Buying a home, whether it’s your first home or fifth, can bring a lot of excitement to your life. In spite of the stress, people find a great deal of enjoyment in viewing homes and planning out their future in a new space. If you’re considering a home purchase there are some insurance related considerations you should keep in mind.
The age of the roof
It’s no secret that North Texas gets a lot of hail. Hail, wind and brutal sun in the summer often shortens the lives of Texas roofs. An old or damaged roof can make getting insurance coverage from a reputable company difficult. Even if you are able to get the coverage you’re likely setting yourself up to have to file a claim the next time a bad storm comes through and pay the deductible to get the roof repaired or replaced, or even worse the insurance company may require you to have a scheduled or actual cash value roof coverage clause on your policy.
Prior claims and damage
Life happens. Especially in older homes it’s not uncommon to find that insurance claims and damage have occurred when prior owners were living in the home. The problem you can run into, though, as a homebuyer is finding out that those damages weren’t completely or properly repaired. If the damages weren’t complete or only partially complete that can result in a delay in binding the homeowners insurance which can slow down your loan closing and processing. Even worse, unrepaired damage could, in some instances, result in a claim denial.
Plumbing, Heating and Electrical
Of course, when buying a home, your inspector will make sure that the plumbing HVAC and electrical systems are all in working order. But in older homes, things like fuse boxes, galvanized plumbing, knob and tube wiring and older furnaces can result in denial of insurance coverage or exclusions for certain claims.
Dallas Homeowners Insurance
You’ve got a lot going on when buying a home. Let your Texas insurance agent make things a little easier by ensuring that the home your purchasing is properly covered so there are no surprises come claim time.
An independent insurance agent in Dallas, like Lewis Family Insurance Group, is your best bet as we have access to nearly two dozen nationally rated insurance carriers to find a policy that will protect your home and leave you with peace of mind.
If you’re considering purchasing a home in the near future and need a relator or loan broker, let us know so we can put you in contact with one of the proven professionals we trust to handle our clients home buying needs.
I see it more often than I’d like. Someone comes to me looking for a quote on their auto insurance and their prior agent had reduced or eliminated their uninsured motorist coverage to save them an extra $10 or $15 per month. Don’t get me wrong, tough economic times means making tough decisions and I’m not saying that there isn’t a reason to look at where you can save a few dollars a month on your auto insurance, because those dollars add up over the course a year.
The problem I have with agents who tell their clients to drop their uninsured motorist coverage is that they often times say it in a way that implies that the coverage is unimportant or unnecessary. Tell me how unimportant uninsured motorist coverage is when you’re in an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance, or you get back to your car at the grocery store to find out you were in a hit and run or even worse you’re driving your new, $45,000 car and someone with state minimum liability insurance (only $25,000 in coverage) t-bones you at an intersection.
Uninsured motorist coverage can be tricky. You’ll likely see it on your policy declarations page noted as UIM or UM coverage. It can cover:
Being involved in an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance.
Being involved in an accident with someone who doesn't have enough insurance.
A hit and run accident.
Medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages as a result of the accident.
Now, it is true that there may be other coverages on your policy, such as collision to repair your vehicle, or medical payments/PIP that can help out if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or under-insured driver, but those coverages often come with a higher deductible or less overall coverage.
Additionally, filing a collision or medical claim because of an uninsured driver can in some instances cause your rates to increase which would likely raise your rate more than the $10 or $15 a month that your agent was trying to save you.
Again, there are a number of people who carry low limits of uninsured motorist coverage or reject it all together. The key, from the standpoint of an agent, is to find out what level of risk tolerance your client has and help them build a policy of coverages that will protect the things that matter most to them that is also aligned with the overall level of risk that they’re willing to assume
Here at the Lewis Family Insurance Group we help our Dallas auto insurance clients find coverage options that are a specific fit for them. Every client is different, every insurance company is different and it’s imperative that you work with an agent that is looking out for you as an individual, not just signing you up for the same policy that everyone else that comes through their door gets.
