You just bought a home – CONGRATS!  Here’s a list of 5 essential items every new homeowner should have:

  • Fire Extinguisher (& an escape plan)

Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher in the house that is accessible, ready and available in the event of small fire.  Everyone in the house should know how to use the extinguisher and how to escape safely in the event of fire.  Remember in school when you practiced fire drills?  Do that at home too!

  • Smoke Detector

Make sure that your new home came with functioning smoke detectors in every room of the house and a carbon monoxide detector where you have gas appliances, a fire place or furnace.

  • Essential Tools

As soon as you are able, get to your favorite home supply store and pick up these tools you’ll likely need at some point:

  • Hammer & nails
  • Drill & drills bits, screwdriver (flat, Philips and star heads)
  • Pillars
  • Flashlights
  • Water Key


  • Batteries

You’ll likely need batteries of all sizes: “C” or “D” for flashlights, “AA” and “AAA” for remotes and toys and “9V” for those smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Child Proofing

If you’ve got little ones in the house, you should make sure to lock up those cabinets they can reach.  Especially, if you’ve got chemicals or dangerous tools/utensils stored there.


It’s a good idea to document your home’s content just in case you need to file a claim for a large loss like a fire.  Take your camera phone & walk through the house, pointing out high dollars and maybe where you got it.  Keep the video and any receipts in the cloud.  For high dollar items, talk to your insurance agent to make sure you’ve got proper protection.


Ready for a home insurance quote?  Leal Insurance Services is ready to help with a FREE policy review.  Click here to get started today.

Friends –

Like many of you, we’ve been experiencing power outages and – at times – no water over the last few days.  These are unprecedent times and we are right there with you.  Whatever you need, however we can help, please reach out to us.

If you can’t get a hold of us right away, please be patience, we’ll get back to you shortly as our physical office location is not accessible for the rest of the week and our team is working from home.  If you need immediate assistance, please text us at (210) 277-7544 and we will we respond as soon as possible.

If you need to file a claim, you can do so on our website, here: https://www.lealinsurance.com/claims-submission/

Here are some tips on what to do in the event you experience a loss:

  • First and foremost – BE SAFE.  If your home is not safe, evacuate to safe place.
  • Contact your utility company to report possible gas leak or downed power lines right away.  If you are to do safely, shut off your water, electricity and/or gas supply.
  • If you experience a busted pipe, turn off your water from the main water connection.
  • Take pictures.  Lots of them.  This will help document the loss to your carrier.
  • Help prevent additional damage if it is safe to do so.
  • File a claim.  You may contact your carrier directly or file your claim with our office as soon as possible.
  • Save receipts.  If you pay for any repairs (even if they are temporary repairs) or pay for remediation services to clean up water, make sure you save all receipts/paid invoices and detail any work done to submit to your insurance provider for reimbursement consideration.

Check your exterior pipes regularly over the coming days/weeks.  Look for any breaks or leaks.  Look out for water spots in the ceiling or walls.  This might indicate a busted pipe and you will want to address it quickly to prevent a large water loss.

If you do experience a loss and are looking to hire a contractor to repair damages, please, please, PLEASE make sure the contractor is a reputable, local, and insured.  DO NOT pay the contractor in full “in order to secure your spot” on their calendar.  Insurance companies have no way of getting you your money back or reimbursing you for that kind of theft.

Lastly, we all know that claims can be a such an inconvenience and time suck.  We are happy to help you assess whether your loss will exceed your deductible and advocate for you when you need to file a claim.  Do not hesitate to get us involved if there is something you don’t understand or need help facilitating a phone call with your claims adjustor.  Please be patient as claims teams handle what will surely be a catastrophic number of claims in the next few days and weeks.  Remember that claims adjustors are people too.

Stay safe.  Stay warm.  Be well.

– The Leal Insurance Services team

I’m pretty confident that if you asked anyone who has ever owned a rental property you would get an overwhelming response that it’s not as lucrative or easy as they thought it would be. In fact, owning a rental property can be a major pain, and end up costing you a ton of money!

