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Life Insurance

Family...That is what it is all about. You are never too young to start protecting your loved ones!

Family…That is what it is all about. You are never too young to start protecting your loved ones!

Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve…

So, when is the right time to buy life insurance?  Certainly, it must be when a person starts to have a family, takes out a big loan, or gets a big raise that a lifestyle depends on.  Wrong.  Unfortunately, the best time to buy life insurance is almost universally yesterday, last week, last month or last year.  People often overestimate the cost of coverage, become uncomfortable planning for their own departure, and unintentionally set-up the conditions for financial disaster should the inevitable occur.
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Personal Injury Endorsement

Do you know what they are posting online?

Do you know what they are posting online?

 

 

What is a Personal Injury Endorsement?

Leading the way when it comes to sometimes disturbing truths about the litigious nature of American society, people must now pay particular attention to their social media posts.  Unlike innocuous playground, weekend or break room banter, when someone posts comments in writing they can and will be used against you in court.  The rise of bullying awareness and the perceived need to always be politically correct have now fostered an environment where lawsuits including but not limited to those for slander and libel are becoming increasingly common.  What’s more is that parents are now being held accountable by courts for their children’s social media posts.  It’s now time to check your homeowner insurance policy for an endorsement, or coverage add-on, called Personal Injury.
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All About Citizens Insurance

Don't assume you know what an assumption is!

Don’t assume you know what an assumption is!

 

Thank you again American Integrity Insurance Company for a great article!

Assumptions 101: All About Citizens Insurance

by Amanda Richter
Assumptions 101

WHAT THE HECK IS AN “ASSUMPTION”?

American Integrity has assumed many policies from Citizens over the years and one thing we’ve learned is that it can be a confusing process…especially for Florida homeowners. So, here is our “Assumptions 101” guide!

CITIZENS ASSUMPTIONS 101

FIRST, WHAT IS AN ASSUMPTION?

Sometimes it’s referred to as a “take out” or “depopulation” or an “assumption”, but all terms refer to the same thing…when current customers of Florida’s state run company, Citizens, are selected by a private insurance company and given the chance to switch their policy to that private company.

WHAT IS CITIZENS? WHY DOES IT EXIST?

Every state in the union has a government run or Joint Underwriting Association insurance entity to make sure everyone can get coverage even if no private carrier will insure them. Florida’s insuring entity for this purpose is called: Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens).

WHY IS IT DIFFICULT FOR SOME PEOPLE TO FIND PROPERTY INSURANCE?

It really boils down to the fact that the property is “high risk”. Insurance companies don’t want to insure homes that are in catastrophe prone areas or which characteristics make it hazardous. Some homes have an attribute (maybe the age, location, or construction) that makes it, statistically, more risky. After several hurricanes hit Florida in 2004 many companies pulled out of the state and others limited renewals plus where they wrote new business. As a result, the number of customers that had to be with Citizens grew tremendously.

IS THAT GOOD?

Well, our state company, Citizens, insures more property than any other state in the Union. That’s not so good for us. Citizens is funded first by its policyholders’ premiums, but it also has the power to assess (add a fee/charge) to all residents of Florida (not just Citizens customers) in the event a major catastrophe depletes their funds. Nobody wants this to happen, so the smaller Citizens is, the better it is for all of us. Citizens wants private companies to consider “assuming” some of the policies or homes which the private company feels it can provide the coverage needed at the appropriate market rate. The State of Florida wants to get the properties that are eligible out of the state company and covered by the private companies. That’s where assumptions come in.

WHY WOULD A PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANY TAKE ON PROPERTIES WHICH MAY HAVE MORE RISK INVOLVED?

When a private company agrees to help remove/assume policies from Citizens they are able to view the details (age, location, construction, etc.) at one time and use this data to see if the policies could be profitable as a group (something they can’t do when only looking at each risk one at a time). If the company thinks the bundle of policies (sometimes thousands or tens of thousands) could be profitable they agree to “assume” the policies.

HOW DOES THE ASSUMPTION WORK?