If you’re looking for low-pressure personalized service for your Dallas auto insurance, the Lewis Family Insurance Group is here to help.
It’s no secret that more and more Americans, especially younger Americans, are being saddled with student loans. As the cost of tuition and public and private universities increase at record speeds and wages remain relatively stagnant, most higher learners are being forced to take out loans to pay for their continued education.
Now, this blog post isn’t a critique one way or another about student loans, whether they should be forgiven, what the interest rates should be or anything like that.
What this blog post is about, however, is whether those student loans are forgiven when you die and whether your life insurance death benefit will be reduced to cover the outstanding loan balances.
First and foremost it’s important to remember that (just like every person) every life insurance policy and company is different. The contracts have different features and benefits associated with them so before you sign up for coverage with your Dallas insurance agent, you ask them every single question you can possibly think of.
As a general rule, though, life insurance is a contract directly between the policy owner (not necessarily the insured) and the insurance company. When you die the beneficiary that is listed in your policy receives the death benefit minus any deductions for unpaid premiums or loans if it is a permanent policy. Any debt that you might have, including student loans, generally isn’t subject to being garnished from life insurance proceeds as those debts become part of your estate and are settled through the probate process. And if you’ve taken out federal student loans those are typically forgiven at the time of death.
So, no, generally speaking student loan debt doesn’t reduce the amount of the death benefit when you die.
What you should think about, however, is if you have student loans that you acquired with the help of a cosigner. Specifically private student loans, cosigners may be required to continue paying the debt on those loans even if you are no longer living. For parents and grandparents who plan on cosigning for their junior’s students, it’s not a bad idea to take out a small life insurance policy on him to make sure if something tragic happens that you are not responsible for a debt that, while technically is yours, isn’t one you were prepared to take on.
Even more than auto, home and renters insurance, life insurance can become incredibly complicated. Your Dallas insurance agency, the Lewis Family Insurance Group, has the knowledge and experience to cut through the clutter and simplify the topic so you can make an informed decision.
This Holiday season, while different than ones that most of have experienced in the past, is not void of dangers for your home and your family. As we begin our celebrations here are some tips to help you stay safe.
Inspect any Christmas
...lights for broken or cracked bulbs and connections and replace any that are broken. If using an extension cord to connect multiple strings of lights, place it securely against a wall to ensure that no one trips and falls.
Keep an eye on your garbage
Except for the Scrooge in your life, most people enjoy giving and receiving gifts, especially during the holidays. After you’ve completed your gift exchange, dispose of the product boxes and packages in stages (recycle if possible) making sure not to place boxes from large expensive items where people who might be driving by can see exactly what that new electronic gadget is that you unwrapped. Even better, if possible, dispose of those packages and boxes at a public waste facility where others will not see the item's contents.
Keep your home well lit!
This is a tip for all times of the year, but especially now during the Holidays when burglaries tend to be on the rise. Burglars might not be fooled into thinking you’re actually at home if the lights or TV are on, or even if you have an automatic interior timer light, but it will serve as a deterrent as the last thing a thief wants is to be conducting their illegal business in the bright lights.
Take an Uber, Lyft or other ride sharing service
...or choose a designated driver if partaking in adult beverages. Nothing wrong with enjoying some libations, especially during the holidays. But, if you’re going to drink, make sure to be smart about your decisions. Hire a ride, have a sober person drive you home, or stay where you are until you are completely sober. If you haven’t been drinking, though, you still need to be aware of your surroundings, understanding that there is a dramatic increase in drunk driving fatalities during the Holiday season. Keep aware of who is around you, where they are, their speed, habits and take an alternate route or even pull over if necessary.
Review your home and property insurance.
