12 tips for buying a home in Atlanta

Buying a home in Atlanta

Buying a home in Atlanta

Whether you’re tired of rental life or you’re moving to a new town, buying a new home can be stressful – especially in a big city like Atlanta. There are tons of diverse neighborhoods and various things to do around the city. You’ll feel like you don’t want to miss out on any of it! However, the most important part of your move will be deciding what’s right for you.  So, here are 12 tips for buying a home in Atlanta to get you started.

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10 tips to start a business in Atlanta

Starting a business in Atlanta

Starting a business in Atlanta

The Atlanta area is prime for starting a business. Everywhere you look, there are budding entrepreneurs and new businesses popping up in the city and all over its suburbs. But what does it take to actually set up a successful business in such a big city? We’ll take you through a few tips on how to start your successful business in Atlanta.

Tips for starting a business in Atlanta.

1. Create a business plan

Everything that lasts starts with a good plan, and a business is no different. Before you start anywhere else, you need to know the ins and outs of how you’ll operate your business. Start with the general idea of your company and then ask yourself:

  • What are my business goals?
  • What are my business’s values and mission?
  • What are the risks my business will face?
  • What kind of customers do I want?
  • What kind of objections to my company will I face, and how can I overcome them?
  • What kinds of materials will I need?
  • What materials and how much do I need to start out?
  • What can I compare my business to?
  • Who are my competitors?

These are just some of the basic details you’ll have to initially define for your company. Some of them, we’ll help you answer here. If you don’t know how detailed your answers should be, look up “mock business plans” or “sample business plans” on Google. Then, use those models to create your very own plan! This can be helpful for starting a business.

2. Define your Value Proposition

This term may sound scary, but it’s basically a fancy way of saying, “What makes you unique?” There are tons of businesses in Atlanta. So, what makes yours stand out? And how can you describe the difference to others?

If you’re an artist, then your value proposition may be your unique style. If you’re a consultant, it could be a different type of coaching method. If you’re a chef, it could be your signature dishes and the spin you take on traditional foods. In any case, you need to know what you bring to the table and how to properly express it to people in a way that sparks interest.

3. Build a brand

Now that you’ve identified what makes you unique, you need to be able to build a brand around that. Decide on a catchy business name, a slogan, and the type of personality you want your business to put out into the world. Are you a casual or black-tie kind of business? Do you want your tagline to be sassy or classic? What kind of voice do you want your business to have? All these are important things to consider when you’re starting a business.

Choose the options that will appeal to the customers you want, and then add a bit of your personal flair. Once you’ve created your brand, make sure that any marketing or company materials are consistent with that vision.

4. Be detail-oriented

While you may have an idea of the “big picture” of your company, there are tons of little details that go into day-to-day operations. What is your budget for everyday supplies? What type of training do your employees need? What is the step by step process of ordering t-shirts? How much will it cost to host your website? What are the safety measures you want to take? Some aspects may not need your attention until later. Until then, go through a typical day in business and pick apart the details of everything that an employee would do.

5. Budget out everything

When you’re starting a business, you’ll need to lay out all the supplies and services you’ll need to keep your business going and how much they cost. Map out how much money you have to start your company and how your start-up expenses fit into that budget. Are there things that you absolutely need right now? Or can something wait until you build up revenue?

Plan out how much you’ll need for behind-the-scenes operations costs like licenses, permits, and insurance. Account for the little things and for emergencies. Have a separate bank account for your business income and expenses so that everything stays organized. It’s important to find an accounting software that works for you, whether it’s an online spreadsheet or the top-of-the-line accounting program.

If you're starting a business, make sure you have the right insurance.

6. Get the right designations

If you need a certain license to start your business, find out the steps to take to get that designation. Know the legal designation of your business as well – whether it’s a sole proprietorship, an LLC, a corporation, etc. Your personal and business designations could determine how you’re allowed to operate.

Additionally, the legal designation of your company allows you to shift the liability of the business from you as an individual to your company as an entity. So, this step can be vital in making sure your personal finances take less of a hit if any.

7. Know what your tax situation will be

As you’re starting a business, make sure you’ve registered with the correct state and federal tax forms for your company. Allow room in your budget to be able to pay taxes. The best plan for getting your taxes in order is probably to partner with an accounting firm or a business tax professional. That way, you don’t have to worry about overpaying/underpaying your taxes or misunderstanding complicated laws.

8. Build a website

Now, you can start marketing your company using one of the easiest methods of the modern-day: building a website. There are tons of online programs that allow you to design a website or connect to developers to make you a custom site. This is a chance to spread your brand’s message to thousands of people pretty easily. It also presents an opportunity to showcase your work.

These days, most consumers won’t even consider businesses without a website or one with a site that looks slapped together. So, make sure your site looks clean and polished, and that it’s easy to navigate. Optimize your website loading times, and make sure that there’s a mobile-friendly version.

It’s also important to SEO optimize your site so that people can actually find your business in a web search. Don’t randomly insert keywords into your site’s content, though. Google can see right through keyword-stuffing and will knock you out of the top search results. Instead, vary your word choice and make sure that your content flows conversationally. Take an in-depth SEO course online and read up on tips to optimize your site.

9. Choose a location

You need somewhere to meet your customers, right? So, make sure that you choose a prime location for your business. Choose a location that’s convenient and easily seen. Look at locations that are local to your target customers and where the rent fits into your budget.

10. Get the right insurance

At the end of the day, a good business owner hopes for the best but prepares for the worst. Business insurance can be the best way to make sure that you have the tools to rebuild your company if something catastrophic happens. Forming a business means that it’s not just you anymore. So, you shouldn’t have to shoulder the brunt of a business disaster all on your own. Anyways – what we’re trying to say is don’t forget insurance when you’re starting a business.

