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L & M Insurance Group Combines Personalized Service with Insurance Companies You Can Trust

Independent insurance agencies like L & M Insurance Group, offer many advantages to insurance consumers. One of the main ones is that we are independent—we represent many different insurance carriers, and therefore are able to offer our clients a choice of tailor-made policies. Part of our commitment to you is that we’re always trying to find new and better markets for our clients.

Many clients turn to an independent insurance agency to save money. But just because you go the independent route doesn’t mean you’ll have to scrimp on service or sign up with an insurance company you’ve never heard of. While it’s true that we do represent some smaller, lesser-known companies, here are a few of our partner companies that you might not realize we work with:

Did you know?

We now represent Allstate, a company that historically has only sold policies through their own captive agents. Allstate may or may not be a good fit for you, but they are well known for their leadership and expertise in personal lines, claims and customer service, as well as their financial stability.

We also represent Nationwide Insurance. The Ohio-based insurance carrier provides a range of insurance and financial services, including auto, home insurance, and commercial policies.

Travelers has been around for more than 165 years and is a top-10 writer of personal insurance in the U.S. In addition to personal lines, they also write landlord policies and commercial policies for many types of businesses.

Mercury Insurance has been named one of “America’s Most Trustworthy Companies” by Forbes Magazine several times. They offer auto, home, condo, renters, and business insurance. We’ve found that Mercury is a good fit for families with young drivers.

The Hartford offers a full line of personal and commercial policies. They also have special programs for drivers over 50, and The Hartford is the only direct auto and home insurance program endorsed by the AARP for their members. 

In addition to the companies listed above, we also represent Progressive, Safeco, GMAC, and many other financially stable insurance carriers. Whether you need insurance for your home, car, motorcycle, boat/personal watercraft, or you need commercial insurance for your business, we can get you covered.

Personalized service

So if you want to combine the personalized service of an independent agency with the benefits of a big-name insurance company, look no further than L & M Insurance Group. We will be happy to compare insurance rates of both well-known insurance companies (like Allstate) with our lesser-known carriers, and explain the benefits and drawbacks of your options. Give us the chance to serve you—please call us at 813-672-4100 if you’d like a quote, or get things started online by clicking below for an auto or homeowners insurance quote.

Home insurance

Auto insurance

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Own a Townhouse or Condo? Which Homeowners Policy Do You Need—an HO-3 or an HO-6?

If you’re buying a townhouse or condo, you might think that because your unit is one of a larger building, your home insurance needs will be different. This is not necessarily true.

The Difference between HO-3 and HO-6 Insurance Policies

As you may be aware, there are several classifications of home insurance policies. If you own a townhouse or condominium, you will likely be buying an HO-3 policy or an HO-6 policy. Both of these policies cover your personal property, the interior finishes of your unit (walls, flooring, ceilings, etc.), and your liability. The main difference between and HO-6 condo policy and an HO-3 policy is that under an HO-6, the building structure and exterior are not covered. Therefore, if your townhouse or condo were to burn down or be destroyed in any other way, you would only receive an insurance claim payout to reimburse you for your personal belongings and the interior finishes—not the structure itself—a considerable difference in reimbursement.

How a Master Building Policy Can Save You Money

Some clients who own or are buying a townhouse ask about the possibility of buying the often cheaper HO-6 condo policy rather than an HO-3 homeowners policy. An HO-6 policy is only appropriate if you have a condo association that has a master building policy that will cover the entire structure of your building, not just part of it.

HO-3 Insurance Policies Protect Your Condo or Townhouse

If your association doesn’t have a master building policy that will pay if your unit is destroyed, your mortgage holder will likely require that you buy an HO-3 rather than an HO-6. Even if you don’t have a mortgage, it’s also in your best interest to do so, because if you have a total loss, your claims payout will come nowhere near being enough to reimburse you for your losses.

An independent agency that works for you

We understand that homeowners insurance in Florida can be expensive, and we all want to save money where we can. However, you don’t want to skimp on insuring your home. The purpose of homeowners insurance is to provide you with peace of mind, whether your home is a townhouse, condominium, or traditional home.

At L & M Insurance Group, we represent multiple homeowners insurance companies, and we’re committed to finding you the most cost-effective policy to suit your needs. Please call us at 813-672-4100, or request a homeowners insurance quote online. We are an independent agency and we work for you!

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What Should I Do if I Get Into an Accident With an Uninsured Driver?

One day as you’re out running errands, another driver runs a Stop sign and smacks into your car. You’re both able to move out of the intersection, but when you go get his insurance information, he tells you he doesn’t have insurance. That’s just great—now what?

