Blog

27thApril
Secure Your Campsite

CampingFirst things first: Do you really need to bring your tablet or laptop on your camping trip in Yosemite? Are you really going to watch a movie instead of looking at the stars? Check your email instead of roasting marshmallows? Work instead of play?


Well, OK. We can’t stop you. But we can help you keep your devices safe at the campground, if you ever tear yourself away from them long enough to take a hike, that is.


Here are five preventive measures you can take to help protect your stuff from theft or damage:

  • Make a list, and check it. “Pack it in, pack it out” usually refers to garbage, not electronics, but keeping an inventory of everything you brought will help ensure everything also makes it back home.
  • If you’re going out, lock up your stuff. The best place to put things is in your car if it’s nearby — it’s a lot more secure than your tent. Keep valuable items out of plain view, wherever they are.
  • Create a ‘neighborhood watch.’ Getting to know the people at nearby campsites can build more than friendships — it also can increase safety. Offer to watch their site while they take off for a while, and have them do the same for you.
  • Don’t forget the animals. No, they aren’t after your iPad. But, a bear rummaging for food isn’t exactly going to tiptoe around just to spare your expensive devices. So, don’t attract critters. Clean up your site regularly, and never leave out food or garbage.
  • Ask around about security. If there’s campground staff around, or campers who have been on site for longer than you, ask them how secure things are. Have there been any thefts? Are unfamiliar people wandering around? You’ll want to secure your items no matter what, obviously, but it’s always good to know if there are specific safety threats.

Of course, certain electronics, such as GPS devices and phones, can provide important safety functions for campers. And, we know not everyone wants to completely disconnect.


So, whatever your stance on bringing technology to the great outdoors, we here at Gene Morgan Insurance Agency encourage you to keep your campsite safe to make everyone’s stay more enjoyable.

19thApril
Five Tips for a More Secure Workplace

Office DeskProtecting your business in the Bay Area used to mean locking the doors at the end of the day. That’s still important, of course, but now a security breach can extend beyond your physical assets to include software, systems and sensitive data. And, if customer information is compromised, you may lose the most important asset you have — their trust.


How can you protect your business? Here are five tips from the U.S. Small Business Administration and others to help you stay secure, both physically and digitally.


Manage and assess your risk. What valuables do you need to protect? What about data? What losses would impact you most? The answers to these questions can help you form a plan.
Control physical access to your workplace. Establish procedures for distributing keys and how you keep track of them. Secure valuable information or equipment in a locked area with access only to those who use it. Customers should be able to access your office only in one monitored entrance.
Don’t forget about controlling digital access. You wouldn’t give every employee a key to your safe, so take similar precautions when it comes to access to computers, networks and sensitive data.
Be proactive. Set up automatic software updates for your most important systems. Require your employees to change passwords at regular intervals for additional security. If you provide a wireless network, make sure it is secured, and preferably encrypted.
Consider other measures. It’s easier than ever to install cameras and monitoring systems that allow you to check on your facility at any time. Of course, there also are companies that will monitor your office and alert you to any issues. Cybersecurity insurance is relatively new and can provide some protection if your systems are compromised, but find out exactly what is included in the policy. Remember, even if you purchase coverage, you’ll still need to keep your data as secure as possible.

We here at Gene Morgan Insurance Agency hope you find these tips helpful, but keep in mind that we’ve only scratched the surface! We encourage you to dig deeper and thoroughly investigate potential solutions to help ensure your office and data have the right level of security for your particular needs.

14thApril
Tips for Save Driving in your RV

 

RV tripWith summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to start planning your RV trip. Whether you’re heading to Southern California or planning your getaway a lot farther from home, you’ll want to make the trip safely.

At Gene Morgan Insurance Agency, we want you to travel safely too. Here are some great tips to help you get out there and back without worry, because nothing can ruin an RV trip faster than trouble on the road.

First, know your ride — even if you’re just along for the ride
Of course, knowing the features (and limitations) of your RV is the first step to safely driving it. Are you towing a car? Be mindful of how that will affect your stopping power and maneuverability. Know the dimensions of your vehicle to help with parking and any tight spots you might encounter on the road. Make sure you know that you can fit under the overpasses and bridges on your route.

And even if you’re just a passenger, it’s a good idea to learn how to drive the RV as well. You might need to take over in an emergency or other situation.


Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance
Just like a car, keeping your RV well-maintained is extremely important. Are your tires in good shape and properly inflated? If you’re towing a car or boat, do you need additional braking power? Are your mirrors angled correctly? Is your safety equipment (for example, your fire extinguisher) in good working order? Doing a walk-around and conducting some quick checks before you leave can save you a lot of frustration down the road.


Down the road!
Your RV is much bigger than a car, of course, and that means you need to act more carefully when you’re driving it.
• Know your blind spots and use caution when changing lanes, merging or turning.
• Be patient and aware at all times. Consider installing a rear camera to help give you a complete picture of your surroundings.
• Other vehicles may act aggressively to get around you, and sometimes will cut you off once they have passed. Prepare for these situations and understand that many drivers don’t realize that you need additional space in front of the RV.
• Because your vehicle is far heavier than others, it picks up speed faster when going down hills or mountain passes, so keep an eye on that speedometer.


What about parking?
• It’s best to have someone to guide you into a parking spot. If you don’t have anyone with you, check out the area before you try to pull in.
• Practice turns and backing up before you leave on your trip.
• Of course, never park for the night in an area unless you have approval or know that it’s safe.


Need to learn more?
Consider taking an RV driving safety course, if possible. At the very least, practice in a large parking lot before hitting the road. Taking a little time to learn how best to drive your RV or improve your skills can have a big impact for you and your family!


Sidebar:
You’ll find a lot of helpful resources online for RV owners. We like:
Good Sam Club at www.goodsamclub.com
• Family Motor Coach Association at www.fmca.com
• The list of RV clubs at www.rv-clubs.us/rv-clubs.html
• Great safety tips at www.safeco.com/rv-insurance/rv-safety-tips

Remember to give us a call at (925) 447-2565 when you need coverage for your RV or anything else. We’re here to help!

9thApril
Buying A New Car

Jeep SmallThings to keep in mind when buying a car

 


Buying a new car is an exciting time — but it can also be stressful. After all, you’re trying to get the best deal on price, while also deciding on the make, model and features you need.

Here at Gene Morgan Insurance Agency, we can’t really help you become a master negotiator when it comes to buying a car. But we can give you some things to consider when you’re looking around the lot — and when you’re trying to answer the age-old question of “new, or used?” Read on with an open mind, and you might just come to a different decision the next time you’re on the car lot.



New cars

Ah, that new-car smell. It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s one of the things that people love about climbing into a brand-new car. And while they make air fresheners that supposedly give you that same smell for your used car, it just doesn’t seem the same, does it? Still, there are other benefits to buying new — and, of course, there are drawbacks as well.

  • PRO — maintenance: Some manufacturers offer free scheduled maintenance for a set period of time after you buy the car, and you likely won’t need a new battery, tires, etc., for several years after your purchase.
  • PRO — peace of mind: Your new car may have a warranty for up to 10 years, and also is covered by “lemon laws” that could allow for a replacement or refund if the car has serious defects.
  • CON — cost: Depending on the make and model, buying a new car is almost always more expensive (at least in terms of the purchase price) than a used car.

It’s also worth noting that if you purchase a new car in its first model year (meaning it’s a new model for the automaker), there won’t be many user reviews available, and data on reliability and repairs will be limited. In addition, sometimes newly introduced cars have some kinks that generally are ironed out by the second and third model years. These aren’t necessarily serious issues, and the warranty should cover them, but in some instances, you and your car could be headed to the shop more than you’d like.


Used cars
Don’t care about the new-car smell? Looking to save some money on your purchase? Well, a used car might be right for you. There are many advantages to buying used, but you’ll want to be a little more careful. After all, it’s hard to know exactly how well the previous owner treated the car. But you can limit your risk with a little bit of work.

  • PRO — cost: New cars depreciate quickly after they’re purchased. By buying used, you’re letting someone else take that financial hit over the first few years of the life of the car.
  • PRO/CON — reliability: Buying a used car is less of a gamble than it used to be, particularly with the advent of “certified pre-owned” programs many automakers now offer. However, used cars generally don’t carry the same warranties as new cars, even though the original manufacturer’s warranty is usually transferrable to a second owner.
  • CON — maintenance: While a used car theoretically shouldn’t need more frequent maintenance than a new car, you’ll likely need to replace things like tires, headlights, etc., earlier. And scheduled maintenance probably isn’t covered by the automaker.
  • PRO/CON — history: You’ll need to check the car’s title history to make sure it hasn’t been in a serious accident or salvaged. Ask the dealership to provide this information, usually from Carfax.

