Four Tips to Prepare Your Business for a Natural Disaster

Unlike with hurricanes, there is no “natural disaster season”—they can strike at any time. That’s why every year in September the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sponsors National Preparedness Month.

Not Being Prepared for Natural Disasters could cost you your Business

Being prepared is not just for Boy Scouts and individuals—it’s also crucial for small business owners. If you own a small business, a natural disaster could be, well, disastrous. According to FEMA, 25 percent of small businesses never reopen following a disaster.

4 Tips to help you prepare

Don’t let a natural disaster cause your small business to fold. Plan now before a disaster such as a hurricane or fire affects your business. Here are four tips to get you started.

1. Assess your risks.

What natural disasters could affect your business? In the Tampa Bay area, these include hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fires.

Do you own your own building? Do you have inventory or equipment to protect? What about vehicles used in your business?

Once you know the risks your business faces, and the assets you want to protect, you can move to the second step.

2. Make a disaster plan.

Depending on what type of business you own, your plan could include things like:

Locations of evacuation routes and emergency exits and a plan for using them—for you, your employees, or customers.

Communication plans for employees—how will you communicate with them? Have several options, and make sure contact information is up to date.

How and where your business will operate if your location is compromised. Will it be possible for employees to work remotely? You may need to set this up ahead of time. What about making arrangements to operate from a temporary location?

A communication plan for your clients. You may need to explain reduced operating hours or delayed shipping. (And don’t forget to let them know when you’re back to running at full speed!)

A record of your business assets, such as inventory or equipment. Take pictures or shoot video, write descriptions, and keep copies of receipts for large or expensive items in case you need to make an insurance claim.

Go over your plan with your employees and get their input. Make sure everyone understands the policies and roles you’ve agreed upon. Review your plan at least once a year.

3. Protect your data.

Most businesses store some kind of data. If this material is in physical form, you may need to make a digital copy and sync it with a cloud-based system so you don’t lose it in a fire or flood. You should then be able to access it from anywhere. Make sure to back up computer systems regularly.

Keep handy a copy of any data you need to access in case of disaster, like your insurance policy number and claims instructions, payroll information, and/or passwords and account information for your cloud-based storage.

4. Review your business insurance coverage.

Discuss your needs for business insurance coverage with an insurance professional (like an L & M Insurance Group agent!). Review your policy at least once a year to be sure it continues to meet your needs. Understand what is covered and what isn’t. For example, flood damage isn’t covered by most standard policies. Flood coverage is available through the NFIP or private carriers (request a flood insurance quote).

Having the right insurance coverage is probably the most important thing you can do to be sure you’ll have the financial resources to recover from a natural disaster. (Remember, if you run a small business from your home, you’ll still need to buy a business insurance policy of some type. Homeowners insurance generally doesn’t cover business activities.)

Protect your small business from disaster with careful planning—now, before it’s too late. And please let L & M Insurance Group be a part of your disaster planning. Give us a call if you have questions about your business policy, or you need a quote for business insurance. Reach an agent at 813-672-4100, contact us online.



If Your Pet Hurts Someone, Will Your Homeowners Insurance Protect You?

For many people, a house is not a home without a dog—in fact, 85 million dogs live in U.S. households. While the vast majority of dogs never hurt anyone, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, most of them children. And in 2022, Florida had the second highest number of dog bite insurance claims as well as the second highest average cost per claim ($78,203), according to the Insurance Information Institute (

Even if your dog is calm and well-mannered, it’s still true that even the sweetest of dogs can bite someone if they’re scared or agitated. In addition, your dog doesn’t need to bite to injure someone. He could knock over a child or an elderly person, or cause someone to trip and fall. What financial protection do you have if that happens?

(View more tips for preventing dog bites.)

Homeowners insurance and dog bite liability

Dog bite coverage, also called pet or animal liability, covers legal and medical expenses for anyone your pet accidentally injures. While many homeowners (and renters) insurance policies do offer liability protection if your dog bites or otherwise injures someone, more and more home insurance companies are excluding dog bite liability or limiting coverage. Some companies won’t cover certain dog breeds thought to be aggressive, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers.

