Buyer Beware—Could That Car Be Flood Damaged?

flood damagedIf you’re in the market for a used car, be aware that hundreds of thousands of flood damaged vehicles were left behind by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. And many of these vehicles may have hit the used car market. These vehicles, often sold at auction, or on Craigslist or via private ad, should be avoided, even if they appear to run fine. Damage from floodwater can be unpredictable and your new-to-you car could prove extremely unreliable.

 

Don’t be sandbagged—watch for these signs of a flood damaged vehicle:

  • Unusually low price compared with similar models. (Check out a vehicle’s fair market value at kbb.com.)
  • A damp, mildew-y smell, or conversely, a strong smell of cleaning products—used to cover up a musty smell
  • Water damage or marks on carpets, upholstery, seat belts, or ceiling fabric
  • Brand new carpets or other fabrics in an older model car
  • Visible water lines on the headlights or taillights
  • Sand or silt under floor mats or under the spare tire
  • Rust on the inside of the car where water would not normally reach
  • Mud or debris in hard-to-clean areas
  • Electrical components that don’t work, such as windows, blinkers, or the radio

 

Your best protection with any used car purchase is still to have a trusted mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle. In addition, if you have the vehicle’s VIN, use CARFAX’s free flood check tool, or check its flood history at the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINcheck. Flood history is usually a part of the information you receive in any complete vehicle history report you purchase as well.

 

Be sure to give Lakewood Financial a call at 941-747-4600 (or contact us via email) whenever you buy a new or used car. We’ve been serving the insurance needs of Sarasota/Bradenton, Ellenton, Palmetto, Lakewood Ranch, and surrounding areas since 2003. As an independent agency, we specialize in providing quality insurance coverage at competitive prices.

No Welcome Mat for Burglars—Try These Simple Home Security Tips

 home security

While you want your home to be welcoming to your family and friends, you also want it to be unattractive to burglars. A few simple home security measures can decrease the chance that your home will be broken into.

Burglars target homes that look like they’ll be easy to get in and out of quickly without being seen. If it takes a thief more than four or five minutes to break in, he’s likely to move on. In fact, “Time, sound, and visibility” are the three main factors you need to keep in mind when securing your home, according to safehome.org.

Time

Make it hard for a burglar to enter your home. Locks, doors, and windows are your first line of defense against intruders. To help keep a thief from kicking in a door, make sure all exterior doors are solid hardwood or metal, and that your locks are grade 1 or grade 2 deadbolts. Security experts also recommend installing a heavy-duty strike plate—the metal plate attached to the doorjamb that the bolt extends into—with three-inch screws that will penetrate to the doorframe stud.

If you have a sliding glass door, place a wooden dowel, stick, or safety bar in the interior track, or add a floor bolt.

Also be sure you close and lock every door and window when you leave home, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Sound

Burglars don’t want any attention drawn to their presence, so if you have a dog that barks when a stranger is around, you already have one method of deterring intruders. If you don’t have a dog, or the family pet is likely to welcome a burglar as a long-lost friend, you may want to invest in an alarm system. Be sure to display the alarm company’s sign and decals to notify thieves of the presence of an alarm.

(Before you invest in a home security system, call your Lakewood Financial agent at 941-747-4600 about what features your system needs to qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance.)

Visibility

Trim or remove plants or shrubs that offer a place for a criminal to hide. If you have a two-story home, make sure no tree limbs offer a way for a burglar to break into an upstairs window.

Make sure all entries to your home have good lighting, and consider installing motion-activated lights to illuminate the perimeter of your home.

Don’t leave easily stolen items like bikes or even that expensive grill out in the yard or driveway. And if you’ve recently bought a pricey new item, be discreet about how you dispose of the packaging. If a thief sees the box from a new big screen TV in your trash, he might decide to pay you a visit!

A few more tips

  • Keep your garage door closed unless you’re in the garage or nearby where you can keep an eye on it.
  • Don’t hide a spare house key outside your home. Leave one with a trusted neighbor, or invest in a combination lock box you can put in an out-of-the-way place.
  • If you park on the street or in your driveway, take all valuables inside with you, and lock the doors and roll up the windows. Don’t forget to take your garage door opener inside!
  • Get to know your neighbors. Even if you don’t participate in an official neighborhood watch program, you can still watch out for each other on an informal basis.
  • Walk around the outside of your home looking for possible modes of entry for a thief. Is that window always open a little bit? Does that door look like it could be easily forced? Think like a burglar—then take the home security measures to keep him out!

If you have any questions about your homeowners insurance, be sure to give us a call at  941-747-4600 or contact us via email.