Depending on the type of business you have, there are tons of different coverages you can get to protect your company. First, you may want to start off with a Business Owner’s Policy or BOP. A BOP is one way to get the basic amount of coverage you’ll need for a business at a better rate than purchasing the policies separately. BOPs usually include coverage for general liability, property damage (for your building), and business interruption insurance.

You may also want to consider coverages that are specific to your business, such as:

We know that starting a business can be an overwhelming and stressful process. However, our team can put your mind at ease by finding the right coverage for your unique company at the best rate possible. So, make sure you’re not missing out on game-changing coverage for your revolutionary business! Call us today, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with an expert today to start your free Atlanta business insurance quotes.

Does home insurance cover a pool?

Does home insurance cover a pool?

Does home insurance cover a pool?

There’s a reason that neighborhoods and aquatic centers have so many rules for their pools. Although these fixtures can add a splash of summer fun to your backyard, pools can also add more risk to those who choose to take a private dip. While it’s true that you’ve invested in a proper home insurance plan to fight the many risks your house is exposed to, the question remains: Will your home insurance cover your pool? Let’s find out.

Will my home insurance cover my pool?

In most cases, your homeowners’ policy will cover a backyard pool. However, that doesn’t mean coverage won’t come with a few conditions.

More than likely, your agent will ask you to fence in your yard if you get a pool. The reason is that they don’t want random strangers deciding that they can take a dip in your pool whenever they want. (To be honest, you probably wouldn’t want that either.) Lessening the number of people that have access to your pool means lessening the amount of risk that your insurance company has to take on.

If you’re looking to add even more excitement, your home insurance may put a nix on it. Things like water slides and diving boards add more risk than necessary. And adding these fixtures in spite of a carrier ban may be grounds for the company to cancel or nonrenew your coverage altogether.

Overall, if you’re thinking of adding a pool to your backyard, you’ll need to talk to your insurance agent about the specifics of your coverage and how it may need to change.

What type of insurance do I need for a pool?

Your agent may want to talk about how a pool might affect two types of home insurance coverage.

The liability portion of your insurance will definitely have to increase. Including a pool on your property means taking on more risk of guests slipping, falling, and injuring themselves, as well as the risks of drowning and concussions. So, make sure your coverage and limits are enough to cover these situations.

You may also want to expand the limits and coverage of your property coverage. Pools can be an expensive addition to your backyard, which can mean expensive repair bills. So, make sure your coverage limits can handle property damage to your house AND your pool. Keep in mind, though, that things like cracks in an in-ground pool may be covered; however, tears in an above-ground pool or a broken water filter may not be covered because they could fall under regular maintenance issues.

You may even want to consider personal umbrella insurance to cover the added risks. Personal umbrella insurance can offer an added cushion of liability coverage for your everyday needs. So, it can especially be a lifesaver if you want to include a pool in your backyard oasis. It’s important to speak to your agent, though, to see if you should add a separate umbrella policy or if you just need to increase your limits.

You may need to adjust your insurance to account for your pool.

How do I reduce the risks of having a pool?

If you’re thinking that this cool-off method will be too hot to handle, there are tons of ways that you can reduce poolside risks.

1. Keep the area secure

While you may be required to fence in your yard, it’s important to have the right type of fence and security measures to prevent random passersby from taking a dip.

  • Make sure your fence is at least four feet tall and opaque. This can prevent people from jumping your fence or even seeing your pool in the first place.
  • Have a fence gate that is self-closing and self-locking, as well as one that opens away from the pool.
  • Make sure any locks or securing bolts are out of the reach of children.
  • If you have an above-ground pool, take out the ladder and cover the top when it’s not in use.
  • Inspect your fence regularly to make sure there aren’t any ways to climb over or sneak in under it.
  • You might also install outdoor cameras to make sure no one is using your pool that isn’t supposed to.

2. Keep a set of strict pool rules.

There don’t have to be a lot of rules, just ones that you absolutely enforce to keep everyone safe. Some basics are: No running, no appendages in filters or grates, no diving, and no roughhousing. Make sure they’re posted clearly where everyone can see them at all times.

3. Supervise, supervise, supervise

An adult should supervise at all times. With older children and adults, a pool buddy may suffice. Just make sure that no one is in the pool alone, and that small children are never in the pool unless an adult is present. If you’re the one supervising, always stay alert and ready to spring into action. Accidents can happen fast.

4. Have the right knowledge.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but make sure that everyone knows how to swim. The best way to learn, especially for little kids, is to enroll them in swim classes with a qualified instructor. If you’re the one supervising the pool, it can also pay off to get CPR certified. You’ll have to renew the certification every year, but the life-saving knowledge is definitely worth the time investment.

5. Have the right equipment.

You may purchase some floaties and rafts for fun, but also make sure that you have safety floatation devices available as well. Grab some life jackets that are suitable for all ages and make sure that they’re easily accessible, just in case.

6. Don’t mess around with the weather.

Lighting storms and water never mix. If you hear thunder or see lightning while you’re swimming, get out immediately, dry everyone off, and head inside. If you just can’t wait to jump back in, wait at least thirty minutes after you hear the last bits of thunder before you head back out.

Overall, a pool can be a great way to give your family and friends easy access to summer fun. Just make sure you take the proper steps to secure and insure your pool, and it’ll provide endless entertainment for years to come. To get the right coverage for anything you add to your home and save money to boot, just call our home insurance specialists, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with us today!

What is boat insurance?

Get the right boat insurance for your watercraft.

Get the right boat insurance for your watercraft.

