3 Safety Tips To Help Your Child Tackle the Challenges of Teen Driving

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As school goes back into season once again, there’s a whole new crop of teen drivers hitting the roads for the first time on a regular schedule. While they may have gotten their licenses over the summer and spent some time practicing at their leisure, it doesn’t quite compare to getting up at 6 or 7 am every day for a potentially drowsy commute. Make sure your child is prepared with these three safety tips written specifically for the challenges of teen driving.

Wake Up Early

Get up with your teen at least an hour before they need to get on the road and make sure they’re fully awake and no longer drowsy before leaving. If your teen is still nodding off a little or has trouble keeping their eyes open, hop in the car with them or make them take another family member who can help them stay awake. Drowsy driving is now considered even more dangerous than drunk driving, so letting your teen out the door too early could be a life-altering mistake. You can’t count on a teen to accurately measure their own level or drowsiness either, which is why it’s essential to get up with them and make that decision yourself.

Ban the Phone

Aside from drowsy driving, using a cellphone is one of the biggest safety risks common to teen driving. Every teen thinks they can quickly read a text message or tell their friend they’re on the way, and thousands of them are proven wrong each year by ending up in serious accidents. Since there’s such a strong pull to use the phone while you’re in the car, parents have the option of using remote control software to limit phone functions. These software options allow you to coordinate the phone’s functions so that when the car is running, texts and phone calls won’t go through to the phone. The outgoing options are also limited. This allows you to make sure your teen has their full attention on the road without any safety distractions.

Follow a Graduated Program

Does your state simply award a full license when a driver passes the test regardless of previous experience? Many states are switching to a graduated license system, even for those over the age of 18, and it’s proving very powerful in terms of safety. Teen driving accidents are down by around 40% in these states. You can create your own graduated system if your state doesn’t have one by requiring your teen to get more hours of experience with you in the passenger seat before you let them get a full license.

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The Real Estate Market Is Hot: Check These 6 Tips if You’re Buying a New Home

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Buying a new home is exciting – and nerve-wracking. After all, for most people, buying a new home is the biggest financial decision they’ll ever make. It just makes sense to do plenty of research before embarking on a new home search as well as after your offer has been accepted to help reduce your risks and avoid headaches and hassles.

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Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Before Your Search

  • Check your credit. Before you even start looking for a  new home, get your credit report and comb through it to look for any errors. You want to be sure your finances are in perfect order before applying for a mortgage. You can get a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus by going to this site.
  • Have a budget. Your mortgage will only be part of the cost of owning a home. You’ll also have utilities, insurance, maintenance costs and other expenses. Don’t overextend yourself financially, and don’t set your budget based on your expectations of a new job or a raise. Be realistic and leave yourself some wiggle room, just in case.
  • Get prequalified. Being prequalified tells sellers you’re ready to make the deal happen, and that means they’ll be more likely to accept your offer. Plus, when you know how much money you have to work with, your home search will be a lot easier. Your real estate agent can provide you with a list of lenders if you’re not sure where to look for a mortgage.

Once Your Offer Is Accepted

  • Have your home inspected. A home inspection is critically important for uncovering defects you might not know about. Make sure to hire an inspector who’s experienced in comprehensive inspections, and if the home has special features like an in-ground pool or wood-burning fireplace, consider hiring a separate inspector for those items.
  • Learn about closing costs. Your real estate agent will provide you with a copy of your closing costs several days before you sign your contract. Take plenty of time to look over the paperwork, and do not be afraid to ask questions about any items you don’t understand.
  • Get the right insurance coverage. Homeowner’s insurance is essential, not just for your own peace of mind, but also as part of your lender’s agreement. A lot of homeowner’s get just the minimum amount of insurance to satisfy their lender, but while that may seem like the budget-friendly option, it can actually wind up costing you a lot in the end. That’s because as good as a basic homeowner’s policy may be, it can still fall short in providing key coverages, especially if you have a home business or own big-ticket items like expensive jewelry, antiques or firearms. To make sure you get the right type and the right amount of coverage, call Overbay Insurance at 828-452-4699 and let an agent help you select the ideal policy for your needs.

Your real estate agent can provide you with lots of helpful guidance during your new home search, but it’s a good idea to do your own research as well. These tips can help you learn the ropes so you can start enjoying your new home faster than you even imagined.

Summer Pool Safety Starts With These 6 Tips

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Summer means lots of time for rest and relaxation, for kids and for adults. And for anyone who’s lucky enough to own a pool, it also means plenty of time for swimming. After all, what’s better than having your own swimming oasis to retreat to at the end of a hard day at work? And of course, a backyard pool is a great place for kids to hang out during summer vacation.

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But while pools can be a great source of summer fun, they can also be a cause of really serious accidents, both in the water and on the slippery decks that surround them. And that means before you or your kids dive in, you need to implement a few safety rules.

