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Car Insurance - What Coverage Limits Make Sense to You?


Have you ever noticed how many advertisements you see or hear during the day for personal injury attorneys? Billboards, TV and radio ads are blanketed with attorney's telling you ,"No collection, no fee."  Now the purpose of this blog is not to bad mouth attorneys, truly sometimes they are needed.  The purpose is to help you consider the business side of what they do, i.e. their overhead and how that relates to you and the limits of auto insurance liability coverage you need to cons... [ click to read more ]

 

Health Insurance with Health Savings Accounts - Who Benefits the Most


Many health insurance companies offer high deductible health plans or HDHPs in combination with health savings accounts or HSAs.  HSAs have many advantages such as tax deductible contributions, tax deffered growth and tax free distributions, all three of which have qualification requirements.  So who mostly benefits from these type of health plans?

The answer for who is best suited and benefit's the most from HDHP/HSA packages is simple.  Basically the well to do self e... [ click to read more ]

 

Flood Insurance Isn't Part of Your Home Insurance


More than half of all flood losses filed with FEMA for financial assitance come from homeowners who's homes are not located in a manditory flood insurance zone.  Just because your mortgage provider doesn't require you to carry flood insurance on your home, don't think you're safe from a flood loss.

Flooding happens all the time in places you would never think it would.  Why?  Mostly because of construction.  Development takes away from the earth's ability to absorb... [ click to read more ]

 

Business Income - One of the Most Important Coverage Offerings in a Business Owners Policy (BOP)


When hurricane Andrew hit south Florida in August 24, 1992, the category 5 storm caused devistating damage to homeowners and small business owners alike.  It took months before anything close to a normal life returned.  For insured homeowners's their lives recovered faster and more competely than many of the affected small businesses in the community.  Why?  Because a large number of small business owners did not carry the right type of insurance.  Specifically, most ... [ click to read more ]

 

Life Insurance and its Three Primary Uses


There are three primary reasons to purchase life insurance.  Family income replacement is the most common, followed by business continuation and lastly estate planning otherwise referred to as wealth transfer. Under current tax laws, if properly structured, life insurance proceeds are usually received income tax free to the named beneficiaries regardless of the beneficiary being a person, a trust or an organization. 

There are two fundamental types of life insurance, term an... [ click to read more ]

 

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Home Insurance and
Homeowners Insurance Articles:


Ways to Safely Lower Your Home Insurance Premium

This topic is divided between homes you currently own and those you are considering to purchase.

Homes Under Purchase Consideration

Most insurance companies offer new home discounts; the newer the home, the greater the discount. The logic behind this discount follows the improvements in building code revisions, which have resulted in stronger, more wind resistant homes. For many carriers these discounts can be as much as 20 to 30 percent.

The location to the coast plays a big part in pricing. The bottom line here, the closer you are to the Intracostal water way and the ocean, the higher the wind load in your insurance premium. As a side note, rural and frame structures also drive up the cost of your insurance.

Hipped roofs earn big discounts in your premium too. Gable and flat roofs generally do not. This too ties into the structures ability to withstand high winds.

Prior losses to a dwelling are also a rating and eligibility issue. You can contact your insurance agent to order a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report on the home you are considering to purchase. Be wary of purchasing a home with prior foundation, water or mold loss. Always use a licensed building inspector to make sure all reported repairs were properly done, as well as to reveal any hidden concerns.

Consider paying for a wind mitigation inspection on the home you are seriously considering to purchase. The inspector must be properly licensed.

Homes you currently own

Regarding your home insurance, in order to minimize expenses, we suggest either paying for a wind mitigation inspection, or getting one done free through the My Safe Florida Home program offered through the state. To learn more about the My Safe Florida Home Program go to www.fldfs.com.

An approved inspection will maximize those discounts your house is currently due, as well as tell you what needs to be done to gain more discounts.

In both new purchase and existing homes, other ways to lower your premium is to raise your deductibles. Please remember that Florida policies have a separate wind and/or hurricane deductible versus your all other perils deductible.

What Never to Do:

Never ever insure your home below its calculated replacement cost. Being significantly under insured usually results in penalizing provisions in the policy for partial losses.

What to Do Before and After the Storm

Before Storm Season

When a Storm Is Threatening

After the Storm

How to Reduce the Chance of a Bad Claims Experience

Understand your insurance policies before you have a loss.

