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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Do you have an umbrella?

Ah, the joys of home. So many comforts — and so many risks. The dog, the teenage driver, the pool, the house parties, the monster tree that overhangs your neighbor's yard — any of these could be the stuff from which lawsuits arise. And many homeowners and auto insurance policies may not offer enough coverage for major personal-liability claims. What would you do if you accidentally caused damage or injuries which went beyond the coverage limits of your homeowners or auto insurance? What would you do if you found yourself on the wrong end of a multi-million dollar lawsuit? Naturally, most people don't expect the unthinkable to happen — but sometimes it does.

Caveat: Don’t assume that your homeowners insurance provides adequate coverage in the event you’re sued for your negligence which results in injury or damages.

The Personal Liability policy
Umbrella policies, as they are also known, supplement the liability coverage you already have which is provided by your underlying homeowners and auto insurance, and provide an extra layer of coverage up to the limits you purchase. Of equal importance, an Umbrella policy extends liability coverage to encompass certain coverage gaps left by exclusions on the basic underlying policies.

You may want to consider purchasing a Personal Umbrella policy if any of the following apply:

Your total assets exceed your underlying liability limits.
You have assets over $1 million, including property and vehicles.
You have the potential to have assets over $1 million in the future.
You earn or have the potential to earn significant income.
You are financially responsible for a young or inexperienced driver.
You frequently carpool young children.
You own or operate an aircraft or boat.
You own a swimming pool, trampoline or dog.
You own waterfront property, a farm or ranch.
You employ one or more people in your home.
You want to make sure your current assets and future earnings are protected.

Life is uncertain: Plan for it
You probably work very hard for the things you own — don’t forget to protect them. You never know when the unexpected can ruin not just your day but also your well-laid financial plans for the future. Make sure you’re prepared — don’t forget your umbrella. Call me for more information.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated

Farmers Agent David Lorms donated Lesson Plans and educational DVDs to Oak Forest Elementary School, Black Middle School and Lu Lu Stevens Elementary School to help celebrate and learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month, running through October 19th. Pictured with Lorms is Lu Lu Stevens Principal, Lucy Anderson.

Friday, September 24, 2010

National Flood Insurance Program extension approved

WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives Thursday on a voice vote gave final approval to legislation to extend the National Flood Insurance Program for one year through Sept. 30, 2011.

The Senate approved the measure, S. 3814, this week.

Without congressional action, the NFIP, which has been temporarily extended several times during the past year, would have expired Sept. 30.

“A long-term extension of the NFIP has been the goal of the insurance industry all year, and we’re pleased that it now heads to the president for his signature,” an American Insurance Assn. spokesman in Washington said in statement.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure shortly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm single. Do I need life insurance?

Question: I'm single. Do I need life insurance?
Answer: It depends

Single people often think they don't need life insurance and they're often right. But there are many factors to consider beyond marital status when deciding whether you want life insurance. Answer the following questions and see where you stand:

Do you have any dependents? If you have children, or provide support for a parent or grandparent, your death could create a serious financial hardship for these dependents. Life insurance can help provide a continued stream of income for your loved ones if you die prematurely.
Do you have a mortgage or loans held jointly with a cosigner? If so, your death would leave the cosigner responsible for the entire debt. You might want to consider purchasing life insurance to help cover these debts in the event of your death. If you have other personal debts, your creditors can make a claim for payment against any assets in your estate.
Are you at risk for any serious medical conditions? For example, if your family medical history includes certain genetic conditions, such as diabetes or certain types of cancer, you may want to consider purchasing life insurance while you’re young and healthy. Should you develop such a condition, purchasing life insurance later could be difficult, or even impossible.
If you died tomorrow, who would pay for your final expenses? For many families, even a relatively simple funeral can create a major financial burden. Life insurance can help offset these expenses.

Give me a call. We can discuss your individual situation so that you can decide if life insurance is appropriate for you. And if you feel it’s not necessary at this time, we can review your other insurance policies so you can be sure you have the coverage you want.