Of course, whichever car you purchase, the important thing is that it’s a good fit for you. Bear in mind that certain makes and models can result in higher insurance costs for you, so feel free to check in with us before you buy.
Have fun shopping — and we’ll see you on the road!

4thApril
Protect Your Home While On Vacation

004Morgan20141029Spring Break is here! For some, that means it’s time for a vacation. We all look forward to vacations. Whether you’re planning on soaking up the sun on a tropical beach, or camping in a local park, it’s great to get away. You can relax and enjoy time with your family and friends and forget about the pressures of home and work for a little while … or so you thought.

You’re not the only one who likes it when you go away … burglars love it, too.

The FBI reported an estimated 2,103,787 burglaries in 2012, which resulted in an estimated $4.7 billion in property losses and an average of $2,230 loss per burglary.

Guess which months have the highest burglary rates … that’s right, July and August. And it’s not a coincidence that these are the two most popular travel months, too. Thieves are opportunists who prey upon the naive, unobservant and ill-prepared, and they love it when they know homeowners won’t walk in on them in the middle of a robbery.

So how do you protect your home when you’re away? Nothing is foolproof, but here are few tips that can help protect your home when you’re away for an extended period of time.


 

Secure your home. Often times burglars don’t need to forcibly enter a home because they can easily get in through an unlocked door or window. It seems simple, but make sure everything’s locked before you leave, including windows located on the second floor and higher, and entrances from the garage into the house. Don’t hide spare keys under door mats, rocks or other easy-to-find places. Instead, give a copy to a trusted neighbor in case of an emergency. Keep shrubs trimmed below window-level so as to not create inadvertent hiding places for thieves, and cut back tree branches that would allow an agile climber access to upper-level windows, balconies, ledges or the roof. Installing an alarm system and activating it every time you leave the house provides an added level of security, which may qualify you for an additional homeowners’ insurance discount. And, just in case, place dowels in sliding glass doors and windows to prevent them from unwanted opening.

Notify a trusted neighbor.Neighbors are a great resource for recognizing when unfamiliar vehicles or people are in the area. Tell your chosen neighbor when you’ll be away, if you have anyone who’s scheduled to stop by your house in your absence and how to reach you in case of an emergency.

Make your home appear occupied. Don’t let your mail and newspapers pile up while you’re away. Instead, ask a neighbor or friend to regularly bring them inside, or stop your delivery services until you return. Arrange for someone to mow your grass and trim your hedges in your absence. Setting light timers is another way to give the appearance that someone’s still around.

Don’t share plans on social media. Social media makes it easy to share great vacation experiences with family and friends, but it also has become a great way for burglars to learn when you will be away. It happens all the time, but just in case you don’t believe us, take a look at what happened to this unsuspecting family in Fontana, Calif. when they went on vacation to Las Vegas.

Know what your insurance policy covers. Mercury Insurance recommends that you speak with your local insurance agent before your vacation to ensure your homeowners or renters insurance policy covers potential losses that may occur in your absence. Additionally, keep an up-to-date inventory of everything that you own to make the claim’s filing process easier, if necessary.

30thMarch
Spring Maintenance for Your Home


House

Spring Maintenance for Your Home

When springtime rolls around in the Bay Area, almost everyone thinks of cleaning. That’s fine (we probably all need to do a little more of that, after all), but there’s something even more important to keep in mind: home maintenance.

So, when it’s time to set your clocks ahead for daylight-saving time and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, give your home a checkup, too. Here are some suggestions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Interior and appliances
• Check the basement and/or crawlspace for any signs of standing water or dripping.
• Pull your dryer out and clean the exhaust hose and vent (lint found here is a common cause of house fires).
• Vacuum refrigerator/freezer coils for efficiency.
• Clean exhaust fan outlets and screens.
• Check all air filters and replace, if necessary.

Roof, siding, windows
• Check for damage to your roof and have a professional inspection, if necessary.
• Go into the attic. If there is visible moisture or discoloration, your roof might be leaking.
• Examine the paint on your siding and trim. If it is peeling, you might need new paint to protect against the effects of weather.
• Check for leaks around window and door sills. Improving your seals can lower your energy bills.

Yard and exterior
• Check for signs of rodents and other pests.
• Clean debris from gutters and downspouts, and make sure they are draining away from the home.
• Trim overhanging tree branches and shrubs.

