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Investing in Your Business: Tips for Buying a Company Vehicle

As your small business grows, you might consider purchasing a vehicle to use for business purposes. If you or an employee are often using your personal vehicle to drive to multiple job sites or transport clients, a company vehicle can make good sense.

Note: Any car, owned by an individual or a business, which is used for business purposes should be covered by a commercial auto policy. Personal auto policies will not cover business use. Please consult your insurance agent if you have any questions about whether or not your usage is considered “business use.”

Some pros and cons of the company vehicle

Buying a company car has several pros and cons. On the pro side, it’s one way to reinvest profits in your business, and you can often take advantage of tax benefits. A company car can be an asset, as well as a perk for you or your employees.

You may find that a company car can help you project a professional image and provide reliable transportation. And a company vehicle can even provide advertising opportunities if you choose to add a sign or professional wrap to it.

On the con side, buying a company car can be a sizeable expense. Not only does it cost money to buy in the first place, you’ll also have additional costs to register and maintain the vehicle. With a dedicated company car available, you or your employees may find yourselves on the road more often, thus exposing your business to more liability should you be in an accident.

Tips for choosing a company vehicle

If you decide buying a company vehicle is right for you, just as you would when buying a car for personal use, take time to think through your needs, research potential vehicles, and determine your budget. Some questions to consider include:

Does it make more sense to lease or own?

Should you buy new or used? New usually costs more up front, but a used vehicle may have higher maintenance costs.

What type of vehicle will be best for your needs: sedan, SUV, van, or truck?

How will the vehicle be used? Making deliveries, driving between work locations, transporting clients?

Who will drive it?

How often will it be used?

What features are important to you, such as comfort, fuel economy, safety features, or a warranty?

What type of image does your business wants to project?

What will be the ongoing costs of owning and maintaining each possible company vehicle?

Tip: While you’re in the research stage, call your insurance agent to see how much commercial car insurance will cost for the vehicles you’re interested in. Some makes and models are expensive or hard to insure—don’t wait until you’ve bought the vehicle to find this out!

Call L & M Insurance Group for your commercial auto needs

Once you’ve decided on a vehicle, make sure you protect your investment with commercial auto insurance. Just like personal auto policies, commercial auto policies can cover liability, property damage, comprehensive and collision, coverage for injuries, and coverage for uninsured motorists. The policies do differ in some technical respects, so consult with an experienced insurance agent to discuss your options.

An independent insurance agency like L & M Insurance Group is a great place to start your search for the best commercial auto policy. We write with multiple commercial auto carriers and can help you compare rates and coverage options to suit your business needs. Please call one of our agents at 813-672-4100 or click here for an online quote. Our office is located in Riverview, and we also serve clients in Tampa, Brandon, Valrico, Lithia, and surrounding communities.

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Florida Drivers, Here’s What You Can Do About Rising Car Insurance Premiums

While skyrocketing home insurance rates in Florida have gotten all the press lately, Florida drivers are finding the cost of auto insurance is also steadily rising. Major insurers in Florida, such as Progressive, Geico, Liberty Mutual, and State Farm, have raised their rates up to 44 percent over the past year.

“But I’ve never had a claim!”

We hear this lament every day, and we feel your pain! The fact is, you may not have had a claim, but thousands of other Florida drivers have. In addition to the same economic and social inflation factors driving up car insurance all over the nation, Florida faces some additional unique factors, including:

How can Florida drivers save on auto insurance premiums?

Auto insurance companies base their premiums on a number of factors, including the age and gender of the drivers, driving records, address where the vehicle is kept, and how much driving you do. But there are some things you can do to ensure you’re getting the best possible car insurance rate for your needs.

The first and most obvious one is keeping your driving record clean. In addition to a safe driving discount, ask about any other discounts available, such as good student (if you have teen drivers). (Sometimes “bundling” auto and home insurance policies will save you money—and sometimes not. An L & M Insurance Group agent will help you figure out what’s right for you.)

Shop for a better rate at renewal—at least once a year. Compare quotes from at least three insurers.

