How to Minimize the Risk of a Car Break-In

Car theft is a common occurrence that impacts more than 750,000 drivers a year — that’s roughly one incident every 41 seconds. Want to secure your vehicle from being broken into or stolen? Here are a few ways to avoid problems, plus some guidance for what to do in the event of a loss.

Keeping Your Car Safe

By some estimates, more than half of vehicle break-ins are unknowingly enabled by car owners. If you know what conditions are most desirable for thieves, you can take the right steps to help secure your belongings.

Some general rules: 

  • Roll up and reinforce your windows. This will help prevent reach-in or smash-and-grab burglaries. Adding a protective film can also make windows tougher to break.
  • Lock up when you leave. Even if you’re just running into the convenience store for a cup of coffee, be sure to lock your doors. Most break-ins happen in a matter of seconds.
  • Park smart. Stick to well-lit areas, monitored parking garages and low-crime neighborhoods.
  • Invest in an aftermarket car alarm. Most factory alarms only sound when the doors are opened. By contrast, a motion or tilt-sensor alarm can tell you when the car is experiencing movement of any kind.
  • Take valuables with you and hide everything else. Don’t leave your belongings in plain sight. Keep your keys and anything of value on your person and hide everything else in your glove compartment or trunk.

What to Do Post Break-In

If you’ve experienced a break-in, reach out right away. Also make sure to take pictures, file a police report and make an insurance claim. If any credit cards were stolen, cancel them immediately.

Some car burglaries are unavoidable, but with a little vigilance you can minimize your chances of having to deal with a break-in.

Visit us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7.


What to Know About Insuring Your Roof

Simply having a roof over your head isn’t enough. As a homeowner you also need to take good care of this important part of the house, which means understanding what your homeowners policy includes (and what it doesn’t) in the event of damage or decay.

Is your roof properly insured, or are you carrying more risk than you realize?

Roof Insurance Basics

Generally speaking, if an unavoidable event like vandalism damages your roof, your homeowners insurance should cover it. However, if it’s determined the damage was caused by something within your control, like neglected maintenance, that’s where things get tricky.

Factors that influence your coverage include:

  • Age of your house and roof: Once a roof has passed its life expectancy, your coverage may be reduced or eliminated.
  • Roofing materials: Premium shingles, like those made of slate, may not be covered.
  • Your location: In some cases, replacement coverage is available for roofs. In others, you’ll only be reimbursed for what the roof was worth at the time it was damaged.
  • Type of damage: Weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes are usually covered, but wind or hail alone may not be.

The Importance of Maintenance

Address minor issues before they result in major damage by conducting a roof inspection twice a year. Carefully check the state of your shingles and examine gutters, flashing and ventilation. Look for leaks and water damage inside and out, especially after big storms.

The Bottom Line

Don’t make the costly mistake of assuming any and all roof damage will be covered by your homeowners insurance. Avoid problems by double-checking your policy for specifics about your coverage and reach out to your Vick Insurance Family if you have questions.

You are always welcome to stop by our office, or visit us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com.


Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

If you’re lucky enough to be a snowbird who travels with the seasons or if you have an extended trip coming up, you’re probably thinking about how to best protect your property while you’re gone.

Here are a few tips for keeping your home safe from the elements and intruders.

1. Turn off your water. Even small leaks can turn into flooding disasters when left unattended. If you’ll be gone a while, consider shutting off the water and draining your pipes. If you do leave the water on, have someone stop by regularly to run the hot water, flush the toilets and check for any problems.

2. Hire a home watching service. Well-meaning neighbors and friends may be happy to check on things while you’re away. However, it’s a good idea to consider hiring a home watching service instead. These professionals do more than bring in your mail. They’re trained to spot issues like slow leaks and will make your home appear occupied during your absence.

3. Review and update your homeowners insurance. Confirm that you have adequate coverage for your unoccupied residence or vacation property. Also, check to see if having a house sitter or caretaker will reduce any potential surcharges you pay when your home is vacant.

4. Embrace smart technology. Thanks to advances in technology, many home security and HVAC systems can be monitored and controlled remotely with a smartphone. Cameras and apps are helpful if you’re trying to keep the temperature consistent, turn different lights on and off, and watch for suspicious activity from a distance.

With these steps, you can help keep your home safe and enjoy peace of mind while you’re away.

As always, feel free to visit us at our office or online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7.


Watch Out for These Homeowner Mistakes

Few things in life are as stressful as buying a home. That is, until something goes wrong with it. The real work of owning a house often begins after moving in, but you can start the journey well-prepared by being aware of these common pitfalls.

Being Underinsured 

Many homeowners make the unfortunate error of underestimating how much their personal belongings are worth. Though it’s important to have your property appraised, that alone isn’t enough.

To get the most suitable coverage, factor in the value of everything inside your dwelling, too — not just what it would take to repair. From improvements you’ve made and appliances you’ve updated to furniture, clothing and electronics, you’ll need to account for everything that would have to be replaced.