If you have a dog, review your homeowners insurance policy to make sure it includes animal liability. And if you buy or adopt a dog during your policy term, check with your insurance company to make sure you have animal liability coverage should you need it. 

Animal liability options

If your homeowners policy doesn’t cover animal liability, or doesn’t provide enough coverage, you have some options. You may be able to buy an umbrella policy to supplement your homeowners coverage—just make sure the policy you choose includes animal liability.  

Also, some Florida insurance companies have created separate dog bite liability policies or endorsements that offer more coverage and/or don’t have any breed restrictions.

Finding the appropriate policy is something you’ll want to discuss with your insurance agent.

L & M Insurance Group for all your insurance needs

Whether or not you have a dog, if you need a homeowners insurance policy, please give L & M Insurance Group a call (813-672-4100) or click here to contact us online. One of our trusted agents can guide you through the process of finding the insurance coverage that’s best for your individual situation.

In addition to homeowners, we also write most types of insurance, including auto, business and commercial, flood, and life. L & M Insurance Group is an independent agency located in Riverview, and serves clients in Brandon, Tampa, Valrico, Gibsonton and surrounding communities.


Considering Solar Panels? Call Your Homeowners Insurance Agent First!

Solar panels and Florida sunshine might seem like a perfect match. And while it’s true that solar power is becoming more popular, installing solar panels on your roof can actually put your homeowners insurance coverage in jeopardy! Many Florida homeowners who have installed solar panels have been shocked to find their coverage dropped by their homeowners insurance company.

Ask first: Does my insurance cover solar panels?

Before you spend thousands of dollars to install solar panels on your home, please call your homeowners insurance agent or company to make sure your insurance company won’t drop you!

Solar panels and your homeowners insurance

While some homeowners insurance companies in Florida will take homes with solar panels, many of them won’t. Carriers cite concerns about wind damage and water intrusion into your home where solar panels are attached, as well as added claims costs if your roof is damaged and has to be replaced. The solar panels will have to be removed then reinstalled, adding significant cost. Some homeowners carriers have opted not to accept the risk at all.

If a homeowners insurance company accepts solar panels, and those panels are permanently attached to your roof, they would be considered part of your home and covered by the dwelling portion of your policy. Since solar panels are expensive, you may need to raise your coverage limits be sure to include them.  However, even if a homeowners insurance carrier accepts a home with solar panels, sometimes wind or hail damage to solar panels will be excluded.

In some instances, homeowners will lease solar panels rather than buy them. Even if you lease the panels, you still may need to carry additional coverage, AND you still need to check with your insurance agent first to avoid any problems with insurance coverage.

Avoid any unpleasant surprises

Any time you’re considering making a significant change to your home you should contact your insurance agent to find out what impact it will have on your homeowners insurance. Florida already has a tumultuous homeowners insurance market with premiums far above the national average. Before you make a change that could raise your premiums or seriously harm your chances of getting coverage at all, take the time to make a simple phone call to your insurance agent.

Our Agents are here to help

At L & M Insurance Group, our agents work with many different insurance carriers in an effort to find you the insurance policy that best suits your financial needs. As an independent agency, we are able to compare the rates of several companies rather than just one. We can also compare rates for your other insurance needs, such as auto, flood, commercial, renters, and recreational vehicles. Please give us a call at 813-672-4100 or click here to contact us online.


If a Tree Falls…Does Homeowners Insurance Cover the Damage?

Trees are a great landscape feature, providing beauty, shade, a windbreak, and other benefits. But what if a tree falls on your property, or a large limb crashes down on your car? Will your Florida homeowners policy cover the damage?

Does homeowners insurance cover tree damage?

Since homeowners insurance protects your belongings, the structure of your home, and other structures on your property, it’s likely that if a tree falls on your home and damages it, as long as the tree damage is “sudden and accidental” and not stemming from negligence, then yes, your homeowners insurance will likely cover damage to your home.

If a tree falls on your car, your auto insurance will pay for repairs if you have comprehensive coverage (the “comp” part of comp and collision).

What if it’s your neighbor’s tree?

In general, if your home is the one with the damage, you would make a claim on your own homeowners insurance (and vice versa if one of your trees falls on your neighbor’s home). However, if it’s clear that your neighbor was negligent and didn’t remove a dead or diseased tree in a timely fashion, you or your insurance company may be able to make a claim against your neighbor’s insurance. It’s not easy to prove negligence, though.