Remember, winter weather can cause significant damage that is easy to spot, but it often results in wear and tear that homeowners can miss if they aren’t looking closely. It’s well worth it to spend a little time on home maintenance this spring, so that wear and tear doesn’t turn into something more serious.

16thMarch
How to Check Your Property for Damage After a Storm

Rain on the Window DarkHow to Check Your Property for Damage After a Storm

When a big storm hits the Tri-Valley, you hunker down inside, relying on your home to protect you and your family. Once that storm passes, though, it’s time to repay the favor — identifying damage and protecting your home from further issues.

The National Storm Damage Center has a number of resources and tips for homeowners. Here are four major things the agency – and we here at Gene Morgan Insurance Agency – recommends you check after a storm:

1. Your roof: If you see holes, split seams or missing shingles on your roof or if you notice leaking inside or out, it’s a good idea to have a qualified inspector come assess the situation.

2. Your exterior: Siding, brick and stucco are all vulnerable to storm damage. You’ll want to look for cracking, chipping or dings and dents in siding, and for holes in stucco. Look closely and at different times of the day. Some homeowners don’t notice damage until it’s too late to file a claim, and different lighting can reveal damage you didn’t see before.

3. Driveways and walkways: Cracking and splitting can create safety hazards, as well as reduce the lifespan of the concrete.

4. Trees: According to the National Storm Damage Center, fallen trees and limbs cause more than $1 billion in damage annually. Check roofs, vehicles, fences and machinery for fallen limbs that may have caused damage or could pose a risk. Clean up what you safely can and rely on a reputable tree removal service to handle the rest. Depending on the circumstances, your homeowners insurance policy may help with tree removal and damage repair costs – if you experience a covered loss, that is.

A few more helpful tips:

  • Keep trees well maintained and trimmed. Also notify neighbors if you see any overhanging branches on any of theirs.
  • Know your insurance. Take a look at your policy so you know what’s covered, what your limits and deductibles are, etc. This will prevent any surprises during the claims process.
  • Take pictures. Photographs can help you show the cause and extent of any storm damage that occurs.

Of course, if you’ve suffered through a major storm, don’t hesitate to call us at (925) 447-2565 for help with an insurance claim or with finding a professional property inspector.

Comments: Comments Off
Categories: Uncategorized
Author: admin
6thMarch
I’m Borrowing my Friend’s Car… Am I Covered?

 

 

 

Jeep Small

 

 

 

Most people have an idea of what’s covered and not covered under their various insurance policies. But at Gene Morgan Insurance Agency, we get a lot of questions about borrowing or loaning a car.

 

Anytime you might be looking to borrow your neighbor’s truck for a home-improvement project, or borrow a friend’s car if yours broke down, we thought it was a great time to provide a little more information.

 

Generally, insurance coverage follows the vehicle rather than the driver. So in most instances, as long as the owner of the car has insurance, it’s covered even if someone other than the owner is driving it — as long as they have the owner’s permission.

 

The borrower’s insurance is considered secondary, meaning that in the event of an accident, it could apply if the owner’s insurance is insufficient to fully cover the damage.

 

It’s important to note that there are some exceptions to what is called “permissive use” coverage. For example, permission must be given by the owner, unless the borrower has a reasonable belief that they are allowed to use the car. However, the borrower cannot give permission to someone else. So if your teenager allows one of his or her friends to drive your car to Disneyland, your coverage likely won’t apply.

 

Coverage might also be denied if the borrower operates the vehicle in a negligent or criminal manner. And if the borrower is using your car for business purposes, your personal auto policy likely won’t cover that.

 

If you have a regular long-term arrangement to either borrow or lend a car, the borrower should probably be added to the owner’s personal auto policy. Those who don’t own a car, but often borrow one, might also consider “named non-owner coverage,” an endorsement that provides bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured motorists coverage and more.

 

Ultimately, it’s usually safe to loan your friend your car for occasional errands or projects. And the same goes for borrowing a car. Just make sure it’s for “normal” use. You’ll want to confirm that the car has coverage and that your insurance, whether you’re the owner or borrower, will apply.

 

Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions — after all, you don’t want to wait until after an accident to get answers! (925) 447-2565.

 

 

 

 

2ndMarch
What to do After a Major Water Leak or Indoor Flood

 

 

 

Leaky Roof

 

 

In California we have been experiencing heavy rain over the past few months. We thought now would be a great time to remind people what to do in the event of an emergency water leak or flood. Follow these steps in the event of an emergency:

 

1. Stop the Water

If water is coming from inside your home, from a burst pipe or water heater malfunction, shut off the main water valve immediately. It’s a good idea to make sure everyone in your home knows where the shutoff valve is located.

