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I’ve Never Had a Claim—Why Does My Insurance Keep Going Up?

This is a common complaint among our customers who find their home and auto insurance rates continue to rise, even when they haven’t had any claims. We know this can be frustrating and we always do our best to find the most competitive insurance rates, no matter what type of insurance our clients need.

As we’ve noted before, the Florida insurance marketplace has some unique challenges, but the cost of insurance is rising in most states. Insurance companies look at many factors when they set their rates, only some of which you can influence—like keeping your driving record clean or improving your credit score. But there are some things which are beyond both your control and your insurance company’s control, factors which are at work in the industry at large. Here are a few things which affect the price of your insurance—even if you, personally, don’t have a claim.

Insurance is a “pool of risk”

First, understand that the central function of insurance is the sharing or pooling of risk. In return for a premium, the insurer agrees to pay for the covered losses of its policyholders. As the Insurance Information Institute (iii.org) rather poetically explains, “If risks—chances of loss—can be divided among many members of a group, then they need fall but lightly on any single member of the group. Thus misfortunes that could be crushing to one can be made bearable for all.”

Insurance protects against catastrophic loss, and in that role it helps to keep society functioning. We couldn’t get credit to buy a house or car, or to start a business if creditors couldn’t have some guarantee of being paid back in the event of a loss. A family who loses a home and all their belongings in a fire would be devastated without an insurance policy. A small business owner could lose everything if someone sued them after slipping and falling at their business. Insurance helps protect us all from financial ruin.

Claims have become more frequent

So remembering that insurance is a pool of risk, if claims become more expensive or more frequent, everyone in the pool will be affected. Simply put, you may not have made a claim, but plenty of other people have. According to Climate.gov, “In 2021, the U.S. experienced 20 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, putting 2021 in second place for the most disasters in a calendar year, behind the record 22 separate billion-dollar events in 2020.” These events include wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and, of course, hurricanes. Plus, those claims numbers don’t include the more mundane events that take place every day—the fender benders, the burst pipes, and so on.

The cost of everything is increasing

This includes the costs to rebuild or repair homes and vehicles in the event of a loss. Home renovations, demand for new construction, and supply chain issues have limited the availability of construction supplies and materials, inflating prices. Auto claims costs are also rising because of similar factors.

Another significant expense for insurance companies is the rising cost of reinsurance (insurance for insurance companies).

Because of these factors, the cost of doing business has insurance companies scrambling. In order to stay in business themselves, they pass on these increased expenses to policyholders.

L & M Insurance Group—your independent agency

Despite the cost, buying appropriate insurance is still one of the best ways you can protect your assets. If you want to be sure you’re paying the most competitive rate for your insurance, why not call a local, independent agency like L & M Insurance Group? Our agents are well-versed in the Florida insurance marketplace and will be happy to answer your questions and give you a quote. We handle personal lines, such as homeowners and auto, as well as business insurance, health, and life insurance. Please call (813) 672-4100, or click here to contact us online. Let us help you find the best insurance coverage at the most competitive price.

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How Your Credit Affects Your Insurance Premiums

As you’re shopping for home or auto insurance, you might come across the concept of the credit-based insurance score, or simply the insurance score. Hmm, that’s odd. What does credit have to do with insurance risk, and how does it affect the cost of your insurance? Does having good or bad credit affect your insurance policy premiums?

Your Credit Score may affect the Price of your Insurance

Your credit score may be affecting how much you pay for insurance. Most homeowners and auto insurance companies in Florida use credit-based insurance scores as part of the process of setting their insurance rates.

Read on for the answers to five commonly asked questions about credit scores and insurance.

1. What’s the difference between credit score and insurance score?

Credit-based insurance scores (or insurance scores) are ratings based on your consumer credit information. They use much of the same information to provide a rating as credit scores do—payment history, outstanding debt, pursuit of new credit, credit mix—but they are used to predict insurance losses. As with credit scores, the higher your insurance score the better, because, according to the Insurance Information Institute (iii.org), “Insurance claims tend to decline as credit scores improve.”