Life insurance issued by Farmers New World Life Insurance Company, Mercer Island

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fire Safety Tips

The best way of surviving a fire is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Here are some tips:

Keep your home free of oily rags and trash build-up. Gasoline and other flammable liquids should be stored in approved metal safety cans.
Cleaning materials should be kept in a ventilated area, away from any heat source. Vapors given off by these substances can ignite when they come in contact with a heat source, such as a pilot light.
Check lamps, appliance cords and light switches to make sure there is no faulty wiring. Never overload electrical circuits.
Allow adequate ventilation space around televisions, stereos and other entertainment equipment.
Teach your children not to play with matches. Keep matches in a closed metal container away from heat sources and out of the reach of children.
Never smoke in bed. Carelessly discarded cigarettes are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.
Remove all weeds, tree branches and litter from your yard.
If you have a fireplace, make sure it is properly screened and install a spark arrestor with at least a half-inch mesh on the chimney.
Daily household trash should be kept in a covered can away from any heat source. Recycle newspapers frequently.
Be a careful cook. Never wear long sleeves when you cook -- they can catch fire. Keep the handles of your pots turned inward, so the pots can't be knocked over. Never put foil or other metals in a microwave oven.

Fire safety tips
Make sure all family members know how to dial 911 in case of an emergency.
Have at least two exits from every room in your home. Invest in fire escape ladders for upstairs bedrooms.
Go through a practice drill every six months. With the whole family, practice what to do in a fire emergency.
Assign a tree or other landmark where family members can meet after they escape the burning house.
Teach children never to go back in the house. Train them not to hide from fire under beds, in closets or other places where rescuers cannot easily find them.

Smoke Detectors
The importance of smoke detectors cannot be overestimated. Most fires occur at night, while people sleep. The toxic gases from a fire can numb your senses, disorient you and kill you while you sleep. For this reason, smoke detectors are a must.
Install a detector in every bedroom and keep one centrally located on each floor of your home. Hallways and kitchens are especially good locations for smoke detectors.

Because smoke rises, mount smoke detectors either on the ceiling or high on a wall (6-12 inches from the ceiling).
Don't install smoke detectors by doors, windows or vents, where drafts could affect their performance.
Test and clean your smoke detector batteries about once a month. You'll need to replace batteries about once a year.
Never paint your smoke detector unit -- it might clog its smoke detecting sensors.
Gently vacuum your smoke detector and keep it free of dust and other foreign particles that could hinder its function.

How to Survive a Fire
If a grease fire occurs while you are cooking, do not throw water on it. Water splatters the grease and the flames. Use a dry chemical fire extinguisher or cover the fire with the pan lid.
Before opening a door, make sure there's not fire on the other side. Check the closed door for heat. If everything feels cool, brace your shoulder against the door and open it carefully. Slam it shut if heat or smoke rushes in.
Close all doors behind you. This can slow the spread of fire and smoke.
Crawl low under smoke. If you encounter smoke, use an alternate escape route. If you must exit through smoke, the cleanest air will be several inches off the floor. Crawl on your hands and knees to the nearest safe exit.
Once you are outside, do not go back into the house. Go to your family's central meeting place, then have someone use a neighbor's phone to call the fire department.
If you are trapped, close doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around doors and cover vents. Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a piece of light-colored cloth. If possible, call the fire department and tell them exactly where you are.
Everyone in your family should know the "Stop, Drop and Roll" rule. If your clothes catch fire, don't run! Stop where you are, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands to protect your face and lungs, and roll over and over to smother the flames.
If you see someone on fire, quickly cover them with a blanket to smother the flames.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Your Teen Driver

As a parent, it's up to you to help your teens become safer drivers. Here are some suggestions:
Choosing a vehicle: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which crash-tests dozens of vehicles each year, advises parents to choose a midsize vehicle with lots of safety features such as air bags and antilock brakes. Choose the newest model your budget can afford since most of today's cars are better designed for crash protection than vehicles six to 10 years old. Before making a final choice on the vehicle your teenager will drive, check out the consumer information on car safety available from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Insurance Information Institute, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and, of course, your Farmers agent.