Maintain friendly relationships with your neighbors, and discuss any concerns you have about their trees before they become a problem. And be sure to keep your own trees properly maintained.

If you find that your neighbor is unwilling to cooperate, you may want to put your concerns in writing. That way if the tree does damage your property, you or your insurance company may be able to recover at least part of the cost of repairs.

Tree maintenance

As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to frequently inspect and maintain your trees, especially after a storm or heavy winds. Keep trees properly trimmed, and remove any that are dead, diseased or leaning and that could fall and damage your property or your neighbor’s. You may want to hire a certified tree expert to inspect your trees for disease, and/or trim them.

What about tree removal?

If a tree falls on and damages your home, the cost of the tree and debris removal would be covered up to policy limits as part of the damage claim. It would also likely be covered if a tree blocks your driveway or blocks a handicap access ramp. If the tree simply falls into the yard but doesn’t damage or block anything, the expense of removing it wouldn’t be covered.

If a neighbor’s tree falls into your yard, you’re still responsible to pay to have it removed, but you may be lucky enough to get your neighbor to split the cost of removal—especially if you’ve developed a good relationship with them. (And remember to be willing to do the same thing if one of your trees falls into their property!)

When to file a claim…and when not to

If the damage to your property is major—say the tree has destroyed a section of your roof—you will want to file a claim with your homeowners insurance. However, if the damage to your property is minor and likely won’t be more (or much more) than your deductible, you may not want to file a claim. Filing small claims is often not worth it in the long run, since you may lose discounts for not having any claims for a certain length of time.

Insurance for your most valuable asset

As a Florida homeowner, making sure you have homeowners insurance to cover your most valuable asset should be one of your top priorities. L & M Insurance Group is an independent agency committed to helping our clients find the most cost-effective coverage for their individual needs. We’ll help you navigate the Florida homeowners insurance market to find a policy that’s right for you. Please call us at 813-672-4100 or contact us online for a homeowners insurance quote. We also write auto insurance, commercial insurance, and life insurance—please give us the chance to earn your business!


Boat Safely This Summer

Boating season is in full swing in Florida waters. Whether you’re hitting the Gulf of Mexico or one of the many rivers and lakes in our beautiful state, boating is an excellent way to get outdoors, even when it’s as hot as it has been lately.

If you’re a new boat owner—and even if you’re more experienced—here are some basic reminders to help your next boat trip be nothing but smooth sailing.

Before you launch

Familiarize yourself with the rules of the water. This includes such things such as knowing what signs and symbols mean and rules for encountering other vessels on the water. You may want to take a boater safety course, and if you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, you are required to do so by law if you operate a motorized boat of 10 horsepower or more. Boating safety courses are inexpensive or even free.

Equip your boat properly. Make sure you have the safety equipment you need in case of an emergency. This includes a fire extinguisher, a radio (cell service on the water can be spotty), a paddle or oars, and a noise maker such as a whistle or horn to draw attention to your location if something goes wrong. And most importantly, make sure everyone onboard has a Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (life jacket)—even your pet! There are different types of life jackets for different types of water, but the best one is the one you’ll wear. Life jackets should be worn while on the water, since you may not have time to put one on if an emergency arises.

Stock your boat with basic first aid and tool kits, and make sure you have plenty of drinking water on hand.

Check weather conditions—especially those for wind and small-craft advisories.

And before you set out, leave word with someone about where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone.

On the water

Once you’re on the water, aside from enjoying the beautiful scenery, make sure you keep a sharp lookout at all times. Watch for other vessels, swimmers, shallow water, debris, and any areas where the natural environment is delicate—in some cases, watch out for manatees! These slow-moving creatures suffer injuries at the hands of boaters every year.

Maintain a safe speed and distance from other vessels. Follow the rules of the water, and take extra care in busy areas, such as boat launches or docks.

Make sure all passengers ride safely—not on the bow, gunwales or seat backs, and that everyone wears their life jacket.

