A Step-by-Step Guide to the Claims Process

Although no one looks forward to the time when they may need to file a claim with their homeowners’ insurance company, understanding the claims process can spare you a lot of stress and frustration if there is destruction or damage to your home or a burglary occurs. Your policy will contain the specific rules and procedures that the insurer requires you to follow, but below is a general step-by-step guide.

Filing a Claim for Property Damage

If your home is damaged by a covered event, such a hurricane, flooding, or sinkhole, you should do the following:

    1. Contact your insurance company or agent immediately, as there is generally a time limit on filing claims. Tell them what happened and confirm coverage. It’s also a good idea to ask if your claim will exceed your deductible, which is the amount of loss you agreed to cover yourself when you originally took out the policy.
    2. Carry out an inspection to confirm the extent of the damage. Make sure you take pictures and even video so that your insurer can see what your property looked like when you discovered the damage. Do not throw anything away until the adjuster has come to view the home for themselves.
    3. Make temporary repairs. You should take all reasonable steps to make your home habitable and protect it from further damage. Keep all your receipts and send copies to your insurance company.
    4. Fill out and submit a claim form. Be as specific as possible when you report your losses. If you maintained a home inventory, this should be relatively easy to do. If not, walk through the home to confirm that you haven’t missed anything before you file the claim with the insurer.

Filing a Claim for Theft

If you come home from work or vacation and find your front door ajar or window smashed in, call the police immediately, as the intruder could still be in the house. Do not enter until the police arrive and advise that your home is safe to enter. Then, take the following steps to file a claim and recover any stolen or damaged property.

  1. Take inventory. Go from room to room and take an inventory of missing and damaged items. Take photos of anything that has been destroyed. Once you’ve finished, hunt down the receipts for these items if you still have them. It is good practice to keep receipts for all valuables in case a claim ever needs to be made.
  2. Notify your insurance company. Once you have a good idea of what’s been lost, call your insurer to report the theft and/or vandalism. You will need a copy of the police report and your receipts (if you have them).
  3. Fill out and submit a claim form. This step is practically identical to the step when filing a claim for wind or flood damage, except that a police report will need to be submitted too.

No matter the reason for filing a homeowners insurance claim, your insurer will determine the exact value of your lost property, minus the deductible and depreciation. Once both sides agree on a settlement, your compensation will be remitted to you.

At We Insure, we will work with you to create a homeowners’ policy that provides your home and its contents with the best protection for your circumstances so you won’t be caught without the right coverage if the unexpected happens. For more information, please contact Rick Leal today.

6 Uncommon Events Your Homeowner’s Insurance Might Cover

If a fire destroys your home, you can feel reasonably certain that your homeowners’ insurance policy will cover repair or reconstruction costs. But what if an uncommon event occurs? Although policies vary, many of them cover surprisingly atypical claims. Below is a list of 6 uncommon events that your homeowners’ insurance just might cover.

  1. Food Spoilage

When a major storm knocks out your power, one of the first things you’re going to worry about is replacing all the spoiled food in your refrigerator and freezer. The good news is that your policy may cover the cost of replacing it. Coverage limits tend to be lower, but at least you’re not facing a total loss for any expensive food items.

  1. Personal Injury Claims

If someone slips and falls on your property, your homeowners’ policy typically covers any medical bills, but what you might not know is that the coverage can extend to incidents outside the home. If you’re getting groceries and accidentally knock another patron down with your shopping cart, your homeowners’ insurance will likely cover their medical expenses too.

  1. Defamation

When you don’t get along with someone else, like a neighbor or acquaintance, the hostilities can escalate beyond angry words into public accusations. If you are accused of defaming someone in public or on social media, your home insurance policy may cover the costs of retaining an attorney to defend you.

  1. Toppled Gravestones

It is a sad reality that cemeteries are frequently targeted by vandals. If your loved ones’ gravestones are desecrated, many home insurance policies will treat them as your personal property and cover their replacement. You don’t even have to be the original purchaser – if you are the primary caretaker, your insurance may cover it.

  1. Dorm Room Burglaries

All parents know that anything can happen when their sons and daughters go away to college. They can enjoy some peace of mind knowing that many home insurance policies will cover damaged or stolen items. Bear in mind that there may be age restrictions and some insurers won’t cover losses at off-campus housing.