No better time than the end of the year to make sure the insurance protection you have is properly aligned with your life circumstances and LFIG can help. Schedule a 10-15 minute policy review, even if you’re not insured with us, and find out if you’re paying too much for too little coverage on your Dallas homeowners insurance.
2020 has changed the way a lot of us travel. I know this is true from personal experience. In years past, if Lauren and I wanted to get out of town we’d find an inexpensive flight if our destination was more than 4 or 5 hours from Dallas. Now, all of the places we’re looking at getting away to are within driving distance from the metroplex. What this means for us, not wanting to put extra miles on either of our cars, is that we’ll rent a SUV, load up the dog and the toddler, and get to where we’re going. I’m sure a lot of people are the same way.
This begs the question, though, if I rent a car do I need to purchase the rental car damage insurance. Truth is, if you ask a dozen insurance agents you’re likely to get a dozen different answers. This question, like many of the questions our Dallas insurance blog addresses, is one that comes down to your personal level of risk assumption. I generally don’t purchase the rental car insurance, but my father (who is much more risk averse than I am) will never rent a car without adding the additional insurance. It all comes down to how much risk you want to take on as an individual and making sure you’re comfortable with that risk.
Given that the extra insurance on a Dallas auto rental is usually pretty inexpensive, it’s not a bad idea to add it on before you head out of town. If you’re on the fence, here are a two important reasons you should purchase the rental car damage coverage.
1) Loss of Income for the Rental Car Company
If you’re renting a vehicle and it is damaged it’s entirely likely that you will be responsible for the rental company’s loss of income from that vehicle. It can’t be used, they’re losing money so you have to pay. These costs can add up fast if it takes an extended period of time to repair the damages.
2) Rental Car Diminished Value
Rental cars are generally valued differently than your standard auto policy. Unless you have an endorsement on your Texas auto insurance policy, it’s likely that your car is valued on an “actual cash value” basis for insurance purposes. This is not always the case with rental cars. They can be valued based on whatever the rental company decides and obligate you to reimburse them for the vehicle’s value (that they determined) regardless of your ability to pay.
Regardless of what coverage your personal auto insurance policy provides for rental car coverage, it’s probably not a bad idea, just to be on the safe side, to purchase the additional protection from the rental car company. Their job is to make money, not to look after your best interest. The last thing you want after a fun weekend with family and friends is to find out your credit card has been maxed out by the rental company because of some obscure clause in the rental agreement and your refusal of the additional insurance coverage.
If you have additional questions about rental car coverage, how auto insurance in Dallas covers you when you’re traveling out of town with (or without) a rental car, the Lewis Family Insurance Group can help you determine the best path. Call us at 214-666-8103or email email@example.com
The world is becoming more and more litigation happy. Everything from a hot cup of coffee, leaving a child’s toy in your yard covered in leaves and even social media posts can land you in “hot water” and potentially facing a lawsuit. Lawsuits, of course, don’t just begin and end with the frivolous. Car accidents where another party is seriously (or not) injured can force you into the courtroom, saying the wrong thing about the wrong person or just being a landlord have the potential to open yourself up to some serious liability.
Regardless of whether you think about the rules and regulations surrounding when and why someone can file a lawsuit, from an insurance prospective it’s important to know that you have options to better protect yourself so that if you do find yourself in a terrible situation, you might not be stuck paying out of pocket for damages, court and attorney fees.
The way you accomplish this is through an umbrella policy from you Dallas insurance agent.
What is an umbrella policy?
The most simple way to think of an umbrella policy is to think of it as an extension of the liability protections already on your Texas homeowners and auto insurance policies. In the event that a claim is filed against you, generally the lability protections on the auto or homeowners policy are paid out first and you have to hope that you have enough insurance to cover the total amount of the payout. With an umbrella policy, after those initial lability limits are reached the umbrella can kick in to cover an additional amount up to the limit of the umbrella policy (typically at least $1,000,000).