  • Know your local codes. Most municipalities require fencing around pools – at a certain height and distance from the pool – to prevent kids and unwary pets from falling in, but even if they don’t, your insurance policy may (plus, it’s just a good idea). Locking pool gates with alarms can also be very beneficial, especially in homes with pets and small kids.
  • Set some ground rules. Make sure kids (and adults for that matter) know not to run around pools, where decking and even concrete can be slippery. Limit horseplay in the water; instead, provide pool games to provide distraction and fun.
  • Be careful with chemicals. Chemicals are important for keeping water clean and preventing rashes and other health issues, but too many chemicals can burn and cause problems of their own. Invest in a good test kit and use chemicals according to the pool manufacturer’s directions.
  • Don’t use extension cords for your pool filter or lights. Extension cords are a tripping hazard, and they can also cause electrocution. Invest in a dedicated electrical line and outlet near your filter.
  • Check your inground pool drain and make sure it’s properly adjusted. Strong suction can cause drowning if hair or even loose clothing become sucked in.
  • Provide supervision, especially for young kids. Even a moment’s time to answer the phone or doorbell or check on dinner is enough time to cause a drowning or near-drowning accident that can result in permanent brain damage.

Pool safety relies a lot on common sense and good planning, and part of that planning means making sure your homeowner’s coverage is up to date – just in case an accident does occur. At Overbay Insurance Services, we can help you boost your peace of mind with a policy review that takes just a few minutes of your time. Be safe this summer. Call Overbay at 828-452-4699 and have your policy reviewed today.

Planning a Summer Home Improvement Project? Check Out These Tips First

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Summer is a great time to tackle home improvement projects, creating an inviting space that’s ideal for a week-long staycation or a little weekend R&R anytime of the year. But before you swing that hammer or tune up your circular saw, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to avoid snags and delays and to make sure your space is all you want it to be.

First, make sure you’re using really good plans customized for your space and your needs. Especially if your home improvement project involves building a structure like a deck, a porch, a gazebo, or any other structure designed to support weight or feature a roof, it’s really important to make sure the plans you’re using are sound and suitable for your specific site, taking the location, the slope of the ground and other site-specific factors into account. Most high-quality, professional-grade plans include plenty of information about site preparation, so pay close attention and make sure your site is properly prepared.

Choose the right contractor for the job. Plenty of home improvement projects look simple and straightforward, but the fact is, nearly any project requires a contractor with plenty of skill in the specific type of project you’re considering. Get recommendations from friends and relatives, look online for reviews, then interview a couple before hiring to make sure you get the best contractor for the job.

DIYers: Don’t skimp on tools or materials. If you’ve decided to dust off your overalls and complete the project on your own, be sure to choose high-quality materials and invest in the right tools for the job, not only to avoid frustration, but also to make sure the finished project is safe and secure. Can’t afford a costly tool? Try renting what you need – just be sure you know how to use whatever tools you buy or rent and always wear safety goggles and other protection.

Check your local codes. Before any home improvement project, check with your local construction office to make sure you don’t run afoul of building codes. Most municipalities will require you to buy a permit and, sometimes, have your project inspected at least once. This is one step you don’t want to skip; if you do, you could wind up having to take down your completed project and start from scratch. Other projects like pools and hot tubs usually require fencing in order to avoid fines.

Finally, upgrade your insurance coverage. Pools, play equipment and many other outdoor structures need additional insurance coverage in order to ensure your finances are protected in the event of an accident. Summer fun is all about relaxation, so if you’re planning a home improvement project for your property, get the peace of mind you need and call an Overbay agent today to make sure you have the coverage you need to rest easy.

Protect Your Home-Based Business With the Right Insurance for Your Needs

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Owning your own business – especially one you can run from your home – is more than just a dream; for millions of men and women, it’s their day-to-day reality. In fact, the Small Business Administration reports home-based businesses account for more than half of all businesses in the U.S. Each day, millions of workers roll out of bed and into their offices without having to deal with a busy commute or an office full of noisy coworkers – and although they may own different types of businesses and offer different goods and services, most of them have one thing in common: They don’t have enough insurance to protect their businesses and their assets against a loss or liability claim. Why? Because most of home-based business owners mistakenly believe their homeowner’s insurance provides all the coverage they need for any business-related losses they may incur. The fact is – that’s just not true.

Why Your Homeowner’s Policy Isn’t Enough

Your homeowner’s policy is designed to cover your losses as a homeowner, not as a business owner. That means if your equipment or inventory is damaged or a client or customer becomes injured while doing business in your home, you’ll almost certainly be held responsible for all or most of the related costs. And that means if you operate a business from home, you should be looking into additional coverage to prevent financial losses that could take a huge bite out of your profits.

For most owners of home-based businesses, that means one of two possible options:

  • Homeowner policy rider: A rider is an “add-on” to your existing policy that provides additional coverage for your business losses. Riders offer somewhat limited coverage, so they’re really only a good option for a select few home-based business owners who don’t meet with clients on site and who don’t have expensive business equipment.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): A business owner’s policy provides far more coverage, including coverage for losses, liability issues and even work interruptions. For most businesses, a “BOP” is a better option because it provides a higher level of protection – and a lot more peace of mind.