Never operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

L & M Insurance Group has boat insurance

One more thing: Enjoy the water more knowing that both your boat and your financial liability are protected by boat insurance. Most boat insurance policies cover physical damage to or theft of the boat itself, property damage you cause to another vessel or structure, and medical payments for injuries to you (the boat owner) and your family. You may also want coverage for injuries to people other than your family, guest passenger liability (coverage for someone using your boat with your permission), and/or coverage for your boat trailer and accessories. Discuss which deductibles and limits are right for you with your insurance agent.

If you need boat insurance, please give L & M Insurance Group a call at (813) 672-4100 or contact us online by clicking here. We write boat insurance policies in addition to our competitive homeowners, renters, auto, and commercial insurance. Our agency is located in Riverview, and also serves Brandon, Valrico, Lithia, Tampa, and surrounding communities.

For more information:

The Florida Boater’s Guide


Insurance 101: Understanding the Insurance Claims Process

When you buy insurance, you’re paying for something you hope you won’t need to use. But if you have a loss—your car is damaged in an accident, or a fire destroys your kitchen, for example—you’ll be thrilled that you have insurance in place! The right insurance policy can help you come out of a disastrous situation in good shape financially.

You might be concerned, however, about the unknowns surrounding the insurance claims process. How does it work? While each insurance company has its own procedures, and all claims are unique, here is a rundown of the basics.

(For the purposes of this article, we will be concentrating on property damage claims for home and auto insurance.)

What you need to file a claim

When you have a covered loss—a loss that your insurance company specifies that they will reimburse you for as found in your policy documents—filing an initial claim is fairly simple. Some companies let you file claims online, or have a dedicated claims number you can call. Before you make the claim, you’ll need certain information on hand. (If you don’t immediately have all the information at your fingertips, you may be able to provide it later.)

Auto Insurance

For auto insurance, you’ll need your policy number, the names of those involved in the accident, the other driver’s insurance information, details of the accident, and a copy of the police report if you have one.

Homeowners Insurance

For a homeowners claim, you’ll need your policy number, and eventually documents like receipts or a home inventory that provides a record of the value of the property you need to replace. It’s helpful to take photos or video of the damage if possible.

Once you’ve filed your claim, your insurance company will begin an investigation, usually sending an adjustor to review the damage. Once the adjustor files his or her report, the insurance company will evaluate your claim and accept or deny it. If your company denies your claim, you often have the ability to appeal that decision.

Before your claim is paid, you will have to pay your deductible, the amount of money you’re responsible for paying before your insurance takes over. A homeowners insurance deductible may be a specific dollar amount, or it may be a percentage of the insured value of your home.  Auto insurance deductibles are set dollar amounts, such as a $500 deductible for comprehensive and collision coverages. Sometimes you will pay the deductible to the person repairing your car or home, or your insurance company may simply subtract your deductible from your claim check.

How and when will you receive your claim payout?

How your insurance company will pay your claim also differs, depending on your policy, and the size and type of the claim.

For car insurance, if you lease your vehicle or have a car loan, your claims check may be made out to both you and your lender, since your lender has a financial interest in your vehicle. You’ll need to work with them to manage the funds so you can have your car repaired. In some cases, your insurance company may pay the repair shop directly. If your vehicle is totaled, the claim payout will go towards paying off your loan. Any funds remaining will come to you.

Home insurance claims can be more drawn out because they’re more complex. Homeowners insurance policies cover your home’s structure, your personal belongings, and in some cases your personal living expenses if you have to move out of your home while it’s being repaired. You may receive one or more payments for each part of the claim. When receiving payment for structural damage, your checks may also be made out to you and your mortgage lender, who typically releases funds to allow you to get work started on your damaged home. They’ll release more funds as needed, with the final amount released once the repairs are completed and the home passes inspection, if necessary.

Payment for your personal belongings or additional living expenses should come to you directly. If you have replacement cost coverage for your belongings, you will need to actually replace the items and submit receipts to your insurance company to receive full replacement cost reimbursement.

Will a claim affect your insurance rates?

Whether or not an insurance claim affects your rates depends on several factors. For car insurance these include whether you were at fault, whether the claim is above a certain dollar amount, your personal claims history, and your overall driving record.

