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Your Dream Home Is Covered With American Integrity’s High Value Home Program

Your home is your pride and joy. Not only does it shelter your family and welcome your friends, it’s likely your most valuable financial asset. That’s why it’s so important to purchase the right homeowners insurance. And for those of you who own high value homes, you need a program designed especially for the unique needs of high value homeowners.

Do you need high value home coverage?

There are several reasons why you might need high value home coverage, including:

  • The value of your home is $750,000 or greater
  • Your home has unique features or design elements, such as a “green” roof or environmentally-friendly design
  • Your home was professionally decorated by an interior designer, or contains high-priced appliances, fixtures or décor not found at a standard retailer
  • You own priceless art, rugs, jewelry, wine, or another collection worth a great deal of money
  • Your home is considered a heritage home and has unusual construction features

American Integrity, one of L & M Insurance Group’s partner companies, offers a specialized high value home insurance program to give you peace of mind. Their program has Coverage A limits of $750,000 to 10 million dollars, and no minimum premium. Their Silver, Gold, or Diamond Bundle packages offer further upgrades to coverage and limits to more precisely meet your needs.

In addition, their flood endorsement covers up to $5 million in damages, $3 million more than most other companies and there is no waiting period before coverage goes into effect. And unlike many other homeowners insurance companies, American Integrity will write high value beachfront properties (using risk modeling), and will also write X-wind coverage.

Additional benefits

American Integrity also offers additional benefits to policyholders, such as specialized claims adjustors and access to a preferred contractor network.

Suffering damage or destruction of a home could be one of your most devastating financial setbacks. Let L & M Insurance Group help you make the right choice to protect your home with a high value homeowners insurance policy through American Integrity. And if American Integrity is not the best choice for you, we represent many more quality homeowners insurance companies—please call us at 813-672-4100 or email us if you have any questions, or you would like a homeowners insurance quote.

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Just Married? Time to Review Your Insurance Coverage

Now that you’ve opened the presents and returned from your honeymoon, it’s time to consider some of the changes getting married will bring to your financial life. For instance, if you haven’t done so already, you should review, compare and consolidate your insurance policies. Good news—you may get a discount just for being married, because many insurance companies consider married people a better risk than single people.

Review your existing coverage

Car insurance

Compare your car insurance policy limits and coverage. It may be less expensive to combine all your vehicles onto one policy because you will be eligible for a multi-car discount. Get a quote from each of your car insurance companies to see which is the better deal. If you change policies, make sure new coverage goes into effect before the old coverage is cancelled so you don’t have a lapse in coverage.

Homeowners or renters insurance

If you’ve been living separately, you may have both been carrying homeowners or renters insurance. You should be able to cancel one policy if you no longer own or rent that second home, but make sure the policy you’re left with is appropriate for your needs. 

For example, you may need to increase your personal property limits now that all your belongings are under one roof. You may also need special coverage for high value items like your wedding and engagement rings, high-end electronics, or expensive wedding gifts.

And remember to officially add your spouse to your policy!

Health insurance

Now that you’re married, you have a limited time to enroll in a new health plan or join a spouse’s plan—usually 60 days. If either or both of you have employer-based plans offering spousal benefits, you’ll want to compare these three scenarios: you each keep your current plan; you join your spouse’s plan; your spouse joins your plan. Ask questions about monthly premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs. If you don’t have health insurance through work, you can buy or change your coverage through your state or federal exchange. See healthcare.gov for more details.

Life Insurance

Consider buying life insurance—even if neither of you have children. The death of one partner could lead to financial difficulties for the surviving spouse if you have bills or a mortgage one person can’t afford on their own.

One more thing: be sure to update your beneficiaries and emergency contacts.

Need help? We’ve got you covered!

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be! Your friendly L & M Insurance Group agent can help you make sense of it all. Whether you’re an existing client or a new one, we will be happy to help you sort through your options. As an independent agency, we represent many financially sound insurance companies and will help you make the best choices for your financial situation. Call us today at 813-672-4100, or email us for a car, home, renters, health, or life insurance quote.

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Need to Insure a Boat? Check Out American Integrity Small Boat Owners Insurance

We’re lucky in the Tampa Bay area to be able to enjoy our boats and water sports nearly year round. But before you hit the bay, lake, or river, do you have the insurance coverage you need for your boat? Even if you don’t have to carry insurance to satisfy a lender, many marinas require proof of boat insurance before they will allow you to dock, and you should also have coverage in place to protect your liability.