Ignoring Routine Maintenance

All homes require upkeep, and some tasks are more vital than others. Realistically, neglecting routine maintenance could even lead to a fire or flood. In fact, homeowners are more likely to file insurance claims for water and smoke damage than any other type.

Since houses don’t come with an owner’s manual, it’s a good idea to make and follow a home maintenance checklist that includes doors and windows, your washer and dryer, and fire prevention equipment.

Making Assumptions About Your Policy

Do you fully understand your homeowners insurance deductible? If not, it’s important to get to know how it works and what out-of-pocket costs you’ll be responsible for in the event of an incident.

Generally, the higher the dollar amount or percentage deductible, the less you pay in premiums each month. But before you increase or decrease it, make sure you know how various claims would play out.

All homes, even new ones, experience unexpected issues now and again. Fortunately, many are preventable with a bit of know-how.

Please feel free to contact our team at Vick Insurance Group with all of your home insurance needs, questions, and concerns.  Also visit us online 24/7 at www.vickinsurancegroup.com.


Timing Matters When You’re Car Shopping

Car shopping has become something of a science. If you time your purchase right, you could save thousands off the sticker price, while buying during certain times of the month or on the wrong day can cost you. Here’s a look at when you might find the best deals on a new set of wheels.

Daily Differences

Contrary to what the ad campaigns would suggest, weekends generally aren’t the best time to buy a car. Three-day or holiday weekends like Presidents Day may offer exceptions, but don’t get stuck thinking this is the only time to find a great value.

Instead, skip the weekend rush and consider buying during the week. Statistically, shopping on a Monday tends to save buyers an average of 8 percent off the retail price. Weekdays also make it easier to get prequalified by the bank, which can increase your negotiating power.

Monthly Savings

Most dealerships and manufacturers incentivize with monthly and quarterly goals. The more eager they are to hit their numbers, the more leverage you have to negotiate. Catch them at month’s end as the sales cycle comes to a close and you could walk away happy.

Markdowns for certain vehicles may also be available during different months of the year. For example, May is a popular month for SUV sales, and you’re more likely to find bargains on trucks and full-sized pickups in the fall.

Seasonal Offers 

At the end of the year, dealerships are probably working to clear out current models to make space for the next year’s lot. You could find Black Friday deals in November as well as holiday offers throughout December.

Dealership discounts fluctuate quickly, but that could work to your advantage. Either way, with a little flexibility you may be able to land the car you want at a reasonable price.

Please let our Vick Insurance Group know if we can assist you with all of your auto insurance needs. Feel free to visit us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7.


Don’t Make These Home Storage Mistakes

Rarely used objects often end up in the attic, basement or garage. But storing your stuff where it seems most convenient isn’t always the best, or safest, idea. Some items are too fragile for these environments, while others could even become dangerous in unregulated conditions.

Take a look at these home storage tips to keep your house and possessions protected.

What to Keep Out of the Garage

For the most part, objects like garden tools or car supplies do fine in the garage. However, fluctuating temperatures make the space off limits for anything that’s too delicate, combustible or that may attract vermin.

Some common household items that don’t hold up well in the garage include:

  • Photographs — Moisture, heat and pollutants from your car can cause photos to fade and crinkle over time.
  • Flammables — Sparking engines should be kept far away from potentially leaky propane tanks. Instead of putting them in an enclosed space, always store tanks outside on a flat surface.
  • Perishables — Insects and rodents can make a meal out of almost anything. This includes fabrics, paper and even firewood. Unless you have an outdoor fridge, bring any perishables, even canned food items, indoors.

Basement and Attic Hazards

Attics and basements are bonus storage spaces in many homes, but each comes with some risk from the elements.

In the basement, homeowners need to protect against excess moisture, mold and flooding. Store anything that’s not weatherproof off the ground in a sturdy container.

Attics tend to experience extreme temperature spikes, so anything sensitive that may warp or melt shouldn’t be placed here. Holiday decor, clothing and luggage typically do okay, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

As a general rule, anything that’s sentimental or financially valuable should be kept safely in the temperature-controlled parts of your home.

Please call us for all of your home insurance needs. Also, feel free to visit us online 24/7 at www.vickinsurancegroup.com.


These Events Might Affect Your Premium

Life can naturally be unpredictable, and various events may cause your car insurance rates to fluctuate, too. If you’ll be making a change in the future, be aware of which common milestones could affect your premium.

  • Moving to a new area.In some states, your ZIP code is the primary basis of your car insurance rate. Details like population size, crime rates and even weather can affect your costs.
  • Accepting a new job.Changing your daily commute may also change your premium based on annual mileage and other risk factors.
  • Becoming a homeowner.Adding and bundling the new policy could lead to a homeowner or multipolicy discount.
  • Getting married.Marital status often influences your coverage, especially if any policyholders, including kids, will be added or removed in the process.
  • Buying a new car.This one might seem obvious, but it’s a good idea to do some research before purchasing a vehicle so you’re not surprised by your new premium.

Can you reverse a rate increase?

