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Medicare Open Enrollment: It’s Time to Review Your Coverage Options

If you’re enrolled in Medicare, the annual fall Medicare open enrollment period (Oct. 15- Dec. 7) is the perfect time to review your Medicare coverage options to see if they are still right for you. If you currently have original Medicare and would like to try a Medicare Advantage plan, or if you’d like to change Medicare Advantage plans, this is also the time to do it. Any change you make will take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

A quick reminder: Medicare Advantage plans combine Part A (hospital coverage), Part B (medical coverage), and usually Part D (prescription drug coverage) of original Medicare. The plans, offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare, may also contain additional coverage, such as vision or dental.

To help you decide which option is best for you, think about what medical services and treatments you need—do you take prescription medication, or need vision or dental care, for example? What about specialized care or physical therapy? Once you know what types of benefits you need, you can compare plans to see which one is right for you.

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If you need help deciding which Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Supplement is right for you, please call us at 813-672-4100

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Due to COVID-19, another increasingly popular Medicare Advantage plan benefit you might want to consider is “telehealth”—the ability to consult with medical professionals virtually without leaving your home. More and more plans are offering this now.

Whether you are signing up for Medicare Advantage for the first time, or are considering renewing your current plan, here are some things to consider:

  • Are your doctors and preferred hospital part of your plan’s network of providers?
  • What will your out-of-pocket costs be? Can you afford the co-pays and deductible?
  • Do you need vision and dental benefits?
  • Does the plan cover you when you’re away from your primary residence? This is an important consideration for “snowbirds,” because some plans only offer emergency coverage if you’re away from home.

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Staying with original Medicare but concerned about out-of-pocket costs? Ask us about a Medicare Supplement (“Medigap”) plan.

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Medicare coverage can be confusing, so if you’d like to talk to a local agent, L & M Insurance Group is here to help. Let us work with you to find the Medicare option that best fits your situation. We offer plans from Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and others.  Please call us at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online.

For more information on Medicare benefits and plans, please see https://www.medicare.gov/

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What Do You Know About Life Insurance?

It’s not something pleasant to think about, but if you’re the breadwinner of the family, one part of planning your financial future is considering what will happen to your loved ones if you were to die. Would they be able to survive without your income? Sadly, many families (four in ten, according to one estimate) would immediately have trouble paying their bills if the primary wage earner died.

One simple way to protect your family after you’re gone is to purchase a life insurance policy.

What is life insurance?

A life insurance policy is simply an agreement that an insurance company will pay out a certain amount of money after the death of the insured, as long as the premiums are current. The main goal of life insurance is to take care of those who depend on you after you die, by providing funds to pay off debts (including such things as a car loan or a mortgage), end-of-life, and other expenses. Many people with children also want to provide enough money for them to complete their educations and become independent.

Most life insurance is either term life or permanent life, also known as whole life. You purchase term insurance for a specific period of time, such as 20, 30, or 40 years. Term life is good for people who need coverage only for a specific amount of time—until children graduate from college, for example. Term policies contain an expiration date, and will only pay out if the insured person dies before that date. After the policy ends, there is no more death benefit. They’re generally quite affordable, especially for younger people.

As long as you pay the premiums, permanent life insurance provides lifelong protection. There are a few other benefits to a permanent insurance policy, and if you absolutely must have a life insurance policy in place when you die, permanent life insurance may be the way to go.

Which type and how much insurance you need depends on your life and financial circumstances and goals. A licensed life insurance agent can help you decide which is best for you. Please call L & M Insurance Group at 813-672-4100 if you’d like to learn more.

In the meantime, here are a few basic facts about life insurance that you might not know:

It costs less than you think.

Many people overestimate how much life insurance costs. Term policies are very affordable, especially for younger people. NerdWallet noted that a 20-year, $250,000 term policy for a healthy 30-year-old cost just $160 a year.

It’s not that hard to get, even if you have some health issues.

