Personal Insurance

Season of Safety – Safer Celebrating at Home

Season of Safety – Safer Celebrating at Home

Season of Safety: Safer Celebrating at Home

In this final installment of our Season of Safety series, we’re getting your home ready for the New Year! We’ll go over some basics to keep it (and you) safe during your big bash.

Outside Your Home

First, let’s look at a few things to take care of outside. Start by making sure your decorations are up and out of reach from passersby. Vandalism tends to rise during holidays, and the best way to keep people away from your things is to keep them out of reach. Lighting should be secured higher up on the roof line or tree branches. While you’re at it, check on the plugs and make sure the lighting hasn’t been damaged by weather. Decorating your windows instead of having outdoor fixtures is also a nice alternative.

Next let’s ensure your exterior pathways are clear. In California, not everyone’s trees are bare at the end of the year. Clean up newly fallen leaves and make sure those pathway lights haven’t been uprooted from the rain.

Keep Your Cars Safe.
Park your cars in the garage if possible. If you can’t bring your vehicles in, keep them in the driveway or at the very least under a nearby street lamp. Do your best to have vehicles parked in spots visible from your home. Don’t forget to activate your car alarm and verify that vehicle doors and trunks are shut and locked.

Inside Your Home

Safer Decor
We know candles are a great way to enhance the ambiance of a party, but they’re a big hazard and a major cause of house fires. Use battery powered alternatives. LED candles last longer, are much safer and can be reused. Most of the modern options even flicker and show movement like real candles. Depending on size, most battery powered choices are affordable too. You can have the same look and avoid fire dangers. If kids will be part of your celebration, then this is a must.

If you insist on real candles, make sure they are kept out of reach of children and a far enough distance from walls, curtains and decorations.

Speaking of other decorations, make sure those string lights aren’t overloading a single outlet. Solar charged alternatives are also available if you’re willing to take a last-minute trip to the store (or if you haven’t done your shopping yet). Next, look for breakables that can be put away. If it isn’t part of your party décor, store those glass and ceramic items or move them out of heavy traffic areas.

In the Kitchen.
Start by being mindful. The kitchen is usually the busiest part of a home, and this is especially true during big gatherings. Try to keep kids out of the kitchen that day, and don’t get distracted while cooking. Even the best cooks will leave a kitchen towel or potholder close to open flames when they can’t give cooking their full attention. 

Prep as much as you can earlier in the day or the night before to minimize activity during the party; less rushing means less stress. Things like table cloths, trays and platters can all be readied and organized ahead of time. If you’re using food warmers, set them in place, and make sure they are out of reach of children and away from decorations. 

Also, consider using earth-friendly disposable options instead of breakable plates and glasses. There are attractive choices everywhere. Not only do they make clean up easier, but they are safer during those inevitable party accidents. Of course, we’d all like to make a toast with our finer stemware, but broken glass (especially the expensive kind) at a party is a no-no for a safer season.

It's Party Time

Our favorite tip for New Years Eve parties is to think of the end of the party first. As guests arrive, ask them how they got there and how they’re getting home. Knowing who are designated drivers, who’ll be spending the night, and who might need a ride home (ride share or very good friend) will give everyone peace of mind. Don’t forget to have coffee brewed for those designated drivers at the end of the night. 

Have Places Designated for Activities.
This keeps traffic from getting heavy in the kitchen and serving areas. Giving kids room to move around freely is a particularly good idea. This doesn’t mean banishing them to some far off corner of your home or turning your living room into a playground. It just means making a space child proof, whether shared between kids and adults or not; limiting breakables, moving tables out or off to the side, and securing rugs to the floor can go a long way here. Kids and non-cooking adults can stay entertained and out of a busy kitchen.

Watch those Fireworks. Literally.
When it comes to activities, we encourage you to watch a professional, legal fireworks display, and not set off your own at home. Most communities have approved fireworks displays for the holiday. It goes without saying that fireworks are a huge fire danger and easily cause injury or worse. In California, the safe and sane fireworks laws have variations county by county and are ambiguous as to their use outside of the Fourth of July. Don’t take any risks; you might be breaking the law.

We hope these tips will help you start the New Year off right. We wish you a joyous and safe celebration, and look forward to another year of planning and protecting the unexpected.

Looking for a new Homeowners Policy to go with the New Year?
Give us a call 559.283.8332!