If you’re ready to live a sea- (or lake-) faring dream, you might be interested in boat insurance. Buying a boat can be a huge investment that’s largely rewarding all around. However, owning a boat requires a lot of upkeep, an up-to-date knowledge of your local boating laws, and the ability to protect yourself and your vessel if worst comes to worst. So, here’s a guide to getting the best boating insurance to stay safe off the shore.

Is boat insurance required in Georgia?

While there are various regulations regarding age of operation, boat identification, and registration, Georgia does not require boat insurance to own a vessel. However, being out on the water can be more dangerous than you think. There are tons of risks that a boat owner may face and that may cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars to resolve without the proper boat insurance.

What are the risks of driving a boat?

Although boating may be a very low-stress activity, there are tons of high-risk situations that you can be exposed to. Many boating laws and safety training may specifically warn about hazards such as:

  • Drowning
  • Dams
  • Submerged objects
  • Powerful currents
  • Waves
  • Inclement weather
  • Hypothermia
  • Carbon Monoxide from gas fumes

While some of these instances may be preventable, you’re mostly subject to Mother Nature on the water. And nature is nowhere near predictable. So, it’s important to consider the type of protection you’ll need in the aftermath of a particularly harmful event before it happens.

Boat safety is a must.

What type of insurance do I need for a boat?

If you have a small watercraft such as a canoe, paddleboat, or rowboat, the personal property portion of your home insurance policy typically covers damages and theft to those boats.

However, if you’re setting sail fairly soon in something bigger, you’ll need personal watercraft (PWC) coverage. This type of insurance works a little like your car insurance in the way that it can help you cover costs due to:

Liability & Medical Payments

Let’s say that you set sail with a few passengers after checking a weather report.  The forecast is set to be bright and sunny until that evening. However, halfway through the day and your leisurely cruise, there’s an accident. Everyone on the ship is tossed around, and one passenger suffers a concussion and a few other major injuries.

If you have the right boat insurance, your carrier could help you pay for the injured passenger’s medical expenses, including any hospital stays, doctor visits, medications, or therapy.

The liability portion could help you cover legal expenses if there’s an accident and an injured party takes you to court. PWC insurance also usually covers water sports liability coverage in case someone is hurt while they’re waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, etc. off of your boat.

Property damage

Your boat is an expensive investment. So, paying out repairs or replacing your boat entirely after an accident isn’t the ideal situation. Fortunately, PWC insurance also usually includes physical damage coverage.

This part of your insurance may not just help you cover your watercraft itself. It can also help you cover the costs of repairing or replacing your boat’s equipment, such as anchors, oars, fuel tanks, life jackets, dinghies, and other tools if they’re damaged in an accident or stolen.

Additional Boat Insurance Coverages

Liability and property damage coverages are, of course, only the baseline types of coverage for a worst-case scenario. There are still other specific situations in which your vessel may need to be covered. So, talk to your agent about adding these types of boating-specific coverage:

  • Reasonable repairs: Unlike car insurance coverage, you may be able to add coverage to help you with the costs of repairing the equipment on your ship before it becomes a bigger, more hazardous problem.
  • Emergency service: If someone has to tow your boat or provide other emergency services to you out on the water, you might want to have emergency service coverage for your boat to help you handle the bill. Think of it like the roadside assistance coverage you can get for your car.
  • Wreck Removal: It’s not fun to think about, but if your boat is wrecked into pieces and beyond recognition, normal PWC coverage may not cover the costs it will take to clean up the debris of your boat. It may also not cover the hazmat costs of clearing up any pollution from the water. That’s why it’s important to talk to your agent about adding wreck removal coverage in case your boat is broken apart, has sunk, or has been ordered to be destroyed.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to properly insure your belongings if you don’t know where to start. Hopefully, this guide can give you the building blocks to consider and properly cover the risks of owning and operating a rewarding watercraft.

Once you’ve made the decision to buy a boat, protecting yourself from these risks can be smooth sailing with our insurance experts. Whether you have a broad idea of the risks you need to insure or if you need help every step of the way, our specialists are here to help you get the unique boat insurance you need for the best price. Call us today, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with an agent now to start saving money on your PWC coverage.

Atlanta safety guide for the Fourth of July

Stay safe this Fourth of July.

Stay safe this Fourth of July. The Fourth of July can be a fun day for the whole family. However, backyard barbecues and booming fireworks can bring a lot of danger to you or your guests. Many of these holiday mishaps are preventable if you prepare for the holiday correctly. But where can you start? Check out these tips to keep your Atlanta Independence Day fun, safe, and care-free.

Fourth of July fireworks safety

1. Find a safe place to ignite your fireworks

Fireworks are flammable, after all. So, before you break out your sparkling stash of fancy, sparkly lights, find a non-flammable surface to light your fireworks. Set off your fireworks on a concrete or metal surface, and make sure its path is clear of trees and power lines. Don’t shoot off the fireworks inside or near awnings, and make sure they have room to shoot straight up into the air – not at an angle where it could land and catch fire to your roof or someone else’s.

2. Keep your audience at a distance.

It may be tempting for your little ones or pets to come close to the bright, pretty lights on the Fourth of July. But fireworks, again, are extremely flammable (hence the term FIREworks). So, make sure that a responsible party is lighting the fireworks in a clear space and at a safe distance. If you’re lighting a firework, be sure to back away quickly when it ignites, and don’t light more than one firework at a time.

3. Wear protective clothing

If you’re in charge of the firework show this Fourth of July, it can be extremely helpful to wear protective clothing. That doesn’t mean you have to don an entire haz-mat suit. Just make sure that your eyes are protected, and any exposed skin is covered. It may be hot outside, but the sparks from a firework are hotter. So, wear something breathable, but covering. Don’t look directly into a lit firework and stay completely focused on lighting what’s in front of you.