I certainly don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer”, and I know that if it’s done right it can be lucrative, but from an insurance agent’s perspective, I don’t see a lot of people doing it right.

So you’re probably thinking, “Well Chris, you are an insurance agent. What do you know about real estate or rental properties? Why should I take advice from you?”

I’m not a real estate agent, and I don’t own a rental property. However, several of my friends/family/clients/co-workers own rentals, and because I insure a bunch of their properties, I’ve had a first hand account of the process, and I’ve learned what to do, and what not to do.

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I was recently asked this question by one of our Leal Insurance Services clients, and thought I would share the answer here for our readers.

There are a lot of things that go into homeowners and auto insurance rates, one of them being credit. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who don’t like the fact that insurance companies use credit in their underwriting.

Some people have absolutely no idea that it’s used in the rate at all.

At the end of the day, there’s not much we can do about it though. Insurance companies have been using credit in their rates for decades, and that’s not likely to change.

By the way, insurance companies don’t pull your credit like a mortgage company or credit card company does. There is no negative impact on your credit as a result of an insurance company looking at it.

When I say “pull” what I mean is that the insurance company is doing what’s called a soft inquiry, which is not the same thing as having your credit pulled (hard inquiry).

When does credit play a role in insurance rates?
It’s important to understand that insurance companies don’t continuously check or monitor your credit. Usually, they only check it when you first get a quote and/or sign up with them in the very beginning.

This means that if your credit score increases (or decreases) your insurance company does not automatically know about it.

So, to my customers question of whether or not his increased credit score will lower his rates, the answer is not automatically.

What has to be done on our side as the agent is contact the carrier the insurance and ask them to do what’s commonly referred to as a “re-score”. This is when the insurance company can re-run the person’s credit (soft inquiry) to see if there is any positive bearing on the rate.

This isn’t something that the insurance company is going to let the agency do every single year, so it’s not worth even asking unless there has been a significant change in your credit score, and only you as the customer would know if that was the case.

If you’d like to get a better handle on your credit rating, it could be helpful to setup credit monitoring. We hope this was helpful! As always, leave us comment below if you have any questions.

Why do my auto insurance rates keep going up even though my car is getting older?  At Leal Insurance Services, many of our clients ask this question so I would like to address it from a couple of angles.

First things first, even though it’s called car/auto insurance, it covers more than just your car. It should technically be called “auto-owners” insurance, similarly to how home insurance is actually called “home owners insurance”.

It’s important to understand that there are a lot of variables that go into insurance premiums, and with auto insurance, it’s no different.

The insurance company is much more concerned with you crashing into someone and causing them (or yourself) bodily harm, or death, than they are about your car. A car is a material possession which can be replaced.

A human life is not.

When is the last time you looked at your auto insurance policy?
If you look at it you’ll notice there are a lot of different coverages on your auto policy.

Bodily injury
Property damage
Un-insured motorist
Under-insured motorist
Medical Payments
Loss of Income
Funeral Expense
Loss of use
Rental Reimbursement

These are all things that you are covered for on your auto policy. How many of them have to do with your car?


How many of them have a price next to them on your policy?

All of them.

Your car isn’t the only thing you’re being charged for on your policy
That’s because auto insurance covers far more important things than your car as mentioned above.

Let me re-phrase that: your car insurance rate isn’t just based on your car.

You’re not the only one…
It’s also important to understand that you are not the only person your insurance company insures. You are one fish in an ocean of other fish, sharks, and sea creatures, all who have different characteristics and risk profiles.

Insurance is all about spreading costs over a large number (risk pool) of people, which each person paying their fare share. That risk pool is constantly changing, and is impacted by a ton of different things, including the overall economic climate.

This means that you are sharing in the cost of millions of other people, many of whom may have poor loss history and/or credit.

That’s what insurance is though — sharing in the cost.

The next time your auto insurance rates go up, take a look at the big picture. Make sure you’re looking at ALL of the coverages, and corresponding rates.

Hope this helps!  If you would like to know more about Car Insurance be sure to visit our page dedicated to it.