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Below is an accumulation of the most frequently asked questions that we receive. The list is not intended to be all-inclusive and is for informational purposes only. Each carrier and policy is different and you should always consult a licensed agent before making policy changes.
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Replacement Cost Value/Insurance Value
This is not the same as the “Fair Market Value” or whatever price a buyer and seller are willing to agree upon. The Fair Market Value is a value that can change depending on the desirability of a home. In addition, the Fair Market Value can change during the actual buying/selling of the home if undesirable conditions are found. The Replacement Cost Value/Insurance Value is based on several factors, but two main factors dictate the insurance value; the information about the home and the propensity for damage based on a CATEGORY 5 hurricane.
There are primarily 3, third-party vendors that provide software that calculates the estimated insurance values on homes in Florida. These software programs are designed to pull information from the property appraisers’ website, in an effort to determine the insurance value of the home. With that said, some items still have to be entered in at the agency level, since the property appraiser’s website does not take into consideration the construction on the inside of your home.
The second factor that helps in determining the insurance value of your home, is the fact that in Florida we must deal with a worst-case scenario – CAT 5 hurricane. This means that the insurance value has to take into consideration what it would cost to rebuild your home if we are hit with another Category 5. This takes into consideration that the cost of goods go up, not down at the time of the claim. It also takes into consideration the fact that the cost to get goods into the state of Florida also rises significantly as well.
Lastly, the insurance value factors in labor costs when there is a shortage.
I often hear, “I spoke to my cousin in New York, and he said he could rebuild my home for half of what it is insured for”. Again, this is simply not the case when you are hit with a CAT 5 hurricane, as your cousin does not have control over the items listed above.
Standard vs E&S Carrier Vs Citizens
There is a difference between the three.
- Standard Carrier – This is a carrier that is either rated by A.M. Best or Demotech, but more importantly, these carriers pay into the FIGA (Florida Insurance Guaranty Association) fund. This means that the carrier is backed by FIGA as outlined on their website. Most of your name brand carriers are standard carriers.
- Excess and Surplus Lines Carriers – These are some of the largest carriers in the world and are usually A.M. Best Rated. However, they do not pay into the FIGA fund and therefore, their policies are not backed by the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association at the time of a loss.
- Citizens – Citizens is a state-run government insurance company that is neither rated nor backed by FIGA. It is considered “the insurer of last resort”.
Sinkhole endorsement is potentially available through Citizens Insurance Company. It is on a submit for approval basis and increases the premium by approximately 3-4 times.
Hurricane Deductible is a percentage of Coverage A (Home Insurance Value). The most common percentages are 2%, 5% and/or 10%. If the damage sustained is not above this amount, it does not meet the required deductible amount and is the responsibility of the insured.
Does roof age affect my premium?
Roof age along with several other factors can affect a client’s premiums. Most carriers want wind mitigation inspection.
Wind Mitigation Inspection
Wind mitigation inspection is used to give credits on home insurance premiums. The discounts are based on several different factors and each factor has a four point inspection.
4 Point Inspection
Four point inspection is used to determine a home’s eligibility based on the 4 main points of the home – Roof, Plumbing, Electrical and HVAC.
What dogs are acceptable breeds?
There are 9 -10 “Deadly Breeds” recognized by most carriers. These “Deadly Breeds” will often make an applicant ineligible with a carrier. Most dogs outside of these breeds are eligible if your home insurance policy has the dog liability endorsement.
Do you write insurance all over the state of Florida?
What home insurance carriers do you write?
We write with just about every home insurance carrier in Florida.
Did my mortgage company pay my premium?
You will want to contact your mortgage company and find out. Often, the mortgage company has sent the payment, but the payment is in the process of being applied to the policy.
What if my mortgage company changes?
You must let us know. We need the full legal name, address. Loan number and email or fax for the new lender.
Does my mortgage company have to pay my premium for me?
You will want to check with your mortgage company to find out. From an insurance company standpoint, they don’t care who pays the insurance premium.
Checks from Mortgage companies on behalf of an insured’s payment should be sent directly to the insurance carrier.
What if the occupancy of my home changes?