Multiple homeowners insurance claims can also drive up the cost of insuring your home. If your claim is small, only a few hundred dollars more than your deductible, it may not be worth filing. Some home and car insurance companies offer discounts if you go a certain number of years without filing a claim, so you’ll lose that discount if you file a claim. Filing multiple small claims can often backfire in the form of higher insurance premiums, or insurance companies refusing to cover you. 

That said, if you have a significant covered loss to your home or vehicle, don’t hesitate to make a claim on your insurance. That’s what it’s there for.

Personalized attention at L & M Insurance Group

Choosing the right insurance coverage can be confusing. L & M Insurance Group is here to help. If you’re in the market for a home or auto insurance quote, please call a L & M Insurance Group agent today at (813) 672-4100 (click here to get a quote online). Our agency works with many standard and non-standard insurance companies, and we’ll be happy to shop around for a policy that fits your personal situation.


Let’s Talk Safety: June Is National Safety Month

Many of us enjoy a more relaxed pace during June—kids are out of school, we start to think about vacations, and so on. But June is also a good time to focus on safety. It’s been designated National Safety Month since 1996 by the National Safety Council (NSC), America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate. National Safety Month is intended to bring attention to safety topics in the workplace and beyond, hopefully preventing injuries or death due to common health or safety risks. Each year during National Safety Month, the NSC chooses four topics to focus on, one for each full week of the month. In 2023 the topics are:

  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Slips, Trips and Falls
  • Heat-related Illness
  • Hazard Recognition

Here are some things to consider this month, and all year round, so you can live safer whether you’re at home, at work, or enjoying summer fun.

Prepared for emergency

We talk a lot about hurricane preparedness, but what other emergencies should you be ready for? Consider the risks you, your family, and/or your business face. How can you mitigate or prepare for those risks? One way, of course, is to carry the appropriate insurance coverage to suit your needs. What assets do you need to protect from damage or loss? Do you need an umbrella policy to protect your financial assets from a lawsuit? L & M Insurance Group agents will be happy to help you evaluate your situation and find the right insurance coverage for you.

Slips, trips, falls

In addition to falls from ladders, some of the most common causes of slips, trips, and falls include rain, spills, and unsecured mats or rugs. At home and at work, also watch for poor lighting, or items which could cause tripping, such as a cord or an empty box. Keep walkways clear, and clean up any slippery spills that occur. Take care when using a ladder, since falls from ladders are one of the main causes of occupational injuries or death.

Heat-related illness

Florida’s summer heat makes it imperative that we find ways to prevent heat stress and illness. Be mindful of the temperature and humidity, and schedule outdoor exercise during the cooler parts of the day. During the hottest days, stay in an air-conditioned space as much as possible. Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness—click here for an infographic from the CDC.

Dress in lightweight, loose clothing, and stay hydrated. Keep an eye on anyone at higher risk for heat-related illness, such as children, the elderly, or those with underlying health conditions.

And remember, never leave children or pets in your vehicle. Even with a window cracked, a car can heat up to a life-threatening temperature very quickly.

Recognizing hazards

Though this topic is often assumed to be for businesses, becoming aware of hazards which could hurt us or our loved ones is an essential skill. Pay attention to your surroundings and keep homes and business premises in good repair. Store things like cleaning supplies, medications, or chemicals safely and out of reach of children. If we can prevent an accident, injury, or even a death through some foresight, it is certainly worth it.

When all else fails…

Sometimes, even with all your precautions, accidents happen. Knowing you have the right insurance in place can help you sleep better at night. If you need an insurance quote for auto, home, renters, or commercial insurance, please call L & M Insurance Group at 813-672-4100. (If you prefer to contact us online, click here.) The agents at L & M Insurance Group will be able to help you find the coverage you need for your individual situation.

Stay safe out there!


Are You Ready for the 2023 Hurricane Season?

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1, and whether you’re a hurricane veteran or a newcomer to the state of Florida, now is the time to ready your home and family for the 2023 hurricane season. Here is some information to help.

Hurricane risks

The biggest risks a Florida homeowner faces from a hurricane are storm surge, flooding, and wind damage.

Experts emphasize that the deadliest hurricane risk is that of storm surge. A storm doesn’t have to be a monster like Hurricane Ian to be deadly and damaging. Storm surge from even a category 1 or 2 hurricane can be life-threatening. It takes only six inches of fast-moving water to knock down an adult, and only two feet to wash away a vehicle.