4. Always supervise children with fireworks

Very young children should never play with fireworks. However, when your kid is a little older, who doesn’t like waving around a sparkler or two? Just make sure that they’re closely supervised while they’re lighting up your backyard or cul-de-sac. Although the sparks from these sticks may seem harmless, sparklers can burn at temperatures around 2,000⁰ F. So, set some ground rules and make sure everyone is on their best behavior.

5. Do NOT try to pick up “duds”

You may have lit a firework that sputtered and fizzled out. However, fireworks are unpredictable, and many injuries happen because of improper handling. So, if one of your fireworks is a “dud,” drop it on the ground, douse it in water, and then wait a few minutes to dispose of it properly. Do NOT throw the dud directly in the trash, and do NOT try to stomp it out. (This goes for sparklers as well.)

6. Keep a bucket of water nearby

If you’re lighting fireworks, it can be especially important to have water nearby. Have a big container of water that’s easily accessible to drop dead sparklers or dud fireworks into if needed.

7. Follow your local firework laws

Make sure to obey your local firework laws and noise ordinances for the Fourth of July. Some laws may vary by county or by city. Some laws may be in effect for a certain time period. Just make sure you know what they are for your specific area before taking on an entire arsenal of firework fun.

8. Have the right home insurance

It’s always a good idea to know which damages might be covered by your home insurance before the worst happens. But Fourth of July celebrations can pose a lot of fire risk to your home, even if you’re not the one lighting the way. So, check your home insurance policy for the different types of perils it may be able to cover. Make sure you have the right coverage and enough coverage to properly insure your home’s structure and/or your belongings should a rogue spark unluckily land on your roof or lawn.

Grilling for the Fourth of July

1. Know your grill

Make sure you know if you have a gas or charcoal grill and familiarize yourself with how to use it properly. If you have a gas grill, check your propane tank and hoses to make sure there are no leaks. NEVER use lighter fluid on a gas grill. Those are only for use on charcoal or wood.

If you have a charcoal grill, make sure the rest of your fuel and your lighter fluid are a safe distance away from the grill. You don’t want something to ignite before you’ve planned for it to do so.

2. Keep the grill a safe distance from other structures and trees

Regardless of the type of grill you have, make sure you’re using the grill outside and away from your house, shed, garage, or beloved backyard tree. If your grill is located under an awning, make sure that the roof is a proper distance above the heat. Keep an eye on the grill while it’s on to make sure its flames don’t rise too high.

Fourth of July safety tips

3. Prepare the proper tools

Before you start grilling, place all the tools you need around you before turning on the heat. This includes:

  • Meat tongs
  • Spatulas
  • Aprons
  • Grill gloves/mittens
  • Skewers
  • Serving utensils
  • Serving plates
  • Thermometers
  • Aluminum foil
  • Specialty grilling tools (brushes, basters, injectors, etc.)

NEVER leave a grill unattended. If you have forgotten something after the food is already on the flame, ask one of your guests to grab what you need and place it in a safe space near you (that’s not on the grill itself.) If all else fails, make sure that you keep a fire extinguisher or a hefty bucket of water nearby.

4. Keep away kids and pets

We know: The smell of summer barbecue is enticing to human and beast alike. But a grill is essentially an open grate full of fire. So, as a grill master, it’s your job to make sure no one gets burned. Keep children away and occupied from the grill. If you can help it, keep animals locked away or inside while the grill is on or open. A burger tastes better when enjoyed from a safe distance.

5. Handle food safely

Overall, you want to make sure that no one gets sick from your cooking (in any situation, really). So, take special care when creating your delicious outdoor meal, especially if you’re cooking for guests.

  • Wash your hands before and between handling foods if you’re touching raw meat. At the very least, have moist towelettes or hand sanitizer to sanitize your hands if you can’t step away from the grill.
  • Don’t use the same utensils for raw meat and cooked food.
  • Cook the food thoroughly. Beef should reach an internal temperature of at least 160⁰F and chicken should reach at least 165⁰. Now is not the time to test your cooking skills with rare and medium-rare meat.
  • If you’re marinating food, keep it in the fridge until it’s ready to cook.
  • Do NOT thaw food in the microwave.
  • Don’t let your leftovers sit out for more than two hours.

Travel

1. Prepare your car for a long trip

If you’re headed out on the road for your Fourth of July fun, make sure that your car is ready to handle the long drive. Check your tire pressure and your gas tank before you leave. Make sure you’ve had an oil change and tire rotation before you hit the road, as well as any other maintenance issues. You don’t want your trip to be stopped short on the side of the road because of a simple fix.

2. Be careful on social media

Here’s a secret: Thieves love holidays. They know that many people leave their houses unoccupied, which gives them a perfect opportunity to break into your home without anyone noticing. If you’re posting live social media updates and selfies of yourself while you’re not in your own backyard, you’ve notified any potential thieves that no one is watching your home. So, save the pictures of your summer getaway for when you get back.

3. Make your house look occupied

One of the biggest deterrents for burglars is a place that looks occupied. So, if you’re gone for a long period of time, have your mail held or forwarded. Ask a friend or neighbor to house-sit or at least keep an eye on the place while you’re away. Maybe they could mow your lawn for you so the grass doesn’t look too scruffy. Don’t give dead giveaway signs that you’re not around.

4. Keep your home secure

Before you leave, make sure all of your doors and windows are securely locked. Keep your security system armed and have a reliable contact method if your security company needs to contact you.

If you don’t have a security system, it might be worth it to look into getting one for your home. Many modern systems have remote access to lock and unlock your doors, motion activated lights, or surveillance cameras. These features can not only keep burglars at bay, but they may even help you save money on your homeowners’ insurance.

