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Wildfires prompt some area residents to re-evaluate preparedness

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Sept. 13, 2011 at 4:13 a.m.

A wildfire burns through a field recently in Magnolia. As Texas suffers the worst drought in its history, Crossroads residents are doing their part to play it safe by making sure  insurances polices are up to date and purchasing items such as safes, to protect valuables.  See more on wildfires, B8.

is your insurance up to par?

Wildfires might not be threatening Crossroads residents' homes and properties, but it still pays to make sure one's insurance is up to par. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

A standard homeowners policy covers contents up to 40 to 60 percent of what a home is insured for. Homeowners should make sure their policies are adequate and, if not, can typically purchase more coverage.

Specialty items that are appraised, such as guns, jewelry and artwork, must be scheduled in order to be covered under the contents of a homeowner's policy. Otherwise, the policyholder risks having the items replaced for simply what it would cost to replace them, losing their intrinsic value.

Homeowners policies do not include flood insurance, but such insurance is affordable. It covers the homeowner regarding storm surge, pool issues, rain leaking into the home and more.

Source: Dwayne Moore, agent with Farmers Insurance

As wildfires blazed their ways through Bastrop, Austin and other parts of the Lone Star State, Crossroads residents did their part to make sure they played it safe.

Victoria All-Sports Center sells many fire-proof safes anyway, but sales increased once wildfires hit, said Darrell Hester, the store's owner. He did not have an exact number regarding sales.

A variety of safe sizes and styles are available, Hester said, explaining customers can cater them to their budgets and tastes.

The same trend is true for Victoria's Academy Sports+Outdoors, said Allan Rojas, senior communications coordinator with the company.

Customers recently began entering the store looking for the safes and talking with staffers about their features and the like, he said.

Safes aren't the only way people ensured they were prepared, however. Others checked to make sure their insurance was up to date.

Jay Wimberly, an agent with Texas Farm Bureau Insurance, said he took a call from a Mission Valley resident one day when smoke from wildfires rolled into the Crossroads. The caller wanted to make sure her renter's policy covered fire damage, just in case, he said.

Otherwise, besides a couple of calls from clients in the Austin area, Wimberly said things remained fairly quiet.

"We do have some large landowners, so we've had a couple of calls on land-type stuff recently," he said. "Other than that, we're just out of the area of concern."

Phones remained quiet for Marisela Garza and Dwayne Moore, both agents with Farmers Insurance.

Moore said it didn't appear too many people were concerned the fires would affect the Crossroads.

"I guess we're kind of lucky," he said. "But everybody gets their poison. Every summer we're shaking in our boots for a hurricane."

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