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Drone Insurance Covered by Your Homeowners Policy? Think Again!

Every time something useful, cool, and new is invented, there are new dangers that come along with it. Newton’s Third Law of Physics even states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Well, guess what? Drones may be the hottest new present for children and tech enthusiasts, and a cutting-edge business tool, but an estimated 80% of them are operating without proper FAA approval or appropriate insurance protection.

drone insurance policy

Photo Credit: khunaspix on freedigitalphotos.net

Drones at home are less of a problem than drones used for business. Remember, once Bob the neighbor pays little Johnny $10 to take an aerial picture of his house, there has been a business transaction. You may not agree, but there was a transaction in the eyes of the court! Insurers are struggling to deal with the new risk posed by drones, whether it is drones running into each other, drones being flown into people or property, or drones having mechanical failure and crashing into people or property. There’s also that whole spying on people thing, despite plenty of existing laws and legal precedents to deal with that (just think cell phone cameras). You may think of drones as harmless, but rest assured, there are some very important things for homeowners and business owners to know about this potential insurance issue.
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Fraud is Causing Your Rate to Go Up

It seems like every year homeowner insurance costs more. We have talked about this before, but it is still happening and your rates are still going up. Our goal is to make sure everyone is educated about what is happening so you can make informed decisions about your home.

Normally, when people spend money they like to receive something of value in exchange for it. It’s difficult for insurance to provide obvious or immediate value because no one ever wants to have to use it. Everyone’s financial sensibility is vulnerable to ads like the one below that seem to bring that value. A new roof on your home can cost anywhere from $5,000.00 to $50,000.00 depending upon size, materials and contractor. The free roofs that are being promised all across Florida in ads like these, however, are not free at all. In fact, they are incredibly costly to the homeowner and the general public.
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A New Free Roof?…It Must be Too Good to be True

Free-lunch_Guy-Downes-20101

Credit – http://www.guydownes.com

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

A stranger knocks on your door.  You apprehensively answer.  They tell you that they can get you a entirely kitchen worth $25,000 or more if you’ll let them inside.  You laugh, say it’s too good to be true and send them on their way.  So why do people allow those making such outrageous claims to climb on their roofs, have access to their insurance policy  information, and ultimately to involve them in a rapidly growing fraud scam?  I suppose it’s because they aren’t be asked to actually invite the perpetrators in, but they are being promised a new roof typically valued anywhere between $10,000 and $40,000.

Insurance is there to protect homeowners from sudden and accidental damage.  Unlike a home warranty or maintenance contract, insurance does not cover wear and tear or an item reaching the end of its useful life.  Insurance is designed and priced to repair or replace a roof if a tree falls on your house, a hail storm causes damage or another sudden, accidental and unforeseeable event damages your home.  Unfortunately, opportunistic and criminally liable contractors are looking for homes with shingle roof at or around 15 years old all over Florida.  These roofs are naturally reaching the end of their lives, and most homeowners dread having to purchase one from within their household budget.  Knock, knock…
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What to do if your house has polybutylene pipes?

Polybutylene pipe

“What do you mean I can’t get homeowner insurance?”

Unfortunately, this line is becoming more common by the day in Florida. Homes are being bought and sold at a quick pace again, and any house built between 1978 and 1995 probably started out with Polybutylene plumbing pipes. If your house has not been re-piped it has been blacklisted by nearly all insurance companies. This isn’t because insurers want to be mean. It is because there is evidence that Polybutylene fails more often than other types of plumbing.
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My Insurance Company Told Me My Roof is Too Old, is it?

You might have some roofing issues!

You might have some roofing issues!

 

  Q.  Why is my insurance company telling me my  roof is too old and that I need to replace it? It  looks fine to me!

A.  Keeping a comfy roof over your head is one of peoples’ highest priorities no matter where they are.  When it comes to homeowner insurance roofs can quickly become a lot more complication than just shingle or tile.  Insurance carriers have detailed data on how long roofs are expected to last, what are the most common causes of roof related claims, and which types of roofs tend to work best. 
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Have You Saved With A Wind Mitigation Inspection?

Douglas Inspection Service logo (1)

We interviewed one of our clients, Douglas Inspection Service about Wind Mitigation Inspections. If you haven’t had one yet you may be able to save money on your Homeowners insurance! You can learn more about Wind Mitigation Inspections on our blog and read about them and Douglas Inspection below!

Q. How long is an inspection?
A. The time spent at the property is usually less than an hour. We do research prior to the appointment and at the home we verify the results of our research and confirm the way the roof is secured to the house. It really depends on how far into the attic the inspector has to go to find and photograph the features the insurer is looking for.
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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.