A Fourth of July weekend can be a special occasion to celebrate friends, family, and the nation. That’s why it’s important to take special care and precautions to keep the day as safe as possible. It’s also important to have the right home insurance to handle the many types of mayhem that can happen throughout the year.

Our insurance experts can help you get multiple quotes on the affordable home insurance you need, no matter the occasion. To stop missing out on great home insurance rates, just give us a call, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with a specialist today.

10 questions an insurance agent may ask when you get home insurance

Be prepared to answer these questions from an insurance agent when you get home insurance quotes.

Be prepared to answer these questions from an insurance agent when you get home insurance quotes.

When you’re on the road to getting great homeowners insurance, you may be a little hesitant to disclose a few details about yourself. And we’re not talking about your favorite color. Home insurance agents sometimes need certain, sensitive information that many people have been taught to hold near and dear.  The good news is that insurance agents know how to keep your information safe and use it to get great rates on your home insurance. So, here are some of the questions you’ll have to be prepared to answer to get home insurance.

Read more10 questions an insurance agent may ask when you get home insurance

10 GA driving laws to know about

You need to know about these Georgia driving laws.

You need to know about these Georgia driving laws.

Drivers’ ed may be a course that’s long behind you, but Georgia driving laws are updated more regularly than you would think. In fact, if you’re a seasoned driver, you may not be aware of some of the most vital GA driving laws and their conditions. So, here are the top 10 GA driving laws that you need to know to remain a safe and informed Georgia driver.

10 Georgia driving laws you should know about.

1. You’re required by law to have car insurance.

Georgia law requires all drivers to have a certain amount of car insurance. However, many people don’t know that the minimum requirement for car insurance in Georgia does NOT cover their car or their passengers and may not even be enough to cover the other driver if you’re in an accident.

The state minimum requirement for auto insurance is only 25/50/25, which means that every driver is required to have at least $25,000 worth of bodily liability insurance per person, $50,000 of bodily liability insurance per accident, and $25,000 of property damage insurance. Again, bodily injury liability and property damage coverage do NOT cover damages to your car or the injuries of you and your passengers. If you want coverage for your vehicle, you may want to consider collision and comprehensive coverage for your auto insurance policy.

Additionally, Georgia’s minimum coverage limits may not be enough to completely cover the other driver if you’re in an accident. If they sue you and you’re found liable for more than your insured limit, you could be on the hook. That’s why you should also consider increasing the amount of liability and property damage coverage on your policy or consider personal umbrella insurance.

2. Hands-free Driving

In 2018, Georgia passed a totally hands-free driving law, making it illegal for any driver to simply hold an electronic device while operating a car. This law extends farther than restricting texting and driving. The law was passed this way so that it would be easier to enforce distracted laws throughout the state. Before the law, in most cases, police would not be able to prove that a driver was texting and driving instead of simply holding the phone to speak.

However, this doesn’t mean that it is completely illegal to use a device while driving in Georgia. On the contrary, it is still legal on the road to:

  • Use hands-free technology to talk on the phone
  • Use Speech-to-Text to text or make notes
  • Use GPS or a navigation app
  • Use a smartwatch
  • Use an earpiece (but not headphones)
  • Use your phone to report an accident, medical emergency, fire, crime, or hazardous road condition
  • Use a radio, CB radio, subscription-based emergency communication device, prescribed medical device, or in-vehicle security system
  • Use your phone while parked in an off-the-road location (NOT stopped at a stop sign/light)

So, this is one of our important Georgia driving laws to know about.

3. Don’t be a “slowpoke”

That’s right: you may be stopped in Georgia for going too slowly in the improper lane. The Georgia “Slowpoke Law” mandates that if a faster car approaches you while you’re driving in the left lane on a highway, you must move out of the way of that car, even if you are going the speed limit. You may even see highway signs that state “Slower traffic, move right.” Failure to move over may result in a fine or a ticket.

4. Slow Down/Move Over

Speaking of moving over, Georgia has also created a law to slow down and move over for not only police cars stopped on road shoulders, but emergency responders, tow truck drivers, and garbage trucks. Numerous emergency responders and assistance workers are killed because of vehicles that fail to obey this law.

So, if you see a vehicle with, not just flashing blue lights, but flashing orange or yellow lights, either move over one lane away from the vehicle or slow down to at least 10 mph below the speed limit.

There are lots of Georgia driving laws that you need to know about.

5. Make sure your headlights are on in the rain

This law is more than just a safety recommendation. Georgia law requires cars to turn their headlights on in the rain, even in the daytime. Headlights can increase your ability to see other cars in the rain, but it can also help other cars see you. So, even if you have automatic headlights, make sure that they turn on and that you’ve maintained them well enough to see through a storm and at night (at least 300 ft in front of the vehicle). Also, make sure that your taillights are operational and visible when your headlights turn on as a part of your regular vehicle maintenance.

6. If an intersection’s traffic light is out, treat it as a four-way stop

Sometimes power outages happen in your home or just within your neighborhood block. However, if you find yourself at an intersection usually lit up by a traffic light and its power is out, Georgia law dictates that you treat the intersection as a four-way stop. This means that whoever approaches the intersection comes to a full stop and then has the right of way. If two or more cars stop at the intersection at the same time, the driver to the left of the person on the main road goes first, and then each driver takes turns going, clockwise, around the intersection.

Of course, if the emergency lights for the intersection activate where there are either blinking yellow or red lights, follow those signals. And always stay alert!

7. Joshua’s Law

This law is essentially the series of Georgia-specific requirements to get a license. It generally focuses on proper driving education and knowledge for a teen to get their permit through a graduated license program. Most states have their own versions of this law. However, Joshua’s law is specific to Georgia’s requirements regarding written and field exams for GA drivers starting at the age of 15 with a learner’s/instructional permit. (It’s really important to make sure that teen drivers are aware of Georgia driving laws.)

