Archives for wildfires

“Only you can prevent Forest Fires!”

That’s an old saying that you may remember. If not (or for those who do who want a trip down memory lane) – here’s a quick refresher:

Of course we should all do our part to avoid accidentally setting a wildfire – especially as we head into the peak Texas wildfire season. It’s just as important that all of your clients do everything they can to avoid wildfire losses, and there’s a lot they can do.

The Best Steps to Avoid or Reduce a Wildfire Loss

  • Roof – Use fire-resistant materials like cement tile, composition shingles, metal or copper. (You can get a double benefit – and save significantly on your premiums – if you use a roofing material that is both fire and hail resistive).
  • Walls – Use noncombustible siding materials like hardiplank, stucco or brick.
  • Construct decks of nonflammable materials and enclose the area under any raised decks to prevent embers from blowing underneath.
  • Use dual pane or tempered glass windows with metal/aluminum frames.
  • Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers throughout your home.
  • Keep a garden hose that is long enough to reach the house and other structures on the property.
  • Make sure fire tools (ladder, shovel, hose, rake, axe, water bucket, etc.) are handy.
  • Install a back-up generator in case electrical power is shut off.
  • Store valuable documents in a fire-resistive safe or an off-premise location.

Avoid Feeding a Fire Near Your Home

  • Keep the roof and gutters free of leaves, needles, branches, and other debris.
  • Maintain an adequately watered defensible space around your house on a regular basis (at least 100 feet of space on level ground and 200 feet on sloped terrain).
  • Remove all dead plants, trees, branches, firewood and debris and all flammable native plants within 30 feet of home.
  • Remove branches that extend over the roof or within 6 feet of the home.
  • Maintain a minimum of 15 feet between tree crowns.
  • Trim tree limbs to 15 feet off the ground or 1/3 total crown height, whichever is less.
  • Mow grass regularly.
  • Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks or barbecue area.
  • Separate shrubs by a distance of at least twice the height of the shrub.

It’s great to have the right insurance when a loss happens. It’s even better to avoid a loss in the first place. Take these steps with your own home and encourage your clients to do the same and you just might help them avoid a terrible experience. As an agent there’s no better service you could provide than that.


If you’re a Texas independent insurance agent that goes the extra mile to take care of clients and don’t already do business with iMGA, we’d love to talk to you. Start the process here.

Last month iMGA committed to making a donation to the American Red Cross of Central Texas fire/disaster relief fund for policies issued during September that met certain criteria. Plus we committed to matching donations made by our agents to the same fund.

Thanks to the generosity and hard work of our great agents, we are happy to announce that we have made a donation of $1,750 to the American Red Cross of Central Texas.

Even better, we know our agents make a difference every day in their community – by being great citizens and providing the right coverage to their clients at competitive prices. We are honored to be associated with them.

We’d be happy to help you find an independent agent near you who represents iMGA.

If you’re an independent agent who would like to offer iMGA’s homeowners, dwelling, vacant, mobile home, umbrella and travel trailer products to your insureds, please complete this form.

Between the wildfires raging across Texas, Sunday’s 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the two wars we’ve fought in between, we’ve had very clear reminders of all that our military and first responders (fire, police and EMT) willingly sacrifice.

In order to show our appreciation for and support of these brave men and women, we’re introducing a Military/First Responder discount in our Texas Elite program.

To apply the discount simply choose “Yes” on the “Military/First Responder Discount Applies” question on the Coverage Info page.

MilitaryResponder Discount Screen Shot

Military Responder Tip

Call Tony or Mike at 512.494.4161 x12 or x13 if you have any questions or need any additional information – and don’t forget our special wildfire disaster relief support program for the American Red Cross Central Texas office.

Texas Wildfire September 6, 2011

In Texas wildfires in just the last week:

  • At least two people have perished.
  • At least 1,626 homes have been destroyed.
  • The Texas Forest Service has had to respond to 176 fires covering over 126,800 acres.

Our top priority is to ensure every claim we receive is handled quickly so that your clients can begin to rebuild their lives as soon as possible.

Together We Can Do Even More Though

iMGA will donate $10 to the central Texas chapter of the Red Cross for every new policy you write with us during the month of September. Simply issue the policy and make sure the down payment is applied between now and the end of the month to have your effort add $10 to the total.

In addition we will match all direct donations by any of our agents to the American Red Cross of Central Texas (up to $500 total) and we will make sure that our collective donations are earmarked for wildfire disaster relief.

Thank you very much for helping the fire victims in any way that you can.

Please help us make a big difference in as many lives as possible.



To those of our agents who have already made a donation and emailed us the receipt – THANK YOU!!!! To those who have not yet, there is still plenty of time – just make your donation and email us a copy of the receipt.


The following is from the great folks at the Texas Forest Service:

News Alert: Recovery workshop scheduled for those affected by Bearing wildfire

APPLE SPRINGS, Texas – Residents affected by the recent Bearing Fire in Trinity and Polk counties are invited to a natural resources recovery workshop Friday, July 22, from 6 to 9 p.m.

The meeting will be at Apple Springs School on FM 2501 in Apple Springs.

