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Insurance News You Can Use

The Florida insurance market is especially volatile right now, with many factors influencing the price of coverage. At L & M Insurance Group, we follow developments in the insurance industry, and share them with our clients and prospective clients so you can understand some of what’s happening to the price of insurance. Here are three recent news stories that may affect you.  

Florida Homeowners Insurance Legislation

After a special session to address Florida’s homeowners insurance crisis, Governor Ron DeSantis signed bipartisan legislation intended to improve the situation.

“Lawmakers made changes that involve the broader market, such as allowing insurance policies to include new deductibles for roof damage, imposing restrictions on insurers that seek to refuse to write or renew policies based on the ages of roofs and placing additional restrictions on what are known as ‘bad faith’ lawsuits against insurers,” according to a story from News Service of Florida.  

The Florida homeowners insurance market remains in critical condition, with additional insurance companies going into bankruptcy or limiting the policies they write in Florida. It remains to be seen what relief homeowners will see, and how long it will take for them to see it.

Post-pandemic Distracted Driving

According to the 2022 Travelers Risk Index for Business, 30% of drivers are more anxious on the road and 54% believe distracted and aggressive driving have increased since before the pandemic. Contributing to this anxiety and distraction is the expectation that employees respond to work-related messages when out of the office during work hours. Employees feel pressured to answer work-related calls, emails, and text messages even while they’re driving.

Employers should address safe driving practices with employees, and refrain from calling or texting employees when they’re likely to be behind the wheel. Employees should not be required to read texts (or type them) while driving. An immediate response to a message isn’t worth a life!

Dog-related Claims Rising

In 2021, dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost homeowners insurance companies $881 million—or more than one-third of all homeowners liability claim payments. (Florida is second only to California in the number of claims made.) Aside from the cost of these claims, no one wants to be responsible for their pet injuring someone else.

Take time to train and socialize your dog, and teach children the basics of dog safety. Dogs may develop behavioral issues when left home alone when pet owners return to school or the workplace, so don’t hesitate to address these. Dog owners may also need to carry pet liability coverage and/or an umbrella policy. (Contact L & M Insurance Group if you need a quote for an umbrella policy.)

An independent agency for all your insurance needs

We understand that the insurance market in Florida can be confusing and volatile. L & M Insurance Group is a full-service, independent insurance agency serving Tampa, Brandon, Valrico, Riverview, and surrounding communities for more than 30 years. We write auto, home and commercial insurance, and represent multiple quality insurance companies. We pride ourselves on finding the right coverage for each person, tailored to fit your specific situation. Please call us at (813) 672-4100, or click here to contact us online.

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Is Your Business Hurricane Ready?

Every year private residents hear a lot about preparing for hurricane season—but what if you own a business? Are there any hurricane-readiness actions Tampa Bay business owners should perform?

Business owners should also make plans for hurricane season. How you prepare depends on your type of business, and what assets, property, data, and people you need to protect.  Below are some general considerations for how to make your business hurricane ready. For detailed instructions, see ready.gov’s Ready Business Hurricane Toolkit.

Assess your risks

When a hurricane approaches, what will be the biggest risks to your business? Wind damage to structures, flooding, power outages, losing data, losing inventory? Will you and/or employees need to shelter in place?

Check your business insurance coverage—will it be adequate for your needs? If you have any questions, contact your insurance agent. (If you need a business insurance quote, please call us at 813-672-4100.)

Don’t wait until a storm is bearing down on you to decide what hurricane readiness plans you need to make for your business. Make a list of any items that need to be bought or stored, and set out in writing your business hurricane preparedness plan.

Create your business hurricane preparedness plan

Once you know which risks you need to account for, start preparing immediately. You should communicate with and include your employees in your plans, as they may have their own roles to play in your hurricane preparedness plans.

Some actions you might take to prepare include:

Make a checklist of things to do just before a hurricane. This downloadable hurricane preparedness checklist for businesses is a great resource.

If your business relies on stored data, sign up for data storage and/or backup services if you don’t already have them. If your business has physical files or other important physical documents, make sure you have waterproof containers to store them in.

Create an emergency communications plan to keep in touch with employees, clients, and suppliers. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information for these people, and that information is readily accessible. Include contact information for your insurance agent and business insurance company.