The actual process and rules sometimes change, but most of the time an assumption follows this pattern…

  1. A private insurance company will select the policies they would like to offer coverage and send those homeowners a letter asking them to make a decision
  2. If the policyholders would like to accept the offer for coverage with the new company, they agree to the assumption by not rejecting the offer. If they decide to STAY with Citizens, they must proactively act and send in a rejection form.
  3. If the policyholder accepts the offer, or does nothing, their coverage will switch to the private insurer on the assumption renewal date, however the new carrier begins to assume responsibility for any claims on those policies, as of the specified assumption date.
  4. The policyholder continues to call Citizens for regular policy service (like address changes) until the private insurer sends them a new policy 60 days prior to their renewal.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE REJECT THE OFFER TO MOVE THEIR POLICY TO THE PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANY?

There are a variety of reasons why someone might reject an offer from a private insurance company. First, almost always, the price will change when moving to a private company. Private companies protect themselves and their customers from a catastrophe by purchasing reinsurance coverage (which is expensive) while Citizens can finance themselves through increased taxes. Second, the policyholder might not be familiar with the private company and may be worried about changing. Last, they might not fully understand the concept of an assumption.

WHERE CAN I GO TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT AN INSURANCE COMPANY OFFERING THIS?

First, check out the company’s web site. Some companies, American Integrity included, will share their financial information, like their balance sheet and income statement, as well as their reinsurance information. This is the sign of a company that doesn’t have anything to hide! You can also look up the company on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation web site. You can research the company’s financial stability rating by Demotech, Inc, a leading indicator of the financial stability of Property and Casualty insurers. Last, you can even check to see if the company has a rating with the Better Business Bureau.

SHOULD I ACCEPT AN OFFER FROM A PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANY IF MY POLICY IS “ASSUMED”?

That’s not an easy question and there aren’t easy answers. As a taxpayer, you want Citizens to cover as few homes as possible. As a homeowner, you want the best coverage at the least expensive price. A private company may cost more, but offer more options. It may provide better service. And it helps the taxpayers! So, discussing this with your agent and researching the company makes sense.

Roofing Homeowner Scam

Ok, this roof truly needs help!

Ok, this roof truly needs help!

 

 

 

 

Thank you American Integrity Insurance for this great article. You can read the original here.

This time it’s your roof! Florida homeowners scammed

by Amanda Richter

This time it’s your roof! Florida roofing homeowner scam

A couple weeks ago we wrote about a growing problem – contractors using “assignment of benefits” to hijack consumer water claims. This alarming trend is finding its way to the roofing industry. Just last week the Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced the arrest of five NBRC Roofing Company employees for allegedly organizing a $525,000 insurance fraud scheme.

According to a press release from the DFS, the scam involved “visiting homeowners following a storm, convincing the homeowners roof repairs were necessary, helping the homeowners file insurance claims for repair and finally convincing the homeowners to give NBRC the sole right to make the repairs and the assignment of benefits for the insurance claim. But once NBRC was paid for insurance claim, the repairs would not be completed and the insurance money would be pocketed by NBRC employees.”

This is just another example of why assigning the rights to your insurance claim to a third party is a bad idea. When you sign a contract which contains an “Assignment of Benefits” (words to the effect of ‘I transfer and assign any and all insurance rights, benefits, and causes of action under my property insurance policy’ to the contractor) you sign the rights to your claim and any monies for your damage to that contractor in exchange for the contractor fixing the problem. If you disagree with how the contractor handles the repair or the amount charged you have given up your right to resolve the issue with your insurance company.

According to the DFS the below defendants were arrested in relation to this case:

  • Frank Martin Pureber, Apollo Beach
  • Carlton D Dunko, Tampa
  • Stacy Lynn Dunko, Tampa
  • Joel Samuel Deserio, Tampa
  • Alexander Josue Gomez, Riverview

Additional arrests are expected to be made of the following individuals:

  • Eric Shane Johnson, Bradenton
  • Christopher Michael Rios, Brandon
  • Benjamin Zebulon Matthews, Lakewood Ranch

The cases will be prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

How can you prevent this from happening to you?

  1. Call your insurance company first when you have a claim: they can help you partner with a reputable contractor and help explain what an “Assignment of Benefits” really means.
  2. Read any document you’re asked to sign: a contractor should only require you to sign a work authorization so if you see the phrase “Assignment of Benefit” do not sign.
  3. Unsavory contractors are especially prevalent after big storms when many Florida homeowners report damage. To avoid being a victim, prepare in advance by keeping a list of trusted contractors. Your insurance company may also be able to recommend experts. ASK THEM FIRST. It is to both your benefits to get quality work done at a reasonable price.

How much Screen Enclosure Coverage do I need?

