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Back To School Driving Tips 101

School is back in session! The summer is over, and we are heading straight into a new school year. Back to school means there are more drivers on the road than usual during your morning commute. Most will purposely take alternate routes during the school year to avoid the additional slow down time. However, if you are dropping off a kiddo, there isn’t any other choice.

Here is our Back to School Driving tips from TXDOT.GOV to help make the commute a little easier and avoid fines.

Tips for Driving in School Zones

  • Put away your cell phone. Cell phone use is banned in active school zones, and violators face fines of up to $200 in school zones where signs are posted.

Take this tip very seriously. Don’t be the parent that completely forgot you entered a school zone and up getting a ticket for being on the phone. Check your city requirements- as some city ordinances have banned cell phone use while driving altogether.  

  • Always obey school zone speed limit signs. Remember, traffic fines usually double in school zones.

Even when you think there aren’t any police officers around, they’re there!  

  • Drop off and pick up your children in your school’s designated areas, not the middle of the street.

This is a hard one to follow, especially at the beginning of the school year. The pickup and drop-off line will get better. It always starts out rocky, but the process does get smoother. Avoid parking down the road and encouraging your schooler to meet you elsewhere. Your tax dollars pay for the cross guard and the necessary crosswalk to ensure your child’s safety, utilize it.

  • Keep an eye on children gathered at bus stops.

We all know how dreadful it is to be stuck behind a school bus as they make each stop, but remember it is unlawful to pass a school bus when they have their flashing lights on.

  • Be alert for children who might dart across the street or between vehicles on their way to school.

Be cautious of that Wilding!

Tips for Children Walking or Biking to School

  • Always cross at intersections and designated crosswalks. Look left, right and then left again before proceeding.
  • Look for traffic when stepping off a bus or from behind parked cars.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
  • Always obey crossing guards.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.

Remember these safety tips as you approach a school zone. Don’t end up in a situation that could cost you hundreds of dollars in fines and possibly injure someone. School is just beginning, and we wish everyone a great and safe year!

Your Local Independent Agent,

Al Boenker Insurance

 

Top Texas Lake Spots


Photo courtesy: Possum Kingdom Lake

Summers in Texas can get hot…extremely hot. What better way to combat this intense heat than to take a trip to the lake? With your Boating 101, it’s a perfect time to hit the water. Whether you enjoy fishing, water sports, or just relaxing on the vessel with some friends, there are plenty of activities to look forward to on the water. Texas is scattered with over 170 vast beautiful lakes that are primed and ready to be explored. However, we’ve narrowed down that list to our top 6 to help make your lake getaway planning a little easier.

Here are our Best Texas Lake Getaways

  1. Lake Texoma– Unfortunately, we have to share this beautiful grand lake with Oklahoma, but we’ll still consider it a Texas lake. Lake Texoma is the 12th largest lake in the United States and it contains some of the best fishing in the state of Texas. This lake holds bass that weigh up to 20 lbs as well as various types of catfish and crappie. With over 1,000 miles of shoreline, there’s plenty of room for swimming as well as a ton of trails for horseback riding and hiking!
  2. Possum Kingdom Lake– This Lake resides about an hour west of Dallas/Fort Worth and features tons of fun activities for the whole family. Take the boat out on this gorgeous lake for some fishing, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling and water sports. The marina offers rentals for wakeboards, kneeboards, water skis and tubes, so you’re covered if you arrive empty-handed. While you’re there, make sure you check out the infamous “Hell’s Gate” cliff formation in the lake. You can even go cliff diving if you’re brave enough!
  3. Lake O’ the Pines– Have your camera charged if you’re looking to visit this lake because the sights here are out of this world. This beautiful lake has thousands of pine trees that stretch across miles of shoreline. Not only does the shoreline serve as a great photo backdrop, but it also offers a ton of awesome amenities such as campgrounds, picnic spots, beachfront and boating ramps. If you enjoy fishing then you’re in luck! This lake is filled with a wide variety of bass, chain pickerel, sunfish, and crappie.
  4. Sam Rayburn Reservoir– If you’re a fishing fanatic then this is the destination for you! This spot hosts over 300 fishing tournaments every year and it is filled with largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and red ear sunfish. Being the largest reservoir in Deep East Texas, this location offers a ton of great amenities such as swimming, boating, water sports, nature trails and camping grounds.
  5. Lake Travis– Located in the Austin, is one of the most popular lakes for recreational activities in Texas. Here you will find a large shoreline where camping and picnicking are very popular. Want some adventure on the water?  Boating, scuba diving, and swimming are popular activities in enjoyed at the lake. Don’t forget to stop at The Oasis and make sure you’re there at dusk and get your camera ready when the sunset bell starts ringing.
  6. Lake Conroe– Lake Conroe is located approx. 60 miles north of Houston. With lavish homes belonging to retired basketball players Rudolph Tomjanovich and Aaron Grey, and retired baseball pitcher Clemens lining the shoreline, there is no wonder why this is a popular spot.  It is a top spot for fishing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, and boating. Surrounding Lake Conroe is the Sam Houston National Forest, Waterpoint Center, 10 marinas and some of best golf courses in Texas.