Before you add or change vehicles check with your insurance agent to find out what impact that will have on your car insurance. Certain makes and models can be very expensive or difficult to insure. To keep auto insurance premiums in check, when choosing a vehicle, opt for more “boring” versions with good safety records, like certain sedans or mini-vans.  

Pay your bill in full—some companies offer a five to 10 percent discount for paying your policy in full. You may also receive a small discount if you set your policy up on autopay.

Some people choose to drop comprehensive and collision coverage or raise deductibles if their auto insurance is too expensive. There are some situations where this is appropriate, but remember that if you do that, you’ll be responsible for paying for your own losses.

One of the best ways to make sure you’re getting the best price for your auto insurance is to work with an independent insurance agency like L & M Insurance Group. We partner with many auto insurance carriers and can compare the rates from multiple insurance companies for you. Click here to get an online auto insurance quote, or give us a call at (813) 672-4100. Our agents will be happy to help you find the best value for your insurance dollar. We’re located in Riverview, and also serve Brandon, Tampa, Valrico, Lithia, and nearby communities.  

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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.

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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.

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5 Tips to Improve Your Credit Score—and Lower Your Insurance Premiums

When high prices make you feel financially pinched, you look for ways to save money on your expenses, including insurance premiums. One way to do this is to improve your credit score.

Even though they aren’t the same, there is a connection between credit scores and credit-based insurance scores, also known simply as insurance scores. As we explained in “How Your Credit Affects Your Insurance Premiums”:

“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.’”

And according to this Forbes Advisor article, drivers with bad credit may pay up to 42 percent more for their car insurance than those with good credit. Homeowners insurance rates are also affected by credit scores.

So let’s take a closer look at your credit score, since improving it just might save you money on your home and car insurance.

Credit score factors

A credit score is your credit history reduced to a number between 300 and 850. The higher the score, the better credit risk you are. Scores above 720 are considered good, and those below 630 are considered poor.

There are five components of a credit score:

  • Payment history
  • Amount you owe (“credit utilization”)
  • Length of credit history
  • Credit mix—what types of credit you have, such as credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc.
  • Hard inquiries for new credit—have you been trying to get a lot of new credit in a short period of time?

The most important of these factors are your payment history and credit utilization.

Five tips to improve your credit score

Though it may take a bit of time, it’s worth the effort to improve your credit score for both your financial health and as a way to lower your insurance premiums. Here are five tips to improve your credit score:

  1. First, check your credit report for errors and outdated information. By law, once a year you can request a credit report from the three main reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—go to AnnualCreditReport.com for more information). One study found that more than one quarter of consumers had at least one error on their reports that would make a difference in their credit score. Look for accounts that aren’t yours, on-time payments marked late, etc.
  2. Pay your bills on time. The most important and effective thing you can do to raise your credit score. Set up payment reminders or take advantage of auto pay. If you find you’re not going to be able to pay at least the minimum due, contact your creditor to see if they have hardship options available.
  3. Monitor your credit utilization. How much of your available credit are you using? Are your credit cards maxed out? Pay down high credit card balances when you get the chance. If you pay off a card, leave the account open, even if you don’t intend to use it. Accounts like this help with both credit utilization and length of credit history. Experts recommend keeping your credit utilization at no more than 30% of your available credit, preferably lower.
  4. Build a credit history. Some people have lower credit scores partly because they don’t have much of a credit history. If you have little to no credit history, build one by applying for a department store or gas credit card. These are usually easy to get. You may also choose to apply for a secured credit card. This card requires a deposit equal to your credit limit. Otherwise, it functions just like an unsecured credit card—you’ll need to pay your bill monthly (the deposit can’t be used to pay your bills, but usually you’ll get that money back when you’re done needing a secured card).
  5. Keep “hard” credit enquiries to a minimum. Even if you need to apply for credit to build a history, don’t try to open too many accounts in a short period of time. And if you need to shop for a car loan or mortgage, do so in a focused period of time.

No matter what your credit score, L & M Insurance Group can help you find the best deal on insurance

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

For more information:

How to Improve Your Credit Score

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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.