Screen Enclosure

 

 

 

Q.  How much Screen Enclosure Coverage do I Need?

A. Just like with any type of property coverage owners should purchase enough coverage to replace their pool cage should it be completely destroyed.  Referencing your original purchase paperwork or getting an estimate from a licensed contractor can help take the guess work out of the number.  Be careful though!  Many homeowner insurance companies do not offer screen enclosure coverage, or they only offer coverage for the actual cage or aluminum framework but not the screen material itself.  Screen enclosure coverage is usually by special add-on, so if it doesn’t appear on your policy you should ask your agent about your specific needs and the details of the your specific policy.

Why Are Certain Electrical Panels Ineligible for Insurance?

If you electrical panel looks like this call an electrician immediately!

If you electrical panel looks like this call an electrician immediately!

Q.  Why Are Certain Electrical Panels (Federal Pacific Electric & Zinsco) Ineligible for Insurance?

A.  Passing judgment on these types of electrical panels isn’t something that insurance professionals can do, but many insurance companies say that they experience more claims related to electrical fires in homes with these panel boxes.  Many times homeowners don’t know they have a questionable electrical panel until they have had a 4 Point Inspection.
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What is an Assignment of Benefits Agreement?

Make sure you read what you sign. If it is too good to be true, it usually is!

Make sure you read what you sign. If it is too good to be true, it usually is!

 

 

 

This is a very important topic. Instead of writing this myself I am going to share a piece recently written by American Integrity Insurance on what is an assignment of benefits form.  To see the original post go here.

Courtesy of American Integrity Insurance

Should you do it? If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. So, “Just say no!”

A recent story on Action 9 in Orlando highlighted a problem we see all too often at American Integrity Insurance – customers who unknowingly sign away their rights to their insurance benefits. The story varies from person to person, but it follows a similar pattern:

You come home to a burst pipe. There is water all over the floor. You are frantic and call a plumber as you try to mop up the floor.  The plumber comes and fixes the pipe and recommends a company to come over and clean up the mess.

Good so far? Yes, the pipe is fixed and the water damage needs to be contained as quickly as possible.

But the water mitigation contractor who comes out, first puts a piece of paper in your hands and won’t start work until it is signed. You, the frantic and stressed-out homeowner sign. And the possibility of trouble starts.
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What are polybutylene pipes?

Q. What are polybutylene pipes and why does my insurance carrier dislike them?

A. Polybutylene pipes are a kind of common household water pipe used mainly in the 1980’s.  Insurance professionals cannot say whether the pipes are good, bad or anything other, but it should be noted that nearly all homeowner insurance companies in Florida will not provide coverage for a house plumbed with polybutylene piping.  Many times homeowners don’t know they have polybutylene pipes until they have had a 4 Point Inspection. The companies say that they experience many more claims as a result of broken or leaking pipes in homes with polybutylene.  However, there are insurance carriers that will provide coverage on homes with this type of piping. If you need help finding one of those carriers let us know so we can help.

What is a 4 point Inspection?

 

Q.  What is a 4 point inspection? Can I fail it?

A.  A 4 Point inspection is like a check-up for the vital systems in your home.  The inspection isn’t conducted on a pass/fail basis, but it can reveal areas that need repair.  The 4 points examined are the roof, electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating/cooling systems.  Many homeowner insurance companies require 4 Point inspections once homes reach a certain age.  It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive way to ensure that your home is healthy and doesn’t have any hidden problems that may reveal themselves when least expected.  When you hire someone to do an inspection you make sure they are licensed. We work with a few highly rated and recommended inspectors so if you need their number give us a call!  It is possible that your insurance company may come back and request that you make a change based on the results of the 4 Point Inspection. For example, there are electrical panels that are old and can be a fire hazard and certain types of pipes that are found to leak more so if you have them the company may request that you replace or fix them.

Can I Buy Pet Insurance?

Pet Insurance

Don’t let your pooch be sad! Make sure they are protected! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q.  Can I Buy Pet Insurance?

A.  Yes, you can absolutely get insurance on your pet.  A pet is a member of the family. We love them and want to make sure they are protected in case of an accident, illness or injury. Certain auto insurance carriers offer pet coverage and there are even entire policies that cover Fido’s well being!  There are also insurance policies known as Animal Liability that protect owners against damages caused to others if their pet bites, scratches or otherwise hurts someone. Check with your agent to see if your Homeowner’s policy has animal liability coverage and that your animal is not an excluded breed.

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