  1. Required Upgrades

Some policies will cover the cost of necessary upgrades to your home if an insured event causes it to fall below the required code. For example, Florida law requires you to have sprinklers installed in your home. If fire damages your home, even if you did not have sprinklers in place before, the legally mandated upgrade may be covered by your homeowners’ policy.

Bear in mind that not all policies cover these comparatively unusual events. Understanding your policy limits makes it easier to purchase the coverage needed to fortify you against losses that may occur.  

At We Insure, we can work with you to identify your risks and explain what’s included in your homeowners’ policy to see if any of the scenarios listed above are in fact covered by your homeowner’s policy. Rick Leal will go over the areas where added coverage can benefit you and help you put together an insurance package that provides optimal protection. For more information or to schedule a policy review, please contact Rick today.

Brace Yourselves: How to Prepare for the 2018 Hurricane Season

Hurricane season officially started on June 1st. We’ve already seen a brief sales-tax holiday on flashlights, candles, lanterns, batteries, and other storm essentials, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is using the examples of Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew, and Irma to remind Floridians of the importance of getting ready now. This year there’s some extra urgency, given the fact that the National Hurricane Center is predicting a 35% chance of an above-normal season.

The message is clear: take action now. Don’t wait for the storm to be on the horizon before you fortify your home against wind and flood damage and examine your insurance needs. Here are some tips to get you started.

Secure Your Windows

Entry points such as doors and windows are vulnerable when gale-force winds attack your property. All it takes is a single broken window to expose the rest of your home to rain and wind-driven debris. Have impact-resistant windows or storm shutters installed; or, at the very least, board the windows up with plywood to lessen the likelihood of breakage. If you have a garage, consider installing a door approved for impact protection and wind pressure.

Protect Against Flooding

Hurricanes are often accompanied by torrential rainfall that leads to flood damage. To prevent or at least minimize water ingress, purchase enough sandbags to create a pile of at least two feet around the entrances to your home. If you have to leave the property, unplug all electrical appliances to prevent an electrical surge or worse if water does get in.

Remove or Secure Loose Objects

You’d be surprised what can be transformed into a projectile when hurricane winds hit. To avoid damage to your property or that of your neighbors, secure or bring inside anything that could be hurled by a strong wind. This includes lawn and patio furniture, bicycles, children’s toys, and potted plants. It’s also a good idea to trim your trees to prevent loose branches from breaking off.

Take a Home Inventory

Take pictures of your home’s contents and record the serial numbers for especially valuable items. If your home and possessions are damaged, you’ll need these details to help file a claim with your insurance company.

Review Your Insurance Coverage

Check your insurance coverage. Although most good homeowner’s insurance policies cover windstorm damage, damage or losses from flooding require separate coverage. Review your policies for any exclusions you may have forgotten and contact your agent to make any changes well before the storm hits: last year Florida insurance claims for damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma exceeded $8.6 billion, so don’t leave yourself unprotected.

Don’t take chances with something as important as your family home and cherished possessions. If you are worried that you lack sufficient coverage this storm season, contact Rick Leal at We Insure for a policy review. Rick will put together a package that protects your assets from hurricane winds and flood damage, allowing you to focus on keeping your loved ones safe.

How to Save Money on Insurance

Insurance can be expensive. According to research, homeowners’ insurance rates have been steadily increasing throughout the country, in some cases up over 50% in the last 10 years. In Florida, the average homeowner pays over $2,000 a year and in South Florida well beyond that! Add this amount to the premiums you may be paying for your cars, boat, or RV, and you’re likely spending thousands.

This cost is minimal compared to what it would cost to rebuild your house or replace your assets if disaster strikes, but there are steps you can take to lower your premiums. Here are six ways you can save money on insurance while still getting the protection you need.

1. Check your credit score

Your credit score can impact your premiums. If it has greatly improved since you bought your current policies, consider shopping for a better deal. When you check your report, review it for accuracy and report any errors to the reporting agency right away.

2. Raise your deductible

Raising your deductible is one of the simplest ways to save money on property insurance premiums. Even an increase of $500 or $1,500 can result in lower premiums while protecting your auto or home from covered damage.

3. Install a home security system

When you have a monitored home security system installed, your premiums can lower because a home invasion attempt is less likely to succeed. When requesting a quote, let your agent know that you have such a system in place. If you’re planning to install one, your insurance company may offer special discounts for certain models, so call your agent and ask before you go shopping.