Unless they are severe, your health issues shouldn’t keep you from qualifying for a life insurance policy. You will pay more than someone with no issues, but the cost may still be surprisingly affordable.

Worried about a lot of paperwork and a medical exam? Simplified underwriting practices make it much simpler than it used to be, and many policies don’t require a medical exam.

Group insurance through your employer may not be adequate.

In most cases, life insurance won’t go with you if you change or lose your job, or if you retire. In addition, if you have a young family, the coverage amount on a group policy may not be enough to see your family through.

You should review your life insurance policy from time to time.

As with all insurance policies, you should review your life insurance policy regularly to be sure it continues to meet your financial needs. This is true especially after a significant life event such as a marriage, birth or adoption of a child, or a divorce. You’ll also want to verify that contact information, beneficiaries, and other details remain current.

L & M Insurance Group is a full-service agency, and in addition to home, auto, umbrella, and business policies, we also offer life insurance. Please give one of our licensed agents a call at 813-672-4100 or click here if you’d like a life insurance quote.

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What Your Homeowners Insurance WON’T Cover

You expect your homeowners insurance to protect you if your home is damaged or destroyed by a disaster like a hurricane, if you’re burglarized, even if your home is hit by a car (or an aircraft)! But there are a few things that aren’t covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, and you can save yourself a lot of frustration and heartache if you know what they are. Here are four of the most commonly misunderstood things a standard homeowners insurance policy won’t cover:

  • Floods. Many people are surprised to find there is no coverage for flood damage under a standard homeowners insurance policy. If you want flood coverage, you’ll need to buy a separate flood insurance policy. L & M Insurance Group represents several private insurers that write flood insurance policies at a more competitive rate than the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  These private companies also provide higher limits, and often there is no waiting period, unlike with the NFIP policies. 
  • Sewer backup. A sewer backup can do a lot of damage, aside from the “Ick” factor. Anything from tree roots disrupting pipes to storm waters, to an outdated sewage system can cause a sewer backup, and it’s one peril that most homeowners insurance doesn’t cover automatically. The good news is, it’s usually not that expensive to add sewer backup coverage to your homeowners insurance policy. Ask your L & M Insurance Group agent how you can get this coverage.
  • Maintenance issues. Homeowners insurance is not intended to pay for maintenance issues, such as mold or water damage due to a leaking roof, insect or rodent damage, or general wear and tear. For example, if your roof is getting old and needs to be replaced, that is a maintenance issue, not an insurance claim. As a homeowner, you’re expected to maintain your home and keep it in good repair. Neglect or failure to maintain property is not a cause for a homeowner’s insurance claim.
  • High value personal property. Since certain personal property, like jewelry, is easily stolen, most homeowners insurance policies limit personal property coverage to around $1,500. This may not be enough coverage if you have valuable family heirlooms, expensive jewelry, furs, or an art or firearms collection. If you need more coverage, ask your agent for higher policy limits or a special endorsement to cover your valuable property.

Is it time for a homeowners insurance review?

Things change—so it’s a good idea to review your homeowners insurance coverage from time to time to be sure it still meets your financial needs. Please call us at 813-672-4100 if you have questions about your homeowners insurance, or you’d like to compare rates. (Click here if you prefer to contact us online.) As an independent insurance agency, L & M Insurance Group works for you, not for any individual insurance company. Our agents are experts in finding the best coverage for the most competitive rates—so give us a call and let us help you!

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Florida’s Extreme Weather: Tornadoes

In addition to preparing for hurricanes, central Floridians should also be aware of another natural disaster common to our area: tornadoes. Surprisingly, Florida has a higher frequency of tornadoes (per 10,000 square miles) than any other state—and the coast between Tampa Bay and Fort Myers is one area particularly affected. While tornadoes in Florida aren’t usually as destructive as those in other areas, the problem, according to some experts, is that Floridians are often taken by surprise by them.