8. Click it or Ticket

Seatbelts have a lot more benefits than just keeping you strapped down in an accident. However, before this Georgia law, many drivers still opted for keeping themselves unbuckled. The state’s “Click it or Ticket” law enforces a hefty fine for any driver in Georgia, whether they are licensed in the state or not, who drives without wearing a seatbelt. There are very few exceptions for this law, with most of them being emergency responders or slower vehicles.

9. You CAN drive without shoes

This one is more for the beach bums of Georgia or people looking for a little relief from the confines of shoes. It’s a large myth that law enforcement can pull you over for driving without shoes on. In fact, this “law” has never existed in the state. Unless it impedes your driving in another way, kicking off your shoes to ride around on the open road is not illegal in Georgia. Maybe that’s one of the weirder Georgia driving laws (or rather not laws) out there, but still worth a mention.

10. No open containers

Even if you’re playing the role of designated driver for a night out, make sure that no one in your car has an open container of alcohol. This includes resealable containers, cups, or bottles. While the charge may not be the same as a DUI, there is a large fine for the driver of the vehicle if there are any unsealed alcoholic beverages present. Plus, the officer may have grounds to issue a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test if they see an open container.

These are by no means a complete list of Georgia driving laws you need to know. However, these basic reminders can put you on the path to creating a safer road system for you, your passengers, and other drivers out there. It can also help you save money on Georgia car insurance. Safe and knowledgeable drivers can qualify for discounts and lower rates.

Our auto insurance experts can help you uncover all of the secrets to saving on your auto insurance. To start getting customized quotes on the best rates for your Georgia auto insurance, give our experts a call, fill out our online form, or start LiveChatting with an agent today!

10 places to RV around Georgia

There are lots of places to RV around Georgia.

There are lots of places to RV around Georgia.

The summer means it’s the official start to RV season. The South is full of wide-open spaces and scenic routes that are perfect for stopping to smell the flowers. With so much beautiful scenery, it can be daunting to narrow down your next road trip destination. So, here are the top 10 places to RV around Georgia if you love the great outdoors!

10 places to RV around Georgia

1. Cloudland Canyon in Rising Fawn, GA

Cloudland Canyon has been one of the more popular picks for Georgia travel guides lately, and for good reason. Along with its stunning waterfalls and picturesque view of the North Georgia mountains, its hiking trails offer a challenging trek while providing breathtaking views. However, the canyon offers trails for every level of outdoor enthusiast, including the Overlook Trail, Waterfalls Trail, and the West Rim Loop.

In addition to its 72 tent, trailer, and RV campsites, visitors also have the option to book a stay in the park yurts. With activities like canyon climbing, caving, and horseback riding, a trip to Cloudland Canyon is sure to awaken and excite your inner adventurer.

2. Tallulah Gorge in Tallulah Falls, GA

Tallulah Falls has also been a popular pick as a place to RV around Georgia. The state park lies only a few miles west of where the Savannah and Chattooga Rivers meet to define the Georgia/South Carolina border.

Hikers can obtain a permit to trek the gorge floor, or they may test their skills on the sliding rock trail or the Hurricane Falls staircase. If a leisurely nature walk is more of your thing, the gorge has tons of other hiking trails along its rim, including the suspension bridge.

There are also tons of activities to partake in for a weekend getaway. You can try your hand at archery or take your family on a scavenger hunt with the gorge’s geocaching locations. There are also plenty of water features where you’re free to fish, swim, picnic, paddleboat, and white-water kayak to your heart’s content.

After you’ve had your fill of the great outdoors, it’s only a short trip to nearby towns Blairsville, Dahlonega, and Helen, which have tons of interesting exhibits showing off some Georgia history. Dahlonega even has a Gold Museum!

3. Cumberland Island in St. Mary’s, GA

Cumberland Island also makes our list of places to RV around Georgia. If you’re more of a coastal voyager, Cumberland Island offers tons of RV options to quench your thirst for adventure. While the island itself is undeveloped, there are tons of RV campsites near the ferry. The island also has a Leave No Trace policy, which makes for a gorgeous way to experience the seashore and Cumberland Island’s rich, and untouchable history as Georgia’s biggest barrier island.

Take a boat tour with Crooked River State Park or find tons of other places to park that offer activities like biking, boating, fishing, geocaching, and even mini golf! Learn a ton about nature around the Georgia coast at a wildlife reserve or just walk along Cumberland’s beach to catch a glimpse of the wild crabs, tortoises, herons, deer, or horses. You can even dive deep into the history of the island, from the Native American tribes that lived nearby to the Carnegie family and the island’s role in Southern history as a whole.

4. Jekyll Island in Glynn County, GA

Jekyll Island is a favorite for nature enthusiasts, whether they’re venturing out on their own or with a local school group. The island has tons of activities and trails to keep your weekend occupied.

Learn about the historic district through a golf cart tour, the island archives, or Mosaic, Jekyll’s official museum. Or take a peek at the numerous forms of wildlife found in the forests, beaches, and wildlife reserves. Even if you want to sidestep the beautiful beaches, take a stroll over to Horton Pond or glimpse a sea creature at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

You can pick from lots of places to RV around Georgia.

5. H. Stephens State Park in Crawfordville, GA

If you want to sneak away to a hidden gem this summer, take an RV ride over to Crawfordville, GA for a camping trip in A.H. Stephens State Park. There’s tons of history to take in and unique activities for the whole family.