Think about it like this: you’re driving home from work and are involved in an automobile accident where you’re found at fault and negligent. One of the passengers in the other vehicle is injured to the point of requiring serious medical care. Helicopter trip to the hospital, numerous surgeries and tests, physical rehab, lossed wages, are just some of the costs the other party might expect you (and your insurance company) to pay for if you’re found to be at fault. Depending on what kind of auto insurance you have here in Dallas, you could be looking at having to pay the remainder out of pocket. If you can’t pay, and let’s face it most of us don’t have a few hundred thousand dollars just laying around, you could see a lien or judgement placed against you or even have your wages garnished until the judgement is settled.
Considering the ever increasing cost of medical care it might be worth adding some additional protection in the form of an umbrella policy, or at the very least increasing your liability limits.
Who needs an umbrella policy and how much do I need?
This is the million dollar question. Some people will say that, technically, everyone needs an umbrella policy because everyone can be sued and have a judgement placed against them. Others will tell you that only those with high net worths and exposed assets need to have this extra protection. Here at the Lewis Family Insurance Group I try to ask questions of clients and prospective clients to find out what amount of assets they have exposed, and their level of risk tolerance to help guide the conversation. As with any of the products and services we offer, the client is always the boss. It’s never our job to force coverage onto people, but rather to give you all of the information available so that you can make the most educated decision that makes the most sense for you and your family.
If you do decide to add an umbrella policy to your insurance portfolio the most simple way to determine the level of coverage you need is to assess your total net worth (assets minus liabilities) and purchase a policy that is slightly larger than that number. A more accurate way is to have us send over our assets exposed worksheet that takes into account a number of different factors, including future earnings potential, to find out more precisely what level of coverage is right for you.
An umbrella policy can help you protect current and future wealth, regardless of how much money you have or don’t have right now. If you’ve ever talked to me, you know I believe that your liability coverage is the most important and (often) most inexpensive portion of your insurance policy, and as a result everyone should consider increasing their liability limits. It’s a lot easier to come up with an additional $500 when you raise your deductible from $500 to $1,000 than it is to come up with two or three hundred thousand dollars to settle after an auto accident.
Regardless of your current situation, here at the Lewis Family Insurance Group, we can help you find the coverage that best fits your budget and your needs. Give us a call at 214-666-8103 or fill out the online quote request to learn more.
When shopping for auto insurance in Dallas, you get to choose the coverages that best cover the things that matter to you. With dozens of carriers to choose from you can rest assured that you're getting the best coverage for the best price.
The biggest thing I’ve found that people overlook are some of the smaller, but impactful coverages, like towing, rental car, gap and even glass coverage. In fact, in addition to the forms that the carriers and state department of insurance require you to sign acknowledging the coverages you either selected or rejected, LFIG has a separate form. Those coverages are that important!
Additionally, depending on your age, amount of assets, condition and age of vehicle (among other things) some of the coverages may or may not be necessary. There are so many variables involved it helps to work with an experienced Dallas insurance agent. That’s where we can help.
Here are some of the auto insurance coverages available to you in Dallas:
Bodily injury liability - for injuries the policyholder causes to someone else.
Medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) - for treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s car.
Property damage liability - for damage the policyholder causes to someone else’s property.
Collision - for damage to the policyholder’s car from a collision.
Comprehensive - for damage to the policyholder’s car not involving a collision with another car (including damage from fire, explosions, earthquakes, floods, and riots), and theft.
Uninsured motorists coverage - for costs resulting from an accident involving a hit-and-run driver or a driver who does not have insurance.
In addition to the above there are other optional coverages such as accident forgiveness, rental car reimbursement, roadside assistance, etc.
Insurance doesn't have to be complicated, and it's likely you're paying too much for too little coverage. As a Dallas based insurance agency that helps clients all across DFW, and the entire state of Texas, we can help you find the auto insurance that is right for you.
Contact us to learn more or go ahead and start the quote process and one of our highly trained team members will reach out to assist you in finding the auto insurance that fits you and your life.