Phase in driving privileges: Graduated licensing programs, now in force in 24 states, phase in privileges such as nighttime driving, to allow young drivers to build experience. If you don't live in a graduated licensing state, you can do the job yourself. For example, have your new driver spend at least four months driving with you in the car, then another four months driving alone before you allow him/her to drive friends.

Spell out the rules clearly: Be specific about the time they should be home, when and how many friends they can have in the car, and so on. You should always know where your new driver is going.

Spell out the consequences: Your teen needs to understand that if these obligations are not met, there will be consequences, including surrendering the car keys.

Make your driver pay: Another way to encourage mature behavior is to make your child financially responsible for buying and maintaining the vehicle.

Send them to school: It's a good idea to get your teen some supplemental driving instruction, whether it's a one-time safety course or a full-fledged driving school. Check out Farmers' teen driver education program, You're Essential to Safety (Y.E.S.), free to all young drivers.

Be sure to speak with your Farmer's agent ahead of time about adding a teen driver to your policy and review your Auto insurance coverage annually.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peak Hurricane Season is Here - Get Flood Insurance Before a Storm Hits and It's Too Late!

Peak Hurricane Season is Here - Get Flood Insurance Before a Storm Hits and It's Too Late!

Read the important information below to learn about peak hurricane season flood risks and FloodSmart tools you can use to encourage you to protect yourselves with flood insurance.

Recent heavy rains across the United States serve as another reminder to you that NOW is the time for you to protect your families, homes and businesses by obtaining flood insurance. Late summer and early fall marks the beginning of peak hurricane season - the most active time of the year for hurricanes and tropical storms - and property and business owners need to be prepared should a storm hit your community in the upcoming months. Most homeowners' insurance policies do not cover flood damage and once purchased, there is typically a 30-day waiting period for a flood insurance policy to become effective.

The Risk is Real

Hurricanes and tropical storms bring drenching rains and high winds that can cause significant damage to a home or business and its contents - and recent violent weather and subsequent flooding in Oklahoma and Tennessee demonstrate that floods are not limited to coastal areas. The largest amounts of rainfall from hurricanes are often produced by slow moving storms that move inland. Some of the worst damage from recent hurricanes has occurred hundreds or thousands of miles from the coast - as far north as New York in the case of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and through much of the Midwest and into Pennsylvania because of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Costly Consequences

Eight of the top ten most expensive federally-declared disasters have been caused by hurricanes. Just inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage and last year, the average individual flood insurance claim was nearly $28,000. Without flood insurance protection, many property owners may have to absorb the financial losses on their own, potentially draining their savings.

Protect Yourself

Individuals and business owners should get covered before a storm could impact their community and home. You should also know that flood insurance is more affordable than you may think. The average flood insurance policy is around $579 a year and in moderate-to-low-risk areas, Preferred Risk Policies start as low as $119 a year (that's equal to $10 a month or 33 cents a day).

Tools You Can Use

Visit to find essential information and tools that will help remind your customers to prepare for hurricane season.

Cost-of-Flooding Tool: allows property owners to see how expensive just a few inches of water can be to re-building their home or business.

Risk Assessment Tool: allows users to enter their address into an online tool to learn their property's flood risk.

Hurricane Flooding Fact Sheets: explains the realities of hurricane season risks.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oak Forest Elementary School Parents night

Oak Forest Elementary School held parents night on 9/8/2010 and 9/9/2010. Farmers Agent David Lorms participated by handing out child safety information, safety coloring books and Child Identification Kits to log critical information about your child as the first step in an Amber Alert. Pictured with Lorms is Assistant Principal, Rachel Reed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

10 Things to Know about Flood Safety

Flooding can occur as streams and rivers overflow their banks, when dams or levees break, with run-off from deep snow cover, or any time there is rainfall with significant duration and intensity.

Keep these facts in mind to stay alive and dry.

Flash floods can come rapidly and unexpectedly. They can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, or when a dam or levee fails and even a sudden release of water held by an ice or debris jam. Be cautious during storm seasons, or any time that flooding is common in your area.

You may not have warning that a flash flood is approaching.
Do not drive unless absolutely necessary.

Do not drive through flooded areas. If you see a flooded-out road ahead, turn around. Find another route to your destination.