Discussion topics include timber salvage, forest and tree health, reforestation assistance, special use tax exemption status, claiming casualty loss on timber, wildlife habitat loss and protecting your home from future wildfires.

The 20,222-acre Bearing Fire – deemed the largest wildfire in East Texas history – is 100 percent contained, but not yet controlled.

Melanie Spradling
Wildland Urban Interface Specialist

More than 3 million acres of Texas land and hundreds of homes have burned since wildfire season started on Nov. 15, 2010. You can make a big difference, though, in several ways:

Don’t Cause a Fire

Most Texas counties are experiencing severe drought. Especially this weekend, remember that just a little spark can start a massive wildfire.

The Texas Forest Service
continues to urge caution when it comes to any outdoor activity that can cause a spark – from outdoor grilling or building a campfire to parking a car on dry grass or shooting celebratory fireworks in approved areas. More than 90 percent of Texas wildfires are caused by humans, with the most frequent cause being debris burning.

While we’re facing these drought conditions, don’t use fireworks and don’t burn debris.

Learn about Restoration

The Texas Forest Service performs many valuable services including seminars such as these which are given throughout the state. Keep an eye on their website for seminars in your area.

For example, landowners in Hardin and Tyler counties who have been affected by recent wildfires are invited to a workshop July 7 to learn how to restore their land in the aftermath of a disaster.

“We want to let citizens know what resources are available to them as they recover from these tragic wildfires,” said Carrie Smith, a forester with Texas Forest Service.

The informational “After the Fire” workshop will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7, at the Wildwood Meeting Hall, 2201 Button Willow, Wildwood, Texas.

Representatives from partnering agencies – Texas Forest Service, Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department, Big Thicket National Park Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas AgriLife Extension Service and The Campbell Group – will be on hand to help answer questions.

Topics include planting, arson awareness, assistance from NRCS and “Firewise” safety principles. Similar workshops are being held in other areas around the state as well. See for more details.

Donate to the Cause

You can help the volunteer fire departments that have been battling the devastating 2011 wildfires by donating directly to the volunteer fire department of your choice.

The great folks at the Texas Forest Service have established the VFD Emergency Assistance Fund to help volunteer fire departments. Donations are tax deductible and can be earmarked for particular departments, counties or regions. ALL proceeds (yes, the full 100 percent of every donation) will be distributed to volunteer fire departments via grants for firefighting expenses.

Checks should be made payable to Texas Forest Service. Indicate the specific department, region or county department that you’d like to support on the check.

Donations can be mailed to:

Texas Forest Service
John B. Connally Building
301 Tarrow, Ste. 421
College Station, Texas  77840-7896

If you have additional questions about how you can help, email HelpingTexas (at)

As we are seeing all too clearly this Spring, wild fires are a very real risk for Texas Homeowners. More than 840 fires have consumed almost 1.5 million acres just this year (this and other facts to follow throughout this post are provided by the incredible team at the Texas Forest Service).

Fortunately, steps can be taken to prevent and/or limit losses. Property owners taking proactive actions combined with a coordinated state response have saved more than 5,600 structures. Unfortunately another 400 dwellings were not able to be saved, and lives were lost.

If your home is in any area affected by these wild fires, we strongly encourage you to educate yourself on the important steps you can take to protect yourself and your property.

There are many things you can do, but the Top 3 things to do to protect yourself and your property are:

  1. Prepare your property. Keep the area around your house clear of combustible materials, keep your lawn well mowed and shrubs and trees pruned and away from your home.
  2. Prepare your family. Develop and agree on an evacuation plan, including what you’ll do if you’re separated. Have medicines, important documents and irreplaceable memorabilia easily accessible and ready to go if needed.
  3. Leave when it’s time. None of your property is worth the loss of your life. Many wild fire related deaths come from last-minute evacuations. If ordered, leave – don’t delay!

Obviously this is only scratching the surface of what you should know if you’re in an affected area. Use the resources available from the Texas Forest Service, Firewise and the American Red Cross, among others.

And to all the brave firefighters working to save people’s lives and property across Texas – you have our sincere gratitude.

Taking a few important steps can make a huge difference in the threat a wild fire poses to your home.

House Fire With Firefighters

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ada Be

  1. All combustibles such as firewood, wooden picnic tables, boats and stacked lumber should be kept away from structures.
  2. Clear roof surfaces and gutters regularly to avoid build-up of flammable materials such as leaves and other debris.
  3. Remove branches from trees to a height of 15 feet or more.
  4. LPG tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire. Keep area around the tank clear of flammable vegetation.
  5. Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings.
  6. In rural areas, clear a fuel break of at least three times the fuel length around all structures.
  7. Have fire tools handy such as: ladder long enough to reach your roof, shovel, rake and a bucket or two for water.
  8. Place connected garden hoses at all sides of your home for emergency use.

(Source: Texas Forest Service)

Of course nothing is as important as protecting yourself and your family.

Make sure you know the emergency exits from your home and your neighborhood and use them if you are ordered by officials, at all concerned, or in any way threatened by fire.

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