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Protect Your Vacant Investment Properties

Property investors who own rental properties, or who buy, renovate and resell homes, may occasionally find they have vacant properties on their hands. If your property is vacant, it could be a magnet for trouble, attracting thieves, vandals, squatters, even neighborhood kids looking for a place to hang out. Here are seven steps to take to protect your vacant investment properties:

1. Secure the property

Make it hard to get in by ensuring doors and windows have sturdy locks, and keep them locked! If a tenant has recently moved out, have the locks changed or re-keyed. You may also consider reinforcing exterior doors with metal doorjamb or hinge shields in case someone tries to kick down the door.

2. Monitor and maintain the exterior

Check on your vacant property frequently to make sure it’s secure. Keep landscaping tidy by pruning shrubs and keeping lawns mowed. Make sure plants and trees don’t provide hiding spots or cover for thieves or vandals. Remove any mail or newspapers that arrive—nothing says no one is home more quickly than a stack of newspapers in a driveway or an overflowing mailbox.

To guard against fire, remove any flammable debris around the structure, including construction materials, dead vegetation, paper, cardboard, and so on.

3. Light the property at night

To deter thieves and vandals, make sure your property has working exterior lighting, either on a motion sensor or a timer. In addition, have a few lights on timers inside the property to help it make it look like someone is there. These simple measures can make a casual thief or vandal think the property is occupied.

4. Set up an alarm system

In some cases, you may want to set up security cameras or an alarm system to protect your investment property. Even if you don’t have an alarm system, simply placing a sign or sticker saying you do may help to deter thieves.

5. Make friends with the neighbors

If possible, become friendly with the neighbors near your property. They can act as an extra set of eyes and ears when you’re not around. Give them contact information, yours or your property manager’s, to call regarding any suspicious activity.

6. Advertise wisely

While you want potential buyers or renters to know your property is available, you should be careful about how you share information. Don’t share too much with people calling or inquiring online. Some professional thieves locate vacant properties to hit this way. You’ll probably want to leave a For Sale sign up, but you might consider whether leaving a For Rent sign at your vacant property may attract unwanted attention.

7. Carry insurance

Vacant properties and properties being renovated still need insurance coverage, to protect the structures themselves, and your liability as a property owner. You may need a builder’s risk policy that provides coverage for damage to the insured structure and liability coverage during renovation. Or perhaps you need a vacant dwelling policy, which covers properties that do not meet the requirements for a builder’s risk policy, properties that are between tenants, or those waiting for a buyer. If you have any questions about what type of insurance you need…

We can help!

The agents at L & M Insurance Group have years of experience working with property investors, and we’re familiar with the insurance requirements of properties purchased in the name of an entity such as a land trust, LLC, or corporation. We are proud to partner with companies that also understand your needs—like REInsurePro, an insurance program specifically designed with real estate investors in mind.

Please allow us to help you with all your insurance needs including protecting your vacant property. You may reach us by phone (813-672-4100) or contact us online by clicking here. For more than 30 years, L & M Insurance Group has been serving the personal and commercial insurance needs of Riverview, Brandon, Tampa, Apollo Beach, Gibsonton and surrounding communities.

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Five Reasons to Work With an Independent Insurance Agent

When you need insurance coverage, you have many decisions to make. One of the first ones may be whether to go with a captive insurance agent, or an independent insurance agent.

What’s the difference? The main one is this: a captive agent works for one insurance company and sells only the insurance products that company offers, while an independent agent represents many different companies.

Both types of agents are licensed professionals and can help with your insurance needs. However, working with an independent agent from an agency like L & M Insurance Group offers many benefits. Here are five of the most important ones:

More choices

Independent agents have more options than captive agents when deciding which insurance company will best protect your assets. For example, L & M Insurance Group represents more than 80 high-quality insurance companies. After taking your information, our agents will do the comparison shopping for you. Not only will we check premiums, we’ll also take into account coverage options and service. After all, if you have a loss, you want to know that your insurance company will be able to pay your claim in a timely fashion.

More flexibility

What if your circumstances change during the policy term—maybe you buy a more expensive home or add a teenage driver to your policy? It’s possible that change may make you ineligible for your current insurance policy, or make your premium skyrocket. An independent agent can offer you a quote with a different company he or she represents, if necessary. This is much more convenient than having to start the entire insurance shopping process all over again.