This park is more for the easy-going camper who just wants to get away from it all, especially when you consider that Crawfordville is a “dark zone.” This means that the stars shine brightly almost every night without light pollution. So, you can count the constellations without interruption after a day of hiking, biking, and horseback riding in a quiet town.

6. DeSoto Falls near Helen, GA

Rumor has it that a piece of the armor of the explorer, Hernando de Soto, was found near the falls, giving the location its historic name. But whether you visit for the history or the views, you can bet you’ll have a breathtaking experience at DeSoto Falls.

The trail through the Chattahoochee National Forest to the legendary falls is lined with stunning rhododendrons. It’s fit for hiking for the whole family. The entire hike is relatively easy, so even your furry friend may be able to enjoy the walk to the park’s two waterfalls and nearby creeks, shaded by the beautiful canopy of trees along the way. And therefore DeSoto Falls makes our list of places to RV around Georgia.

7. Racoon Mountain in Chattanooga, TN

Racoon Mountain in Chattanooga also makes our list of places to RV around Georgia. If you’re up for going a bit off of the beaten path and outside of the state borders to frolic through some foliage, Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground might be the RV destination for you. Not only can you take in spectacular views of the Tennessee mountains, but the campgrounds offer opportunities to pan for gems! Not to mention that the area around the mountain is a state-designated wildlife observation area.

The Raccoon Mountains offer playgrounds and seasonal pools for your family outing, but there are also cavern tours and swinging/hiking bridge trails to tap into your inner mountaineer. This particular campsite is also close to other popular hiking sights such as Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain. Plus, if you want to extend your adventure to the city of Chattanooga, there are tons of attractions that the nearby city has to offer.

8. Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, AL

Whether you know it as Black Creek Falls or Noccalula Falls, the legend of love stays the same and stays prevalent in this scenic Alabama location. The entire park emits energy of love and awe, whether that’s for your loved one, yourself, or just the beauty of nature.

You can take a walk on the wild side with 5 miles of crushed stone hiking and biking trails or take part in a bit of living history with the Falls’ theatrical production of The Noccalula Experience. The park also offers mini golf and various couples’ packages if you have a few passengers tagging along for your out-of-town RV ride.

9. Black Mountain in Pisgah Forest, NC

North Carolina is no stranger to beautiful natural scenery, but Black Mountain takes the cake! Black Mountain is considered the Cradle of Forestry. So, take advantage of the access to the Heritage site or hike up tons of hiking trail options near this part of the Appalachian Trail. The park’s campgrounds are also near the South Toe River. So, if you want a cool way to cool off, check out their options for swimming, fly fishing, and tubing as well! And that’s why Black Mountain makes our list of places to RV around Georgia.

10. Table Rock State Park in Pickens, SC

Last, but not least, Table Rock State Park can be one for the RV books – especially in fall. The view of color-changing trees far and wide can make the trek to the top of the mountain all the more worth it.

Of course, there are tons of sights to see year-round, including the park’s waterfalls and the 80-mile Foothills Trail that leads to various other state parks in South Carolina. The park also hosts a “Music on the Mountain” bluegrass concert every second Saturday of the month. Plus, Table Rock hosts various events and activities like birding, fishing, and kayak rentals throughout the entire year.

So, that concludes our list of 10 places to RV around Georgia. How’s that for a start to your summer RVing road map? Remember, before you hit the road, make sure you have the right insurance coverage for your RV. That way, you’ll be protected from whatever adventure comes your way. Call our auto insurance experts today to get the RV insurance you need while saving money for your summer road trips!

Check your Atlanta home insurance before hurricane season

Make sure your home insurance is ready for hurricane season.

Make sure your home insurance is ready for hurricane season.

Hurricane season is here, which means that it’s important to get your Atlanta home insurance or flood insurance ready. You need to have your home insurance all settled well in advance of any storm. We’ll go over a few things you need to know about making sure your insurance is ready for hurricanes.

6 things to know about home insurance, flood insurance, and hurricanes.

1. Remember that home insurance doesn’t cover flooding.

Did you know that your typical home insurance policy doesn’t cover flooding? That’s why it’s important to make sure that you have the proper flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

You should also keep these things in mind when buying flood insurance:

2. Flood insurance takes 30 days to become effective.

If you’re planning on waiting to get flood insurance until you hear about a big storm coming your way, you may not be covered in the aftermath anyway. The NFIP has a 30-day waiting period before your flood insurance becomes effective. They may make an exception if you need flood insurance to get, extend, increase, or renew your mortgage loan, but overall, don’t wait until the last minute!

3. If a tropical storm or full-blown hurricane is set to hit your area, it may be too late to get home insurance

Insurance companies may issue “binding restrictions” if a big storm is nearby, which means they won’t sell or finalize home insurance coverage for certain peril for a certain amount of time. This happens a LOT before a hurricane strikes. So, waiting until the last minute could mean that you’re out of luck for getting home insurance. As tempting and easy as it is to procrastinate dealing with insurance, hurricane season is not the time to put off getting some home insurance quotes.

4. You may not be able to increase your home insurance limits or lower your deductible either if a storm is on the way.

What if you already have home insurance? If an insurance carrier imposes binding restrictions, you may not be able to raise the limits of what your regular policy will cover or lower your deductible (the amount you’ve agreed to pay for a claim before your policy kicks in.) So, you’ll need to consider your risk and make any adjustments to your coverage well before your area is threatened by a major storm.

5. If you live near water, you may have to get home insurance coverage from a different type of carrier.

Here’s the thing: Even if your home has never seen a hurricane, living in a coastal town or near a body of water can put you at a bigger risk of being hit by a storm. Big insurance companies sometimes don’t like taking on that risk. So, if you’re having trouble finding home insurance for your coastal or beach house, you may have to think outside of the box in terms of home insurance carriers.