Tornadoes in Florida form because of a number of different weather conditions. They form along squall lines where masses of warm air converge, from isolated summer thunderstorms, within a hurricane, or ahead of the cooler air in a spring cold front coming from the north.

Some of the warning signs of an approaching tornado include:

  • Greenish skies
  • Hail
  • Dark, spinning, low-altitude cloud
  • Loud roar or rumble, like the sound of a train

So how can you be ready?

What to do

It’s simple to prepare for the possibility of a tornado. Make sure you have a safe room or space in your house that you can retreat to if a tornado is spotted in your area. This room should be on the lowest level of your home, and in a central space that has no windows, perhaps a bathroom, closet, or hallway.  It’s also a good idea to buy a NOAA weather radio, if you don’t already have one, so that you’ll be notified of official Weather Service warnings, watches and other emergency information.

If a tornado has been spotted near your home, head to your safe room, and crouch low to the floor and cover your head with your hands. Experts also recommend covering yourself with a heavy blanket or something similar to protect yourself from falling debris.

If you’re in a public place, such as an office building or store, calmly go to the lowest level, away from glass. Don’t use the elevator because you could become trapped if the power goes out.

If you’re outdoors or driving, head for sturdy shelter immediately.

Once the tornado has passed, check those around you for injuries, and seek help if needed. Also check for damage to your utility lines. Open the windows if you smell gas, and turn off the main valve, and don’t turn on anything electric or light any matches until the gas has dissipated. Turn off electricity if wires are shorting, and do not go near any downed power lines outside, especially if they are in water. Be careful of broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects.

Is Tornado damage covered by homeowners insurance?

Tornado damage is usually covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. If a tornado damages your home, contact your homeowners insurance company or your L & M Insurance Group agent as soon as possible. Take photos of damage, and make any temporary repairs you need to avoid further damage.

Need a homeowners insurance quote? Let an L & M Insurance Group agent help you! Please call us at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online. L & M Insurance Group is a locally-owned, independent insurance agency in the Riverview/Tampa/Brandon area. We have more than 25 years of experience helping our neighbors with their insurance needs, and we’d love to help you.

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Looking for Cheap Insurance in Florida? Don’t Make These Mistakes

Since Florida auto and homeowners insurance rates are some of the highest in the nation, we understand why you’re looking for ways to save on your insurance premiums. However, before you search for your next insurance policy, remember the purpose of insurance: to protect you financially in case of a claim, whether it’s to repair or replace your car, rebuild your house, replace your personal belongings, or protect your liability if you’re responsible for injuries or property damage. You need your claims to be paid, and you need the amount of the payout to make you whole financially, or protect you financially from a lawsuit. That’s why it’s important to find the right balance between a cheap insurance premium and insurance coverage that is adequate and appropriate for your financial situation.

So when you are looking for cheap insurance in Florida, don’t make these mistakes—they could cost you big.

Not carrying enough coverage.

Homeowners: Some people mistakenly insure their homes for real estate market value. In many cases, that’s not enough if your home is completely destroyed. If that happens, you’ll need to receive enough money to rebuild it. If you’ve only insured it for market value, you’re unlikely to receive enough money in a claim payout to do that. A better way to keep the cost of homeowners insurance down is to raise your deductibles—talk to your L & M Insurance Group agent about whether this option is right for you.

Auto: In the case of auto insurance, the mistake some people make is not carrying enough liability coverage. To fulfill the Bodily Injury section of the Florida Financial Responsibility Law, if you’re in an at-fault accident and you injure someone, you must carry Bodily Injury Liability coverage in the amount of 10,000 per person, 20,000 per accident at least. The problem is, those limits are likely far too low. According to Consumer Reports, the average payout for a car crash injury that doesn’t leave the victim incapacitated is $22,000. And what if more than one person is injured?

If your insurance limits aren’t high enough, you’re on the hook for the rest of the claim—or open to a lawsuit. Again depending on your financial situation, you will likely want to purchase higher limits of Bodily Injury Liability—the insurance industry recommends $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident, and at least $50,000 for Property Damage Liability.