Lewis Family Insurance Group, Dallas, Texas.
Whether you’re fresh out of high school or college, moving to the Dallas area or settling into a new apartment or rental home, chances are your landlord will either require or “strongly suggest” that you purchase renters insurance. While this might seem like an unnecessary expense, renters insurance can be the difference between you having to go out of pocket thousands of dollars or not.
Unlike homeowner policies, your landlord (whether it’s an apartment or home) likely has an insurance policy on the actual structure that you live in. This policy covers their high dollar investment: the actual building itself, while not providing coverage for your actual physical belongings or coverage for liability that comes as a result of an act that you’re found negligent for. Think about it like this: your furniture, clothing, basic electronic devices, kitchen equipment etc. is not likely covered by your landlords insurance, and as a result if a fire or tornado destroys your house or apartment those items wouldn’t be replaced by insurance.
Another thing to think about, especially if you like to have people over, is the liability aspect that renters insurance provides. If someone is injured at your home or apartment and you’re found negligent for their injuries, you could be on the hook to pay for whatever damages they’re awarded. Typically, with renters insurance, you can add $300,000 of liability protection for just a few dollars per year.
All in all, renters insurance is an extremely affordable way to protect not only your personal belongings but also your future earnings in the event a liability judgement was placed against you. Your Dallas insurance agency, Lewis Family Insurance Group, can provide you with a number of options for renters insurance, many of which run less than 50 cents a day.
Call us at 214-666-8103for more information or to get your Dallas renters insurance policy started.
Nobody wants to get involved in an auto accident. They’re dangerous and costly, but if you do get involved in a wreck it’s important to know some of the basic steps you need to take to make sure that your interests are best looked out for. These six tips are in no way the only things that need to be done, but following these suggestions can give you a good foundation to keep a bad situation from turning into a terrible situation. If the time ever comes where you find yourself in an accident, never hesitate to call our Dallas insurance agency and we will do whatever we can to assist you.
1) Safely STOP!
Don’t block traffic if at all possible, but even after a minor accident you should move to the side of the road, a parking lot, shoulder or any other are that can keep you, your passengers and other drivers safe.
2) Assess yourself and your passengers for injuries
It’s not uncommon to feel just a little “shaken up” after an auto accident, and you don’t end up realizing that you’re injured until hours or even days later. This is partially because of the rush of adrenaline running through your body, and you entering survival mode thereby ignoring potential injuries. Make use that you are not injured first, then check on your passengers. Assuming everyone else is okay, you can choose to check on the other drivers if necessary.
3) Call 911/Local Police
Regardless of the gravity of the accident, it’s always in your best interest (especially if someone is injured) to reach out to the authorities. Firstly because they can provide potentially life saving medical care, but also because having a police report can go a long way in making sure that your claim is handled properly.
4) Take Pictures
Thank goodness for smartphones! After you’ve checked for injuries, moved to a safe space, and notified the authorities it’s time to get your Android or iPhone and snap a number of photos of the accident, including any potential injuries that you or your passengers have.
5) Exchange information with the other driver.
This is an extremely important step, as not having the correct and accurate information can be the difference in a claim going smoothly or becoming a total nightmare. Make sure to get the other parties name, address, phone number, drivers license, make, model and license plate number. Additionally, you can take pictures of these documents as well as taking a picture of their current insurance card (check to make sure that it is current and not expired)
6) Notify your Dallas auto insurance agent as soon as possible!
You pay premiums ever month for your auto insurance in Dallas and hope you never have to use it, but when you’re involved in an accident is when those payments pay off (for a lake of a better phrase). Notifying your agent is the first step in making sure the claims process is handled in the right way. The team at our Dallas office will talk through the incident with you and provide guidance of next steps so you can make proper and informed decisions on how to proceed.
