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All posts by Jason Levine

Listen to HLI on the Ridiculously Amazing Insurance Agent Podcast

Harry Levine Insurance On the Ridiculously Amazing Insurance Agent Podcast

Kelly Donohue-Piro of the Ridiculously Amazing Insurance Agent Podcast

We recently had the honor and pleasure of appearing on The Ridiculously Amazing Insurance Agent Podcast with Kelly Donohue-Piro and wanted to express our gratitude for the (ridiculously amazing) opportunity.

If you’re not in the insurance industry, it can be hard to understand what it’s like for the team that works behind the scenes. So whenever we can, we like to pull back the curtain, so to speak, to show you the nuts and bolts of running an independent insurance agency.

Jason and Julie Levine of Harry Levine Insurance

If you’re interested, watch the entire interview on Kelly’s website. In addition to going over our background and our roles in the agency (you always wondered, right?), we touch on a lot of insider information within the insurance industry.

First, we discuss why Florida is a whole different ballgame in the insurance world. We also cover how we manage our team (including our interns). Finally, we discuss the future of the industry and why the ability to change will be key.

Thanks again, Kelly, for allowing us this incredible opportunity!

Understanding Your Certificate of Insurance

Understanding Your Certificate of Insurance

If you have a small business, you are probably aware that you need a Certificate of Insurance (COI).

You might have been asked to provide one by a savvy consumer or potential landlord. Or perhaps your independent insurance agent advised that you have one.

You may not even have the slightest clue what it is.

As Central Florida-based independent insurance agents, we not only know what a Certificate of Insurance is, we’re also used to answering questions about them. Let’s answer some of your top questions about your Certificate of Insurance.

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Sinkhole coverage vs. catastrophic ground collapse

Sinkhole Coverage vs. Catastrophic Ground Collapse

Florida is famous for many threats—hurricanes, alligators, the eponymous “Florida Man”—but one of its most dangerous features lurks right underground: sinkholes. Which begs the question: “How does this affect my insurance?”

Your Florida homeowner’s policy includes catastrophic ground cover collapse, but is that the same as sinkhole insurance? In this article, we’ll compare sinkhole coverage vs. catastrophic ground collapse to see how the two measure up.

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Why are Home Insurance Quotes So Different?

Why Are Home Insurance Quotes So Different?

If you’ve shopped for home insurance recently, you might be wondering something…

Why are home insurance quotes so different between carriers?

 

It’s great to get home insurance quotes from multiple companies before settling on one. After all, isn’t that how you get the best value on your insurance?

But it begs the question,” why do homeowners insurance quotes differ so much?”

In last month’s article, “How Does Insurance Work?” we discussed how certain risk factors (or liabilities) can increase the amount you have to pay toward your premium or deductible. This might explain why insurance on your three-bedroom ranch is so different from your sister’s McMansion, but can it explain why your house received four completely different quotes from four different companies?

Turns out, there is a good explanation for that!
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Whole vs. Term Life Insurance

Whole vs. Term Life Insurance

You know you need insurance, but which kind do you choose?

Knowing the key differences between whole vs. term life insurance can help you decide.

 

If your insurance agent hasn’t talked to you about life insurance yet, they should have!

Having a life insurance policy is one of the best ways to provide for your dependents after you’re gone, yet a surprising amount of people don’t have this vital level of protection.

If you’ve looked into life insurance recently, you may have been a bit overwhelmed. “Whole life insurance? Term life insurance? What do these terms even mean?!”

We get it: life insurance can be confusing. But that’s why we’re here! Let’s take a closer look at each type of life insurance to better understand the differences between them.
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Why Are Federal Pacific Breakers Uninsurable?

You’ve been denied insurance coverage…all because of your electrical panel.

Learn why Federal Pacific breakers (and other panels) are ineligible for insurance.

 

You rely on electricity to power your favorite devices, but it can also be dangerous without the right safeguards in place. In fact, most homeowners aren’t aware of what’s going on in the wires behind their walls.

If there’s an issue with the electrical wiring, many people don’t find out until it’s too late…or until a home inspection uncovers a potential problem.

We’re willing to bet that you’re reading this article right now because you were recently informed that the electrical panel on your home is ineligible for insurance. We’re insurance agents—not electricians—so we can’t pass judgment on the safety of your electrical wiring. But many insurance companies will refuse to issue policies on homes that have certain types or models of circuit breaker (models such as Federal Pacific breakers and Zinsco).

Why is that? And what can you do about it?

 

How Does an Electrical Panel Work?

You know what an electrical panel is and you (hopefully) know where yours is located, but do you know why they’re important?

Electrical panels—also known as breaker panels, load centers, service panels, or breaker boxes—are the housing for your home’s circuit breakers. In the event of a power surge, short circuit, or circuit overload, the breakers are designed to “trip,” which is another way of saying they cut the electricity to that particular circuit.

circuit breaker illustration

While it may be irritating to experience a power outage at the moment you’re trying to make your morning cup of coffee, circuit breakers are a vital safety feature that prevent electrical fires.

If a breaker fails to trip, the high amounts of electricity can melt the plastic coating of the wires and spark a fire. The entire electrical panel can also overheat, which can cause it to catch fire.

Put this way, it is easy to see why having a high-quality, reliable electrical panel is so important.