Find a place to store vehicles and movable equipment to protect them from wind and water damage.

If you own your own building, be prepared to secure it as you would your residence. In addition, examine roof-mounted and other signs, benches, vehicles, outbuildings, and other outside items, such as potted plants. Decide how you’ll secure or store them before a hurricane strikes.

Find a suggested evacuation route.

If you or any of your employees will shelter in place, stockpile a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food, flashlights, a battery-operated radio and cell phone charger, a first aid kit, and bedding where you will be staying. 

Locate a secondary location you can use for your business if your primary location isn’t safe or accessible.

Enact your plan

When a hurricane is forecast, track the storm using sources such as the National Weather Service and your local news station. Secure your property, evacuate, or shelter in place. Monitor local authorities using a radio or the internet if possible.

Return to work safely

Once the storm has passed, contact employees to check on them. Watch for any warnings from local authorities, and only return to your business when it’s safe to do so. Be careful of damaged buildings, downed power lines, and so on. If your business has been damaged, take photos or video, and call your insurance agent or insurance company to report the damage.

We at L & M Insurance Group hope the 2022 hurricane season passes us by, but in the event that it does not, we hope these tips prove helpful. If you need business or personal insurance, please consider calling us for a quote. You can reach us at 813-672-4100, or contact us online. We’ve been serving Tampa, Brandon, Valrico, Riverview, Lithia, and surrounding communities for many years—and many hurricane seasons!

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Prepare Now for the 2022 Hurricane Season

It’s that time again. Just like death and taxes, preparing for the Atlantic hurricane season every year is inevitable for Tampa Bay residents. However, just because it happens every year, doesn’t mean you should become complacent or neglect your preparations. You and your loved ones have a much better chance of riding out the season safely if you take a few minutes to review your hurricane season plans. (And if this is your first Florida hurricane season, be sure to check out the links at the bottom of this post for more detailed information!)

Before the storms

One of the first steps you should take is to review your homeowners insurance policy limits and coverage. See the declarations page of your policy for this information. Are the policy limits adequate to repair or rebuild your home? What about coverage for your personal property? An up-to-date home inventory will help to make the process smoother if you need to make a claim. Take photos or video of your belongings, and keep receipts for big ticket items.

Remember, homeowners policies have a special deductible which applies only to hurricanes. It’s usually a percentage of your home’s insured value rather than a flat dollar amount, as with a fire or theft claim. While raising your deductible may save you a little money on your premiums, you’ll need to be sure you’re able to pay that deductible should you need to make a claim.

Please call your agent at L & M Insurance Group (813-672-4100) if you need help understanding your policy, if you need to adjust your policy limits, or you need a homeowners insurance quote.

Consider buying flood insurance, even if you’re not in a flood zone. Ninety percent of all natural disasters involve flooding, and flood damage is NOT covered under homeowners insurance. (Click here for a flood insurance quote.)

You might also consider sewer backup coverage, which is also not covered by standard homeowners insurance. It can usually be added to a policy for a nominal fee.

Important: If you decide to buy flood insurance, or make changes to your homeowners insurance policy, don’t wait until a storm is brewing. Coverage cannot be bound when a storm is approaching.

Store your insurance agent’s number and the claims number for your homeowners insurance company in your phone, and make a note of your homeowners insurance policy number.

Collect emergency supplies, especially water (one gallon per person/per day for at least seven days). You’ll also want to stash non-perishable food, extra batteries, first aid supplies, prescription medications, diapers and formula, and pet supplies.

Make plans for evacuation if you’re in an evacuation zone. Know where to go and what to take with you.

Make other basic preparations, including gassing up your car and checking air in tires, as well as oil and water levels. Have some cash on hand, charge your cell phone, tablet, and laptop, and refill prescriptions if possible. Have a portable, battery-operated or NOAA weather radio available for storm updates and instructions if the power is out.

Enable wireless emergency alerts on your cell phone.

Prepare your home and landscaping against a hurricane’s effects. Have trees and branches trimmed, especially those hanging over a structure. Consider installing storm shutters and a wind-rated garage door. Plan what to do with smaller items like potted plants, children’s toys, pool and patio furniture.