Posted by admin in Homeowners Insurance, Personal Insurance
Season of Safety – Safer Travel

Season of Safety – Safer Travel

Season of Safety: Safer Travel

Traveling during the holidays is a necessity for many of us. Bringing our families together is a big part of celebrating after all. In this installment of Season of Safety we’re all about planned and protected holiday travel! Whether you’re taking a drive a few cities down or across state lines, there’s lots of ways to make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible.

Prepping You.

Let’s start with the basics to get you out the door. 

Make a List and check it Twice. Our first recommendation is to make a list of the things you need to bring. Make TWO copies of this list; one list to help you pack (the day before the trip) and the other to check off as items are loaded into your car. Now, make another of all the things you need to do as you leave the house. This list includes items like locking all your doors and windows, setting your alarm system and shutting your garage door. Yes, we said shutting the garage door. When you’re in a rush or distracted getting kids situated in the car, it’s easy to forget the obvious.

Coverage and Assistance. Make sure you’re clear on the details of your auto policy. Specifically, ensure whether your coverage includes a road side assistance plan. If you have one, take note of the appropriate phone number and policy number in case you need to use it. For most, this information is on a convenient card. Ensure this is in your car, wallet or purse and is on your list of things to bring (mentioned above).

Mail Service. Most of us are taking extended (overnight or longer) trips. Put a hold on your mail to ensure things aren’t collecting in your mailbox, and more so preventing packages from being left at your doorstep for days. Mail holds can be done online via the postal services website.

Good Neighbors. Call a friend, family member, or neighbor you trust. Let them know you’ll be out of town, and ask them to occasionally check on your home; simple things like collecting your newspapers from your driveway, checking on any vehicles you have parked outside and possibly any weather related issues that may occur while you’re away.

Checking Your Vehicle

Now, let’s get your car ready. Checking the condition of your car should be a regular practice, but it’s especially important before a long trip. Take a look at the following items before you get behind the wheel:

  1. Tires – Making sure your tires are in good condition is one of the most (if not the most) important items on this list. Check your tire pressure, the condition of your tire tread, and for any damage or cracking on the exterior and interior sides of the tire.  
  2. Fluids – Check the fluid levels of your car; oil, coolant/antifreeze and wiper fluid. Topping off your fluids will help avoid bigger problems along the way.
  3. Lights – Winter time driving usually requires us to have our lights on even during the daytime. Check for dim or non-functioning lights and replace them. This includes headlights, low and high beams, turn signals and brake lights. If you come across issues with new replacement lights, verify the condition of your car battery and that the problem isn’t indicative of a greater electrical issue.
  4. Finally, Get Some Gas. Anything that can be done ahead of time is worth the effort. So, fill up the day before (or earlier).

Choosing a Travel Date and Time

Knowing how to get to your destination is just the beginning. Here’s a couple things you may not have thought of.

  • Plan for daytime travel. On long trips, having a majority of your travel time during the day is favorable. Though not everyone can accommodate this, we highly encourage those who can to plan their trips for hours when the sun is out and visibility is best.
  • Avoid traveling during traffic. Again, for those with flexibility, plan to start your trip on a weekday after rush hour ends (or before it starts if you’re an early bird). Depending on the length of your trip, you may avoid traffic as you approach your destination as well. This is especially important for those of you traveling from one major city or metropolitan area to another; such as between the Bay Area and Southern California. 

The Route

It’s time to plan your route. Digital tools like Google Maps can help you a lot. Let the app find you the most convenient route. Some apps now have the option of entering your travel day and start time. This allows the app to use collected data to predict traffic, and allows you to make any adjustments if need be.

This is also a good time to find out if there are any scheduled road closures/construction on your route. Look for the relevant government websites to get this information. While you’re at it, take note of local radio stations that make announcements for any unexpected travel delays while you’re on the road; these stations will often receive accident and traffic information sooner than mapping apps and GPS systems.

Now that you have an expected route, do three things:

  1. Decide where you’ll be taking your breaks. Often times, we get on the road without knowing where we’ll be stopping next. Plan where you’ll be stopping for gas, getting lunch or just simply taking a break. Taking the time to stretch your legs and refuel (your car and your body) will make the journey less stressful. It’s much better than waiting for your gas light to turn on and hoping a gas station magically appears.
  2. Find out what your alternative routes are. You don’t have to plan an entire second route to do this. Just know what major highways you can use if needed. Holiday travel can be unpredictable, knowing how to get around a major incident on your expected route can save hours of being stuck in traffic.
  3. Finally, check the weather forecast. Should you expect things like a slow down due to fog or light rain? Do you need to change your travel day because of an incoming storm? Will you need to put on snow chains? Collecting as much information as possible in advance can only help you.

