Did you notice your homeowners insurance going up this year? If so, you aren’t the only one: far from it. As you may or may not know, Florida’s property insurance market is in a crisis. Over the last 3 years, the average cost for insurance has increased from $1,989 to $3,585, which is a 55% increase. Furthermore, many insurance companies have either gone out of business, pulled out of Florida, or restricted the types of homes they are willing to insure. What’s causing this market turbulence? A few things, it turns out.
Insurance Fraud: Many people have had roofers knock on their door recently promising a free inspection of their roof. Certain unscrupulous roofers promise homeowners “free” roofs paid for by their insurance company. It is important to note that your homeowner policy is not a warranty for your roof. If your roof is old and naturally needs to be replaced, that is your responsibility as a homeowner. Your insurance company pays to replace your roof if it is damaged by a covered event, like a hurricane for example. The way this fraud works is that the homeowner is told to sign an Assignment of Benefits form, which ‘assigns’ the benefits of their policy, and most crucially, the right to file a lawsuit, to the roofer. This allows the roofer to file a claim to the insurance company for a new roof regardless of whether the damage was caused by a covered event. When the insurance company denies the claim for normal wear and tear damage, the roofer sues.
Rampant Litigation: In the past year, over 100,000 property insurance lawsuits were filed in Florida. While Florida only generates 9% of the nation’s property insurance claims, it generates an astronomical 79% of the nation’s property insurance lawsuits. So, what’s going on here? After the roofer sues the insurance company for denying their claim, the insurance company often decides to settle the case and just pay to replace the roof. The cost of litigation is often more than it would cost to simply pay the claim. It’s estimated that $800 of every property insurance policy goes toward the cost of litigation.
Reinsurance: Reinsurance is coverage insurance companies must purchase to help them pay claims in the event of a catastrophe (like a hurricane). Recent hurricanes and disasters have sent the price of reinsurance up, which is inevitably passed down onto policy holders.
What can you do? It’s obvious that Florida’s property insurance market has some issues. In both 2021 and 2022, the FL Legislature passed two bills, SB 76, and SB2 respectively to help mitigate the crisis. It takes time though for these changes to percolate throughout the industry. In the meantime, you should avoid signing an Assignment of Benefits form until you have a conversation with your insurance agent. Installing hurricane shutters, or completing a wind mitigation inspection can help to reduce your rates. But most importantly, you should review your policy coverages each year. Our agency, Berlin & Denys has access to dozens of financially sound property insurance companies.
For a free quote, reach out to our Property & Casualty Division at (386) 308-3268 or click below.
Welcome to Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?
Heading into another hurricane season, it is always wise to expect the unexpected and be prepared for whatever may happen. Hurricanes have always had a perverse ability for destruction. In 2017, Hurricane Irma struck the state of Florida with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour. Forming out of a tropical wave off the coast of Africa, Irma traveled across the Atlantic and strengthened into a powerful Category 5 hurricane. Irma would later shrink to a Category 3 before impacting the Florida peninsula. The storm’s extreme winds allowed it to knock out power to 73% of electric customers in the state. The entire state, except for the western panhandle felt some impact from Irma. Over 6,500,000 people, in the largest evacuation in state history, fled the state. Across Florida, Irma resulted in 84 fatalities and over 50 billion dollars in damages. Other fierce storms, such as Hurricanes Andrew and Matthew have battered Florida in the past.
Meteorological organizations such as N.O.A.A. put out forecasts each year, but the truth is we can never be sure what hurricane season will have in store for us. This means we always need to be prepared for the worst. You will want to make some individual determinations to assess your risk. Living in a coastal area (as many of our clients do) puts you at a much greater risk for strong winds, storm surge, and flooding. In the event of a storm, you should defer to local authorities and heed evacuation orders if they are given.
1. Have enough nonperishable food, water, and medicine to last each person in your household at least three days.
2. Full tank of gas.
3. Cash on hand.
4. Battery powered radio.
6. Solar powered phone charger.
Prepare Your Home
While there is only so much you can do to protect your home against hurricane winds, these mitigation efforts can be the difference between your home sustaining minor and major damages.
Have an Evacuation Plan
You will want to find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. Here is a handy tool provided by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes which will allow you to see your hurricane evacuation zone. You might want to consider an alternative route out of the storm’s path as the interstates will almost certainly have severe traffic congestion. Alternatively, you might not need to travel far. In the event you live in a flood prone area or in a mobile home, the place that you evacuate to very well might be a friend’s home who lives nearby. If you do evacuate, you will want to take into consideration any pets that you may have. Most shelters do not allow non service animal pets inside. You should contact your local emergency management agency to find out which shelters do accept pets. A pet friendly hotel out of the storm’s path is another option.