It may not be possible to reverse a rate increase, especially if it was due to an expansion of coverage; however, sharing updates about automatic security features in your car and doing a record review of other drivers on your policy may prevent outdated information from further raising your monthly rate.

Keeping your insurance up to date starts with revising your policy to include major life changes. An annual review of your coverage will help make sure it still corresponds to your family’s needs.

Please reach out to our team at Vick Insurance Group  if you have questions or if you’d like to check in. You may also reach us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7.

 


How to Get the Most out of Your Tires

Your car’s tires won’t last forever, but with regular attention you can keep them in good shape for several years. Here are a few ways to check on your tires each month to extend their performance and stretch your initial investment — all while staying safe on the road.

Tire Pressure

Even if your vehicle has a tire-pressure monitoring system, manual checks are still important. Under- or overinflated tires can lead to accidents, damaged tread and increased fuel consumption.

To check the pressure yourself, wait until your car has been parked and cooled for two to three hours. Find the sticker on the inside of the driver’s side door or consult your owner’s manual to confirm your make and model’s recommended pounds per square inch, measure with a pressure gauge, and add or release air as needed.

Tread Condition

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire tread measuring 2/32 of an inch or less puts you at risk. To check the tread, hold a penny so that the top of Lincoln’s head faces the tire, then lower it between the treads. If he’s mostly covered, you’re in good shape for now. If his head is fully exposed, your tires are worn down and need to be replaced.

Age

Because rubber degrades over time, many experts recommend replacing tires at 10 years no matter what. Examine the manufacture date code when following this suggestion, not the purchase date. Look for an embossed string of letters and numbers on the tire’s sidewall; the last four digits after “DOT” indicate the week and year the tire was made.

When it comes to maximizing tire life, a little bit of preventive maintenance could be the key to avoiding premature wear and ensuring a safe ride.

Please visit Vick Insurance Group for all of your auto needs.

You may also find us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7/365.


Buying a Home: 6 Due Diligence Tips

When purchasing property in Benton County, doing your due diligence is more than a turn of phrase. The period when a house is under contract is an essential part of the homebuying process and requires careful attention to detail.

The Basics

The due diligence process is the buyer’s opportunity to review all facets of a potential home sale. From home inspection findings to homeowner insurance costs, it’s when you’ll take the time to understand exactly what you’re potentially buying.

Here are a few due diligence do’s and don’ts to consider:

Do find out how long it lasts. Two weeks is fairly standard for the average due diligence process. However, shorter periods may be negotiated to gain a competitive edge in a seller’s market.

Don’t make assumptions about when it begins. In some cases, due diligence is conducted before a property goes under contract. In others, it begins after the contract is signed.

Do consult an insurance agent. Floodplain and fire-prone areas may require additional coverage. Make sure you know the estimated costs and what a new homeowners insurance policy will cover.

Don’t skim the home inspection. Make sure you’re familiar with every line of the report. You may want to get quotes from contractors or negotiate repair costs into your offer.

Do your research. Review neighborhood characteristics and check the area’s crime rates. Look at zoning laws to ensure they align with your long-term goals.

Don’t forget to review the HOA. If you’re joining a homeowners association, it’s not enough to simply read your HOA documents. Make sure the community is in good physical condition and the association is financially sound.

Being thorough in the due diligence phase will help you uncover potential issues and make the right choices for you and your family.

Please come by Vick Insurance, our team is always here to help.

Feel free to visit us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7.


5 Tips for Hiring the Right Contractor

Most major home repairs in and around the surrounding areas of Benton County will require the help of a professional, and hiring the right contractor can be challenging if you’re not sure what to look for. Here’s how to ensure you get quality work for a fair price.

1. Ask for referrals. Look to your network for contractor recommendations. Personal references are the most reliable, but you can also use trusted review-based websites. Be sure to consider contractors who’ve received positive feedback within the past year or so.

2. Do your research. Search for online reviews and check the contractor’s status with the Better Business Bureau or other professional association. Review any public information to see if there are complaints against their license, and if possible, inspect their past work in person.

3. Review their insurance coverage. At a minimum, contractors should have general liability coverage to protect against bodily injury and property damage. It’s even better if they pair basic coverage with a worker’s compensation policy that extends to any subcontractors.

4. Solicit multiple bids. Compare written bids from multiple potential contractors and consider eliminating outliers that seem too high or too low. If a bid is too low, it may be because they use questionable materials or hire inexperienced labor. If it’s too high, they could be overcharging for their work.

5. Put everything in writing. All written estimates should include specifications like material types and costs, established scope, anticipated project start and end dates and expectations for contingencies, cleanup responsibilities, warranty information and limiting factors like homeowner association bylaws or building permits. Everyone should make sure their insurance company approves the work before signing any formal agreement.

No matter how complicated or straightforward your home repair claim may be, knowing how to search for a contractor can simplify the selection process and bring you peace of mind.

Our Vick Insurance Team looks forward to helping you with all of your home needs. Please reach out if you have any questions.

Visit us online at www.vickinsurancegroup.com 24/7