Drivers and the Holidays

In our previous post, we touched on the high stress of the holidays and how it can affect driving in local areas. Add on an increase of intoxicated drivers and less than ideal weather, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Though these situations are out of your control, you can take a couple simple steps to stay safe.

  • Slow down. Yes, we’re all trying to get more done this season, but there are other ways to save time than speeding on the freeway. Staying in the middle or lower end of the speed limit on wet roads or in low visibility saves lives. Having that split second of extra time to avoid potholes or other obstacles makes a huge difference.
  • Drive Defensively. Be on the look out for things on the road; debris from strong winds, large items that weren’t properly secured by other motorists (think Christmas trees and TVs), remnants from accidents and larger puddles or ice are all indicative of winter road conditions.
    Defensive driving also includes distancing yourself from erratic or distracted drivers. Stay alert; some of these will be less obvious than others. Look for vehicles that seem too close to lane dividers, make lane changes too quickly or are speeding in general. Maintain a safe distance and be aware of what other drivers are doing to avoid them.

Try Another Way

Now that we’ve discussed what you should do behind the wheel, let’s talk about you not driving at all. One of the best ways to avoid an accident is not driving! During the holidays, the number of DUI related incidents increases, and your best bet is to keep off the roads especially during the evenings. One of our favorite solutions is Sleep Over or Closer. If you plan on having a few glasses of wine as part of your holiday celebration, simply plan to sleep over at your destination. If you can’t stay exactly where the festivities are, popular home share services can make finding family sized local accommodations affordable. Ride services like Lyft can make transport to and from your rental very inexpensive. We’ve even heard stories of families finding places to stay in the same neighborhood as their relatives. You can have all the fun you want and stay safe doing it. It’s a win-win.

If you’re going out to celebrate in your destination city, find out about local public transportation. Many cities extend the hours of their public transportation systems on holidays like New Year’s Eve, and some even discount or eliminate fare fees. That’s right, FREE.

If getting into your car is unavoidable (which we find hard to believe after the options we’ve given you above), then be responsible. Designate a driver or don’t drink. Many people who think they know how to stay within the limit are wrong, and are actually the most common cause of accidents. So, stay sober or ride with someone who is.

Travel during the season can be stressful, but we hope you can use the above to confidently stay safe. Preparing ahead of time can make all the difference, and making smart decisions on the road can save lives. Plan and Protect for your road trip and enjoy your Holiday get together no matter where you are!

Posted by admin in Auto Insurance, Personal Insurance
Season of Safety: Safer Shopping

Season of Safety: Safer Shopping

Season of Safety: Safer Shopping

The Holiday season definitely comes with its fair share of preparations. If you’re like most people, this includes a lot of shopping. Whether you’re buying groceries for a holiday get together or in search of reasonably priced gifts, you can expect a few extra trips to the store in the coming month. And with a survey revealing that 71% of holiday consumers plan to shop over the Thanksgiving holiday (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.) and 36% of Holiday shoppers have not even begun their shopping (as of the end of October and beginning of November*), you can expect those shopping trips to be especially busy. 

In all the chaos, it’s easy to get distracted, and even easier to become victim to seasonal predators. Here are our tips for staying safe, and still making the most of those shopping days – even the last minute ones (you know who you are)!

Plan Ahead as much as Possible

At GGB, we adore a good plan. It keeps us feeling secure, and well, sane. Having a plan for your shopping trips will keep you from spending your holidays in line at the register. Ask (and answer) these questions, then plan accordingly.

  1. What Items am I buying?
  2. Where am I buying them?
  3. Is there a time these stores will be less busy/When is the best time for me to shop?
  4. Should I bring someone to help (carry bags, mind the kids, etc.)?
  5. Can I avoid any shopping trips altogether (by shopping online, delegating to someone else, etc.)?

Now, you can plan your shopping wisely, avoid any unnecessary trips, and make the experience as smooth as possible.

Avoid Distractions

This is a biggie. With the holidays being a busy and often stressful time, we can easily lose focus, as well as become too fatigued to notice. Removing and minimizing distractions can keep you on track and SAFE. Remember, that just a few seconds on your phone is all a predator needs to pick up a bag you’ve set down or slip a wallet from an open purse. Here are some of our favorite tips.

