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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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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.

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.

What is Water Back-Up and Sump Overflow coverage?

Water Back-Up and Sump Overflow coverage

 

 

 

 

Q.  What is water back-up coverage?

A.  Water Back-Up and Sump Overflow coverage protects against water intrusion in the event that public utilities and/or septic systems become inundated and reverse course.  This type of coverage became very common after the 2004 hurricane season during which storm drains could not handle the amount of rain water inundating them.  This coverage is separate from flood insurance and most homeowner insurance already covers water damage from roof leaks/burst pipes/certain other causes.  Simply put, if your toilets and/or sinks began overflowing into your home due to reasons outside of the home (not a hairball in the P-Trap or tree roots in the main drain) this coverage may apply. If you are not sure if your policy has Water Back-Up and Sump Overflow coverage call your agent.

What is Employment Practices Liability Insurance?

Employment Practices Insurance EPLI

 

 

 

Q.  What is Employment Practices Liability Insurance?

A.  Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is a critical form of protection that all businesses need to have.  Like worker’s compensation, it does not matter if a company has 1 part-time employee or 1,000 full-time employees; this coverage is paramount.  EPLI primarily provides legal defense against claims of improper employer behavior (hiring/firing practices, discipline, harassment in the workplace) and it can sometimes provide coverage for accusations of improper tabulation of hours and payment of wages, as well as third-party (i.e. customer) harassment claims.  While illegal and intentional acts are never insurable, the cost of defending such claims can be into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Employment Practices Liability Insurance policy premiums are incredibly small compared to the potential legal fees that an honest employer may have to pay to defend accusations (whether true or not) made by a disgruntled employee.
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What is Worker’s Compensation Insurance?

I don't safety standards allow this anymore!

I don’t safety standards allow this anymore!

 

 

 

Here is a brief introduction into Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Q.  What is Worker’s Compensation Insurance?

A.  Everyone who owns a business with even a single part-time employee needs Worker’s Comp!  Worker’s Comp is an amazing product that essentially voids an employee’s ability to sue an employer for negligence/liability in the event of a workplace injury.  It provides a stated limit of liability for employer negligence and unlimited coverage for covered workplace injury treatment.  If an employer doesn’t have Worker’s Comp they are risking their business.  Absent coverage employees may directly sue their employer.  Everything from keyboard induced Carpel Tunnel Syndrome to catastrophic accidents are covered.
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What is Cyber Liability Insurance and Do I Need it?

Cyber Liability Insurance

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

 

 

 

 

 

Q.  What is Cyber Liability Insurance and do I need it?

A.  People have heard of the Target Hack. You may be thinking, well my business isn’t that big or my credit card vendor will cover such a breach. You are wrong. Cyber Liability a category of insurance protection that is needed by every business that uses any sort of electronic database system, takes credit cards, or facilitates any type of electronic transaction using customer information.  People often believe that their credit card processing vendor offers them protection, and in some cases they may offer some small form of coverage.  
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What is Umbrella Insurance and Do I Need it?

Julie and Jason have an umbrella!

Julie and Jason have an umbrella!

Q.  What is Umbrella Insurance and do I need it?

A.  Liability Umbrella policies are incredibly valuable and affordable protection needed by individuals and businesses, alike.  Your primary policies – home/car/boat/business owner’s/worker’s compensation/commercial automobile/etc. – provide an initial layer of liability protection.  This primary coverage is often maxed out at $300,000 – $500,000 for individuals and $1,000,000 for businesses.  Umbrellas can come with many different coverage limits, but the most common limits are $1 million, $2 million, and $5 million.  Insurance is designed not only to protect your current assets, but it also aims to protect your future earning potential against wage garnishments and judgments that a major claim may give rise to.  Umbrellas extend your liability protection beyond your primary coverage.  Simply put, someone with $500,000 primary liability and a $1 million umbrella effectively has $1.5 million in protection (within the bounds of the policies involved).  Umbrellas can sometimes even provide additional coverage that your primary insurance does not.

If you feel like you might need some extra protections in place and want to explore your options, submit your free quote now or call today to discuss your options.