Harris, Reed & Seiferth
Guys like Harry and Marv are busy around the holidays! Burglars are in a hurry, and anything that can slow them down can be enough to stop them. Adding high-security locks, safes, safety glass windows, and fortified doors would all be okay measures alone. However, layering all these simple home protections can be enough to send thieves down the street!
Lights & Dogs
Most burglaries happen during weekday afternoons, when many people are away from home at work or running errands. Creating activity that makes it appear as if someone is home during the day may deter many thieves. Try leaving lights on, a vehicle in the driveway, or create noise that can be heard from outside the house. Nighttime theft can be deterred by installing motion-sensor lights and locking up tool sheds and outdoor items. Dogs may also seem like a deterrent, but a “Beware” sign or barking may not be enough to keep thieves away. Some dogs become scared when intruders confront or harm them, or are easily tamed with treats. However, large, noisy dogs can act as an alarm system and create a sense of fear that sends thieves away. Breed and training really determines whether a dog can act as a added layer of protection.
Fences & Landscaping
Trees, landscaping, and fencing can help your yard feel secure, but it can also provide cover for thieves. However, wall and fences only provide cover after they have been scaled. Making fencing difficult to climb over can be enough to thwart opportunistic burglars. Other obstacles, like locked gates and thorny shrubbery, can help deter unwanted guests. Also, consider replacing the screws on the hinges and strike plates of all exterior doors with 3.5 inch star-drive screws. This can help stop bold burglars who would go straight for your home entrances.
Alarms & Security Services
Seasoned burglars know police response times. Once an alarm sounds, they know just how much time they have to grab all that they can. Many thieves cut wires or know that neighbors may still may not report a sounding alarm. Funnily enough, the real benefit of an alarm is the yard sign and window decals! Burglars know that homes with those signs have the potential to create noise and alert the police. Through HRS Insurance Group, you can access special burglar alarm discounts, choosing between a video doorbell or indoor camera to be the backbone of your home security system.
Protection for Valuables
Do you have any high value items in your home that need extra protection, like art, jewelry, or collector’s items? Getting coverage for valuables is easy and we can help! Most homeowners insurance policies have limited coverage for valuables. To ensure those items have coverage, we recommend adding a personal articles floater to your homeowners policy. This would provide coverage for personal items whose value is higher than the limits set in your policy. You may also want to consider getting appraisals to determine the value of certain items. This can help you to decide how much coverage your item needs and can help make the claims process fast and easy!
Every year, I see the same list of movies recommended to be enjoyed during the Christmas season.
If you're like me, it doesn't take rocket science to notice the lack of diversity and inclusion in those lists. So this year, I've started a new tradition with my family and customized a Christmas movie list that is as diverse as it is inclusive and decided to share it with the world. We hope you and your friends and family enjoy it!
Grab some eggnog and stuff the stockings, stat! And be sure to share this list with your family and friends! 🎄🎅🏾
Some people make boat launching look easy. But it's a touchy, tricky business, especially for new boaters. If you've struggled in the past, don't give up in frustration. Practice makes progress! And with a little more experience, you’ll soon be the Captain Jack Sparrow of the boat launch.
Here are eight tips for getting your boat back to its natural habitat!
If you're new to hauling a boat, these tips will help you build confidence and get comfortable with towing a boat from point A to point B. If you're already an experienced boat-trailering captain, this will serve as a helpful refresher course before your next outing.
Without further ado, here are eight tips for a trouble-free trip to the boat ramp!
1. Experience leads to confidence.
Practice so you can get comfortable with trailering. Find a large, open space—like an empty parking lot—and put down some orange cones or life jackets. Then spend time learning to back up, make turns and avoid obstacles.
2. Backing up takes extra practice.
Most people find driving in reverse while towing a boat to be the toughest, so work on honing this skill. Remember that backing up in a straight line is almost impossible. Instead, focus on moving in the right direction with slow, slight turns.
3. Level-up your mirrors.
Big, extended side-view mirrors are definitely a great idea for trailering, especially when you tow on busy roads. Attachable side-view mirrors are available for purchase when you need to increase visibility.
4. Swing wide when tackling turns.
To ensure you don’t hit curbs or other vehicles with your boat, take turns extra-wide. If you can, try to prepare for turns by staying in the outside lane to give yourself more room.