As an independent insurance agency, L & M Insurance Group represents many quality insurance carriers—not just one. From time to time, we’ll draw attention to one of our carriers and what they specialize in. This month we want to introduce you to American Integrity, an A-rated, Tampa Bay-based insurance company, focused on insuring Florida consumers. Today we’ll discuss their special small boat owners insurance program, and later in the month, we’ll share information about their excellent homeowners insurance program.

Small watercraft

American Integrity’s small boat owners insurance is specifically designed for small watercraft (up to 30 feet with underwriting approval), including sailboats, bass boats, pontoons, cruisers, and personal watercraft such as Waverunners and Jet Skis. Some features of the program:

  • Boat policies can be written with hull coverage, liability coverage, or both
  • Boat policies can be written on an Agreed Hull Value or Actual Cash Value basis
  • Boating Liability coverage can be purchased up to $500k as a Combined Single Limit or Split Limits
  • Boat policies can be written with a maximum of two owners with an endorsement
  • Uninsured Boater coverage is included with the Boating Liability limit, but can be excluded for a reduction in premium
  • Fuel spillage coverage is included
  • No need to file a navigation plan with them

In addition to the above, American Integrity offers optional coverages, including Bahamas coverage, mechanical breakdown, medical payments, personal effects, and supplemental liability for boats you rent.

Discounts available

To lower your premiums, American Integrity offers several types of discounts, including ones for taking safety courses (state-certified, U.S. Power Squadron, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, or U.S. Coast Guard’s Captain’s License), as well as a multi-program discount if you have your homeowners insurance with them.

If you’d like to see if an American Integrity small boat owners policy is right for you, please call us at 813-672-4100 or email us for a boat owners insurance quote.

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How We Can Help With Medicare Coverage

Be Ready For Medicare Annual Election Period

Once you become eligible for Medicare at age 65, you have some decisions to make. Will original Medicare Part A and Part B be sufficient for your health insurance needs? What about Medicare Advantage (also known as “Medicare Part C”), prescription drug coverage (“Part D”), or Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance?

Now is the time to evaluation your Medicare coverage to see if it meets your needs, since we’re about to enter an annual election period (AEP). Between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7, eligible people may sign up for Medicare Advantage or make other changes to their Medicare coverage.  Once this period is past, you’re more limited in the changes you can make in your health insurance plans. 

Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement Plans

L & M Insurance Group offers both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. We represent Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, and other companies.

Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, is a different way to receive your Medicare benefits. Under original Medicare, the government pays for your benefits when you get them. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. The government pays these companies to cover your Medicare benefits. There are different types of Medicare Advantage plans, including those operating as Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) or Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs). Some Medicare Advantage plans offer benefits original Medicare doesn’t, such as vision or dental. Plan benefits can change from year to year.

As with any type of insurance, there are advantages and disadvantages to choosing a Medicare Advantage plan over original Medicare. Please call our office at 813-672-4100 to speak to an agent who will help you decide if a Medicare Advantage plan is right for you, and which plan offers the best coverage for the best price.

Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, insurance helps pay certain out-of-pocket costs not covered by your original Medicare benefits, such as co-payments, coinsurance, or deductibles. Medigap policies are standardized and must offer the same basic benefits, but some policies offer more benefits than others. These policies can only be purchased by people who have original Medicare.

Helping You find the Right Medicare Coverage

When deciding on health insurance for your retirement, you’ll want to think about what your healthcare needs will likely be, and compare premiums, deductibles, and co-payment requirements in order to decide which plan offers the best coverage at the lowest price.  L & M Insurance Group can help you find the best Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan to suit your needs. Just give us a call at 813-672-4100. For more information on Medicare benefits and plans, please see https://www.medicare.gov/

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Got Great Credit? Let Us Save You Money on Your Auto and Home Insurance!

What does your credit score have to do with insurance rates? Plenty. Since the 1990s insurance companies have been using consumers’ credit scores to help set insurance premiums. Industry studies have indicated that using credit-based scores helps insurance companies better predict risk.

What does that mean for you? It means that if you have good credit, you’ll likely save money on your home and auto insurance.

“Just as insurance scores help insurance companies assess and price risks, so too can these scores help insurance customers—particularly if they are considered good risks,” according to the Insurance Information Institute (iii.org).

Insurance scores are different from credit scores, though they are both based on your credit report. And each insurance company makes those calculations a little differently. For an insurance score, “Emphasis is placed on those items associated with credit management patterns proven to correlate most closely with insurance risk, such as outstanding debt, length of credit history, late payments, collections and bankruptcies, and new applications for credit,” according to iii.org.

Therefore, the higher your insurance score, the lower your insurance rates.