Understandably that is a tall order. The best way to address this requirement is to have regular reviews of your insurance policies with your agent. Your agent is trained in helping you understand your policies in regard what coverage's you have as well as those you don't have. Their biggest concern is to help you know about these matters before you have a loss. By doing so, you can then make an informed decision regarding those loss exposures you want to insure against and those you're willing to retain. Remember the most damaging punch is always the one you didn't see coming!!

Keep current receipts and records of personal property you own

All written, computer back ups and video documentation should be stored in a secure location away from your residence. This should be turned over to your adjuster upon request. This includes a current copy of your policy and declaration sheet.

Know your policy's contractual responsibilities after the loss

Almost all home insurance policies require you to take prudent actions after a loss to minimize further damages. If you are not physically capable, we suggest making arrangements in advance with a licensed and insured handy man or contractor to help you do those necessary tasks immediately after a loss. Important note: Do not dispose of any damaged property until after the adjuster has had a chance to see it. Additionally, we suggest taking photos of all structural damages before having any temporary repairs accomplished.

Have your adjuster explain how the claim settlement process works at your first meeting.

Have him explain to you what you should expect in the claims process along with the time line for task accomplishments. Make sure he/she explains their actions and how they relate to your policy. Talk to your adjuster about their approved sub-contractors and how you should and should not work with them. If you have a specific contractor you want to work with, do not sign an agreement without first having your adjuster approve the work. Give your adjuster a chance to discuss what he/she expects from you in order for things to go smoothly. Finally, if something doesn't sound right, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible for help.

Common Mistakes in Purchasing Homeowner's Insurance

Not Insuring the Structure to Its Full Replacement Cost

This is far and above the most common mistake. From the consumers perspective the root of the problem lies in not understanding the difference between Market Value and Replacement Cost. They are not necessarily related. To complicate matters, there is also a common misunderstanding between new construction cost and replacement cost.

The latter always has to do with rebuilding an existing structure, which if you ask any general contractor, always costs much more per square foot than new construction.

I’ve just received two quotes from the same insurance company, from two different agents, and their prices were different!! Why’s that?

Assuming you provided the same information to both agents, one or even both of the agents may have made a mistake, either intentionally or unintentionally. Let me explain.

If the quotes were run the same, i.e. the same coverage amounts and endorsements, the quotes would match exactly. Contrary to popular belief, agents can’t offer different prices to different customers for the same product. Insurance does not work like retail.

The only exception is if an agency has received approval from the Florida Dept of Financial Services to utilize a rebate program. This type of program is almost exclusively utilized in the commercial markets, not with home insurance, and requires up front disclosure.

The most likely scenario is that a mistake has been made in the amounts and types of coverage quoted. Having been said, you need to take the time to discuss the coverage amounts and endorsements offered by each agency. A classic mistake is the amount quoted on the dwelling itself. One agent may simply quote the dollar amount you gave him, while another may have taken the time to calculate the actual replacement cost, and then provide a quote based upon that number. Other common prices cutters are, quoting a high hurricane deductible, excluding replacement cost on the dwelling and or contents, not adding ordinance of law or going with the minimum family liability limits available. All these are fine, if you agree to them, but potentially devastating at the time of loss if you’re not aware or prepared to deal with the added exposure they bring.

Which agent do you want to look after your insurance needs? Is it the one that is careful to confirm what is actually needed and provides a tailored quote that fits, or one that sees you as just another sale to be made?

Not Scheduling Fine Arts and Jewelry

Almost every homeowner policy restricts both the coverage amounts and the covered perils to this classification of property.

Not Extending Liability to Rental Properties, Vacant Land you own, and Secondary Residences

You need to disclose other properties to your agent so he/she can confirm and or provide the proper coverage.

Insuring “Tenant Occupied” homes under a homeowner’s policy.

Essentially, you are not properly insured for nature of the claims you are exposed to.

Insuring Vacant “for sale” homes under either a dwelling fire or homeowners policy

This too, would result in uncovered claims due to the nature of the risk. This type of exposure requires a vacant dwelling policy in order to provide coverage.

As a closing note, in the world of property and casualty insurance, insurability is determined at the time of the loss, not at the time of policy purchase. That is why it is always important to work closely with your insurance agent when you first purchase your policies and then later as things change. Take the time to get to know your agent and for them to know you. Meet with them regularly, that way they can make sure your coverage’s change as your needs change.