If a storm is imminent, turn the refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings to keep food cooler longer. You may also want to store some perishable items you’ll want access to in a cooler with ice if the power goes out. If you don’t open the door to the refrigerator or freezer, the food will also stay cooler longer. Please be mindful of food safety—click here for more information.

Clean and fill tubs and sinks with water to use for flushing toilets and washing.

During the storm

Stay inside and away from windows, glass doors, or skylights. The safest spot is an interior room with no windows. Close the garage door, exterior doors and windows, as well as all interior doors. Research found that closing interior doors helped to compartmentalize pressure inside a home, reducing pressure on the roof by as much as 30 percent.

Preparing for a hurricane ahead of time can help you minimize its impact. Spend a few minutes now reviewing what you plan to do, what supplies you have on hand, and which ones you need to replenish. Check out the links below for more detailed information. And remember, L & M Insurance Group is here to serve all your insurance needs. Please let one of our agents help you make sure you’ve got the homeowners insurance coverage that best fits your needs this hurricane season, and beyond. Call us at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online.

For more information:

Hillsborough County Disaster Planning Guide

Floridadisaster.org

Ready.gov

NOAA.gov

Weather.gov

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AOB Abuse and Fraud Help to Drive the High Cost of Insurance

If you’ve purchased or renewed homeowners insurance lately, you know that premiums are skyrocketing. While there are several factors driving Florida’s insurance crisis, our high insurance prices are, in part, due to fraud and assignment of benefits abuse.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening.

What is Assignment of Benefits (AOB)?

Assignment of benefits (AOB) is a legal agreement between a policyholder and a third party in which the policyholder gives (“assigns”) some of his or her rights and benefits under the policy to that third party. Under certain circumstances, this works well, such as when preapproved health care service providers bill your health insurance company directly for covered benefits. However, in the world of homeowners (and auto insurance), AOB abuse has become rampant, adding more strain to an already stressed insurance market. Most AOB abuse claims stem from homeowners insurance (primarily related to roofing scams or water losses), PIP claims, and damaged windshields. This article will address AOB abuse related to homeowners insurance claims.

What does AOB abuse entail?

In Florida, two things are at play. First, unscrupulous companies are submitting inflated or fraudulent homeowners insurance claims. One common scenario involves roofing companies canvassing a neighborhood after a storm, offering “free roof replacement” after they look for damage that may or may not exist or be caused by that storm. In this and other situations, fraudulent contractors also may do unnecessary repairs, overcharge for repairs, or in some cases, charge for repairs they don’t make.

Second, when an insurance company balks at paying an inflated claim, the fraudulent contractors are hiring attorneys to file excessive lawsuits alleging breach of contract or bad faith. In some cases, lawsuits have been filed even before the insurance company has been notified of the claim!

As we noted in a previous article, “Florida has, by far, the largest number of lawsuits related to homeowners insurance claims. For instance, in 2019, only 8.15 percent of all homeowners claims in the U.S. were filed in Florida, but more than 76 percent of property claim lawsuits were filed here. And what’s worse: only eight percent of the fifteen billion dollars that property insurance companies paid out in claims costs between 2013 and 2020 went to consumers. Seventy-one percent went to attorneys!”

Of course, not every claim is inflated, nor is every lawsuit unwarranted. But Florida currently has an environment of abuse.

AOB abuse “acts like a tax”

Put plainly, even if you’ve never had an insurance claim, AOB abuse and fraud are costing you money. Insurance companies have no choice but to pass legal costs to defend AOB lawsuits as well as the costs of inflated claims to all insurance consumers. According to the Insurance Information Institute (iii.org), “…had legal costs tracked nationwide averages, the cumulative total savings for Florida homeowners insurers (and their policyholders) would have been nearly $1.6 billion.” This statistic only refers to legal costs themselves, not the amount of money paid out in inflated claims settlements. “AOB abuse acts like a tax on Florida consumers,” according to iii.org.

If you have a claim

If you have a homeowners insurance claim, contact your insurance company as soon as you can. Most have 24/7 claims service, either by phone or online. Insurance company representatives will be happy to walk you through the claims process. Don’t allow a contractor or water remediation company to contact your insurance company for you. You don’t need to sign an AOB to have your claim paid.