“Looking for cheap insurance in Florida may seem like a good idea, but going with the cheapest price, regardless of the strength of the insurance company or the quality of its customer service may have consequences.”

Price is important. But it’s not the only consideration. If you have a claim, or any kind of problem with your insurance, you’ll want an insurance company that will be easy to work with—and will pay your claims. An independent agency like L & M Insurance Group can steer you away from companies with shaky financials or poor customer service.

Not buying flood insurance.

Flood damage is not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, and Florida, flat, surrounded by water and a target for hurricanes, is almost entirely at risk for flooding. Even if you don’t live in a high-risk area, between 2014 and 2018, more than 40 percent of all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claims came from outside of high-risk areas.  And flood damage is expensive—just one inch of water can cause $25,000 worth of damage, according to FloodSmart.gov. (L & M Insurance Group has several competitive private insurance companies that write flood coverage, often for less than you’d pay through the NFIP.)

Not checking insurance rates at renewal.

At least once a year, it’s a good idea to review your insurance coverage, and check that you’re still getting the best deal you can for your circumstances. Just remember, when comparing rates from different companies, compare “apples to apples”—that is, each quote you get should be for the same type and limits of coverage.

As an independent agency, L & M Insurance Group will help you make the most of your insurance money. We represent multiple financially sound auto and homeowners insurance companies, not just one. We take pride in helping our neighbors in Riverview, Brandon, Valrico, and surrounding areas find the most cost effective insurance options for them. Please call us at 813-672-4100 or contact us online for a no-obligation quote.

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Don’t Be the Victim of a Roofing Scam

Replacing a roof will likely be one of the larger expenses you’ll have as a Florida homeowner. And while you’re probably looking for ways to save money on that major expenditure, be aware that roofing scams are common, and could leave you out of pocket with a roof still in need of repair, or worse yet, on the hook for insurance fraud.

What are some of the most common roofing scams?

Roof scammers take advantage of homeowners by trying to convince them that they can get it done a lot cheaper—or even for nothing. They may do shoddy work, not complete the job, or simply take your money and disappear.

There are a couple of scenarios you should watch out for. One of the most common is for “storm chasers” to come through a neighborhood after a storm, talking to residents or leaving flyers offering to fix damaged roofs, sometimes “at no cost to homeowners.” How is that possible? They may tell you they’ll pay your insurance deductible, or have you sign a contract that includes an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) clause. AOB is an agreement that transfers an insurance claim’s rights or benefits of the policy to a third party (in this case, the roofing company)—that third party files the claim and collects the insurance payments. This sounds good in theory, but in reality has become a huge source of fraud. The costs associated with Assignment of Benefits abuse are a prime reason homeowners insurance is so expensive in Florida.

Another scam involves someone knocking on your door offering to do a free roof inspection. They often say they’re doing work in your neighborhood and will offer you a good deal.  Sometimes they even say they just happened to be driving by and noticed some damage on your roof! (If you think about it, how likely is that?) Of course, they will claim they found damage, possibly when there is no damage at all, or not enough to warrant replacing your entire roof. In some cases, scammers actually damage your roof themselves.

Other scams include lowball estimates or requiring a large down payment before starting work. While of course you want to be budget conscious, you may not want to go with the lowest estimate for a roof replacement. In the case of a roof, where quality work is especially important, lowest is not always best. It’s likely either the work will be poor, or they’ll come back in the middle of the job for more money because of “unforeseen” problems or increases in the cost of materials.

You should also avoid making a large down payment. The industry standard runs around 20 percent, so if a roofing company asks for a lot more, that’s a red flag.

How to protect yourself from roofing scams

Replacing your roof is a major investment, so how can you increase the odds that you’ll have a good experience?