5. Keep it roomy with stopping distance.
Extra distance between your vehicle and those ahead of you is crucial. You don't want to slam on the breaks with a boat in tow—that could cause jackknifing. So slow down and be alert… patience you must have, my young Padawan.
6. Be conscience of large vehicles.
If semi-trucks and other big vehicles pass you, briefly lift your foot off the accelerator. This little trick will help reduce buffeting by the truck's wind and keep your rig from swaying. If you notice swaying, take your foot off the gas to minimize it.
7. If swaying—stop, inspect and adjust.
Taking your foot off the gas will minimize swaying, but if it seems to be a constant problem, get out and examine your rig. Try adjusting the trailer's tongue weight—it should be between 10 and 15 percent of the rig's overall weight.
8. Conduct a post-arrival check-up.
When you reach your destination, feel your trailer's wheel hubs. They should be cool or slightly warm. If they're hot, there may be problems with your bearings; get them serviced as soon as possible!
Ready for the next step? Read our blog about boat launching so you know what to do when you reach the ramp!
A mortgage is a loan agreement between you, the home buyer, and a bank or other creditor. They lend you the money and you get a home. To repay the bank or creditor for providing this money, the home buyer agrees to pay back the amount they borrow to purchase the home (the principal) plus an additional amount of money as interest
A helpful Loan Calculator is located at http://www.calculator.net/loan-calculator.html
You can change the repayment terms on a loan by choosing a 15-year fixed rate mortgage instead of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, which means you'll pay off the loan principal and accrued interest in 15 years instead of 30. This will increase your monthly payment, but will decrease the total amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. Note: there are many different types of mortgages! While I only mentioned a 15-Year and 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage, there are also variable rate and alternative loan programs like FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and VA (Veteran Affairs).
A down payment is a percentage of your home’s purchase price that you pay up front when you close your home loan in addition to the money you borrow. Lenders often look at the down payment amount as your investment in the home. Not only will it affect how much you’ll need to borrow, it can also influence:
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
If you are unable to pay 20% down on your home purchase, private mortgage insurance may be required by your lender. PMI is a special type of insurance to protect a lender (the bank or creditor) against loss if a borrower (you) defaults on your obligation to repay the loan. This type of insurance is costly and is not required if you can afford a 20% down payment.
Even if your lender requires you to obtain PMI, you may not need to carry the PMI over the life of the loan. Check w/ your lender about your options to terminate the PMI once you have achieved a specified level of equity in your home.
Many lenders require a formal appraisal by a licensed appraiser to ensure the value of your home is at least as great as the purchase price. This appraisal occurs between when your offer is accepted and when you close on the house. While you may have offered $180,000 on a house, if the appraiser returns and says the house is worth $170,000, you either have to pay that $10,000 difference in cash or ask the seller to reduce the purchase price to $170,000.
Learn more about what to do if your home appraised lower than the purchase price here.
Earnest money is submitted with your offer to demonstrate your intent to follow through with the sale if your offer is accepted. The appropriate amount of earnest money varies from market to market; your realtor can advise on what is customary for your situation. Earnest money can be handled in many ways; the following are common scenarios:
These are the costs incurred for the various expenses involved in the home buying transaction like title insurance, loan origination fees and appraisal fees. These costs vary widely from transaction to transaction. Your realtor and lender can assist you with learning more about the closing costs for which you will be responsible, but you can safely assume an average between 2%-5% of the purchase price.
Remember, you as a buyer are responsible for paying your closing costs in addition to your down payment. So while you might have $30,000 saved up for a 20% down payment, you will also need additional funds to afford closing costs.
The closing date is the date sign all the documents necessary to officially purchase a house. This is typically about a month after your offer is accepted. However, do not confuse this date with possession date, which is defined below.
At closing, you officially own the property. However, you may have agreed in your purchase agreement to allow the former owners to keep possession of the property until a later date. This means that although you have paid the down payment, paid closing costs, and are now responsible for the mortgage, you still do not have the right to move into your new home.
Possession dates that don't line up with the closing date generally occur because the sellers need time to find a new place to live. However, the buyer must agree to a later possession date as part of the purchase agreement in order for the seller to retain possession of the property after the closing.