Before planning your lake getaway now is a great time to make sure that all of your boat insurance needs are up-to-date. Give us a call to have an agent review your policy to confirm that your auto insurance has the right amount of coverage for your family and your needs. We can also ensure that you are getting the best rate for your policy. You might even qualify for additional discounts, especially if you have your home insured through us!

From all of us at Al Boenker Insurance, we hope you stay safe and have a great time. Remember boat safety and etiquette, Oh, and don’t forget those life jackets!

Smart Home Technology

Can Having Smart Home Features Save You on Your Home Insurance? Does a smart home sound crazy? What if incorporating smart home technology systems in your home could help you save on your home insurance premiums? The capabilities have been around for quite some time, but they are more affordable than ever. You don’t have to be a tech wiz to get started integrating technology into your home.

Here are a few advances that can get you started in the smart home realm:

  1. Installing smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors– if you can imagine being away from your home and getting notified directly on your phone that there is a fire in your home! First responders are notified immediately and hopefully are able to manage the fire before there is massive damage.
  2. Smart alarm systems offer you the option to see what is going on in and around your home directly from your phone. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth security cameras offer you the ability to detect a burglary or misconduct without being at home. Police are notified immediately and help minimize loss.
  3. Water monitors are being installed all across new home homes. Water detectors notify you if there is a leak and give you the option to turn off your water from a push of a button. Getting notified early can limit the amount of damage your home receives.

Other smart home systems just make for a seamless everyday life.

  • Climate control thermostats such as Nest, automatically adjust the temperature of your home in real time, saving you money and energy!
  • Smart locks are a seamless addition to your home. Forget to lock the door on the way out? Or need to let someone in? The smart doorbell has a camera that shows you who is at your door and gives you the ability to unlock and lock your door right from the palm of your hand.
  • Lighting control gives you the ability to turn on and off lights and appliances all over your home. You no longer have to run all around the house before heading out making sure everything is off. I bet you can imagine home much money you can be saving on your electricity.

However, transitioning to a complete smart home can be costly and can make you vulnerable to hackers. Install a strong password and ensure you have a secure connection. Implement a few at a time and incorporate Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home to give you seamless implantation.

Simple smart devices that warn of impending danger or destruction offer more comprehensive coverage and greater peace of mind. These installations minimize damage and risk, detecting issues immediately, making homes run more efficiently and ultimately lowering the number of claims that are made. Find out what kind of savings your Al Boenker Insurance agent can help you save, 1-800-thanksal.com or www.thanksal.com

Summers Buys to Boost Your Backyard

Want to keep the kiddos outside this summer? School is coming to an end and it’s time to start thinking about how you and your family are going to enjoy those summer nights. Here are a few ideas that will have the whole family excited to hang out in the backyard!

 

  1. Update that same ol’ swing set- Change out that baby swing the kids have outgrown, and give them a place to hide out. The hammock pods from Amazon; $29.45, give your kiddo the perfect space to hang out- outside! The set includes are the tools necessary to be hung from a swing set or tree.

  1. Zipline across the backyard. Turn your backyard into an adventure park! Everyone ages 8 and up can enjoy the complete zip line kit from Slackers Zipline; $76.94. Suspend the zip line cable from two trees and watch your child soar through the backyard, safely.

  1. Nothing beats a classic game of corn hole. Find these portable PVC pipe cornhole boards on Amazon for the perfect summer game. Everyone can enjoy them, whether in the pool or out in the lawn. Available for $36.99.

  1. Here’s a new approach to s’mores. Don’t have a fire pit? No problem! Roast some s’mores after burgers- on the grill, in the oven when your backyard picnic gets rained out or atop a portable grill at a tailgate. The S’more to Love Basket, cooks the dessert evenly, making for the best s’mores experience! Forget about the marshmallow catching fire or falling in. Available from Amazon; $13.99.