You must notify us immediately as we may need to change policy types.
Premiums can increase on home insurance for a variety of reasons. The most important thing to remember is to contact us if the premium has increased drastically so that we can review your policy. On average, most premiums increased approximately 10% per year. This is due to inflation and the cost of building supplies.
Premiums on homes can also go up due to claims frequencies and lawsuits for a given area. In addition. If a customer has personally had excessive claims and/or claims payouts, the carrier may choose to keep the customer but increase their rates significantly. Distance to the coast and the further south you go in Florida also affect home insurance rates. Political “climate” can affect premiums as well.
Another item that affects premiums here in Florida is the cost of “reinsurance”, which all carriers in Florida must purchase.
Lastly, the age of the home, construction type and age of roof can all affect premiums as well.
Does my home insurance policy contain Flood insurance?
No, no home insurance carrier includes flood.
Paid off Mortgage
If you have paid off your mortgage, please contact your lender and get a letter from them stating that you have paid it off. Once received, you can forward it to us and we can remove the lender from your home insurance policy.
Oftentimes homes are non-renewed in Florida for various reasons. Sometimes it is due to an insured’s claims, sometimes it’s due to the age of the roof, exposure management and/or profitability issues. In the case of the last two issues, this is not something that an individual insured has control over, and is simply a business decision on behalf of the insurance carrier.
New Car Purchase
Despite what many car dealers will tell you, you have 14 Days to notify us of the new car purchase. Your car automatically extends coverage to the new car.
You have 30 Day to register your car in Florida.
Moving to a New Address
Assuming you are staying in Florida, you must notify us immediately. Your Zip Code affects your rate.
What Auto Carriers do you write with?
We write with most of the auto insurance companies in Florida.
You have windshield coverage if you have Comprehensive and Collision on your policy. If you do not, you do not have coverage for the Windshield.
Much like everything else, the cost of insurance goes up just about every year. While nothing is set in stone, the average seems to be about 10% per year. A carrier’s “experience” in a given zip code can have a huge effect on a customer’s premium. In most cases, an urban carrier will have a more expensive rate than a rural zip code. One carrier we write with has over 543 rating factors for one auto in one zip code.
A client’s personal driving record claims history (including windshields) and credit score can also affect a client’s rate. Another item that a lot of people forget about when looking at the cost of their insurance is the cost of their car. Most people are driving cars that cost more than their first home and have more security features than their current homes.
If they are “bumped” at a red light, the insurance carrier now has to pay for have 4 different cameras replaced when they replace your bumper. We always suggest if you get an increase greater than 10%, you should contact us immediately, so that we can review your policy.
Certificates of Insurance (COI)/Additional Insureds (A.I.)
We need the certificate holder’s name, address, and email or fax number. Some Additional Insured endorsements may increase a carrier’s premium depending on the language of the Additional Insured. COI’s take 24- 48 hrs.
Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR)
Motor Vehicle Reports, should be pulled prior to hiring a driver, as not every employee is eligible to drive based on their driving record.
Changing Out a Vehicle
We need the year, make, model, and VIN # of the vehicle being purchased. We also need to know which vehicle is being removed from the policy as well.
Work in Other States
Varies from carrier to carrier but most carriers will allow for temporary work out of state if the work is not ongoing, or you have not opened a location there.
Carriers reserve the right to audit all commercial policies. However, contractors are usually audited on a regular basis. Audits are based on either payroll, gross sales, uninsured subcontractors and/or sq ft, or a combination of the above. Much like any other type of audit, there can be a refund amount owed to the insured, an invoice owed by the insured, or nothing. Again, this depends on the results of the audit.
1099 Subcontractors must show that they have insurance equal to or greater than those on your own policy. You can add the subcontractor’s payroll into your own and cover them under your policy, or you can require them to secure their own policy. Regardless, they must be covered by an insurance policy prior to performing work. This prevents companies from using uninsured subcontractors.
Also, you can be fined and charged an entire years’ worth of premium by your insurance company if found guilty of using uninsured subcontractors. Your company must also be named as an additional insured on the sub-contractors policy to mitigate potential additional lawsuits.