A home inspection is a non-invasive, examination of the condition of the house that is designed to identify any problem areas with the property. The home inspector typically looks for evidence of insect, water or fire damage that may affect the value of the property. They will likely check heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing systems. They also may check structural items like the floors, walls and ceiling as well as the roof and attic. If your house has a basement, it should be examined for leaks and to make sure it has the proper supports in place. Remember, a home inspection is an examination of the property's condition, and is not the same thing as a home appraisal (see definition above).
If your inspector finds damage in the home, you may be able to negotiate that the seller fix the issues or agree to a lower purchase price.
Buying a house is complicated! But once you find the one that makes you feel at home, the headaches seem to be worth it. Best of luck to you all!
RV tires are not like tires on your everyday vehicle. They've most likely been exposed to the elements during the winter months and have not been driven on. This can cause premature cracks and a blown out tire while you're traveling. Make sure to inspect your tires for damage and also inspect the sidewalls and the tread area for flaws. It's a good idea to replace tires every five years, even if they still appear to have adequate tread, to avoid tire failure.
Pay Attention To Weight
Chances are you may have accumulated items in your RV over the years that could cause your rig to be overweight by industry safety standards. Take your RV to a weigh station before heading out on the road. Even if you're under your designated load rating, getting rid of extra weight can improve your fuel economy and you'll have better handling. You can have your rig weighed at a public weigh station for a minimal fee. Look in the Yellow Pages under “Scales, Public” to find the location of scales nearest you. Be sure to weigh your rig when it's fully loaded. It's also important to weigh each axle separately. After the weigh-in you might be surprised at how quickly the combined weight of your passengers and all your “stuff” add up to more than you expected.
Check Towing Equipment
Be sure to check your tow hitch and your safety chains. And make sure the mountings on your luggage racks are secure and tie-downs are strong enough to handle the loads you plan to carry.
Line Prep Is A Must
Take the time to flush all winterizing solutions used to prevent water line freeze over the winter. RV antifreezes are not necessarily toxic, but can produce unpleasant odors when they are heated in either a water heater or a coffee pot.
Be sure to check LP tanks. All tanks by law must have a 10 percent safety valve. The valve releases and lets off gas in case of over-filling. If your tank doesn't have the safety valve, get a new tank. Also, fill your LP tanks to only 80 or 90 percent of their volume – depending on the temperature.
Inspect and test all connections to every appliance. In order to check lines for leaks, just dab soapy water on fittings and watch for bubbles. Also, look at appliance vents for obstructions since it's not uncommon for squirrels and birds to build nests in vents.
Check your fire extinguishers, smoke detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector to make sure they are in proper working order. Some fire extinguishers have a gauge that indicates their condition, others have a test button and instructions for making a condition test. You should have two 2 1/2 lb. fire extinguishers with a rating of 5BC – one located in the galley and the other in the cockpit of your motor home or tow vehicle. Test the smoke detector's battery, as well as your CO detector according to manufacturer's instructions.
A few hours of preparation can save you a huge amount of hassle in the long run. And remember to always make safety your first priority on the road.
Need RV Insurance?
In addition to RV Safety tips for your next road trip, make sure you have insurance coverage specialized for your RV. Check out our RV Insurance coverage options or get a quote.
Renting out your home or a room in your home on Airbnb can be a good way to generate income, but you need to understand what is and isn’t covered by your homeowner’s insurance.
Homeowners Insurance and Home Sharing
Homeowners insurance combines various personal insurance protections, which can include losses occurring to one's home, its contents, loss of use (additional living expenses), or loss of other personal possessions of the homeowner, as well as liability insurance for accidents that may happen at the home or at the hands of the homeowner within the policy territory.
With home sharing, the rules are much less black and white. While some insurance companies will allow you to extend your homeowners coverage to a STR (short-term rental) if it’s a one-time event and you notify the insurer ahead of time, others contrarily may require you to purchase a specific endorsement, which is added on to your existing policy to cover the temporary rental.
When Home Sharing Is a Business
Regularly renting out your home or parts of it for income will generally be viewed as business activity by an insurance company. Instead, you’d need to purchase business insurance. If you’re planning to rent the entire home for an extended period of time, you'll need landlord insurance, as well. Landlord insurance covers the home itself as well as any structures that are on the property, such as a garage or shed. These policies typically cover you for losses such as fire or wind damage, but they won't reimburse you for damage caused by normal wear and tear or for the loss of your tenant’s personal property (tenant should acquire renters insurance).