  1. Stay off your phone. Avoid checking emails, texts and SNS notifications until you get home. If you absolutely MUST take a phone call, do it in a well-lit and safe place from a vantage point where you can see any potential dangers in advance. Do not cross streets or stand in high-traffic areas while on the phone.
  2. Leave the kids at home if possible. If it isn’t essential to bring your kids with you on a shopping trip, have them stay home. It helps keep you and the kids safe. Plan a special, shopping-free outing if you would like to enjoy seasonal events and decorations together. You can enjoy Santa’s Village a lot more when you’re not lugging around shopping bags.
  3. Enlist a Shopping Buddy. If some distractions can’t be avoided, bring a Shopping Buddy. You can take turns shopping while the other manages distractions. Watching kids and shopping bags, going for restroom and food breaks, even taking phone calls becomes much easier and safer with the extra help.

Stay Aware of Your Surroundings

For lone shoppers, staying alert is essential. Those braving the stores solo are prime targets for theft or worse. Staying safe this holiday means being especially careful handling your money and going to and from your vehicle. This is a very important point for those unable to plan their shopping trips for daylight hours.

  1. Park in a visible, well-lit area. The parking lots will be packed at many of the large stores and shopping malls, and this is an imperative tip for anyone shopping at night. Try to find a spot in a well-lit section that is visible to people in the main shopping area or close to a main/active walkway. Finally, don’t forget to lock your vehicle or thieves will get a lot more than dad’s new sweater.

  2. Mind your Money. Start by making sure to take only the essentials. Bring only the cards you intend to use (like those with the best fraud protection), and keep the amount of cash you carry to a minimum. Next, keep wallets and handbags towards the front of your body. We recommend not bringing a purse at all, but if you need one, try to use one with a strap that goes across your body.

  3. Stay Alert. Stay conscious and attentive of yourself, your belongings and the people around you.
    • Avoid setting purses and shopping bags down.
    • Pay special attention to your things when standing in lines.
    • If possible, walk with or near larger groups when going to and from your car.
    • Check on your belongings often; especially when leaving seating areas or restaurants.

Be Mindful of YOU

This tip is pretty simple. Getting ready for the holidays can get very busy for anyone -including us. So, don’t forget to check-in on yourself. Ask these questions before you get in the car.

  • How do you feel physically? Are you tired? Could you be catching a cold?
  • How do you feel mentally? Are you overwhelmed? Are you irritable? Are you turning into a crazy person?
  • Do you need to do this shopping trip today? Can you reschedule it? Can you cancel it altogether?

Holiday shopping is always a bigger task than just going to the store. It’s easy to forget about taking care of ourselves. So, if you find yourself having a moment where everything is simply too much, just stop. Take a moment, take a breath and check in with yourself.

The Holidays should be an enjoyable time. Use the tips above to take some of the worry out of shopping this year. Stay safe (and sane) out there.

The Holiday Season is here! Between shopping for gifts, planning for trips and/or throwing the perfect party, the holidays can be a high-stress, low-rest time for many of us. In our Season of Safety series, we’re giving you our favorite tips on how to Plan and Protect so you can really enjoy the holidays.

Posted by admin
Want to Make the Claims Process Easier?

Want to Make the Claims Process Easier?

If You're Prepared, Making a Claim can be Much Easier

When something bad happens, being ready to make your claim can save you headaches and heartaches. Here’s how to get started.

Want to Make the Claims Process Easier?

Making a claim on your insurance, no matter what kind, can be a stressful situation. Something bad has happened; a car accident, damage or vandalism to your home, and all the concerns that go along with it. Now, on top of everything you have to figure out how to get back on your feet, and how to deal with the expenses. The best policy is a proactive one. Being prepared before something bad happens will be to your benefit.

GGB Insurance Services is here to help make it easier. Keep reading for our tips on making the claims process easier, and call us with your questions. 559.283.8332

GGB Insurances Tips for an Easier Claims Process.

  1. Know Your Policy, and understand exactly what is or isn’t covered. Make sure your policy meets your needs. If it doesn’t, talk to your agent about getting more coverage. 

  2. Keep Good Inventory of your valuable property, and document everything. If you have any professional property assessments done, keep these records, and make sure they are current. Talk to your claims specialist about inspectors and assessments, and who is accepted by your insurance. 