If there is no other route, get to higher ground and wait for the waters to subside.

Even if the water appears shallow enough to cross, don't try it. Water hides dips in the road. Worse yet, there may be no road at all under the water.

Flooding can scour away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground beneath.

If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control or possible stalling.

One foot of water will float almost many vehicles.

Two feet of rushing water can sweep away most vehicles — including SUVs and pick-ups.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Preparing for an Insurance Adjuster an Important Step in Recovery

Showing your home's storm damage to an insurance adjuster should be a feeling of relief rather than high anxiety. An adjuster arriving at your residence means you are that much closer to having your home repaired and your life returned to normal.

"We have to visit people at absolutely the worst time of their life. Their house is usually damaged or destroyed, their lives have been turned upside down and they're not sure what to expect when they meet with us," said Bob Schach, branch manager of Custard Adjusters in Austin. "Nine times out of 10, we get along great and we leave families knowing they are going to be taken care of."

Schach, who has handled hundreds of claims from Hurricanes Rita and Ike, says homeowners have some misconceptions about adjusters. "They want a check as soon as they see us," Schach said. "We don't do that."

Insurance adjusters strive to respond first to the homes of policyholders who have reported the most severe damage. An adjuster may need an entire day to record all of the damage that to the interior and exterior of the home and contents. The adjuster must file his report with his office and the insurance company who will double check the damage, look at the cost of materials, review the policy's limits and coverages and make the appropriate payments as quickly as possible.

The best advice for homeowners is to document their damage before adjusters arrive.

"If homeowners had an inventory list of every item damaged inside their home, it could save adjusters up to two weeks in preparing their reports," says Richard Myers, vice president of Brush Country Claims in Alice. "The personal property list should include a description of the item, where and when they purchased it, how much they paid for them and a receipt for any expensive damaged item. Any photos or videos are helpful."

Pictures and information on the contents of one's home should be kept off site, outside the home in another location for safekeeping, if possible. If kept inside the house, the documents could also be destroyed during the storm.

Myers said adjusters are just one step in the process of bringing a claim to a conclusion.

"In doing their job, adjusters are also dealing with the area's catastrophic conditions. They, too, must find a place to stay at the end of a long day. Service stations, restaurants and suitable living conditions can be few and far between," Myers said. "The adjuster and the homeowner should work as a team to bring the claim to a conclusion."

Homeowners are kept up to date on the content of the adjuster's report and are given ample opportunities to voice their opinion for re-inspections or point out additional losses throughout the process.

One of the first checks a homeowner with major covered damage may see is an advance check to cover additional living expenses or ALE. Some dwelling policies have this coverage for primary residences. This check is intended to cover additional costs incurred by the insured to live elsewhere due to covered damage that makes the home unlivable. An advance payment could also be for temporary repairs that have been made, as well as major repair to the home.

If additional or supplemental covered damage is found after the initial estimate, the policyholder can request that the adjuster get back involved for review and consideration of a supplemental payment.

Not all homeowners get along with their insurance adjusters. Homeowners have the right to ask their insurer for another adjuster if the two parties simply can't work together.

The life of an adjuster is not easy. Myers, who has handled catastrophic claims for nearly 20 years, said for claims to be handled smoothly, homeowners must have patience and communicate.

"Homeowners must share with adjusters all of the information they have on the damage to their home, what may have happened and any stories that can contribute to the decision making process on their claim," Myers said.

Adjusters are the foot soldiers for insurance companies. If they don't do their job, it's the insurance companies that are blamed. But they must be doing a good job. Hurricane Ike produced an estimated 800,000 claims and justified complaints to the Texas Department of Insurance numbered 2,683, representing 0.33 percent. Hurricane Dolly resulted in 48,000 claims with 72 complaints or 0.17 percent.

Source: Insurance Council of Texas

Lu Lu M. Stevens Elementary School Parents Night

Lu Lu M. Stevens Elementary School held their parents night on Tuesday August 31, 2010. On hand was Farmers Agent David Lorms, giving out safety information and Child Identification Kits to parents. Pictured with Lorms is parent Lizbeth Montes.