If the time ever comes that you're in an accident, or want to prepare for if it does, the Lewis Family Insurance Group is prepared to help. Feel free to give us a call at 214-666-8103 and we can discuss an insurance policy that's best for you!
With Covid-19 wreaking havoc on the American economy, many families are finding themselves looking for ways to “trim the fat” in their monthly household budgets to make up for the loss of a job, reduced hours or general economic uncertainty.
Our family is no stranger to these economic uncertainties and we’ve had to find ways to tighten our belts here at our Dallas insurance agency. Hopefully the tips below can help inspire you to also look for ways to save money.
1) Review your bank statements, and make a budget
This one probably seems simple, but many of the most frugal people I know don’t do this for some reason. Without knowing how much you’re spending and where you’re spending it, finding ways to save will become exceedingly difficult. There are a number of templates online to use for your monthly budget, but a simple spreadsheet should do the trick.
2) Cook your meals at home
Again, a simple solution that can be easier said than done. In our house, with a 2 year old, it can be hard to get done with work, pick up Jack from daycare, get home, take the dog for a walk, cook dinner, pick up the clutter around the house, get Jack a bath and dressed and ready for bed without sacrificing somewhere. Usually, the easiest option is to just cut out the “cook dinner” part of the equation and grab some food out. The problem, aside from the fact that cooking your food at home is generally healthier, is that those “just this one time” fast food dinners quickly become a $30-$40 habit that eats into your monthly budget. By taking the time to prepare a menu for the week, shop for that menu and prep on the weekendings anything that can be done ahead of time you not only save money, but you also control the food that goes into your body which can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.
3) Assess your cable, phone, internet and electric providers
I was shocked when I called our cell phone provider and found out that we could save $25 a month and not lose any of the features of our service just by switching to a newer plan. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to find out that you can keep the same service (or better) and save money.
4) Remove high interest debt when you can
Nothing kills a budget faster than seeing that you’re paying 15 or 16% interest every month on that credit card you love to swipe. By consolidating debt into a single payment with a lower interest rate, or (a better option) taking the savings you’re finding elsewhere to pay down that debt you’re putting yourself in a position to give your dollars more buying power instead of letting them get eaten up by interest payments.
5) Take a “staycation” instead this year
With travel restrictions due to Covid this might even be difficult, but the idea is sound regardless. I know that it’s fun to take the whole family on a big (expensive) vacation, even if it’s stressful at times, but the cost of vacations are only going up and wages seem to be flatlining for a lot of people. Instead, take a look at the areas within a few hours from where you live to find out if you can make great memories without traveling half-way across the country. Our family visits a small town on the Texas/Louisiana border a couple times a year and every time we’re there we find new and interesting things to do. Not to mention, it’s incredibly affordable!
6) Review and bundle your insurance
You knew this one was coming, right? But in all seriousness reviewing and bundling your insurance can provide a great deal of savings when you’re looking to improve your finances. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should cut coverage. Insurance, unlike those 423 gigs of data you have unused on your cell phone plan, isn’t something that should be reduced just in the sake of saving money. Instead, you’re better off looking at adjusting deductibles, taking advantage of multiple policy discounts and doing a full review with your Dallas insurance agency, the Lewis Family Insurance Group. But even if you’re not with our agency and don't have any intention of switching to LFIG, one of our licensed Texas insurance agents can provide you with the knowledge necessary to take back to your current agent, ask the right questions and make informed decisions.
There are a lot of ways to save money other than the six that we’ve listed in this blog post. Maybe some of these will work for you, maybe they’re all things that you just can’t bring yourself to do. Either way, the most important thing is having an understanding of where your money is coming from and where it is going. Once you get a grasp of that, you can start taking steps to put that money to work for you so it can grow. And, when you get to that point, make sure to reach out to a financial planner or wealth manager so you can make the best, most informed decisions.
If our insurance agency can ever be of help please do not hesitate to call our North Dallas office or send us an email. We look forward to helping you in any way that we can.