4. Inquire into special discounts

Many home insurers offer discounts to retirees over the age of 55, as they tend to be home more often and can detect problems before they become serious losses. Other discounts sometimes offered are: accredited home builder, secured community, companion policy, as well as a few others. Auto insurers also offer multiple discounts; being a home owner, multiple cars and good student driver, among the many.  Ask your agent about your special discounts .

5. Get a wind mitigation inspection

A wind mitigation inspection is practically guaranteed to result in some form of insurance discount if the results are positive. According to the Florida Department Insurance, wind damage risk can account for up to 70% of your monthly premium, so filing a successful report with your insurance company could save you literally hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.  Your agent can help you navigate the process of getting a proper wind mitigation inspection and report.

6. Contact a knowledgeable and experienced Florida insurance agent

When it comes to saving money, few things beat experienced professional input. We Insure agent Rick Leal will meet with you, go over your insurance needs, and take over the hard work of finding a policy that best protects your assets at the most competitive rate. All you need to do is choose… and save! For more information or to schedule a meeting, contact Rick today!

4 Tips for Choosing the Right Homeowners’ Insurance

Purchasing a home is a huge financial investment, so you want to keep it protected for as long as you own it. This is what homeowner’s insurance is for, but not all packages are created equal. The right type and amount of coverage are dictated by your personal circumstances, so we’ve put together four tips to help you make an informed decision.

  1. Determine how much coverage you need.

Your home must be insured for its replacement value instead of what you paid for. Insurance coverage is intended to compensate you for the cost of rebuilding the home if it is destroyed or irreparably damaged, and inflation may set in between the time you bought the house and the moment you need to use your insurance.

  1. Study the property’s claims history.

When you buy the home, ask for a report of its insurance claim history. These reports outline any previous claims that have been made involving the home, and can even alert you to potential problems that aren’t immediately apparent. Some types of earlier damage, such as flooding, could make insuring the home more expensive.

  1. Account for special circumstances.

In Florida, your typical homeowner’s insurance policy will protect the structure of the home and your personal property against losses due to fire, lightning strikes, and wind damage. Flood and sinkhole damage, however, is not included, so separate coverage will have to be taken out. When you live in an area that is prone to such disasters, taking out the necessary insurance can save you a lot of money and stress later on.

  1. Consider deductibles.

As your policy is created you will need to select your insurance deductible, which is how much you pay out of pocket when a claim needs to be made. If you opt for a higher deductible, your premium is lower, but you’re going to pay more before your insurance company covers any damage. Conversely, a lower deductible will result in higher premiums but you would pay less out of pocket in the event of a claim. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, so the choice you make should be based on your personal and financial situation.

Putting together the right homeowner’s insurance package calls for special attention to your property, needs, and budget. This blog provides a general guideline to get you started, but We Insure agent Rick Leal will give you the personalized attention and advice needed to properly protect your investment. For more information or to schedule a meeting, contact Rick today!

4 Reasons to Insure Your Secondary Properties

Back in 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau determined that there were nearly 3.6 million vacation properties across the country. Nine years later, that number had increased to 4.86 million, and there’s been no sign of a slowdown in secondary property purchases.

An estimated 80% of these properties are bought as vacation homes and 25% of those who buy for this reason intend to make the property their primary residence upon retirement. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in Florida, where nearly 78,000 new retirees took up residence in 2015.

Whether you’re buying a family getaway, a rental property to augment your current income, or your future retirement home, there are four good reasons to ensure the property once it’s officially yours.

  1. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t typically extend to secondary properties.

Depending on your provider, your standard homeowner’s insurance most probably will not cover secondary properties especially if you intend to rent it out for additional income. Even if it does, it may not offer sufficient coverage. At any rate, taking out a specially tailored separate policy for second homes is a wise move- depending on intended use, it might have some insurance issues that your primary residence doesn’t, such as loss of rental income.

  1. The property may be empty for long periods of time.

If the secondary property is going to be a vacation home for the foreseeable future, it will be vacant for most the year. Lack of regular tenancy means that no one will probably be there if a fire breaks out, a pipe bursts, or vandals break in. If any of these events happen, a valid insurance policy will minimize any resulting losses.

  1. Properties in rural areas have limited access to resources.

Even if you are present when fire breaks out or another disaster strikes, your property may be in a secluded area where timely help is impossible to get. If the home is insured, any damage that takes place before the police or fire department arrive will be covered, allowing you to rebuild without added expense.