Even if you don’t live right on the water, during a hurricane, your home may still be at risk for flooding. Flood damage is not covered under a standard home insurance policy, so you’ll need a separate flood policy. Remember, flood insurance often requires a waiting period before coverage goes into effect, so don’t wait until a storm is bearing down on you to call for a policy.  (If you need a flood insurance quote, click here.)

Both on the coast and inland, high winds from hurricanes (or tornados spawned by a hurricane), can cause wind damage your home.

Preparation basics

Before the storm season starts in earnest, take some time to review or prepare your plan to survive a hurricane. Some basics include (see below for links to detailed hurricane preparation guides):

Have a communication plan for your family. How will you get in touch with each other if you’re not together when a storm hits?

Understand the terminology of hurricane watches and warnings, and learn your evacuation route(s) if you’re in an evacuation zone.

Prepare your home. Trim trees and shrubs; make necessary repairs to your roof, windows or doors; and purchase storm shutters or cut plywood to fit windows.

Keep your vehicle gas tanks at least half full. Pumps won’t work if the power goes out.

Review your insurance coverage. Homeowners insurance covers damage from hurricanes, but there is a special deductible that applies only to hurricanes. This deductible is usually a percentage of your home’s insured value rather than a flat dollar amount. Review your policy and make sure you have money put aside to pay your deductible if you have to make a claim.

Prepare for a power outage. Have some cash on hand, stock up on ice if you’ll need to put perishables in an ice chest, charge electronics and portable power sources, and if you have a generator, make sure it’s in good operating order.

Connect with your neighbors before and after a storm, especially if they are elderly.

Check and update/replenish your emergency supplies and/or “go kits.”

Download the FEMA app. While you’re at it, you might also check that you have any apps for your bank and insurance companies downloaded to your phone. Also save the phone numbers for your insurance companies (home and auto) and your insurance agent’s phone number in a safe place, along with your insurance policy numbers.

(Own a business? Click here to learn how to prepare your business for a hurricane.)

Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for a hurricane. Spending a little time now could prove life-saving later.

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

L & M Insurance Group is your source for all types of insurance, both personal and commercial. If you need homeowners insurance, flood insurance, or business insurance, please give a L & M Insurance Group agent a call at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online.

For more information:

Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide


Simple Tips to Prevent Car Theft

In 2022, more than 1 million vehicles were stolen in the U.S.—an increase of 7 percent over the previous year. And industry experts say that nearly half of the time, owner errors contributed to the theft of the vehicle!

You may not think your vehicle is of interest to a car thief, but it’s not always the most expensive or flashy vehicles which are stolen. The top five vehicles stolen in 2021 were full size Chevy and Ford trucks, Honda Civics and Accords, and Toyota Camrys. In many cases, car thieves target vehicles because they want to resell the parts.

If you carry comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy and your car is stolen, your loss should be covered, less your deductible. However, since you don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of losing your vehicle in the first place, here are a few simple tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of car theft.

Avoid being an easy target

Car thieves look for the easiest marks they can find—vehicles with unlocked doors, open windows, and so on. Even if they don’t steal your vehicle, thieves also look for valuables they can resell left in unlocked vehicles. Make it harder for them to take your vehicle and your belongings, and they will move on to an easier target.

Make it hard to get in

  • Always lock your car doors when you leave your vehicle. Roll up your windows, too.
  • Never leave your keys or key fob in your car.
  • Never leave the car running and unattended, even if you leave the car locked.
  • Don’t leave valuables like phones, purses, or laptops in your car. If you must leave them, put them out of sight. Consider locking them in your trunk before you reach your destination in case anyone is watching as you leave your car.

Pay attention to where you park

  • Park in well-lighted, high-traffic areas, such as near store entrances or guard shacks in public parking garages. Don’t give thieves privacy and darkness in which to work.
  • At home, if you can’t park in a garage, park under a streetlight, or install motion-detecting lights that will illuminate where you park.