First, be wary of unsolicited offers to do a roof inspection. There are many honest and legitimate roofing companies out there, but they probably won’t be going door to door to drum up business. If you know your roof needs to be inspected, repaired, or replaced, ask your friends and relatives for recommendations, or consult a home repair rating service such as Angie’s List or homeadvisor.com.

Before signing a contract, ask for local client references, and call them to see if they were satisfied with the work done. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints about the roofing company.

Require a written proposal that includes a full description of the work to be done, start and finish dates, and a payment schedule. Make sure you have the roofing company’s business address, telephone number, and tax id number. Ask to see copies of their contractor’s liability insurance and worker’s compensation certificates, so that if one of their employees is injured while working on your roof, you will not be held liable.

Do NOT be pressured into signing a contract without doing your own research.

Do NOT sign any contract that contains an Assignment of Benefits clause without checking with your insurance company or L & M Insurance Group insurance agent first.

L & M Insurance Group is here to help

If a roofing company approaches you with a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid roofing scams by getting recommendations from trusted sources, and don’t be afraid to take your time and ask plenty of questions. Please feel free to call your L & M Insurance Group agent at 813-672-4100 if you have questions about whether or not a roof repair or replacement will be covered under your homeowners insurance policy. You may also contact us online by clicking here.

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Commercial Auto Insurance Policies for Every Type of Business

If you own a business that doesn’t involve making deliveries or transporting clients, you may not think you need a commercial auto insurance policy. But if your vehicle is registered in a company name, you have employees who sometimes drive it, or if it is outfitted with permanent equipment used in a business and you don’t have a commercial auto policy, you risk having a claim denied because the vehicle is used for business purposes.

In fact, if you or an employee use a vehicle for business purposes, even just now and then, you really should protect yourself financially by purchasing a commercial auto policy.

Policies for small businesses and beyond

L & M Insurance Group can write commercial auto policies to cover all sorts of businesses, including lawn care companies, transportation services (for goods or people), real estate agents who take clients to see properties, construction companies, and housecleaner or janitorial services to name just a few. We can also write coverage for all types of vehicles—sedans, pickup trucks, box trucks, and more.

Terms and available coverage vary among companies, but the most common coverage options are: property damage liability; liability for bodily injuries to others; personal injury coverage for you, employees who drive the vehicle(s) and your passengers; collision (coverage for your vehicle in an accident, regardless of who is at fault); comprehensive (coverage for damage to your vehicle other than collision); and uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payments, loss of use/rental reimbursement, and emergency roadside assistance. Your insurance agent can help you sort through what your individual needs are.


Need a commercial auto quote?

Call us at 813-672-4100

Or contact us online today!


Do commercial policies cost more?

You’ll be happy to know that commercial auto policies are often no more expensive to buy than personal auto policies. Factors that influence the cost are much the same as factors that matter for a personal auto policy. They include the amount of driving involved, the radius of operation (do you cross state boundary lines?), the types and number of vehicles to be insured, the driving records of those who will be on the policy, proof of prior insurance, and the amount of coverage you need to carry.

As independent agents, L & M Insurance Group will work with you to find the insurance policy that best meets your needs by comparing rates among the multiple companies we represent. We provide you with coverage for everything from a single vehicle to a fleet of vehicles, from a sedan to a semi. And since we’re local, you can reach us by phone, email, or even by visiting our office (COVID-19 protocols apply). We’ve been serving the insurance needs of Brandon, Valrico, Riverview and surrounding communities for more than 10 years, and we’d love to serve YOU!

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Avoid the Dangers of Summer Driving

Summer is here, and just about everyone is longing for a getaway. As Florida opens back up, more residents and tourists will be on the roads. More driving can mean more accidents and breakdowns, but one way to avoid the dangers of summer driving is to prepare your vehicle for the effects of extreme heat.

Here are a few precautions to take before you hit the road this summer (perform these checks yourself, or have a professional mechanic take care of them).