  1. Tenants and guests may be injured on the premises.

If you rent out your second property or use it as a guesthouse, you could be liable for injuries to tenants and guests on the premises or be forced to cover repair costs yourself if they damage the property. Insurance can not only protect you in a personal injury lawsuit, it can also compensate you for loss of rental income until the property becomes habitable once more.

How much insurance you should take out will depend on circumstances unique to your property, but a policy will protect you financially if problems ever occur. For more information or to schedule a meeting to discuss coverage needs for a second property, contact We Insure Agent Rick Leal today. Rick will work with you to create an insurance package that protects the home even when you’re not there full-time, leaving you assured that your investment is fortified against the unexpected.

5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Workers’ Compensation Insurance

When you shop for business insurance coverage, workers’ compensation may not immediately come to mind, but it can protect you and your employees from the financial tolls of a job-related injury. Workers’ compensation can replace lost wages, reimburse medical expenses, protect your company from a lawsuit, and more, making it a sound business investment for companies of all sizes.

Below is a list of 5 reasons why your business needs workers’ compensation insurance today.

1. Florida legally requires most businesses to carry it

Florida requires employers with four or more employees to provide workers’ compensation. Coverage is also mandated if:

  • You own a construction business and employ at least one person, or
  • You are a farmer with at least five employees and 12 additional seasonal workers

Securing workers’ compensation will ensure that your company complies with state law, so that you aren’t aren’t caught unprotected in the future.

2. Injured employees get the benefits they need to recover

No matter how diligent you are in matters of workplace safety, accidents and illnesses can happen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.9 million non-fatal workplace accidents and illnesses in the U.S. in 2016. Workers’ compensation can cover medical and wage replacement costs so that an injured employee is not left financially bereft.

3. Your business is protected from most injury-related lawsuits

Workers’ compensation also protects you and your business. In most instances, offering coverage prevents an employee from suing you for negligence if they are injured on the job. In exchanging for having their lost wages and medical bills covered, they are agreeing to forfeit their right to seek these damages from the company.

4. Injured employees can be retrained more quickly

Employees who have been away due to illness or injury may require rehabilitation or retraining before they can return to work. Workers’ compensation insurance provides such assistance via training, education, vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, and other services. If they cannot resume their position with your company, they will receive help with both training and searching for a job that matches their abilities.

5. Funeral costs are included

In Florida, if an employee passes away within one year of a work-related accident or five years of ongoing disability due to the injury, the workers’ compensation system will pay a death benefit that helps cover funeral costs and regular payments to eligible dependents. You can rest assured that your worker’s loved ones will have financial assistance to help cope with the loss.

Workers’ compensation insurance offers so many valuable benefits to employer and employee alike that obtaining it makes good business sense. You can secure the coverage you need through an insurance carrier that is willing to work with you as your coverage needs change. For more information, contact We Insure Agent Rick Leal today. Rick will review your company’s particulars and assist you in obtaining a workers’ compensation package that will give you and your employees peace of mind.

4 Reasons to Create a Home Inventory

Few of us go through life actively anticipating that something will happen to our home and its contents, but it happens. Fires, hurricanes, floods, home invasions, and similar disasters are all why we take out homeowner’s insurance.

Now here’s the catch. If your home was severely damaged tomorrow, do you have all the information you need to make an accurate insurance claim? And does your policy cover absolutely everything? If the answer is “No” or “I’m not really sure” you need a home inventory.

Here are some reasons why documenting everything you own is a wise move.

  1. You know exactly what you own

As the years go by, we tend to accumulate so many possessions that it’s easy to lose track of them all. Have you ever gone through a closet or box and found something you forgot you owned? Creating a home inventory will itemize your household goods and make it easier to decide what you should keep and what is better off being donated or discarded.

  1. You will know the market value of your home and possessions

Putting together a home inventory that includes invoices and receipts makes it easier to assign a value to your household goods. With a home, you can establish resale value by documenting all the improvements and upgrades. An inventory list will make it easier to file a claim that accurately reflects your losses.

  1. You can determine if you have adequate insurance

When you know what you own, it’s a lot easier to decide if you have enough insurance to cover any losses. You don’t want to be caught short if it ever becomes necessary to make a claim. Taking a home inventory and making appropriate insurance coverage adjustment will make it easier to rebuild if anything does happen.