Make it harder to steal

  • Add an anti-theft device such as a steering wheel lock, noise-making alarm, or an ignition kill switch.
  • Etch your vehicle identification number (VIN) on your windows, or use paint or an indelible marker to place your VIN under the hood, on your battery, and under your trunk lid. This makes it harder for thieves to get rid of the car and easier for police to identify it if it is stolen.

If your car is stolen

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, your vehicle might be stolen anyway. If this happens to you, report the theft to the police within 24 hours. You’ll need to provide the following: Make, model, and color of your vehicle; license plate number; Vehicle identification number; any additional identifying characteristics of the vehicle. You should also report the theft to your insurance company as soon as possible.

Don’t be an easy target for car thieves. Take these simple, common-sense precautions to reduce the chance that you’ll be a victim of car theft.

L & M Insurance Group: your source for car insurance

If you’re shopping for car insurance, please call L & M Insurance Group at 813-672-4100 for a no-obligation quote, or click here to contact us online. As an independent insurance agency, we work with many insurance companies in order to help you find the best coverage for your specific needs at the most competitive price. For more than 30 years, L & M Insurance Group has helped customers in Riverview, Brandon, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach and Tampa.


Why Is My Homeowners Insurance Cancelling or Non-renewing?

Florida homeowners insurance is some of the most expensive in the nation, and it’s getting more challenging to find appropriate coverage. Once you’ve shopped for a policy that meets your needs, you’re all set, right? Hopefully, yes, but with the homeowners insurance market’s continuing volatility, there’s a chance that your homeowners policy could be cancelled or non-renewed. What then?

Sometimes this is out of your control, such as when an insurance company decides to reduce or eliminate coverage in a certain geographical area, or becomes insolvent, something we’ve seen far too often in Florida. But there are a few things you can do to lessen the chance of your policy being cancelled or non-renewed.

Cancellation vs. nonrenewal

First, what is the difference between cancellation and non-renewal? If you receive a notice of non-renewal, that means you will not be able to renew your homeowners policy at the end of the policy term. By state law, insurance companies are required to notify you at least 45 days before the end date of your policy in order for you to be have time to find a new policy.

Cancellation can take place during the policy term. Generally, a homeowners insurance policy is cancelled due to either fraud/misrepresentation or failure to pay insurance premiums.

Why your homeowners insurance might be cancelled or non-renewed

Homeowners insurance companies aren’t looking to cancel or non-renew your insurance coverage—they need policyholders or they wouldn’t be in business. But there are a few situations that make it more likely that your policy will be cancelled or non-renewed.

  • You don’t make your payments on time. It seems obvious, but for your policy to remain in effect, you need to make your homeowners insurance payments. If you’re being cancelled for non-payment, contact your insurance company to see if you can get back on track. Some companies offer a grace period and will reinstate your policy when they receive your payment. If your homeowners insurance is paid through an escrow account by your mortgage company, you’ll need to call them to make sure the payments are sent on time.
  • You make excessive claims (even if the insurance company doesn’t pay out). If you have significant damage to your home, of course you should make a claim. But too many people try to make claims that don’t fall under the limits of homeowners insurance. If you wonder if your problem is one that homeowners insurance should fix, call your insurance company or agent to check before making a claim. (For more information, see “What Your Homeowners Insurance Won’t Cover.”)
  • Your home is in an area of high risk, such as one prone to wildfires, flooding, or hurricanes.

  • You own certain types of pets—a dog breed considered aggressive, or certain reptiles, for example.
  • You don’t maintain your property in good condition. An insurance company may cancel or non-renew your policy if an inspection reveals structural damage or other significant maintenance issues. Avoid this by keeping your home in good repair. (Click here for a spring maintenance checklist!)

How L & M Insurance Group can help

If your homeowners insurance policy is cancelled or non-renewed, whatever you do, don’t wait to shop for a new policy. Florida’s homeowners insurance market is still in crisis, and you’ll want to give yourself as much time as possible to find coverage to protect your home. If you need to shop for a new homeowners insurance policy, give L & M Insurance Group a call at (813) 672-4100, or click here for an online quote. Our agents will be happy to help you find coverage to protect your greatest asset—your home.

L & M Insurance Group is an independent insurance agency serving the personal and commercial insurance needs of Riverview, Brandon, Tampa, Valrico, and surrounding areas.