Inspect your vehicle

Check the pressure and condition of your tires monthly, including your spare tire. Under-inflated tires can overheat, increasing the chance of a blowout, especially if the roads themselves are hot. It’s hard to steer a vehicle after a blowout, which may cause an accident. Tire condition also affects your ability to steer in a storm when roads are slippery.

Check all fluid levels, including coolant, oil, transmission, power steering, and brake fluids. Your vehicle’s fluids help it run smoothly without overheating, something especially important when it’s already hot outside. See your owner’s manual for how often you should flush and replace coolant and other fluids.

Inspect belts and hoses to make sure they’re in good condition and firmly attached.

Be mindful of the age and condition of your battery, and keep a set of jumper cables in your vehicle. It’s not uncommon for Florida’s extreme heat to shorten car battery life.

Keep your cool by keeping your AC system working well. Aside from personal comfort, being too hot can affect your driving by making you sleepy, distracted, or irritable. Check the cabin air filter and replace if necessary to keep the cool air flowing. And remember, it can be warmer in the backseat of a car or SUV, so if you’ve got passengers or pets there, make sure they’re comfortable, too.

Don’t let your gas tank get too low. If there’s a power outage, due to high temperatures or storms, gas pumps may be out of commission.

What else can you do?

Reduce the chance of an accident (and higher insurance rates!) by practicing safe driving habits such as obeying speed limits and driving defensively.

Monitor the weather—a sudden summer storm can close roads or make them hazardous to drive on. Be prepared for a breakdown.

Have an emergency kit in your vehicle, and make sure you have water on hand.

Know if your car insurance policy covers roadside assistance. This optional coverage is usually inexpensive, and may give you peace of mind. Check with your L & M Insurance Group agent if you’re not sure if you have this coverage.

No one wants to be stranded by the side of the road on the way home from the beach, or to try to avoid an accident when a tire blows. Take a few basic precautions, and you’ll be ready to hit the road for summer adventure.

If you need car insurance, please give us a call at 813-672-4100 for a free quote! If you prefer, click here to contact us online.

For more information:

Safe Summer Travel

Prevent Accidents With Basic Car Maintenance

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Why is Car Insurance So Expensive in Florida?

Living in the Tampa Bay area has many advantages, but cheap car insurance isn’t one of them. In fact, the Sunshine State has the third costliest car insurance premiums in the nation. Florida consumers pay about 48 percent more per year that the national average.

So why is Florida car insurance so expensive? Here are a few factors that contribute to higher auto insurance premiums for Florida drivers. (See below for a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting the best car insurance rate.)

High percentage of uninsured drivers

Florida has the highest percentage of people driving without insurance in the U.S.—more than one fourth (26.7 percent) of the drivers on our roads are uninsured. Insurance companies compensate for that with higher premiums for everyone who is insured.

High percentage of higher-risk drivers

Florida has many elderly drivers, tourists unfamiliar with the roads, and college students attending universities. These drivers are considered to be higher-risk, and therefore more likely to cause or contribute to an accident.

Extreme weather

Severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, and flooding events cause property damage to cars that insurance companies must pay for. Residents near the ocean, rivers, in low-lying or other flood-prone areas are especially affected.

PIP requirement

By law, Florida drivers must purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This coverage, also known as “no-fault” coverage, pays for medical expenses for you and your passengers if you’re injured in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault.

More lawyers, more money

Unfortunately, some areas of Florida are known for a high prevalence of fraudulent claims, as well as a high number of claims where there is lawyer representation. One of the latest problems with fraud involves assignment of benefits abuse related to windshield claims. Inflated claims and legal expenses raise the cost of doing business in Florida, and the result is higher insurance premiums for everyone.

Busy roadways

Florida roads are the third busiest in the U.S. More traffic means more chances for accidents.

What can you do?

Now that you know why car insurance is so expensive in Florida, there are a few things you can do to lower your auto insurance premiums. Of course, strive to keep your driving record clean, but also improve your credit score. Before buying a new-to-you vehicle, ask how it will affect your auto insurance rates. Remember, safe and boring is almost always cheaper to insure than fast and flashy! If your financial situation allows, raise your deductibles.