 

Why Certain Electrical Panels (Such as Federal Pacific Breakers) Are Uninsurable

If you’re wondering, “Will a Federal Pacific panel pass inspection?” the answer is no.

Electrical fires are one of the top causes for residential fires, and cause an estimated 500 deaths and $1.3 billion in property damage each year. This isn’t a risk that most insurance companies want to take on.

In our recent article, “How Does Insurance Work?”, we explained how spending more money on claims means the insurance company has to collect more in premiums. If your home is located in a certain area or has certain features that the insurance company has deemed to be riskier, you will pay higher premiums than homeowners without those features.

There are some features, however, that are more than just “riskier.” And Federal Pacific breakers (among others) are one of them.

Just like the infamous polybutylene plumbing, some electrical panels have cost insurance companies so much money that they simply refuse to insure them. For them, it’s essentially a losing bet.

 

Which Electrical Panels Are Dangerous?

Despite their importance, there have been a surprising number of electrical panel “fails” over the past few decades. In most cases, the panels work fine for years, giving many homeowners the impression that nothing is wrong. In fact, most aren’t aware of what type of electrical panel they have until they get a 4-point inspection.

So, which are the ones your insurance company won’t touch with a 10-ft. pole?

Federal Pacific breakers (also known as Stab-Lok breaker panels) were some of the most widely used electrical panels from the 1950’s until the 1980’s. Yet nowadays, they are popular for an entirely different reason.

Not only do Stab-Lok panels fail to trip during a power surge (failure rates are between 25-65%), they can fail to switch off power when the switch is in the “off” position, resulting in electrocution.

electrical socket with burn marks

Despite the known dangers, a Federal Pacific electrical panel recall did not occur until 2002, and an estimated 28 million of these panels are still being used in homes today.

Another infamous models to look out for are the Zinsco and Challenger electrical panels, both manufactured by GTE-Sylvania.

However, when looking into the safety of your electrical panel, it’s important to look beyond the brand name and into the function of the panel itself.

Building codes have changed since the 1970’s and many older electrical panels simply do not meet modern standards.

Think about how much more electricity your household uses compared to, say, your grandmother’s day. Your WiFi router, Alexa, laptops, cell phone chargers, and gaming console have a much bigger appetite than a 1950’s blender.

 

Replacing Your Electrical Panel

While there are some insurance companies that will provide coverage on homes with these types of electrical panels, most homeowners prefer to have them replaced.

After all, the average cost of replacing an electrical panel is around $1,100 and you’ll have the added benefit of more choices when it comes time to renew your policy.

If you suspect that your home might have a recalled or outdated electrical panel, don’t try to replace it yourself as your weekend project! Instead, have it examined and replaced by a qualified electrician.

 

Conclusion

Electricity is part of what makes our modern-day lifestyle possible. But having good insurance coverage is just as important as having safe electrical wiring.

Whether you need to find an insurance carrier who will accept your current electrical panel or you just want to see if you can get a better value from your homeowners insurance, let the friendly agents at Harry Levine Insurance help!

What Is a Wind Mitigation Inspection?

What is a Wind Mitigation Inspection?

Wind mitigation inspections do more than give Florida homeowners peace of mind.

Find out how a quick wind mitigation inspection can help lower your insurance premiums.

Floridians are well-versed at protecting our homes from hurricane-related wind damage. We secure doors and windows, fill up sand bags, and clear our yards of loose debris.

But most people forget about the biggest area of protection for their home: the roof.

Your realtor or home inspector might have recommended that you get a wind inspection, but what is it? And—more importantly—why is it so important?
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How Do Deductibles Work?

How Do Deductibles Work?

Sure, you have an insurance policy, but how much do you know about it?

In this article, we’re tackling the age-old question: “How do deductibles work?”

 

The insurance industry is notorious for confusing rules and obscure jargon and deductibles fall under both of these categories.

You might understand it on a surface level but exactly how do deductibles work (and why do we need them in the first place)?
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Why Is Car Insurance So Expensive?

Why Is Car Insurance So Expensive?

It’s been years since you’ve been in a car accident or filed a claim…

…So why is car insurance so expensive?

 

You just received another letter from your insurance company notifying you that your car insurance rates will be increasing this year.

“Why is car insurance so expensive?!” you scream in frustration. “I didn’t even have any claims!”

Unfortunately for car owners, this is an common occurrence…and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon.
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What Is Errors and Omissions Insurance?

What exactly is E&O Coverage?

Whether you’ve heard it called Errors and Omissions insurance or Professional Liability insurance, let’s take a closer look at what it is (and why you need it).

 

We all learned from a young age that no one is perfect. But, while we’re usually quick to overlook our own mistakes, you’ve probably discovered that your clients aren’t as forgiving when you mess up.

Everyone is sure to have an “off day” from time to time, but businesses that perform a service or give advice can’t afford to make a mistake. Especially when those mistakes can lead to a loss for a client or colleague.

Luckily, the insurance industry recognizes a need to cover instances of errors, omissions, and negligence, which means there’s a product available to protect your business.

There are many names for it but whether you call it Professional Liability, Malpractice Insurance, or Errors and Omissions insurance, this is one business insurance policy you shouldn’t neglect.
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