Unfortunately, if you’re in an accident in Florida, you have a higher than average chance of that happening. Florida has most uninsured motorists in the U.S.—a full 26.7 percent, according to statistics from the Insurance Information Institute.

What you should do if you’re hit by an uninsured driver is not that different from what you would do if the other driver has insurance:

  1. Call the police. Having a police report will help with the claims process, whether or not the parties involved are insured. Get the name and badge number of the responding officer.
  2. Stay at the scene of the accident. Unless you need to leave to seek medical attention or to avoid a dangerous situation, you should not leave until after the police arrive and you’ve reported the accident.
  3. Get some basic information. Record the contact information of the other driver, the make and model of the vehicle, and the time and location of the accident. If there are witnesses, get their contact information also. Snap photos of your car and the other vehicle, including its license plate.
  4. Make a claim if necessary. Since Florida is a no-fault state, you would already need to make a claim on your own policy if you are injured. But since the other driver had no insurance, if you need insurance help to take care of injuries that exceed your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) limit, or if your vehicle is damaged, you’ll also have to make a claim on your own insurance policy if you have the appropriate insurance coverage (see below).

Can you sue the other driver?

Of course, you could try taking the other driver to court, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to collect, even if you win. Many uninsured drivers simply don’t have the funds to pay.

What about uninsured motorist insurance?

You may be wondering right now about the place of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in this situation. Remember, UM covers your and your passengers’ injuries once you’ve used up your PIP coverage. In a minor accident, PIP may be enough, but for a more serious accident, you may need to tap your UM coverage. Note: uninsured motorist coverage will also pay if the other driver in underinsured—i.e., he or she does have liability insurance, but not enough to cover the severity and expense of treating your injuries. UM will also cover you if you’re in an accident with a hit-and-run driver.

For vehicle damage by an uninsured motorist, your collision coverage pays, less your deductible.

Of course, we hope you never have to deal with this situation, but given the statistics, it’s better to be aware of the possibility and prepare for it if possible. L & M Insurance Group agents are standing by to give you an auto insurance quote, explain insurance coverage options, or simply answer your questions regarding what coverages are most appropriate for you. Please give us a call at 813-672-4100, or contact us online for all your insurance needs.

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Commercial Landlords: Protect Your Liability with Lessors Risk Insurance

Owning a commercial building that you lease to others can be a great investment, but it’s not without risk. That’s why making sure you have the right insurance coverage to protect both your physical property and your liability in case of a lawsuit is crucial. This week, let’s talk about lessors risk insurance, also sometimes called landlord’s insurance.

What is lessors risk insurance?

Lessors risk is a type of small business insurance which protects you if you own a building that you lease or rent out as commercial space, such as retail, warehouse, or office space. It provides property damage coverage as well as liability coverage in case one of your tenants sues you because of a covered event that took place in your building or on your property. Of course, your tenant(s) should also carry their own general liability and commercial property insurance, but lessors risk is an important protection for you as a landlord.

Covered risks may include injury due to slip and fall, weather damage, fire, water damage (from a burst pipe or sewer back up), theft, vandalism, and auto accidents on the property.

To be eligible for lessors risk insurance, you as the landlord may not occupy more than 25 percent of the building. Generally, the building must be completely or mostly occupied, have no electrical hazards, have working smoke detectors, sprinklers and fire extinguishers, and be properly maintained.

You will be able to choose the coverage limits you want to carry. Many landlords find one million dollars worth of liability coverage to be enough, though each situation is different. However, if you have multiple tenants or tenants who engage in hazardous business, like manufacturing, for example, you may need higher limits.

Look to L & M Insurance Group for all your insurance needs

Whether you need business insurance (like lessors risk) or personal insurance, the experts at L & M Insurance Group are here for you. We’ve been helping customers find coverage tailored to their needs for more than 30 years. If you’d like an insurance quote, please call us at 813-672-4100, or contact us online. L & M Insurance Group is a full service, independent insurance agency, primarily serving the communities of Brandon, Riverview, Valrico, Tampa, and surrounding areas. We hope you’ll allow us to be your partner in business, and in life. 

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Don’t Let Your Holiday Go Up in Flames!

The holiday season is upon us—finally something to celebrate in this challenging year! Most of us are decorating the house, wrapping or mailing gifts for loved ones, and planning (cautious) holiday meals. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also a season of accidents, fires, and other mishaps. Just because you’re celebrating, don’t neglect safety precautions. No one wants to have to file a homeowners insurance claim in the middle of their holiday celebrations.