Review Your Homeowners Insurance
When was the last time you reviewed your homeowners insurance? In advance of a hurricane, it is important to know exactly what is covered under your policy, and what is not. Most notably, many people are surprised to learn that homeowners insurance usually does not provide coverage for floods. We’ve all heard the saying that just one inch of flood water in your home can cause $25,000 in damages. You should seriously consider purchasing a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home and your belongings.
Aside from just flood insurance, there are other things to consider when reviewing your policy.
1.Review your hurricane deductible: Homeowners policies have a separate deductible for hurricane losses. The hurricane deductible is usually a fixed percentage of the policy’s overall limit. If your home is insured for $300,000 and your hurricane deductible is set to 2%, that means your deductible is $6,000.
2.Ensure that your home has enough coverage to rebuild your home entirely in the event of a total loss. This value is known as the ‘replacement cost’ of your home. It is not the same as the market value of your home. You should consult with your insurance agent to make sure your home is insured at replacement cost.
3.Create a full inventory of your belongings to help understand the true value of all your possessions. This can make the claims process after a storm easier. You can find a comprehensive list of all our carrier’s claims information here on our website.
4.Make sure you have adequate loss of use coverage on your policy. Loss of use coverage, which shows up on your declarations page as Coverage D, helps pay for extra costs associated with having to live somewhere else temporarily if your house is uninhabitable after a covered disaster. Your loss of use coverage can help pay for an extended hotel stay while your home is being repaired. Loss of use coverage is generally 20% of the total amount your home is insured for.
5.For a complimentary review of your policy, give us a call. One of our agents would be happy to go through your policy with you, either in person or over the phone. We’ll review your policy to make sure you are adequately covered in the event of a hurricane. We can even run a free quote for you to see if a less expensive option for coverage exists. Call us at (386) 308-3268 to speak to a licensed agent. You can also request a quote on our website by clicking here.
We at Berlin & Denys hope and pray for a safe year and that the state of Florida will be spared any impacts from a hurricane. During hurricane season, we must hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Stay safe everyone!
Insurance can be a little confusing at times. There are so many different terms that get thrown around that many of us just don’t understand, and that’s ok. One of these terms is the Open Enrollment Period. The enrollment period is a set portion of the year where people who don’t receive coverage from their employer are able to purchase health insurance. Open Enrollment runs from November 1st to January 15th. This enrollment window was made into law by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. Each year, our agency Berlin & Denys, assists thousands of people in signing up for coverage or renewing their existing plans during Open Enrollment.
If you missed the January 15th deadline to enroll in coverage, you still have options. A Special Enrollment occurs any time someone signs up for health insurance outside of Open Enrollment. Special Enrollments are permitted after certain life events, such as the following: Getting married, getting divorced, having a baby, loosing health insurance through an employer, or moving to a new zip code. Last year, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) announced a wide-ranging Special Enrollment Period from March 15th-August 15th, 2021. This Special Enrollment Period, which has since ended, was instituted because of the Covid-19 crisis, and allowed anyone regardless of income or circumstance to enroll in coverage. In March of this year, CMS announced another Special Enrollment Period for families whose incomes fall under 150% of the federal poverty level. Check out the chart below to see if you and your family qualify.
Speak to an Agent to See if You Qualify
There is no cost to speak to an agent about your options. Many people assume they don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period and just go without coverage. Our agents are highly trained and have years of experience. Give us a call today and one of our agents will walk you through the process of getting a Special Enrollment. And if no coverage is available for you until the next Open Enrollment, we will be honest and up front about it and advise you accordingly. Our office is open 8:30am-5:00pm weekdays. If you are calling outside business hours, please just leave us a message and you will promptly be contacted the next morning. We offer both in person and virtual appointments. You can reach us at 800-946-3303 or at email@example.com.
As residential areas expand more into new land, it is inevitable to see an increase in interactions with wild animals. Since wild animals are unpredictable and not used to human interaction, this can be dangerous. When protecting your property against wildlife, the most common precautions done are for your home. Often forgotten is to protect your vehicle. Your car can be a target for wild animals too. Here are some tips to help you protect your cars.
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To find the best agents, you have to consider a few essential criteria first. These are as follows:
Have you ever felt the need to make changes in the design of your home to maximize the space that you already have? This feeling holds for homeowners that have smaller living spaces. There's always a need to have enough space for everything without sacrificing movement around the tiny house.
However, one can ask about the changes to enhance a small house? How will you be able to maximize the space that you already have? This article can help you by giving you some useful tips to follow. Continue reading to learn more.