  1. Can’t forget the old faithful sprinkler- This year, be the talk of the neighborhood with the coolest water sprinkler on the block! The Ginormous Unicorn Sprinkler will keep the kids cooled off and running around the backyard all day. How could one not love a giant 6ft unicorn with water spewing out the horn?! Available at Target, $50.

  1. How cool is this 2-in1 extender table?! This is a must-have for all backyard entertainers. Serve snacks on the top and keep drinks cold on the bottom. Use either fully extended for the perfect cocktail table height or collapsed for the ideal side table.

  1. Who will be the magician of the bunch? Take the fire pit up a notch and throw in the Magic Flame Pocket. Watch your youngster get excited as the flames change colors. The 12-pack from Amazon is available for $7.99.

 

  1. Take dinner outside. Enjoy a pizza -fireside. The Pizza Stone, $14.90 turns dinner time all around. Have the family hand make individual pizzas and cook them over the fire or on the grill. Just like that, the kids didn’t even know they prepped their own meal. Win-Win! If you decide to cook over the fire pit, make sure you have a rack to set your stone on.

These small buys get the whole family outside and enjoying the summer sun. Pick a few items and plan to spend as much time enjoying your yard this summer. Don’t forget the fresh watermelon, sunblock and unlimited popsicles to top the day off!

6 Tips to Prepare Your Home for the Summer Heat

 

In Texas, we can never be certain what type of weather we are going to get. But one thing we do know is Texas heat is no joke!!
Here are a few tips to help prepare your home for those HOT summer days.

1. Give Your Air Condition a Check Up
Now is the perfect time to make sure your air conditioner unit is functioning at its best. It would be horrible to find out in the dead of summer you’re a/c is going out. First, replace your air filter. Clean any debris from the vent and the exhaust and dust off any dirt from your main unit. Turn you’re a/c on while you leave and test how it regulates the temperature to ensure it is working properly. If something doesn’t seem right, it may be time to contact a professional. Some companies offer a free service check and can tell you of any necessary fixes. This may also be the best time to invest in a programmable thermostat if you do not have one. Programmable thermostats help regulate the use of your air condition and offer energy saving solutions. Look for a blog on Smart Thermostats.
2. Clean and Inspect your Gutters and Roof
During the winter months, your gutters suffer a lot, from freezing rain to fallen debris. Take this time to inspect your gutters for leaks, give them a thorough clean and check for any damage. Inspect your downspouts and ensure they are flowing away from your house. This is also a great opportunity to check the roof for any damages or possible leaks. With the heat comes the rain. Check exteriors and take note of any water build up or cracks that can cause water to seep in. Cleaning the gutters and checking the roof, may not be possible for everyone, especially those in a two-story home. Contact a professional if you need assistance.
3. Change Your Ceiling Fan Direction
Did you know that your ceiling fan is meant to run in different directions based on the season? During the winters months, it should run clockwise to help distribute heat that rises. As for the summer months, your fan should run counter-clockwise at a higher speed to get a breeze flowing. Check to see which direction the fans in your home are moving, and, if necessary, hit the small black switch near the base to change directions.
4. Clean Windows & Screens: Check for Ventilation
It’s time to wash away the winter build up on your windows and screens. Take some vinegar and water and scrub away the winter grime from the exterior of your windows. Rinse off all your screens and replace the old torn ones. Check your window seals and weather stripping during this time to ensure there are not any leaks in the ventilation. Replace or re-caulk where necessary. This keeps the cool air in and the hot air out.
5. Inspect Outdoor Plumbing
The water hose hasn’t seen the daylight in quite some time. Begin checking your outdoor plumbing before the summer heat is in full force. Run your sprinklers and test the system to make sure everything is running smoothly. A slow trickle may be a sign something is not functioning properly. Finding out you have a busted pipe right when your kiddos are ready to run the sprinkler, is no fun! If you are unable to find the cause, call a professional to come out and take a look.

6. Prepare for Summer Bugs
With the hot summer days and the rain comes bug heaven. During the winter months, you may not notice more bugs making their way in. However, most of these insects stay cooped up in the walls or attic. Enter summer months- bugs wake up and began to head back outdoors. The hot, humid weather also makes for a great combination of insects. Find a DIY pest control solution here and begin to treat all your baseboards, exterior exits, and windows. If you checked for ventilation in the windows- you are one step ahead!

In Texas, we can never guarantee any type of weather. But we can guarantee our home will be ready to take on the heat. Contact your Al Boenker Insurance agent today to see how they can help you save on your home insurance.