What if your credit isn’t so good?

If your credit scores could be better, lower insurance rates are one more reason to improve them. If you want to improve your score, start by keeping a closer eye on it. Make sure there are no errors in your credit history. Make payments on time, avoid high “credit utilization” (the amount you owe divided by your credit limit), and don’t make too many applications for new credit. Remember, credit scores aren’t the only factor used in determining insurance rates. For car insurance, driving history and type of vehicle are also crucial. For homeowners insurance, your location, the size and age of your home, as well as your level of coverage will also affect your rates significantly. However, improving your credit score could make a significant difference in your insurance premiums. According to creditkarma.com, improving from one credit tier to the next can save you an average of 17 percent per year. And Consumer Reports noted that drivers who improved their credit score from the “good” level to the best paid an average of $214 less per year for their car insurance.

If you have good credit, let L & M Insurance Group help you reap the benefits with lower car and homeowners insurance rates. Call us today at 813-672-4100 for a free quote, or drop us an email. For more than 30 years, L & M Insurance Group has helped customers within Riverview, Brandon, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach and Tampa. We also work closely with many customers throughout Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Pinellas County, and Clearwater.

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Hurricane Proofing Your Yard

So far the Tampa Bay area has had a quiet hurricane season (knock on wood!). But that could change, and we may still experience one or more tropical storms or hurricanes. Before a storm hits, let’s take a look at one more way to reduce the chances of having significant damage to your home due to a hurricane: hurricane proofing your yard.

Inspect

First, walk through your yard. Look carefully at your trees, shrubs, mulch, and any other items found there. Here are some things to watch for:

In your trees, look for dead or dying limbs, or those weakly attached to the tree trunk. Also look for cracks in limbs or trunks, trees that lean and may be unstable and easily toppled by a storm, and branches that hang over your roof, screen enclosure, or are near power lines. You may need to do some pruning (see below).

What type of mulch to you have? Consider replacing rock or pea gravel with softer mulch, such as shredded bark. In high wind, rock and gravel can fly into the air, breaking windows or damaging your house’s exterior.

Does water pool near your house? Consider improving the grading and drainage around it.

Take note of anything in your yard that could become airborne in high winds: potted plants, toys, garden ornaments, bird feeders, lawn furniture, etc. Decide what you’ll do with these things if a storm is approaching—perhaps you can tie them to a sturdy tree, bring them into the garage, or position them in a place where they’re less likely to blow around, such as a corner of a fence or wall. If there are items in your yard you no longer enjoy or use, get rid of them.

Prune

Remove dead or diseased branches, and prune the crowns of trees to make them more wind resistant. For larger trees, you may want to hire a certified arborist for this.

Also prune shrubs that are top heavy, damaged or diseased.

Plan(t)

If you’re considering making changes or adding to your landscaping, do some planning first. If you want to plant new trees, choose wind resistant varieties. These include live oak, southern magnolia, sabal palms, and sea grape, to list a few (click here for more information). Plant them well away from your home and other structures, as well as power lines. This will help reduce the risk of limbs or even a whole tree coming down on your home during a storm.

Hurricane season doesn’t end until November 1, so we should remain vigilant in our hurricane preparations. Take a few minutes to walk around your property to inspect it, prune and plant appropriately, and decide what you’ll do with anything in your yard that could become a projectile. A little attention to your yard before a storm blows through can save you a lot of headaches later.

L & M Insurance Group is a locally owned, independent insurance agency based in the Brandon/Riverview  area. We would love to help you with your homeowners insurance—or any of your insurance needs. Please give us a call at 813-672-4100 for a free quote, or contact us online. For more information about homeowners insurance, click here.

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Is The Hartford Advantage Right for You?

As an independent insurance agency, L & M Insurance Group represents many quality insurance carriers—not just one. We pride ourselves in finding YOU the best match for your individual insurance needs and financial situation. From time to time, we’ll draw attention to one of our carriers and what they specialize in. This month: The Hartford.

If you’ve moved to Florida from up north, you’ve probably heard of The Hartford. They have more than 200 years of experience in insurance—in fact, they insured the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned! The Hartford provides personal lines coverage (home, auto, renters, umbrella) as well as business insurance, such as workers comp or general liability, and employee benefits, like group disability or life insurance. The Hartford specializes in insurance for the 50-and-over age group, and for the past 30 years, they have been the only direct auto and home insurance program nationally endorsed by the AARP.