2. Turn Off the Utilities

In a serious water event, turning off the power or natural gas might be necessary to ensure the safety of yourself and your family. In the case of a minor water leak or drip, there probably isn’t a need to shut off the utilities.

3. Prevent Electrocution

Do not use any electrical appliances if your carpet or flooring is wet. Use a wet vacuum to remove water, but check the manufacturer’s instructions before starting.

4. Use Fans to Circulate Air

Encourage drying by strategically placing fans to effectively circulate air. This is especially important in the first 24-48 hours after an indoor flood.

5. Get Water Out Quickly

Fast and safe action on your part can prevent further damage, help you save more of your belongings and minimize the time and expense of repairs. Clean up as much water as possible by mopping or blotting with towels.

6. Get Property to a Dry Location

Move wet belongings and furniture to a dry area. Put furniture on blocks or slide a square of aluminum foil under furniture legs to prevent the wood stain from bleeding into carpeting.

7. Remove Area Rugs from the Floor

The dyes in carpets can stain flooring, carpeting and wood floors.

8. Do Not Lift Tacked Down Carpet

Carpets can shrink after they’ve become wet and left to dry out. If you remove the tacks from wet wall-to-wall carpet, it will probably shrink after it dries out and no longer be wall-to-wall carpet. Consult a carpet specialist for help.

9. Wash Your Clothes

Clean your clothing, linens and other washables that have been soaked as soon as possible.

10. Wipe Excess Water from Furniture

Open drawers and cabinet doors for faster drying. Spread out books to speed drying and prevent further damage.

11. Watch Out for Debris and Pests

If water is flowing in your house there may be dislodged materials such as nails. Snakes and other vermin may seek shelter in your home after a storm or flood, so watch out.

12. File a Claim as Soon as Possible.

The sooner you file a claim to report damage, the sooner Safeco can help you get your home and life back to normal.

13. Don’t Throw Anything Out

Don’t throw out damaged belongings, especially expensive ones. A claims adjuster may need to inspect them. Also, make a thorough list of stuff that was water damaged as soon as you can. This will help us process your claim faster. It helps to document damage with photos and video.

14. Save Receipts

Save all receipts for any rental equipment, temporary repairs or payments to professional services.

 

 

 

 

 

27thFebruary
Protect your family from the ‘silent killer’

 

 

 

 

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, invisible gas that results when certain fuels do not burn completely. And it can be deadly. That’s why it’s important to know how to prevent it, detect it, and protect yourself and your family from its effects.

 

In the home, carbon monoxide is most commonly formed by flames and heaters, as well as vehicles or generators that are running in an attached garage. As temperatures drop and more people are cranking the heat and hovering over the stove inside and warming up the car’s engine before hitting the road, it’s especially critical to ensure your family’s safety against this lethal gas.

 

Since carbon monoxide cannot be detected without a carbon monoxide detection device, it is essential to install and maintain one or more detectors in your home.

 

Detector Tips

 

At Gene Morgan Insurance, we want you and your family to stay protected, so check out the following tips from CAL FIRE San Diego County Fire Authority for safeguarding your household:

 

  • The International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. A detector should be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door, and there should be one near or over any attached garage.
  • Each detector should be replaced every five to six years.
  • Battery-only carbon monoxide detectors tend to go through batteries more frequently than expected. Plug-in detectors with a battery backup (for use if power is interrupted) provide less battery-changing maintenance.
  • Thoroughly read the installation manual that comes with the individual detector you purchase. Manufacturers’ recommendations differ to a certain degree based on research conducted with detectors for specific brands.
  • Remember that carbon monoxide detectors do not serve as smoke detectors and vice versa. You can, however, purchase a dual smoke/carbon monoxide detector that can perform both functions.
  • Do not install carbon monoxide detectors next to fuel-burning appliances, as these appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon startup.

 

In case of exposure

 

At Gene Morgan Insurance, we hope you never have to use the following tips from the Mayo Clinic, but please read on for good information that could help save a life.

 

If you suspect that you or someone you know has been exposed to carbon monoxide, check for the following symptoms:

  • dull headache
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness

 

If any of the symptoms exist, move the individual into fresh air and seek emergency medical care immediately.