(For more information, see “Demolish Contractor Fraud.”)

L & M Insurance Group—your source for insurance

We hope this has helped you understand one of the major factors driving the skyrocketing costs of insurance in Florida. Please remember that reputable insurance companies, like the ones L & M Insurance Group represents, will be there for you if you have a claim. If you need a quote for personal auto, homeowners, renters, or business insurance, we partner with multiple insurance companies, and our agents are experts at finding the right match for your individual situation. Please call 813-672-4100 or click here to contact us online.

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3 Factors Raising Your Commercial Property Insurance Rates

There have been plenty of headlines lately about Florida’s skyrocketing homeowners insurance prices. Unfortunately, we’re also beginning to see rising commercial property insurance premiums as well. Some of the same troubling trends plaguing homeowners insurance are also driving up the cost of commercial property insurance. If you are wondering why commercial property insurance rates are increasing here are some of the major factors.

Troubling trends in commercial property insurance

As a business owner, you carry commercial property insurance to protect your company’s physical assets—such as office equipment, inventory, and the physical property you own or rent. You can buy commercial property insurance by itself, or as part of a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP). Covered perils generally include fire, explosion, storms, theft, and vandalism. Since the coverage protects your financial investment in physical property, the premium increases are being driven by factors which include:

Catastrophic losses—In the U.S., we’ve endured more frequent and catastrophic storms, floods, tornadoes and fires than usual. There have been 89 weather/climate/disaster events over the past five years with losses totaling more than 764 billion dollars, according to NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Rising construction and replacement costs—Replacement cost is the amount needed to replace damaged or destroyed property without deducting for depreciation, up to the policy limit. Rising retail prices mean property items are more expensive to replace. In addition, construction costs have risen, largely driven by the cost of lumber and steel. Shortages in materials, project delays, and a shortage of skilled labor are also increasing the amount of time and money it takes to rebuild after a loss.

Cost of reinsurance—Reinsurance is “insurance for insurance companies.” It’s a way for insurance companies to limit the extent of their own losses in case of disaster. Global reinsurance rates have been rising for several years.

The danger of being underinsured

Even though the cost of business insurance is rising, it’s still an essential part of your business plan. As the U.S. Small Business Administration notes, statistics show 1 in 4 small businesses will have to close if hit by any type of catastrophe. Carrying the proper business insurance can help you avoid that fate. Even if you carry commercial property insurance, you should remain vigilant that you’re not underinsured, meaning you don’t have the right coverage or enough coverage for the risks your business faces. That’s where an expert in insurance can help!

L & M Insurance Group—your partner in commercial insurance

Is it time to review your commercial property insurance? Let L & M Insurance Group help you protect your business. We are an independent insurance agency, with the expertise to find the best coverage for your unique situation. Please call us at 813-672-4100 to discuss your commercial property insurance needs, or request a quote online.

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Fatal Roads: Working Together to Reduce Traffic Deaths

After years of declines, traffic fatalities* are rising again. For decades, seat belt laws and improved vehicle safety features helped to contribute to roadway safety. In 2020, for the first time in years, roadway deaths increased, despite there being fewer cars on the roads due to pandemic lockdowns. Some experts believe with fewer cars on the roads, drivers began driving more recklessly and aggressively. In 2020, nearly 38,700 people died in crashes, an increase of seven percent over the year before. In 2021, roadway deaths continued to increase.

Community planners and governments have been taking a closer look at traffic deaths and creating plans to reduce them. 

Reducing traffic deaths with “Vision Zero” and the Safe System approach

More than 40 U.S. communities have adopted policies based on the Safe System approach, and in January the U.S. Department of Transportation released a new policy known as the National Roadway Safety Strategy. Here in the Tampa Bay area, the city of Tampa is committed to the Vision Zero Action Plan:

“Vision Zero represents a shift in how we think about and address roadway safety problems. It requires shifting our thinking upstream in order to prevent problems before they happen. This entails moving beyond focusing on changing individual behavior and instead accepting shared responsibility for putting a safe system in place for all road users.”