2. Why do insurance companies use credit information to rate premiums?

Insurance scores were developed in the 1990s to help insurance companies more accurately underwrite and price insurance policies. Though they are not the only measure used to rate a policy (see below), the industry has determined that “…people who have low insurance scores, as a group, account for a high proportion of the dollars paid out in claims.” (Source: iii.org.) Experts speculate that the connection is behavioral—those who manage their money and credit well tend to manage other areas of their lives, such as maintaining their homes and vehicles, in a responsible way, which reduces risk.

Also according to iii.org, when insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores, many people (more than 50%) see lower insurance rates overall because insurance companies are able to price coverage that reflects risks more accurately.

3. Does it hurt my credit rating when an insurance company asks for my credit info? No. When an insurance company requests information about your credit, it’s not considered a “hard credit pull.” Hard credit inquiries result when you apply for a loan, mortgage, or credit card.

4. What other information is used to determine home and auto insurance premiums?

In addition to insurance scores, for auto coverage, insurance companies will use some combination of your geographical area, model of vehicle, accident history, age of drivers, driving records, insurance claims, and sometimes how many miles you drive in a year. For homeowners insurance, they will consider things like the home’s age and construction, cost to rebuild the structure in case of a total loss, location, proximity to water for firefighting, and flood risk.

5. How can I improve my credit/insurance score?

This is a great question since people with higher insurance scores usually pay somewhat less for their insurance. First, check your credit score yearly. By law, you’re entitled to one free credit report each year from the national credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Read over your report and correct any errors that might be bringing your score down.

The best thing you can do to improve your credit score is to make your payments on time, including bills, taxes, and any fines or fees you need to pay. It also helps to pay off your credit card balances or keep them as low as possible. If you need to apply for a new credit card or loan, try to wait six months or so between applications—applying for too much credit at one time can temporarily lower your credit score.

Remember, if you do improve your credit score, make sure you compare insurance rates at renewal time. Don’t just assume your insurance premium will decrease.

Shop your insurance with an independent agency

Whether you have good credit or bad credit, L & M Insurance Group can help you find auto and home insurance coverage at the most affordable price. Because we are an independent agency, we write with many different insurance carriers and have more options to choose from than a captive agency. Let our agents shop for your best insurance deal—call us at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online.

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 Safe Driving Tips for the Holiday Season

Most of us are looking forward to spending more time with family and friends during this holiday season. These get-togethers might take place in our own communities or at a far-off home of a loved one. Unfortunately, there’s always an uptick in traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths during the holiday season. In fact, according to the National Safety Commission, “Traveling by car has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile.” This is likely because there are more drivers on the road, and those drivers may be distracted, in a hurry, driving on unfamiliar roads, or even driving while under the influence.

Whether you’re driving across town or halfway across the country, here are some tips to help you drive safely this holiday season.

Before you leave

Safe holiday driving starts before you even leave your house. If you’re planning a road trip for the holidays, spend a little extra time preparing yourself, your family, and your vehicle before hitting the road. Gas up the car and have it serviced, if necessary, and make sure you have an appropriate vehicle emergency kit. Sign up for weather alerts at your destination and along your route or check the weather online. You may be driving in weather conditions you’re not used to. Also check traffic reports to see what to expect. If you’re using a GPS, program your destination in before you leave. If you’re using an old-school map, review your route before buckling up.

Get a good night’s sleep the night before your trip so you’re not driving drowsy. And no matter how short a distance you’re going, allow plenty of time to reach your destination without rushing. Drive at speeds safe for traffic and road conditions.

Everyone in the vehicle should have their seatbelts buckled, and small children should be strapped into an approved car seat.

On the road

No matter how far your destination, always drive defensively. You can’t control what other drivers do, but if you stay alert and practice defensive driving, you should be able to react more quickly to an emergency. Defensive driving practices include being aware of what is happening around you—frequently check ahead, behind, and in your blind spots. Stay out of others’ blind spots if possible. Don’t follow too closely. Use the three-second rule: Note an inanimate object and count the seconds between when the vehicle ahead of you passes it and you do. A three-second gap enables you to stop in time if the vehicle ahead of you ahead stops suddenly.

Another key to safe driving is to stay focused when you’re behind the wheel. You know you shouldn’t talk or text while driving, but did you know that animated conversations among passengers, listening to or changing the radio station, and eating or drinking can also distract you from your driving? Do your best to keep your full attention on the road.