  1. You will be able to file a claim more quickly

When disaster strikes, the aftermath can be nearly as devastating and exhausting. You have to get on the phone with your insurance company, discuss the event and the claim process, and prepare to submit the necessary paperwork. When you have a complete home inventory handy, your claim can be submitted and processed with greater efficiency, so you can rebuild much sooner.

Florida homeowners can never be too prepared, whether it’s for a natural disaster related to storm season or the malicious acts of criminals. Once you create a home inventory, maintain it as an electronic file that you can access anywhere and from all of your Internet devices. Be sure to include receipt images for all purchases going forward. When it comes to filing a claim, preparation and organization can save the day.

If you need to adjust your insurance coverage after completing your inventory, or if you are looking for a new package to meet your changing needs, contact We Insure Agent Rick Leal today. Rick will put together an insurance solution that leaves you properly covered should the unexpected ever happen, so you can enjoy peace of mind about the future.

4 Improvements You Can Make on Your Home to Save Money on Insurance

When you’re trying to save money, homeowner’s insurance is not one of those obligations you can safely eliminate from your budget. You can, however, qualify for discounts based on certain improvements you may have made on your home since you first took out the policy.

When insurance companies calculate premiums, risk is a factor that has a major impact on price. The lower the risk, the lower the premium tends to be. This is why home insurers generally give discounts to homeowners who make improvements that reduce the risk of a future claim, such as projects that make the home safer, improve its structural stability, or increase its value.

Here are four home improvements that can discount your insurance premiums and save you money.

Roof Repairs or Replacement

Repairing or replacing your roof renders your home less vulnerable to storm-related damage. In Florida, a newer roof with a secure attachment will typically comply with wind mitigation requirements and include a secondary water barrier to prevent leaks. These enhancements will provide stronger protection to your home during storm season and decrease the likelihood that you will have to file a claim.

Adding Hurricane Shutters

Hurricane shutters are affordable, easy to install, and a trusted way to protect your home from storm damage. They come in a variety of styles, from fabric barriers that enclose an entire porch or garage to roll-down shutters, and impact doors and windows. After installing the shutters, schedule a wind mitigation inspection with a certified home inspector.

Installing a New Security System

When you install a new security system and/or make protection-based improvements like new locks or outdoor lighting, you make it a lot more difficult for criminals to break into the property. A centrally monitored security system will provide for a safer home and will lower your insurance premiums.

Updating Your Old Electrical System

Another improvement that can have a positive effect on your insurance rates is updating the electrical system in your home. A new and modern system includes surge protection, GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter protection, and arc fault protection, all of which will keep your property safer from electrical fires and related hazards.

If you have made recent structural and/or security improvements to your Florida home and would like to receive a new quote for homeowners’ insurance, contact We Insure Agent Rick Leal today. Lowering risk can not only lower your premiums, it will also give you something even more valuable—peace of mind.

How to Put Up Personal Defenses and Avoid Falling Victim to Identity Theft!

Last September, Equifax, one of the nation’s main credit reporting agencies, announced that due to a major hack, the personal details of 143 million American consumers had been exposed.

Agency representatives stated that cyber criminals had taken advantage of a security vulnerability in Apache Struts, a tool used by Equifax to support its online portal, and moved in to access millions of consumer files. A breach of this magnitude is a clear reminder that we need to strengthen our personal defenses against identity theft. Now.

Monitor Your Accounts

The Equifax hackers stole information for close to 300,000 credit card accounts, so check your statements immediately for any purchases that you do not recognize, and report any unusual transactions to the card issuer immediately. Use the same approach with your checking accounts, and set up transaction alerts going forward. You’ll be notified the moment there’s a purchase, withdrawal, or any other account action, allowing you to immediately investigate.

Remember: even a small mystery charge can signal danger. Criminals often make small purchases or withdrawals in the beginning, followed by bigger ones if no preventative action is taken. If a $4.99 charge is not yours, for example, take action right away.

Review Your Credit Report

Once a year you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three main consumer reporting agencies, but the seriousness and extent of identity theft today makes it advisable that you keep monthly tabs on your FICO score and sign up for credit alerts. This way, if someone tries to use your information to apply for credit, you’ll know more quickly.

Add More Security

Protect your banking and credit card accounts by setting up two-factor authentication, which would require you to log in using both a password and a single-use code sent to your smartphone. The extra step makes it more challenging for a cyber criminal to get into your account.