6. Take a look at your ALE coverage.

Most homeowners insurance policies have additional living expense (ALE) coverage, which can help you pay for the additional expenses you incur if you can’t live in your home due to a covered loss. Make sure you understand how much ALE coverage you have, how it works, and what the conditions are for reimbursement, again, BEFORE a hurricane.

We know that hurricane season can be a little scary. So, we hope these tips will help protect you, your family, and your home investment. If getting the right home insurance for a hurricane still seems a little daunting, just call our insurance experts, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with an agent today! We’ll work with you to make sure your homeowners’ policy addresses your specific risks and that you save money on the coverage you need.

Prepare your house for Atlantic hurricane season

Make sure you're ready for hurricane season.

Make sure you're ready for hurricane season.

Georgia is no stranger to hurricane season, whether you’re located on a coastal town or not. Even if you live more inland, heavy rains and wind from a hurricane can still cause massive destruction. So, it’s important to know how to prepare for all of the effects of a hurricane, not just the waves. Here are 10 tips on how to prepare yourself and your home insurance for hurricane season.

10 tips to prepare your house for hurricane season.

1. Know when hurricane season is.

It helps to know what to prepare for, but it can help more to know when to prepare for it. So, hurricane season in Georgia usually lasts from the beginning of June to about mid-November. That may seem like quite a long length of time for hurricanes to be pelting the shoreline, so don’t worry – the most active season for storms in the past has been during the months of July, August, and September.

2. Inspect your house’s structure.

If you haven’t inspected your house’s structure, it may be time to finally get out your tool belt. Make sure that there are no broken tiles or shingles on your roof. Keep your gutters clean so that rainwater doesn’t get backed up onto your roof to cause rot or leaks. Check your home’s indoor and outdoor walls for cracks or structural damage that could be easily compromised by a storm.

3. Trim your trees in preparation for hurricane season.

Along with your regular home maintenance and home inspection, make sure you’re maintaining the foliage around your home. Look for dead tree limbs and other plants that could cause heavy damage if they fell onto your house. Remember: your home insurance may only pay part of the costs of tree removal if it falls. So, preparing your home ahead of time will save you a lot of headache in the long run.

4. Secure outdoor structures.

If you’ve heard the phrase, “They’ll take anything that’s not nailed down,” you should probably apply it to any structures in your yard during a hurricane. Even “tame” hurricanes can carry winds over 70 mph. A strong storm can bring winds over 170 mph, which can easily blow away your child’s trampoline, playset, or a mobile shed. Those gusts can also easily blow those objects straight into your house or a neighbor’s house. So, make sure that everything in your yard, deck, patio, or porch is secure before a storm puts your outdoor fun indoors.

5. Know where the shut off valves are.

Make sure you know where all of your house’s water, power, and propane shut-off switches are. Map them out before a storm hits so that you and your family can navigate to them easily in an emergency.

6. Barricade your home.

Make sure you know how to reinforce your home properly for a hurricane. Check to see if your house is outfitted with storm windows. Stock up on pre-cut plywood to board up your exterior windows if necessary. Make sure the wood is strong enough to withstand the impact of debris. You should also keep a stock of sandbags handy to place near exterior doors; they can help absorb water that might otherwise seep under your doorways and flood your home.

7. Prepare an emergency kit.

If you’re stuck in your home without water or power, you’ll need to have a few supplies to tide you over until your next steps. Make sure you have a disaster kit that is at least stocked with:

  • A battery-powered or crank radio
  • Extra batteries
  • 1 gallon of water per day per person for three days
  • A 3-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlights and candles
  • A first-aid kit
  • A tarp and duct tape for a makeshift shelter
  • Towels
  • Cash
  • A map of the area
  • Baby and pet supplies, if needed

Additionally, be sure to keep your family’s important documents in a safe and dry place where you can easily access them if needed. Change out the water in your emergency kit every six months as needed. Check the expiration dates on the non-perishable food and replace the supply when necessary. You may also want to consider packing an emergency kit for your car as well.

8. Create and memorize an emergency plan.

If your area is under a storm watch, stay tuned to your local weather channel to find out if the situation escalates. If an evacuation is ordered for your area, don’t wait until the last minute to leave your home. Roads out of your town may close, and even with contraflow lanes, there may be traffic jams that can keep you in an unsafe area.

Before a storm hits, create an evacuation plan with your family. Decide on a common meeting place and make sure everyone knows how to get there. You should also know for sure where you’re evacuating to before a hurricane – whether it’s a family member’s house, a friend’s house, a hotel, or a public shelter. Choose multiple possible destinations, and make sure that they’re in different directions from your home.

Note your state’s evacuation routes and procedures, but also make sure you know how to get to your evacuation location using different paths, with and without major highways. Don’t rely on technology to get to where you’re going – print or write down directions.

9. Create a home inventory.

If worse comes to worst for your home, replacing your possessions will be a lot easier with a home inventory. A home inventory is a good idea to keep in general if you’re a homeowner, but it can also help your home insurance more accurately repair or replace the items in your home if they’re struck by a covered loss. Just make sure that your policy covers your belongings for their replacement cost value (RCV) – or the cost it would take to replace the item – and not their actual cash value (ACV) – or the depreciated value of the item.

It’s best to keep your home inventory in a place that’s secure and easily accessible. With modern technology, that can be easier than ever! Just use a cloud service or online form of documentation for your home inventory, and you’ll be able to access and update your list from anywhere. Plus, it can really help you out in case you have to file a claim.

10. Make sure you have the right insurance.

It’s also important to protect your Atlanta home with the right insurance. Get home insurance quotes by filling out our online quote form, giving us a call, or messaging us on LiveChat.