  3. Document Everything when something bad happens, especially in the case of an auto accident. After assuring your safety in the situation, use your smartphone to photograph damages to vehicle(s), surrounding area and immediate environment, traffic lights or signs, road work, damaged property (city or private owned), etc. Some companies provide convenient tools/equipment for this like dashboard cameras. Find out the cost, if any, for these tools and make use of them.
  4. Understand the Claims Process ahead of time. Ask how you can access claims forms in advance, and make sure you can provide all the information required. Your agent should be able to give you information on acquiring these forms if they don’t already have them available for you. Check in with your agent a couple times a year to see if these claims forms have been updated and/or have new requirements.

We all need insurance, and we feel more secure having it. In most cases, though, we hope that we never have to use it. Following the above tips can really help should a situation arise where you do.

© 2017 Copyright GGB Insurance Services
Posted by admin in Auto Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, Insurance Tips, Life Insurance, Personal Insurance
3 Policies Everyone Should Have

3 Policies Everyone Should Have

The Policies Everyone Needs

Basic Insurance Policies can become real necessities.
Plan and Protect the Unexpected.

3 Policies Everyone Should Have

Everyone knows we need Insurance to protect ourselves from what ever life throws at us. But with so many things to consider, where should we start?

GGB Insurance Services is here to help. So we’re sharing 3 Insurance Policies we think everyone should have.

Life Insurance

This one is easily missed or avoided, but it’s essential to provide financial security to loved ones in the event that something bad happens.

Consider the Following:

  • Do you need to provide a life time income to your spouse and family or do you just need to help them pay funeral and burial costs?
  • Do you need a policy in place until the time of passing or do you just need to be covered should something happen to you prematurely?

Homeowners Insurance

Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. Homeowners Insurance protects your property when accidents, disasters and even vandalism occur. This policy is often overlooked by non-homeowners, but renters can also get protection policies. This is especially important in cases where legal action may be required for a renter.

Consider the Following:

  • Are there location-specific types of damage you need protection for?
  • Some policies can cover important repairs like roof or foundation. Know and understand the circumstances for making claims in these cases.
  • Policies don’t just cover the home, they cover the property inside. Keep track of your property, especially your most expensive purchases.

Auto Insurance

This insurance is often a legal requirement for every driver. It covers injury, vehicle repair and/or replacement.

Consider the Following:

  • Can you avail of any safe driver discounts?
  • Is the driver a teen or new driver?
  • Do you want a policy with accident forgiveness?

The above are just 3 of the important coverage policies everyone should have. Don’t forget to look into health insurance, dental and vision, and disability policies. These not only keep your medical expenses down, but protect you in the event of a major health issue arising.

Posted by admin in Auto Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, Life Insurance, Personal Insurance
Peace of Mind Even When You’re NOT Behind the Wheel

Peace of Mind Even When You’re NOT Behind the Wheel

Peace of Mind When Your New Driver is Behind the Wheel

You have enough to worry about when your Teen Driver is ready to get behind the wheel. GGB Insurance Services can give you peace of mind when your teen gets on the open road.

Peace of Mind Even When You're NOT Behind the Wheel

This month, we at GGB Insurance Services focused on Auto Insurance and getting the right coverage. We started with the factors that affect your coverage options, not to mention your monthly fees. We also showed you what happens (and what you can do) when mistakes happen; accidents, moving violations, even DUIs.

Now, we want to talk about one of our favorites – Teen Drivers.

3 Discounts for Your Teen Driver

With all the concerns you already have when your teen starts driving, the last thing you want to worry about is insurance (and its price tag). Balancing the right coverage and often higher costs can be difficult. Here are three discounts to find out about.

  • Good Student – Some insurers will provide a discount if your teen maintains or exceeds a certain Grade Point Average (GPA) or if they are within a top percentile of their class. A responsible student is more likely to be a responsible driver.
  • Driving Student or School – Some insurers will provide a lower cost if your teen has completed a program from one of their accepted Driving Schools. This provides both the benefit of a discount and the security of knowing your new driver has passed a professionally qualified road safety course.
  • Returning/Renewing Customer – This one is not as obvious. For existing auto customers whose policies are up for renewal, insurers will give a discount to customers who add a driver at the time of renewal. This discount is based upon having stayed with an insurer for a minimum number of years and whether or not your policy is up for renewal.

Don’t forget, things like your vehicle model and year, credit score and previous claims will also affect your coverage price. Of course, find out if making coverage adjustments or increasing your deductable can help keep monthly costs down.