Holiday Fire Prevention Tips

One of the major and most devastating holiday risks is a house fire. Here are some holiday fire safety reminders from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Red Cross:

Christmas trees

  • If you have a live tree, make sure you keep it watered. A dried out Christmas tree can catch fire and burn in an instant (click here to see a video).
  • Even if your tree is artificial, be sure to turn off the lights on your tree before going to bed or leaving the house.

Electrical

  • Make sure holiday light strings are in good condition, with no loose or damaged wires or connections that could shock you or start a fire.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets or connect more than three strings of incandescent lights together—use a power strip if you need more than three strings of lights.
  • Don’t pinch cords or force them into small spaces, put them under rugs, or use staples or nails to position them. Keep all cords away from heat sources.
  • Make sure you hang light strings where they’re intended—some are only for use indoors or outdoors, not both.

Fires and candles

Flickering candles and firelight are certainly beautiful and festive, but they can also lead to home fires.

  • Make sure all open flames are at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire—two out of every five decoration fires happen because decorations are too close to an open flame.
  • Don’t leave candles or fires burning when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Make sure children and pets are not left unattended in a room where there is a fire or burning candles.
  • If you’re celebrating with a menorah or kinara that uses candles, make sure to keep all flammable items at least three feet away, and place it on a non-flammable surface, like a tray covered in aluminum foil.
  • Consider using battery-operated candles, since candles cause more than a third of home decoration fires.
  • If you have a fire in the fireplace, use a fire screen to keep sparks from flying out and starting a fire. Keep clothes, wrapping paper, and decorations at least three feet away.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high and locked away to keep little ones safe.

Cooking

Historically, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have been two of the three leading days for home fires caused by cooking (Thanksgiving is number one).

  • Stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking on the stovetop.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back to help keep kids from grabbing them.
  • Make sure all flammable items are kept well away from the stove.

One more thing…

Remember to make sure your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working order. And if you have one, review your emergency fire escape plan with your family.

No matter how you celebrate this year, we hope you have a very happy and safe holiday season. And remember that if you’re in need of insurance, L & M Insurance Group is here for you. Give us a call at 813-672-4100 or contact us online. Happy holidays!

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Does Your Small Business Need Commercial Property Insurance?

As a business owner, you face many financial risks. For example, if your office or workspace is damaged or destroyed, not only have you lost your assets; you may have also lost your ability to do business at all. Even if you don’t own your own building, if your business has physical assets, you need commercial property insurance to cover your equipment, tools, or inventory.

What it covers

Commercial property insurance covers property owned by your business, including your building, equipment, inventory, furniture, documents, storage sheds, attached outdoor signs and other business assets, with some exceptions explained below. It will pay to repair or replace property damaged, destroyed, or stolen, including property belonging to others under your care and custody. Perils covered include fire, theft, damage from faulty plumbing, wind, and vandalism. Many policies also include coverage for loss of income or increased business expenses due to a covered peril.

What it doesn’t cover

Commercial property insurance does not cover vehicles used in your business—for that, you’ll need a commercial auto policy.

If your business is in a flood zone, you’ll need a separate flood policy, either through the National Flood Insurance Program or through one of the private companies offering flood insurance in Florida.

Commercial property insurance also doesn’t protect your liability if someone sues you. If you also need liability coverage, consider buying a Business Owners Policy (BOP) that combines commercial property insurance with general liability coverage.

Custom coverage

When discussing your business with your insurance agent, be sure to mention whether you transport equipment or supplies to work sites, or your work primarily takes place away from your physical business address. A typical commercial property insurance policy doesn’t cover your assets if they are removed from your business premises, but this is a fairly common issue so insurance companies do offer special coverage for that.

An insurance agent experienced in writing commercial insurance, such as those at L & M Insurance Group, will be able to help you decide what coverage you need to carry to protect your business assets. Take time to answer your agent’s questions—he or she is on your side, working to make sure you not only get the best insurance rate, but you also get the coverage you need for your unique business.

Commercial property insurance is an affordable way to reduce risk to your business’ financial health. Give us a call at 813-672-4100 for a quote, or to discuss your business insurance needs. You may also contact us online by clicking here.

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Insurance 101: Terms You Should Know

Just like any specialized industry, insurance has its own vocabulary. When you’re shopping for a new policy—or trying to make sense of the policy you already have—it helps to understand some of the most commonly used insurance terms. Plus, understanding these terms can also help you get the best insurance rate. How? Because understanding a few key terms will help you compare policies accurately, buy the coverage you need, and even help determine how much money you’ll receive if you make a claim!