Never drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs (even some over-the-counter drugs can cause impairment). Designate a driver, or call a taxi or ride share service.

Safe drivers pay less for their auto insurance

Safe driving during the holidays—and all year long—can not only help protect you and your family from danger, it can help you save money on your auto insurance. If you need car insurance, or any other type of insurance, please call your friends at L & M Insurance Group (813-672-4100) or contact us online. L & M Insurance Group is an independent agency located in Riverview, Florida, serving Riverview, Brandon, Tampa, Valrico, and surrounding communities.

We wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

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Insurance 101: Understanding Your Deductibles

The high cost of home and auto insurance in Florida has us all thinking about ways to save money on policy premiums. While many factors are beyond your control, one that may help save money is your policy deductible. Generally, a higher deductible means lower premiums. A lower deductible means your premiums will be higher. You’ll have to decide which makes better financial sense for your situation.

Let’s talk about what a deductible is, and how it works with your home and auto insurance.

What is a deductible?

A deductible is the amount of money you’ll pay out of pocket before your insurance takes over when you have a claim. When you have an insured loss, the deductible is subtracted (or “deducted”) from the amount of money your insurance company will pay to settle your claim. If you have a loss that doesn’t reach the amount of your deductible, you won’t be able to make a claim.

In home and auto insurance, there are two types of deductibles:

  1. A flat dollar amount. A $500 deductible on the comp/collision coverage of your auto policy is an example of this type of deductible.
  2. A percentage-based amount. This type of deductible is usually found on a homeowners policy. The percentage is calculated based on the home’s insured value. For example, you have a two percent deductible, and your home is insured for $500,000. If your home is destroyed, your deductible would be $10,000.

In hurricane-prone states such as Florida, a special hurricane deductible also applies only to damage and claims from storms categorized as hurricanes by the National Weather Service. Homeowners insurance companies decide on what will “trigger” the hurricane deductible—usually when the National Weather Service officially names a storm or declares a hurricane watch or warning. A hurricane deductible is usually between one and five percent of your home’s insured value.

With auto and homeowners insurance, your deductible applies each time you make a claim. An exception might be your hurricane deductible, which may only apply once per hurricane season. Check your insurance policy for details.

Insurance is intended to help you financially in the event of a loss that is too big for you to handle by yourself. It’s important to note that making frequent claims on your homeowners or car insurance will not only result in higher premiums—it may also get your policy cancelled or non-renewed.

What to consider before raising your deductible

While it’s tempting to raise your deductible to save money on your insurance, remember that you’ll be paying more out of pocket if you have a claim. Will you be able to make necessary repairs with a higher deductible? If you do raise your deductible, consider setting aside money to cover it if you have a loss.

Do you need home or auto insurance?

Helping you with your insurance needs, including helping you decide what deductible is right for you, is just what L & M Insurance Group is here for. L & M Insurance Group is a locally owned, independent insurance agency serving Tampa, Brandon, Riverview, Valrico, and surrounding communities. If you need a home or auto insurance policy, call (813) 672-4100 to speak to an agent, or contact us online.

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How Inflation Is Affecting Your Insurance Rates and What You Can Do About It

Florida residents already pay some of the highest auto and home insurance rates in the country—and now inflation is making it worse. Some of the same factors driving inflation in general are driving premium increases across nearly all lines of insurance. These factors include supply chain issues, labor shortages, and the rising cost of goods and services. Insurance companies are businesses, and the cost of doing business has gone up considerably. Read on for how inflation is affecting your insurance, and for a few tips to help lower your premiums.

What’s driving up car insurance prices?

Cars have become so high tech that not only do they cost more to repair, they require new training for auto mechanics. Add that to an already existing shortage of qualified mechanics and getting a vehicle repaired becomes even more challenging. In addition, repair shops can’t get the parts they need to fix damaged vehicles so they’re forced to total them, resulting in larger claim amounts being paid out. These higher expenses are taken into account when insurance companies calculate their rates. You can learn more on how supply chain problems can affect your car insurance in a recent blog article.