Create a Fraud Alert

Fraud alerts require a bank or credit card issuer to verify your identity before issuing a new card, increasing an existing credit limit, or opening a new account. Fraud alerts initially last for 90 days, so remind yourself when it has to be renewed. Extended, seven-year alerts are available for identity theft victims.

Be Cautious with Tax Returns

File your tax returns as soon as possible. Scammers have been known to use Social Security numbers to apply for and snatch your refund before you have the chance to claim it yourself. Never give your tax information to anyone over the phone—if the IRS needs to contact you, it will do so by mail.

Tax fraud appears to be on the decline: the IRS reported 377,000 instances in 2016 compared to nearly 700,000 the year before. This doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to you, though. If you believe that you are the victim of tax fraud, contact the IRS and be prepared to file Form 14039, the identity-theft affidavit.

Watch for Fraudulent Emails

An information-stealing strategy favored by hackers is the phishing email, which looks legitimate but actually exposes you to malware. If a company you’re doing business with sends you an email requesting account verification, contact them to confirm that they in fact sent it.

Shred Documents with Personal Information

Never throw a bank statement, credit card application, or any other document with sensitive or personal information into the trash or recycling. Shred them first, so that they can’t be used later to access money or other benefits in your name.

Consider a Security Freeze

When placed on your credit report, a security or credit freeze restricts access to its contents. While this can prevent others from opening new accounts in your name, creditors will also deny you credit because they can’t view your report, so bear that in mind before taking this step. In Florida, a security freeze remains in place until you remove it.

At We Insure, we take the issue of identity theft very seriously. To help protect our clients from this type of stress and financial loss, we have partnered with IdentityForce to give you access to award-winning identity protection plans. For more information on how we can help you, contact We Insure agent Rick Leal today at (305) 921-4057.

Weather the Storms with the Right Home Insurance Coverage

One major hurricane is devastating enough, but when two huge storms strike within two weeks of one another, the result is catastrophic. Hurricane Harvey demolished parts of Texas and southwest Louisiana, destroying billions of dollars worth of property, and the economic impact of Irma is expected to reach $300 billion, including uninsured losses.

What is especially alarming is that many of these property owners don’t have hurricane insurance. Florida has 1,350 miles of coastline, with nearly 2.5 million homes in hazard zones, but only 42% of them are properly insured. Owners of the uninsured percentage will have to cover all costs of repairing and even rebuilding their homes out of their own savings.

If you are an uninsured homeowner facing an imminent storm, when is the last possible moment that you can buy hurricane insurance?

Is There a Deadline?

If you live in a storm-prone region, the sooner you protect your property, the better. You won’t be able to buy windstorm insurance once a hurricane is approaching or take out a policy afterwards and file a retroactive claim. Hurricane’s typically bring with them two types of perils, winds and floods, each of which need their own insurance policy and have their own guidelines regarding coverage waiting periods.

Do You Need Insurance?

If you live in a coastal county or any area that is routinely hit by hurricanes, get insurance as soon as possible to protect your assets. A good homeowner’s insurance policy will cover windstorm damage, but you are required to purchase flood insurance separately. You may have it already: federal law makes it mandatory to obtain coverage if you live in an area designated as a high risk flood zone (100-year flood zone, meaning that flooding has a 1% chance of being equaled or surpassed each year). FEMA has a database where you can input your address and find out if you are here. But if you don’t, contact an insurance agent long before storm season hits.

How Much Insurance Do You Need?

When you do take out insurance, make sure you get enough coverage to rebuild your home. The most important part of having any type of insurance is to be covered for what you need. As the news footage has shown, damages from hurricanes can leave your property uninhabitable, so the right amount of coverage is essential.

Keep Up Your Policy

It is deceptively easy to let an insurance policy lapse, especially if you haven’t had to use it. Don’t get caught in a situation where your policy lapses and you can’t get hurricane coverage because a named storm is on its way.

If you are a Florida homeowner, windstorm and flood insurance will give you peace of mind even if you don’t live in a high-risk area. Disaster can strike anywhere and anytime, which is why having the right coverage is so important. If you have any questions about insuring your property or want to check your current policy coverage, contact We Insure Agent Rick Leal today.

Hurricane Deductibles

From June 1st to November 30th, the Gulf of Mexico and eastern coast of the United States is on alert for Hurricane Season. Eyes turn to the National Hurricane Center during this season to watch and prepare for any storm threats.