General terms

There are a few general terms that apply to several different types of insurance. For instance, you probably know that a deductible is the amount you’ll pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. An endorsement (also known as “rider”) is an amendment to the insurance policy that changes its coverage, terms, or conditions. Some examples of endorsements include a change of address when you move, adding or removing a vehicle or driver on an existing auto policy, or adding coverage for sewer backup to a homeowners insurance policy.

Homeowners insurance terms

One of the most important sets of terms you should know is actual cash value versus replacement cost. These terms are most often found in a homeowners insurance policy.

Actual cash value refers to the amount you would be reimbursed for replacing damaged or destroyed property with comparable new property, minus depreciation. Replacement cost is the amount needed to replace damaged or destroyed property or personal belongings without deducting for depreciation, up to the policy limit. If you make a claim thinking you have replacement cost but you actually have actual cash value, you could receive thousands of dollars less than you expect.

Car insurance terms

Occasionally, clients become confused about the different types of injury and liability coverage available in a car insurance policy.

Some states, including Florida, are no-fault states, meaning that drivers must carry insurance for their own injuries, regardless of who is at fault in an accident. This coverage is called personal injury protection (PIP). It covers both the named insured and his or her passengers.

Property damage pays for damage you cause to another vehicle if you’re at fault in an accident.

Bodily injury refers to coverage for injuries you cause in an at-fault accident.

Uninsured motorist pays for your injuries (once you have used up your PIP) if you’re hit by a driver who does not have bodily injury liability insurance or is underinsured.

Still have questions?

These are just a few of the more commonly asked-about insurance terms. There are many more. If you still have questions, don’t be afraid to ask your agent to explain. Personal service is one of the prime benefits of working with an independent insurance agency like L & M Insurance Group. Please give us a call at 813-672-4100 if you have questions about your policy. Please click here for a car insurance quote, or here for a homeowners insurance quote.

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Partner With Your L & M Insurance Agent to Get the Best Rate

We know car insurance in Florida can take a big chunk out of your budget. Choosing an independent insurance agency like L & M Insurance Group is one way to get the best deal—our agents are experts in the local insurance market and we represent dozens of great standard and non-standard car insurance companies. We’re committed to helping you find low-cost car insurance—but there’s something you can do to help us do that.

Information please

To give you the most accurate rate, your L & M Insurance agent will need some information from you. We keep all your personal information confidential, but we do need certain details in order to give you an accurate quote. Taking a few minutes to compile this information will help us to serve you better.

Here are some things we’ll need:

  • Make, model, and year of all vehicles to be insured.
  • VIN numbers of vehicles.
  • Names and ages of all drivers in household. If you have a teen driver in the household, does the student driver maintain a 3.0 grade average? You might qualify for a discount. Also let your agent know if your young driver is living away at school, whether or not he or she took a car with them.
  • Driving record information for each driver. Agents will pull reports that show claims and violations, but be sure to tell your agent if there is anything new not on record yet.
  • Your current insurance coverage and limits if you already have insurance. You can find this information on the declarations page (“dec page”) of your current auto policy. This helps us quote the same coverage you are currently carrying so you get a fair cost comparison.
  • Your insurance history: how long you’ve been insured overall, and how long you’ve been with your current company. Discounts are available for maintaining continuous coverage.
  • Your address and where vehicles are kept when you’re not driving since your location can affect your premium.
  • How much you drive. If you’re working from home now and putting very few miles on your car, let your agent know. There are insurance companies that will reward you for that.
  • Any business use of your vehicles. If you use your vehicle in your work, drive for a ride share service (Uber/Lyft), or deliver pizza, you’ll need a commercial auto policy. Don’t just assume a commercial policy will cost you more. Ask your agent if you have questions.
  • If your vehicle has any of the newest special safety features, like automatic emergency braking, lane-assist, or blind spot detection. While many safety features are now standard and insurance companies account for that, some are not yet common and might earn you a small discount.

Communication with your agent is key. If you don’t or can’t give your agent full and accurate information, he or she cannot give you the most accurate quote. It often backfires if you hide things from your agent because you think you’ll get a cheaper rate. It could cost more in the long run because you could be charged an additional premium, or you might have a claim denied. If your agent had the most accurate information to start with, he or she likely could have placed you with an insurance company more appropriate for your needs.

Your neighborhood insurance agency

The agents of L & M Insurance Group call the Tampa Bay area home, too, and we take pride in being able to help our neighbors with their insurance needs. Remember, even though we represent many quality insurance companies, we really work for you. If you need a car insurance quote—or information on another type of insurance coverage—please give us a call at 813-672-4100 or contact us online. Thank you for giving us the chance to serve you!

L & M Insurance Group also offers commercial auto policies, homeowners and renters insurance, health insurance, Medicare Advantage plans, and real estate investors policies.

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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.