Much like with home and auto premiums, commercial insurance goes up to keep up with inflation and the cost of goods. Frivolous lawsuits, excessive claim payouts, and issues with claims frequency can all affect a client’s rate. As is the case with home insurance, the location of the business can affect the clients’ premiums as well.
This is the most common type of Flood and is written through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fed Govt). The price is the same, regardless of the carrier as FEMA underwrites all FEMA policies.
There is a 30 day wait on all FEMA floods, unless it is for a new home closing.
FEMA premiums increase as a direct result of a rate increase by FEMA or a flood zone change. As stated above, FEMA sets the rates for their policies regardless of the carrier
Is written through different carriers and the premium varies from carrier to carrier.
Wait times vary depending on the PRIVATE FLOOD carrier.
Private Flood premiums increase as a direct result of a rate increase by the individual carrier. This may be due to the number of policies they have in an area or their “experience” with losses in each area. As mentioned above, another Private flood carrier may have a lesser rate due to less exposure in an area or a better claims “experience”.
Required in high-risk flood zones. You must have the actual flood-survey to get a quote as the numerical numbers on the Flood Survey are specific to your individual lot. The survey should be secured from the seller of the home.
My home is the only home in my subdivision in a HIGH-RISK flood zone, what can I do?
You can contact FEMA directly and apply for a LOMA (Letter Of Map Amendment) letter. If approved, FEMA can remove your home from the high-risk flood zone.
My home is not in a flood zone.
Every home is in some type of flood zone in Florida. However, your home may not be in a mandatory flood zone, meaning, your mortgage company is not requiring you to carry flood insurance.
Do you have any companies that give multi- policy discounts?
Yes, we do.
Can you keep our payment information on file?
No, we cannot.
Can you hold a check for a policy payment?
No, by Florida law we cannot.
How can I pay my policy?
Most carriers offer monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual payment plans.
We have offered both group and individual health insurance in the past. However, we do not currently offer it.
No, we do not offer Med Supplements.
Who can make changes?
Can a third party make changes on my behalf to my insurance policies?
Not unless we have a copy of the “Power of Attorney” for them. This includes mortgage/lenders. Legally, we can only give information to named insureds on the policy.
We do have some carriers that offer a stand-alone liability policy for animals.
Riders can be added to a policy to cover additional items on a policy that the underlying policy may not cover ie… Jewelry, guns, antiques, fine arts, etc.
Yes, we offer life insurance through a variety of companies.
Yes, we offer permanent/whole life insurance through a variety of carriers.
Are you guys licensed claims adjusters?
No, we are not. The state of Florida views it as a conflict of interest and will not allow us to participate in the claims process as agents.
Assignment of Benefits (AOB)
AOB is currently a hot topic in Florida and is having a huge impact on our premiums. This is a document that third parties are asking clients to sign prior to performing work.
The AOB document basically has you sign over all of your rights to your policy regarding the claim, to the third-party company who is performing the work. This creates drastically overinflated prices regarding the claim and can result in claims payouts that are 4 to 5 times the normal rates. It can also cause a customer to be non-renewed by a carrier due to the over inflated claims pay out.
Lastly, because of the abuse surrounding AOB, many carriers will not take you if you have been canceled due to certain types of claims.
Should I make repairs to my home prior to a claims adjuster coming out to view the damages?
You should make necessary repairs to prevent further damages. You should also save any receipts and damaged items for the claims adjuster to review.
We always suggest that customers take pictures and/or videos of their home and save them online somewhere safe. This way, you can show the claims adjuster exactly what you had prior to the loss.
Will my claims affect my insurability and/or my premium?
It’s hard to say. In some cases, it can, and in some cases, it may not. It depends on several factors such as claims frequency, size of claims, etc.
Auto Claim Info
After dialing 911, you should get the other party’s full name, address, phone number, email, tag number, VIN Number, insurance Information including policy number, carrier name, experation date, and phone number if listed. You should also take as many pictures as possible of both vehicles and secure a copy of the police report when completed, to send to the insurance company.
If there were any witnesses, get the witness’s name, phone number, and email. If there were any passengers in the other party’s car, get their name, address, phone number, and email as well.
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