At least once a year, shop for the best rate, and ask about all available discounts. But be sure that you’re comparing the same coverage limits and deductibles. Shop again when a life event takes place that might change your insurance rates: a teen getting his or her license, a wedding, a child going away to college, etc.

And be sure to call L & M Insurance Group (813-672-4100) for a quote from one of our many quality auto insurance companies—or if you prefer, click here to request a quote via email. As an independent agency, L & M Insurance Group specializes in helping you find the best coverage for the best possible rate. We’ve been helping our neighbors in Riverview, Valrico, Brandon, and surrounding areas for more than 30 years, and we’d love to help you.

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Hurricane Preparation in the Age of COVID-19

The 2020 hurricane season started June 1, and we’ve already seen Tropical Storm Cristobal impact Louisiana and beyond. Even though many of us are already feeling stressed and anxious about the COVID-19 coronavirus, this is not the year to be blasé about preparing for a hurricane. This year more than ever before, it’s crucial to be as prepared as possible. Here are some suggestions for preparing for a hurricane in the age of COVID-19.

Emergency supplies

If you haven’t already done so, check your emergency supplies and use up or donate any items that will expire in the next few months. Take an inventory to be sure you have enough food, water, medicine, and other essential supplies (like toilet paper!) to keep your household going for at least three to seven days—and possibly more. (Click here for a list of items to have on hand.)

Allow more time than usual to collect your emergency supplies of food, water, and medicines. We are just now beginning to see grocery shelves refilling as we cautiously begin to go about our business in a more normal fashion. With social distancing measures in place, and some businesses closed or working reduced hours or at reduced capacity, we should not take for granted our ability to find what we need to shelter in place if a storm comes through the Tampa Bay area. At the same time, only buy what your family needs, so that others who are preparing will also be able to find what they need.

While you’re collecting your emergency supplies, minimize your possible exposure to the coronavirus by opting for at-home delivery or curbside pickup whenever possible. If you need or prefer to do your shopping in person, be sure to follow social distancing and other precautions recommended by the CDC. When collecting medications or prescriptions, limit in-person contacts in pharmacies by calling in your prescriptions, using the drive thru, or signing up for at-home delivery.

Collect copies of essential paperwork, such as medical records, insurance policy information, and personal identification. Keep them in a waterproof container, and remember to take them with you if you need to evacuate.

Will you need to evacuate?

Have several ways to receive weather alerts for approaching storms, and follow local authorities’ guidance about when and where to shelter. Find out whether or not you live in an evacuation zone, and if you do, begin planning where you will go if forced to evacuate. Designated shelters may have changed because of COVID-19, and if you plan to evacuate to a friend or family member’s home, be prepared to take special precautions to protect yourself and others from spreading the coronavirus. If you live in a well-built house not in an evacuation zone, your safest place is probably your home.

Remember to make a plan for your pets. Not all shelters accept animals. Make sure you have plenty of food and medications for your pets as well.

If you are planning to evacuate, be sure to include items to protect your family from catching or spreading the coronavirus in your “go kit.” These items include face masks (two per person), hand sanitizer, and bar or liquid soap. Remember, children under the age of 2 should not wear a face mask, nor should anyone who is experiencing difficulty breathing.

If you must go to a shelter, try to maintain social distance between yourself and non-household members. Wash hands often and follow shelter instructions regarding face coverings. Try to avoid touching high touch items, such as doorknobs or handrails.

We at L & M Insurance Group sincerely hope our clients will be stay safe during the 2020 hurricane season. We share this information in order to remind you not to be complacent, especially since community conditions are different this year. Please give our office a call at 813-672-4100 if you have any questions about your insurance coverage during hurricane season (or any time!).

For more information:

https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/public-safety/emergency-management/find-evacuation-information