The Hartford’s Open Road Advantage auto insurance policies offer benefits such as:

  • Lifetime Repair Promise: When you use a repair shop in The Hartford’s approved network, they guarantee the workmanship for as long as you own the vehicle.
  • New Car Replacement Benefit: if your new car is totaled during the first 15 months or 15,000 miles, whichever comes first, The Hartford will pay the cost of a brand new car of the same make and model with no depreciation.

The Advantage Plus program offers these additional benefits:

  • First Accident Forgiveness: If you qualify, your insurance premium won’t go up if you have an accident.
  • Disappearing Deductible: If you stay accident-free, your deductible decreases over time.
  • Optional 12-Month policy term: lock in your rate for a full year if you so choose.

If you’d like to see if The Hartford coverage is right for you, please call us at 813-672-4100 or email us for an auto or home insurance quote. And even if you don’t think they’d be right for you, one of our other quality insurance companies may be just right—call us, and we’ll be happy to help you find coverage that is right for you.

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Moving to Florida 101: Registering an Out-of-State Car

If you’re a new Florida resident, or are thinking of moving to Florida, you may have questions about your car insurance and what steps you need to take to get your vehicle registered. We get a lot of calls from people moving to Florida who have questions about this process, and we’re happy to answer them, and to welcome them to the state.

Once you move to Florida, you have 30 days to get a Florida driver’s license, but only 10 days to buy insurance and title/register your vehicles. Where should you start? Before you register your vehicle, you’ll need to buy insurance valid in Florida. And coverage requirements here are a little different than in other parts of the U.S.

Coverage requirements

Currently, to register a car in Florida, you must have an insurance policy with a minimum of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP), and $10,000 Property Damage liability (PD).  PIP covers injuries you or certain others receive in a crash, regardless of who is at fault. (It also covers your injuries if you’re hit while you’re a pedestrian.)  PD protects your liability if you’re at fault in an accident and you damage someone else’s property, such as a vehicle, building, or telephone pole. Please note that this is the minimum coverage required to drive legally in Florida, but such low coverage is not recommended for most people because it is most likely inadequate to protect you financially if you’re in an accident.

In addition, Florida has something called the Financial Responsibility law, which “requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have in effect at the time of the crash full liability insurance coverage.” This means that if you are at fault in an accident and you injure someone, you must be carrying at least $10,000 per person Bodily Injury (BI) coverage in addition to PIP and PD coverage at the time of the accident.

Click here if you’d like to get a car insurance quote—you’ll need the driver’s licenses of all drivers in the household, as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN) for each vehicle. Have your current car insurance policy handy so you can tell your new insurance agent what coverage you currently have as well as what you would like to have on your new policy. 

For additional information on insurance coverage in Florida, please see “New to Florida? Here’s What You Need to Know About Car Insurance.”

Remember: before you can transfer the title or registration for your vehicle to Florida, you have to have proof of insurance.

In addition to proof of insurance, you’ll also need proof of identity, your out-of-state title/registration, and you’ll have to have your vehicle’s VIN verified by inspection. (Please click the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Department link below for printable application forms and complete details on what you’ll need to do to register your vehicle and get a Florida driver’s license.)

Your local independent insurance agent

When moving to Florida, you’ll want to find a local independent insurance agent to handle your insurance needs—an agent familiar with Florida’s insurance laws. An independent agent will also be able to check rates with multiple insurance companies, so he or she can shop for the best rates for you rather than being exclusively tied to one company.

L & M Insurance Group is a locally-owned, independent insurance agency with more than 30 years experience helping customers in Riverview, Valrico, Brandon, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach, Tampa, and surrounding areas. We represent more than 15 financially sound car insurance companies. We want to be your Florida insurance agents—so please call us at 813-672-4100, or email us so we can help you begin your new life in the Sunshine State!

For more information:

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

Florida Department of Financial Services • Division of Consumer Services Florida Auto Toolkit

Four Ways You Can Drive More Safely on Florida’s Roads

Need Car Insurance and Have PIP claims?

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Why Florida Drivers Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Despite the fact that insurance is required, too many Florida drivers go without it. In fact, Florida has the highest rate of uninsured drivers in the nation at 26.7 percent! If an uninsured driver injures you and/or your passengers, you’ll have to pay your own medical expenses, and you know how quickly those can skyrocket. One way to be sure you can protect yourself financially if an uninsured motorist hits you is to carry uninsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured Motorist (UM) basics

First, let’s look at how uninsured motorist coverage protects you—and how it doesn’t.

Uninsured motorist (UM) pays your and your passengers medical bills if you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. In addition, it reimburses you and your passengers for things like pain and suffering, wrongful death, and loss of enjoyment of life. It also covers you if the other driver is under insured—that is, if his or her insurance policy limits don’t cover the extent of the injuries caused by the crash. And it will pay if an uninsured motorist hits you while you’re a pedestrian, or if a hit-and-run driver injures you.