Principles of the Safe System approach

  • Safe road users—encourage those who use our roads to act safely and responsibly, and create conditions that help them reach their destination unharmed.
  • Safe vehicles—design and regulate vehicles to expand vehicle features and systems which help prevent crashes and minimize their impact.
  • Safe speeds—promote safer speeds on all roads, allowing for additional time to avoid crashes and reducing the force of impact if a crash occurs.
  • Safe roads—design roadway systems to mitigate human error as well as encourage safer behaviors.
  • Post-crash care—improve the availability and speed of emergency care if a crash occurs, as well as manage the crash site to prevent additional crashes.

What you can do to prevent traffic deaths

While some of these actions must take place on the community level, there are a few things you as an individual can do to help prevent traffic accidents and fatalities. Proponents of the Safe System approach note that this will require a shift to a more safety-minded culture for everyone.

  • Slow down. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “An increase in speed is directly related both to the likelihood of a crash occurring and to the severity of the consequences of the crash.” Just a one-percent increase in speed results in a four-percent increase in fatal crash risk.
  • Do not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Wear your seat belt and insist your passengers do the same.
  • Secure children in proper child restraints (car seats or booster seats). Doing so “can lead to a 60 percent reduction in deaths.” (WHO)
  • Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
  • Put your phone away. Using a mobile phone slows reaction times, and being distracted makes it harder to stay in your own lane as well as maintain correct following distances.

If we all work together, we can reduce the number of traffic deaths in our community. (As a bonus, these safe driving tips will also help you avoid tickets and non-fatal crashes, too, which can help you keep your car insurance rates down.)

If you need car insurance

As an independent insurance agency, L & M Insurance Group specializes in helping you find the best coverage for the best possible rate. We’ve been helping our neighbors in Tampa, Riverview, Brandon, Valrico and surrounding areas for more than 30 years and we’d love to help you. Please give L & M Insurance Group a call at  (813) 672-4100, or if you prefer to contact us online, please click here.

*Traffic fatalities include those from vehicle-on-vehicle crashes, as well as collisions with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

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Help Prevent Homeowners Disasters With This Spring Maintenance Checklist

There are always plenty of things to do to maintain your Florida home—and spring is the perfect time to cross a few items off that home maintenance list. While there are many more than we’ve listed here, these spring home maintenance tasks will help you protect your home and family from two of the worst perils a homeowner can face: home fires and water damage.

Fire protection

Home fires are every homeowner’s nightmare. Once a fire starts, you may have as little as two minutes to escape. That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to prevent fires and make sure you’ll be alerted immediately if a fire starts. (Click here for more information on what to do before, during, and after a fire.)

  • Test smoke alarms and replace batteries. According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately three out of five fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Test smoke alarms monthly, and replace batteries at least once a year. Replace smoke alarms when they reach 10 years old.
  • Check fire extinguishers and replace if out of date. And make sure you know how to use them!
  • Clean dryer vent ductwork. You should clean your lint filter after every load, but it’s also important to have dryer hoses and vents cleaned on a regular basis to prevent lint fires.
  • Test GFCI outlets. These outlets prevent electrical shock, and can also help to prevent electrical fires.
  • Inspect and clean refrigerator coils. In addition to helping to prevent fire, cleaning coils can help your refrigerator run more efficiently.

Prevent water damage

Water damage is extremely expensive to repair, and depending on the cause, may not be covered by homeowners insurance. Proper home maintenance is the best way to avoid water damage. Take these precautions to help prevent water intrusion or damage to your home.

  • Clean gutters and downspouts. Leaves and other debris can clog them and allow water to run down your home’s exterior and pool at its foundation where it can seep in through any existing cracks. Make sure downspouts direct water away from your home.
  • Check your foundation for drainage problems or water damage and make necessary repairs.
  • Repair any leaks or other damage to your roof.
  • Check plumbing for leaks, especially around toilet bases and under sinks. Consider installing a leak detector device.
  • Inspect exterior doors and windows for leaks. Caulk or apply weatherstripping to make a tight seal to reduce water intrusion.
  • Check appliance hoses (washing machine, dishwasher, icemaker) for damage or leaks.

And while this isn’t a maintenance issue, make sure you know where the main water shutoff is to your home so you can quickly turn off the water in case of a leak or burst pipe.

Is it time for a homeowners insurance review?