Homeowners insurance and inflation

Homeowners across the nation are facing rate increases that Florida homeowners have been enduring on a larger scale for the past couple of years. Inflation-related drivers of these price increases include the cost of building materials and a labor shortage of construction workers. Simply put, houses cost more to repair or rebuild, so once again, insurance companies are calculating these costs when setting their rates. (In Florida, the homeowners insurance market faces even more challenges. See: “AOB Abuse and Fraud Help to Drive the High Cost of Insurance.”)

How can you reduce insurance premiums?

There’s only so much you can do in the tight insurance market we have here in Florida, but every little bit helps. Here are a few suggestions for saving money on your insurance premiums:

  • Shop for your insurance with an independent insurance agency. An independent agency like L & M Insurance Group has more options than captive agents when quoting a policy. We represent more than 80 high-quality insurance companies.
  • Improve your credit score. A higher credit score almost always results in lower insurance premiums.
  • Keep your driving record clean. Still one of the best ways to help you get the lowest rate possible.
  • Ask about discounts. You may be able to get small discounts on your auto or home insurance for things like safe driving, safety features or alarm systems, having no gaps in your insurance coverage, signing up for auto pay or paying in full, living in a gated community, and so on.
  • Reduce coverage. Sometimes if money is tight, it makes sense to reduce coverage in order to save on premiums. You’ll need to think carefully about your situation, and what you can handle financially if you were to have a loss. An L & M Insurance Group agent will be happy to help you consider your options.
  • Increase your deductibles. You’ll have to decide if the amount you save in premium is worth the additional amount you’ll owe out of pocket if you have a claim.

Talk to an independent agent

We know you have many choices when it comes to insurance, and we’d like to thank you for considering L & M Insurance Group for your insurance needs. If you have any questions about what coverage you need, or you need a quote for a car, home, or business policy, please call us at 813-672-4100, or click here to contact us online. We’ve been helping our neighbors in Riverview, Brandon, Gibsonton, Valrico, Tampa, and surrounding areas for more than 30 years.

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Insurance Tips for Back-to-School Season

Believe it or not, it’s already back-to-school season! Younger kids go back to school this week, and college students follow soon after. If you’re a parent, upcoming events in your kids’ lives could impact your insurance coverage. And whether or not you’re a parent, this time of year requires that all drivers take extra care while on the road.

Safety reminders for all drivers

The back-to-school season brings increased traffic, as well as kids walking, biking, or scootering to school. Tickets issued for violations related to school zones and buses are expensive, and will certainly affect your auto insurance rates. And it goes without saying that no one wants to injure a child.

Be especially alert near school zones, school bus stops, and intersections with crossing guards. Be aware that kids don’t always stay in crosswalks. Obey school zone speed limits and instructions from crossing guards, and stop for school buses. You may need to allow extra time to get to your destination so you’re not tempted to drive faster than is safe. Let’s all work together to keep kids safe on the roads!

If you do have kids, especially kids in high school or college, read on for information regarding how going back to school may affect your insurance coverage.

Parents of high school students

Will you have a new driver this year? Inexperienced drivers, such as high schoolers driving for the first time, may be prone to distraction. Stress to your young driver the importance of minimizing distractions while they’re behind the wheel. (And don’t forget to model the behavior you want!)

Be sure to add your child as a driver to your auto insurance policy as soon as he or she starts driving. If they’re not listed as drivers and they’re in an accident, your claim will almost certainly be denied.

Worried about your car insurance rates going up because you add an inexperienced driver to your policy? Give L & M Insurance Group a call for a rate comparison. As independent agents, we have access to companies with more affordable rates. And remember, if your child has good grades and/or has taken a safe driving course, you may be eligible for discounts.

Parents of college students

If you’re concerned about covering your college student’s personal belongings while they’re away at school, there are a couple of ways to handle that.

Will they live in a college dormitory or in an off-campus rented apartment? If your child lives on campus, your homeowners insurance may offer some coverage for their personal belongings (usually around 10 % of your policy’s contents coverage). However, if your child lives in a rented apartment, your homeowners insurance will probably not cover his or her belongings, and you may want to consider renters insurance. Even if your homeowners insurance would cover your child’s things, you may still want to consider a renters policy in order to avoid having to make a claim on your homeowners insurance and risking a rate increase.

Whatever you decide to do, make a list of the items your child is taking to school that you want to be covered. Keep receipts and take photos—this will be helpful if there’s a claim.