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, wind damage is considered hurricane damage if the damage occurred DURING a hurricane named by the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service. The duration of a hurricane is defined by the following:

  • Begins when a hurricane Watch or Warning is issued for any part of Florida by the National Hurricane Center;
  • While hurricane conditions continue to exist in Florida; and
  • Ends 72 hours after the hurricane watches and warnings are lifted in Florida.

The National Hurricane Center declared Hurricane Irma’s duration for the state of Florida to be from 11 a.m. on September 7, 2017 to 5 a.m. on September 14, 2017. Any wind-related damages occurring within this time frame would be subject to your hurricane deductible.

So just how much is a hurricane deductible and when does it apply?

Hurricane deductibles are a percentage of your Coverage A – Dwelling amount. In Florida, a typical homeowners insurance policy hurricane deductible is 2% of Coverage A – Dwelling amount.

For example, if your Coverage A amount is $200,000, then your hurricane deductible would be $4,000.

Your deductible is subtracted from your claims loss amount as you are required to cover the deductible amount BEFORE your insurance kicks in. After this amount is met, any other hurricane related damage is covered by your insurance for the remainder of the calendar year. Since hurricane deductibles are a calendar year deductible (January 1 – December 31), if you do not meet your hurricane deductible amount and experience a second hurricane loss, the deductible will be either the remainder of the hurricane deductible or the AOP (All Other Perils) deductible, whichever is greater. If you did meet your hurricane deductible, then the AOP deductible will apply for any subsequent hurricane loss.

It is important to keep ALL of your receipts and a running tally of your out-of-pocket expenses. This way when a storm strikes, you’re prepared to show how much of your deductible you’ve met after filing a claim.

Reprinted from Prepared Insurance Company

5 Things to Consider when Looking for a Home Inspector

When you’re buying a new home, you’re not only getting that gorgeous ensuite or state of the art kitchen. Included in the package are any potential problems, such as a leaky roof or ancient plumbing that can cause problems and affect your ability to obtain a favorable insurance package. Your best way to avoid these issues is to get a home inspection.

The Role of the Home Inspector

Home inspectors are responsible for finding major—and expensive—problems with a home. They are professionals who use their skills, insights, and experience to detect issues like the following:

  • Major structural issues that could render the property uninsurable
  • Old roofs with evidence of leaks. Many home insurance companies will not write new policies or renew existing ones if the roof is over 20 years old
  • Older galvanized or cast iron plumbing systems, which will have to be replaced with newer materials to qualify for coverage
  • Electrical systems with a mix of copper and aluminum wiring
  • Mold.

Choosing the Right Inspector

A new home is one of the largest investments you will ever make, so it is important to choose your home inspector wisely. Here are five important factors that should guide your decision.

  1. Level of experience

Ask the inspector how long they have been in business, and how many inspections they have performed. This is not to say you should dismiss a relative newcomer completely, as they may have gained a lot of experience in a short amount of time, but ideally you want someone who has been inspecting homes long or often enough to form a reliable and accurate opinion.

  1. Professional affiliations and accreditations

In Florida, home inspectors must be licensed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, so verify that the inspector you’re interviewing has the appropriate credentials. Memberships in recognized organizations such as the National Association of Home Inspectors and the International Conference of Building Officials suggests an extra depth of industry involvement.

  1. Report style

You want to work with a home inspector who will give you a detailed written report after the inspection. Many professionals simply use a checklist with stock responses, which can be difficult to interpret and can overlook the details you need. Confirm that the inspector concludes each session with a complete report that includes precise and specific comments about the house and its condition, including items that need maintenance and/or repair. Make sure they include a “Mitigation Verification” inspection report and “Four Point”(if home >30yrs) inspection report as these are essential in soliciting and purchasing homeowners insurance.

  1. Equipment used

A detailed home inspection calls for more than a walk-through with a flashlight. Home inspectors today should be using many of the newer testing technologies, such as digital moisture meter, stud/metal detectors  and electrical circuit analyzers. If you come across one that can’t or won’t use these modern tools, look elsewhere.

  1. Price

Although price should not be a deciding factor, it can be a tiebreaker when you’re faced with two or more equally qualified home inspectors.

Having a home inspection on a property that you want to buy does not mean you will pay less insurance, but it will expose problems that could cause your insurance to go up. If you have questions about the home inspection process and what it could mean for your premiums, contact We Insure Agent Rick Leal today.