Once you’ve completed your spring home maintenance, you may want to review your homeowners insurance. The Florida homeowners insurance market remains in turmoil, but L & M Insurance Group is here to help. We write with multiple insurance companies, and will be happy to review your homeowners policy with you, or to give you a homeowners insurance quote. Please call us at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online.

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Builder’s Risk—Insurance for New Builds and Renovations

In this tough real estate market, you’re excited that you found an older home to completely renovate before moving in. It’s going well—then you get the phone call. A fire burned the structure to the ground. Now what? Did you have the right insurance policy to cover your losses?

When you’re building a new home, or renovating an existing one, you need a specialized kind of insurance coverage. A standard homeowners policy (HO-3) will not cover homes while they’re being built, or in the case above, while they’re being renovated. You need a builder’s risk policy to protect your financial investment during the construction process.

What is builder’s risk insurance?

Builder’s risk insurance protects a home from property damage and loss while it’s being built. This can be new construction from the ground up, or coverage for a major renovation project. Builder’s risk is a valuable coverage for both property investors and private homeowners, and it can cover either residential or commercial properties.

Most builder’s risk policies cover damage to the building itself and/or the construction materials on site from perils such as:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Fire
  • Explosion
  • Lightning
  • Wind and hail

Builder’s risk policy premiums are calculated using several factors, including location of property, type of project, type of construction, and the estimated date of completion. The property will typically be insured based on the estimated cost to rebuild the completed home. An experienced insurance agent, like those at L & M Insurance Group, can help you figure out the coverage limits and deductibles best for you.

Since there is always some uncertainty surrounding construction timelines, especially now with supply chain and labor shortages, builder’s risk policies offer flexible policy term lengths. Many builder’s risk policies are written for nine months to a year, and can be rewritten if construction is delayed. We also can write policies for as short a time as one month if the project is a short-term one.

Don’t forget liability coverage

A construction site can be a dangerous place. What about liability coverage? Builder’s risk policies do not provide liability coverage for claims that happen during the construction period—for example, if someone is injured while on the property. Be sure to ask your L & M Insurance Group agent to explain your options for protecting your liability in this situation.

Choose L & M Insurance Group for your builder’s risk needs

L & M Insurance Group has years of experience working with individual homeowners as well as property investors in organizations like SREIA (Suncoast Real Estate Investors Association), TBREIA (Tampa Bay Real Estate Investors Association), Sarasota REIA, and GOREIA (Greater Orlando Real Estate Investors Association). If you would like more information about builder’s risk policies, or if you’d like a quote, please call us at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online. We understand the insurance needs of property investors as well as private individuals, and would love to help you with all your insurance needs.

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Three Things You Should Know About Water Damage

When you think of Florida, you probably also think of water. We’re lucky to have gorgeous rivers, lakes, and the ocean practically right on our doorstep. Unfortunately, we also have the ever-present threat of water damage—whether from leaks, flooding, or sewer backup.

Florida residents file thousands of water damage claims every year. Water damage claims are second only to wind and hail claims in frequency. The high cost of water damage claims is one of the factors contributing to higher insurance premiums for everyone, and because of this, most homeowners insurance companies now put restrictions and limits on water damage coverage.

Here are three things you should know about water damage.

Water damage is expensive

The average home insurance claim for water damage is $11,098, and nationwide household water damage claims cost up to $20 billion each year. One inch of water can cause more than $25,000 worth of damage.

Water damage isn’t always covered by homeowners insurance

Water damage causes include burst pipes, leaks (either plumbing or roof), appliance failures, sewer backup, and flooding. Homeowners policies generally cover the “sudden and accidental discharge of water,” such as from a burst pipe, accidental overflow of an appliance or fixture, or water damage done in the course of putting out a fire. They won’t cover water damage caused by maintenance issues or failure to make repairs. Frequently, there is no coverage for water damage if mold is present or it is clear that the damage has been in existence for 14 days or more without being fixed. The key is that the problem must be sudden and accidental, not an ongoing maintenance/repair issue.

Sewer backup isn’t covered by most Florida homeowners policies, but you can add coverage via endorsement for a nominal amount of money.

What about water damage from flooding? Flood damage is not covered under a Florida homeowners insurance policy, regardless of the cause of the flooding. If you need flood coverage, you can buy a separate flood insurance policy.

