliances add enormous value, but if you can’t afford to replace them, make sure they work properly and have all the necessary knobs, switches and handles.

If the cabinets are in good condition, changing out the hardware is an easy way to bring them up to date. New energy efficient lighting and modern plumbing fixtures offer another inexpensive wow factor.

Lastly, for better or for worse, give your flooring an update. Existing carpeting should be cleaned and stretched or replaced if necessary and tiled surfaces and grout should not look dingy.

 

Personal Stuff

Box up photos and unnecessary knick knacks for storage, and place toiletries and personal care items out of sight. Then de-clutter the home in general, particularly closets and cabinets. Overstuffed storage areas make them look small.

 

These easy updates to your home add value. Value you want to protect from possible damage. Make sure your home and belongings are secure by having proper home insurance coverage. If haven’t reviewed your policy lately, Kuznieski Insurance Agency is happy to provide you with a complimentary review of your current policy.

 

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