Home Sharing as a Renter
You’ll also need to cover your insurance bases if you’re a renter and subletting to someone else. First things first: You have to be sure that your landlord allows you to sublet. From there, you need to check with your renter’s insurance company to see if your coverage would apply to someone who’s subletting. If you’re not planning to live in the rental while you’re subletting, the sublessee would need his or her own renter’s insurance. Keep in mind that if the sublessee damages any of your personal belongings while you’re away, your renter’s policy may not cover it.
Which Companies Offer Home-Sharing Coverage?
In response to the growth of the home-sharing industry, a handful of insurance companies are moving toward expanding coverage for homeowners who rent out their homes through Airbnb and similar sites. Luckily we're representing a few and writing policies! Next step? Run a quote for home share coverage! Talking to your insurance company or agent about what is and isn’t included in your policy can help you determine what’s needed to fill the gaps.
Whether you've been riding all your life or are looking to purchase your first bike, buying a new-to-you motorcycle can be pretty challenging. What make do I want? What's my budget? Where should I look? Even if you think you know what you're looking for, finding a used bike that meets your criteria is no easy task, especially when there are so many different motorcycles out there!
If you're looking to buy a used motorcycle, read on to help prepare for a better buy – your wallet and watch will thank you later!
Decide what you're using your bike for
What type of riding are you looking to do? Commuting, sports, touring or a combination? A 1000 CC sport bike may get you excited, but there is a good chance you’ll never need that kind of power while commuting to and from work. These are the main types of bikes you can choose from:
Inspect the bike
Don't blindly trust the seller's word as truth. If you've owned a motorcycle before, do an inspection on the bike. But if you’ve never done work on a motorcycle before, we suggest inviting someone you trust to check it out before you sign anything. These are the specific areas you should review:
Request a service history
The seller may not have that information, but request the history in case they do! This will help you understand what kind of service has been recently done on the bike. The tires may be new but the oil could be a few years old. Also ask for an owner's manual and factory toolkit if available.
Prepare your documents for purchase
Remember that you can't legally ride a motorcycle unless you have a bike license! Take a safety course if you've never owned a motorcycle and purchase a DOT-approved helmet before your first ride. Don't know what kind of helmet to get? Read Protecting Your Noggin to help find a helmet that meets your needs.
Take a test drive
Pick a nice day with dry roads to test drive the bike. And don't forget your bike license and helmet! If at a dealership, be prepared to sign an insurance waiver; if private, be ready to leave your license with the seller as security. Start slowly on the bike to get used to how it feels and responds. Remember to test the brakes–they shouldn't 'pulse,' but rather engage smoothly and evenly. It's also a good idea to accelerate through the gears. The transmission should feel firm and not slip out of gear under acceleration or feel chunky.
Be realistic about negotiations
Use retail pricing guides to help determine your purchase price and understand that the seller probably has a specific price they're looking to reach. If you're buying from a private seller, respect their ride and understand that they've probably taken pride in it over the years. But don't be afraid to say "no" if negotiations aren't going the way you want – you still have the final say.
Insure the bike through Us
This one is obvious, but if you do buy a bike, don't ride naked! Be sure to protect your tail…pipe with reputable insurance from our best carrier for this market: Foremost. They've been offering specialized insurance policies since 1952 and understand your lifestyle! They also have an award-winning team of claims professionals who are available 24/7 to help restore your life to order after a claim. Visit our Motorcycle Insurance - Definitions and FAQ's page to learn more or start a quote!
The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the open water in front of you. Sound appealing? Then you might want to join the ranks of boat owners all over the country. But before you cut through that clear blue, there are some things to keep in mind. Whether you're buying a fishing boat, cabin cruiser, pontoon or speed boat, different components like cost, horsepower, weight capacity or onboard storage may prove to be more important to you than others.
Answer these questions before going boat shopping:
And a few other components to consider...
When it comes to motorcycles, there are few things as important as the tires. "Tire maintenance is essential," says Kevin Henry, senior product manager for Foremost motorcycle. "It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to inspect a bike's tires and it will help the motorcycle achieve top mileage and performance."
Here are some tips that can help keep motorcycle tires performing in top condition:
We want you to stay safe this on your motorcycle at all times.
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