When shopping for homeowners insurance, be sure to read your potential policy carefully, and ask your agent to explain any water damage exclusions or restrictions if you have questions.

You can help prevent water damage

There are some home maintenance tasks you should do to minimize significant water damage to your home, including:

  • Inspect your roof for missing or damaged shingles and make repairs if necessary.
  • Caulk and seal windows.
  • Inspect and maintain your plumbing system.
  • Know the location of the main water shut-off valve to your home. Being able to shut off the water quickly can minimize damage if a pipe or hose bursts.
  • Replace your traditional water heater every 10 years.
  • Shut off the water supply to your washing machine when you go out of town.
  • Don’t leave the house when the dishwasher or washing machine are running.
  • Check that gutters and downspouts are clear, and that water drains away from your foundation.
  • Install a humidity sensor in areas where a leak might occur, such as near a washing machine or dishwasher.
  • Install a wireless water valve—these monitor water flow and usage and can potentially alert you to a leak.

Let L & M Insurance Group help

If you’re in the market for a new homeowners insurance policy, you want to know that you have the appropriate coverage for your needs, including water damage coverage. We know sorting through insurance information can be confusing. That’s where we can help. Please consider independent insurance agency L & M Insurance Group for all your insurance needs, including homeowners insurance. We have many years of experience serving the communities of Tampa Bay, Riverview, Brandon, Valrico, and surrounding areas. Give us a call at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online.

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L & M Insurance Group Is Your Source for Affordable Commercial Auto Insurance in Florida

Of all the many decisions Florida business owners have, choosing the right commercial insurance coverage is one of the most important. Without proper insurance protection, you could easily find yourself in serious financial trouble—you might even lose your business. L & M Insurance Group can help you with all your commercial insurance needs, but today we’re going to highlight commercial auto insurance.

Who needs commercial auto insurance?

Anyone who operates one or more vehicles in the course of doing business, or who owns or leases a vehicle for business use needs commercial auto insurance (also known as business auto insurance). All kinds of businesses need commercial auto insurance, including trucking and hauling services, taxi or limo services, moving companies, delivery services, repair services, locksmiths, landscaping companies, and day care or van services. You need a commercial auto policy if:

  • The vehicle is registered in the name of the business
  • You have permanently attached equipment or pull a trailer in relation to your work
  • You have a commercial license plate
  • You have a sign or advertising for the business on your vehicle
  • Employees drive the vehicle, or drive their own vehicles while working for your business
  • The vehicle is used to deliver packages or food
  • The vehicle is used to transport clients or other employees
  • You transport people for a fee, such as driving for Uber or Lyft

Don’t expect your personal auto policy to cover business use. Business use is almost always excluded under personal auto policies, and your insurance company could deny claims if they find you’re using your vehicle in your business. (If you still have questions about whether your usage qualifies as business use, please consult a commercial auto agent.)

A commercial auto insurance policy offers the same types of coverages as a personal auto policy, including liability (property damage, bodily injury, uninsured motorist) and comprehensive and collision. Commercial auto policies are designed to address the needs of the business owner, and whatever situations might arise from business use of a vehicle. The good news is that the cost of commercial insurance is often quite reasonable—and not always more expensive than a personal auto policy. The best thing to do is to discuss the types of coverage and limits you need with a commercial auto insurance agent, like one of the professionals at L & M Insurance Group.

How to get a commercial auto insurance quote

It’s simple! Just give L & M Insurance Group a call at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online. Our experienced agents will help you choose a commercial auto policy that suits your needs. Some info that will help us give you the most accurate quote includes:

  • How many vehicles you need to have insured
  • Who the drivers will be, and as much of their driving history as you know
  • How the vehicles are used
  • Whether or not you transport cargo or people
  • How many miles will be driven each year

Protect your business with a commercial auto policy

A commercial auto policy will help to protect your business—and you, personally—from financial loss stemming from the cost of an accident if you or one of your employees is at fault. L & M Insurance Group writes commercial auto insurance for both large and small businesses. We have more than 30 years’ experience serving the insurance needs of Riverview, Brandon, Valrico, Tampa, and surrounding communities. Please give us the chance to help you protect your business!