How can I tell which type of coverage I need?

Having a comprehensive assessment of your business’ risk exposures is the best way to determine which type of coverage is right for you, as well as how much coverage you need to protect your business and your personal assets. Overbay Insurance Services is a leading provider of business insurance policies for home-based businesses in and around Waynesville, North Carolina. Our agents work closely with business owners to understand their needs, crafting custom solutions that suit every budget. Keep your business safe and sound. Call Overbay Insurance Services at 828-452-4699 and ask for a review of your business insurance needs today.

Spring Showers Are Here! Is Your Home Protected From Water Damage?

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Imagine waking up one morning to a small lake in your living room. Or coming home from work – or worse, vacation – to find your basement awash in water. Seems unlikely? Think again. That’s the kind of damage that’s typical with water backup problems caused by broken sump pumps and broken or leaking sewer lines and drains, damage that adds up to billions of dollars of damages every year – and a lot of those costs need to be paid from the homeowner’s own savings. Why? Because just like flood-related water damage, water backup damage isn’t covered by the typical homeowner’s policy. And that means when it’s time to pay for repairs and replacement of damaged items, you’ll be left high and dry.

What is water backup coverage?

Water backup coverage is additional insurance that’s added to your homeowner’s policy, providing financial peace of mind if you experience flooding or other damage as a result of broken or damaged pipes, drains and sewer lines. While you may think there’s little risk of these damages occurring in your home, statistics show more than a quarter of all homeowner’s claims arise as a result of water damage.

Like other types of “add-on” insurance coverages, water backup policies vary in the type and amount of coverage they provide. Some policies may provide coverage for damage to the structure of your home and repairs to damaged pipes or other plumbing equipment, while others may provide additional coverage for furniture, electronics and personal belonging. Most policies also provide coverage for damage caused by equipment located off your property that’s still connected to your property – like damage caused by repairs to a main water or sewer line, for instance. Obviously, the more extensive your coverage, the less risk you – and your finances – will face.

Is water backup insurance the same as flood risk insurance?

No. Flood insurance covers water that enters your home as a result of extreme storms or overflowing rivers, lakes or other bodies of water on the surface. It doesn’t provide coverage for water damage due to leaks and broken equipment. Likewise, water damage insurance doesn’t provide coverage for flooding covered under flood insurance. To be completely protected, you need both types of insurance.

Review your policy now to prevent flood risk damage.

Lots of issues can cause water damage in your home, including frozen pipes and heavy spring rains. Having your policy and your property evaluated for flood risk issues is essential for protecting your home, your property and your hard-earned savings. Call Overbay Insurance Services at 828-452-4699 to request a free policy review and quote today.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Heart Health Today

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February is Heart Health Month, and there’s no better time than right now to learn a few simple heart disease prevention techniques that can help your heart stay healthy, especially as you get older.

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Here are five easy steps you can take right now to help you enjoy better heart health for the rest of your life:

“Refresh” your diet. It’s easy to get into an eating rut, especially with the wide availability of convenience foods. Unfortunately, many of these foods are high in fats and sodium, and can have a negative impact on your heart health. Do a little menu spring cleaning and change up your eating routines by adding some of these heart-healthy foods to your routine: “oily” fish like salmon and tuna (combine with whole-grain bread or add it to a green salad for an easy lunch or supper); almonds or walnuts; blueberries, raspberries and strawberries; oatmeal (add those nuts and berries for even more of an impact); orange, yellow and leafy vegetables; melons and oranges; and yes, red wine and dark chocolate. Check out these recipes from the American Heart Association.

Be more active. Walking at least a half hour every day (or at least five days a week) is a great way to boost your heart health, but even simple things like taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator and parking a little farther from the grocery store or mall entrance can help. Other activities like kayaking, swimming and tennis – in fact, pretty much any aerobic activity – offers heart health benefits. Just check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine, especially if you’ve been leading a relatively sedentary lifestyle. Here are a few simple ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine.

Get screened. The American Heart Association recommends basic cardiovascular screening beginning at age 20 (yes, 20) for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Screening uses a comprehensive medical history and basic testing to determine a person’s medical risks for cardiovascular disease so they can take important steps to reduce those risks and improve their heart health before a problem develops. Screening is fast and simple, so call your doctor and ask about scheduling your own screening.

Reduce your stress. Yoga and meditation are great ways to relieve stress (join a class or find some videos on YouTube and try it at home), and even simple things like setting aside time each day to relax in a quiet area can help lower stress levels (a major factor in maintaining good heart health). Even simpler: Learn these controlled breathing techniques – they’re easy, can be done anywhere, and all it takes is 10 minutes to reap the rewards.

Be proactive. You can improve your peace of mind by making sure you’re prepared, just in case an issue arises – and that means making sure you have ample life and health insurance coverage. At Overbay Insurance Services, we can review your insurance coverage during a simple phone call so you can feel confident you’re prepared and protected no matter what the future may bring. Call us today at 828-52-4699 and let us help you review your insurance needs.