Thanksgiving Safety

Watch my favorite TV chef, Alton Brown, demonstrate how to safely deep-fry a turkey.

If you’ve ever been to the State Fair of Texas, I’m sure you’ve realized one very important thing about Texas cuisine: fried food is good. Just this year, I tried deep-fried cookie dough and a fried grilled cheese sandwich. I wanted to try deep-fried bacon, but the line was waaaaay too long. Texans like their fried stuff, including turkey.

Not that there’s anything wrong with fried turkey. It’s pretty tasty. The problem is that there’s also a lot of “Hey, y’all! Watch this!” moments around Thanksgiving. In the interest of not exploding your turkey and setting your roof on fire (as my cousin managed to do a couple of years ago) please watch the following videos, courtesy of Alton Brown.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Also, make sure your homeowners insurance premiums are paid up. That always helps.

Have a safe and fun Thanksgiving holiday, because we like turkey too. Our office will be closed on Thursday and Friday, and we’ll reopen on Monday.

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost: What's the Difference?

RVOS Insurance offers two types of payments when a covered loss occurs. These are often referred to as settlement options. The settlement will either be an Actual Cash Value (ACV) settlement or Replacement Cost Value (RCV) settlement. The RVOS Star policy provides actual cash value payments for covered losses unless replacement cost is added to the coverage by an endorsement. An endorsement is simply a document verifying that the replacement cost option has been added to a line of coverage. The Centennial policy provides replacement cost for the dwelling and actual cash value payments for personal property unless replacement cost is added to the policy by an endorsement.

When you add the replacement cost endorsement to a policy, it refers to the dollar amount needed to replace


damaged covered property without deducting for depreciation (the decrease in value of an item due to age and condition). Replacement cost value is limited by the maximum dollar amount shown on the front page of the policy. This page is often called the declarations page.

Then there is the actual cash value settlement, which is the cost of replacing damaged or destroyed property minus depreciation. For example, a 10-year-old sofa will not be replaced at the current cost of purchasing a new one because it was in use for 10 years. Or, in rare cases there are items that no longer have a true material value such as an old printer that won’t work with newer computers.

Of course each and every situation can be different and each RVOS policy is different based on the individual needs of the policyholder, but if you want to discuss adding replacement cost to your policy or just want to know more about RCV and ACV, call your agent.


Myth Busters: Home Burglary

According to the FBI, a burglary occurs somewhere in the United States every 15.4 seconds. No one likes to think about being a victim of home burglary. Both the material loss and the sense of personal invasion can be devastating. Here are some of the most common burglary myths busted to help you keep your home safer from break-ins.

Myth 1: Leaving lights on makes burglars think someone is at home.


Leaving the same light on each time you leave the house is actually an invitation to burglary. Burglars get to know your neighborhood and your schedule. A light that stays on too long in one place is a signal that you’ll be gone for a while. It’s better to have lights go on and off in different parts of the house on a random schedule. Electronic timers are helpful and are available at most hardware stores.


Myth 2: Having an alarm sign or stickers will deter burglars from entering.


Having an alarm sign in your yard may help you feel secure, but it can also tell a burglar what alarm company you’re using. Burglars can figure out how to circumvent your system by easily purchasing plans to different branded systems. It’s better to use a generic sign, because a burglar cannot be sure exactly what system you’re using.


Myth 3: I don’t need my alarm on all the time.


Most people won’t activate their systems when they are in their house. Believe it or not most burglaries occur when the victims are at home. The most effective type of security system is a zone alarm system that enables you to cover different areas at different times. A zone alarm system ensures your house is covered – no matter where you are, in or out of your home. Also, many homeowners will fail to turn their alarm on if they’re running out for a quick errand. But all a professional thief needs is a few minutes and he’s in and out of your house with your valuables. You should always turn the alarm on – even if you just leave your house for ten minutes.


Myth 4: Cutting off mail and newspaper delivery while on vacation is smart.


It turns out that bit of contemporary wisdom is not true. Stopping newspaper and mail delivery is a signal that you are away. Burglars have been tipped off by people intercepting this information making you an easy target. It’s better to have friends and neighbors checking on your house, picking up the mail and newspapers for you and dropping by at different times throughout the day.


Myth 5: A big dog will keep out unwanted intruders.


Not always true. A dog’s bark is the real deterrent. Small dogs, such as such as a Chihuahua or a Schipperke, do a good job of barking when someone enters your property. Large dogs, unless they are trained, usually don’t bark much — which is great if you want to get some sleep, but it’s not so good for scaring off burglars.


Myth 6: A burglar will never think to look in my sock drawer.


It’s best if you put valuable jewelry and documents off premises in a safe deposit box or a secure safe. Most people tend to hide valuables in their bedroom in standard hiding places such as the underwear drawer, under the mattress and closet shelves but these are the first places burglars look. It’s better to scatter your valuables in more than one place, and to hide them in unusual places, such as the freezer, or in a cereal box in the cupboard.


Myth 7: Sticker bushes in front of my windows will deter burglars from entering.


Many homeowners think thorny bushes in front of windows work to keep burglars out. Not so. A reformed burglar who stole over $70 million worth of valuables says bushes that hide windows are a mistake – even if they do have thorns. Professional burglars usually wear gloves, and often wear two layers of clothing and many times they will also carry cutters. If they’re determined, a few thorns aren’t about to stop them from entering a home. In fact, it has the opposite effect, bushes can give burglars the cover they need to screen them from the street. If you do have bushes under your windows, be sure you keep them trimmed below the sills so they can’t easily conceal a burglar.


Source: Bottom Line Personal, Winter 2009


Homeowners Insurance Tips

Shop for hazard insurance early
80% of insurance companies credit score. That means the price you pay for your insurance with them is based on your credit, as well as the house you are insuring.  (Note: RVOS does not use credit scoring to determine rates!)  Texas insurance costs are some of the highest in the US! If you don’t shop, you may not get the best coverage at the best price. You cannot get a loan without insurance on the dwelling you are buying or refinancing.

Compare coverage for the cost
Do not go on price alone – look for value in coverage. The most expensive mistake you can make is the not getting coverage you need included in your policy. When it is time to file a claim, that is the wrong time to find out.

Avoid small claims
Two non-weather related claims and you may not be renewed by some carriers or may not be written by others.

Budget for insurance increases as property replacement cost goes up
The amount of the coverage on your policy is what you would be paid if your dwelling and personal property were totally destroyed by the hazards covered in your policy. With increased building costs, review your coverage periodically to be sure you have enough.

Don’t insure your dirt
When you shop for your insurance coverage, be sure you are not including the value of the land in your coverage. Insure just the dwelling, other structures and your personal property. If you lose your home to a tornado or fire, you would still have land to sell.

Good Housekeeping/maintentance counts
Insurance companies require good housekeeping/maintenance. Keep tree limbs trimmed back so they are off of roof. Run a soaker hose around your house to keep the foundation watered to help avoid foundation problems. Keep clutter picked up in yard. Insurance does not pay for problems caused by poor maintenance, only for damage caused by “perils” that are listed in your policy.