What uninsured motorist does NOT do is pay for damages to your vehicle. You’ll need to carry collision insurance if you need or want your vehicle covered if an uninsured motorist damages it.

UM limits are indicated using two figures, such as 25,000/50,000. The first number is the limit of what the policy will pay per person, the second number is the limit per accident. You can only buy UM if you also purchase bodily injury (BI) liability, and you can’t purchase UM coverage higher than your BI limits.

Stacked vs. non-stacked

There are two types of UM coverage: stacked and non-stacked.

Non-stacked is cheaper to buy, but doesn’t offer as comprehensive coverage as stacked UM does.

Stacked UM provides higher limits and more complete protection. There are two ways in which stacked is more comprehensive than non-stacked.

If you insure more than one vehicle on your policy, the amount you’re able to collect can be “stacked”—that is, the maximum policy limit is multiplied based on the number of vehicles on your policy. So if you have limits of 25,000/50,000 and three vehicles on your policy, you can multiply the 25/50 limits by three, which means limits of $75,000 per person, $150,000 per accident will be available to you and your passengers.

What if you only have one vehicle to insure? Would you still want to carry stacked UM? Possibly. There are several scenarios in which you could be injured by an uninsured motorist where non-stacked insurance would not pay but stacked would. For example:

  • You ride a motorcycle. If you’re injured by an uninsured driver while riding, stacked UM from your auto policy will pay for your injuries. It will also pay for injuries to a passenger riding with you. Non-stacked will not. Stacked UM coverage on a personal auto policy is generally cheaper to buy than UM coverage on a motorcycle policy as well.
  • You are a “snowbird” who keeps one car in Florida and one car at your other home. You’re injured by an uninsured motorist while driving your “up north” car, but you don’t carry UM on that vehicle. You do carry stacked UM on your Florida vehicle—and that coverage will pay for your injuries, even though you were driving a vehicle you own that is not listed on your Florida personal auto policy.
  • You own a pickup truck which you use for business purposes and insure on a separate commercial auto policy, but you’ve chosen not to carry UM coverage on that policy. If you’re injured while driving the truck, and you carry stacked UM on your personal auto policy, it will cover your injuries.

We think UM coverage is important to carry, especially in Florida where so many drivers either have no insurance or don’t carry enough insurance. If you have any questions about uninsured motorist coverage, or anything else on your auto insurance policy, please call your L & M Insurance Group agent at 813-672-4100, or email us. We will be happy to discuss your financial situation to determine what coverage makes sense for you.

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Property Investors: Do You Have the Right Insurance?

As a property investor, your insurance needs are more complex than the average homeowner. Some insurance agencies are unfamiliar with the requirements of investment properties, particularly ones purchased in the name of an entity such as a land trust, LLC, or a corporation. At L & M Insurance Group, we have a lot of experience working with property investors and others with complex real estate insurance needs.

Types of Investment Property Insurance

Whether you intend to buy an investment property and flip it, or install a tenant, we represent many companies who are happy to insure your investment property. These companies offer a variety of policies tailored to the needs of property investors, including:

 

DP3 Dwelling Fire—Dwelling Fire policies provide coverage for residential buildings that are not owner occupied, but are usually rented to others. The most popular version of this policy is called a DP3. It provides coverage for the building’s structure from all perils except those specifically excluded in the policy, as well as personal liability and loss of use. It is also a replacement cost policy, and we consider it one of the best non-owner occupied policies on the market.

Builder’s Risk—This policy provides coverage for damage to the insured structure and liability coverage during a renovation period. We can write these policies in terms of two, three, four, five, six, or 12 months. Renovations need to improve the property by 50 percent of its value to qualify for a Builder’s Risk policy, so if your property renovations are only cosmetic, you may insure your property with a Vacant Dwelling policy (see below).

 

Vacant Dwelling—In addition to being appropriate for a property that doesn’t qualify for a Builder’s Risk policy, Vacant Dwelling also provides coverage for property investors who own rental property and are between tenants or are trying to sell a property no one lives in.

 

Ready to insure your Property

So whether you’re a property investor who buys and flips homes or one who rents to tenants, we’ve got you covered, even during the renovation process. Please call L & M Insurance Group at 813-672-4100 or email us if you’d like to know more about how we can help you protect your investments. For more than 30 years, L & M Insurance Group has helped customers within Riverview, Brandon, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach and the Tampa Bay area.