What about car insurance?

If your child won’t be taking a car to school and will be living away from home, can you take him or her off your policy? It’s not a good idea to do that, since they’re likely to drive a family car during breaks and over the summer. However, if they live 100 miles or more away, you may be able to get a discount on your policy—ask your insurance agent.

If your child is planning to take a car to school, you will need to notify your insurance agent about the vehicle’s change in primary location and find out if any changes need to be made to your coverage due to this new situation.

L & M Insurance Group is here for you

Whether you have questions about your existing coverage or you need a quote for a new policy, please consider locally owned and independent L & M Insurance Group for all your insurance needs. The agents at L & M Insurance Group are happy to review your situation and help you to find the right policies for you. Give us a call today at (813) 672-4100, or click here to contact us online.

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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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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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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!

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Florida Home and Auto Premiums Are Skyrocketing—Is There Anything You Can Do?

Almost every day we receive calls or emails from upset clients whose insurance premiums are going up, even when they’ve never made a claim. Some policies are going up by hundreds of dollars per year—what is happening?

The Florida insurance market is in crisis, particularly the homeowners and auto insurance sectors. A perfect storm of factors is contributing to today’s skyrocketing premiums and a market in which it’s getting harder to find insurance at all. In addition to rate increases, insurance companies are pulling out of Florida and tightening their underwriting guidelines. Florida consumers are facing insurance premium sticker shock and are finding it harder and harder to get the insurance coverage they need at a price they can afford.

Why insurance premiums are skyrocketing

As a locally-owned, independent insurance agency, L & M Insurance Group is committed to helping you find insurance that fits your needs and that you can afford. We also want to help you understand the factors contributing to this crisis. Here are the main reasons Florida insurance is seeing such steep increases:

Catastrophic losses. In 2020, Florida insurers lost nearly $1.6 billion dollars, and are reporting even greater losses in 2021. These losses mainly stem from litigation and reinsurance costs (see below), as well as continued payouts for hurricanes Irma and Michael.

Reinsurance costs. It might seem odd that wildfires in California or Australia would affect the price of insurance in Florida, but they can. That’s because disasters all over the world affect the cost of reinsurance for everyone. Reinsurance is “insurance for insurers”—a way for insurance companies to limit the extent of their own losses in case of disaster. The cost of reinsurance has been rising, and experts expect it to continue going up.

Skyrocketing construction and repair expenses. With the price of everything from car parts to lumber going up, it costs more than it did in past years to repair your vehicle or rebuild your house in case of a loss.

In addition, the value of vehicles and homes is also going up, which means in order for you to receive replacement cost in case of a loss, your insurance company will have to pay out more. It follows that if a covered item is worth more, then the cost of insuring it will be more.

Labor shortages are also affecting the price of construction, home, and auto repair. (Read more about how supply chain issues and labor shortages are affecting car insurance premiums.)

Lawsuits and fraud. For years, bad actors have exploited both policyholders and property insurers. Homeowners have been talked into filing claims and lawsuits by third parties like attorneys, contractors, or water remediation firms. Often times, homeowners don’t understand the claims process, or are relieved to have someone else take over. Unfortunately, every insurance consumer in Florida is paying the price for inflated or fraudulent claims and lawsuits.

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!

What can you do?

Much of what is happening in the insurance industry is out of individuals’ control, but here are three things you can do:

Review your insurance needs with an L & M Insurance Group agent. We can help you make sure you have the appropriate coverage for your situation, and that you’re taking advantage of all discounts available to you. We can also discuss whether or not an option such as switching to a higher deductible to lower your insurance premium is right for you.

If you have a claim, be sure to contact your insurance agent and/or your insurance company yourself. Do not sign anything without talking to your insurance agent or directly to your insurance company.

Contact your elected officials and tell them that continued insurance reform is still needed. Though recent legislation has helped to reduce assignment of benefits lawsuits, other types of lawsuits are still going up, at a cost to all of us.

We at L & M Insurance Group understand your worries and frustrations about the cost of home and auto insurance. We promise we will do the best we can under these difficult circumstances to provide you with the best coverage at the most cost-effective price. Please call us at 813-672-4100 if you need to discuss your insurance options. If you prefer, you may also contact us online.