Competitive rates

We know insurance coverage in Florida can be costly. As independent agents, we’re not limited to the insurance offerings of just one company. Instead, we’ll compare the rates of multiple companies to find the most cost effective option for you.

Personal relationships

L & M Insurance Group agents will be happy to explain your insurance coverage in understandable terms and answer any questions you may have. And don’t forget, the agents at L & M Insurance Group live in the same community you do. We understand the risks and challenges of living in the Tampa Bay area, as well as Florida’s insurance requirements. And while much of our work with clients takes place over the phone or via email, we are always available to consult in person if you need us.

One-stop shopping

L & M Insurance Group, like most independent agencies, offers multiple types of insurance—everything from home and auto, to renters, umbrella, or business policies. Even life and health.  We can help you purchase every type of insurance you need.

As an independent agency, L & M Insurance Group will work hard to get and keep your business—for life! Think of it this way—we don’t work for any one insurance company, we work for you. Please give us the chance to earn your trust and your business.

Give us a call at 813-672-4100, or contact us online, if you’d like to know more about what L & M Insurance Group can do for you.

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Protect Your Business With a BOP

As every small business owner knows, you can do everything right and still wind up facing a catastrophic loss. A fire could damage your office, keeping it closed down until repairs are made. A customer could slip and fall and sue you. Or your inventory could be stolen or destroyed. No matter what type of business you own, one way to ease that stress is to make sure your business has the right insurance coverage. And one of the best ways to protect your business is to buy a Business Owner’s Policy, or BOP.

Who needs a BOP?

Generally speaking, you need a BOP if you have assets that can be stolen, damaged or destroyed; if there is any chance that you could be sued; and if your business has a physical location, whether you own or rent the space.

BOPs combine coverage for your property and your liability in one customizable—and cost effective—policy. They can be written for any size business, but are especially helpful for small businesses.

Customize your policy with Main Street America

One of our insurance partners, Main Street America Group, offers one of the best business owners policy programs available. Whether you’re a contractor, a real estate agent, a hair salon owner, or you own a restaurant or a retail store, you’ll be able to customize your policy to best meet your needs with the Main Line Business Owner’s Policy (Main Line BOP). This program offers traditional BOP coverage:

  • Property insurance for property, both buildings and contents, owned by your business
  • Liability protection should your company be liable for property damage or bodily harm, either by something that you or your employees did (or failed to do) in your business activities
  • Business interruption coverage, which covers the loss of income resulting from a peril—like a fire—that disrupts your normal business operations

In addition, the Main Line BOP offers broader eligibility and more coverage options, all at very competitive rates! And if you need a commercial auto policy, Main Street America offers those as well.

If you want to know more about the Main Line BOP, or any of our other insurance products or partners, please call us at 813-672-4100. We’ve been serving businesses like yours in the Tampa Bay area for more than 30 years.

And remember, L & M Insurance Group is a full service independent insurance agency—we can take care of all your commercial and personal insurance needs! Give us a call, or click here to contact us online.

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Simplify Your Property Investment Insurance With REInsurePro

For property investors with multiple properties, L & M Insurance Group has an insurance program that can simplify how you keep your properties insured. The REInsurePro program writes many types of policies with the specific needs of property investors in mind. Their insurance products offer flexibility and cover a variety of situations, whether you buy to renovate and flip, or own properties occupied by tenants. Take note members of the Suncoast Real Estate Investors Association (SREIA) or similar organizations like the TBREIA or GOREIA—this is a program that could really benefit you!

Coverage options and special features

Basically, REInsurePro puts coverage decisions in the hands of you as the investor. You can choose whether you want actual cash value or replacement cost loss settlement, and which perils to insure against. You can also decide which “bells and whistles” are important to you for your policy. Properties insured for $70 a square foot or more will automatically be insured for replacement cost value. Wind mitigation and 4-point inspections are not needed. All policies provide one million dollars in liability. Once you’ve made a down payment, you can set it up so that your credit card will automatically be billed each month. 

You can include all of your properties on one schedule, even if they are owned by different entities, e.g., Individuals, Land Trusts, or LLCs. You can also add or delete properties as needed, or change the occupancy status or coverage options, without having to cancel and rewrite your policy every time. This means you’ll be paying to insure a property only for the time it’s on your policy.

REInsurePro can cover your:

  • Rental property (up to a 4-unit tenant-occupied building)
  • Renovation/Builders Risk
  • Vacant property
  • New construction
  • Vacation rental property
  • Condo
  • Liability for vacant land

And more!

Get Started Insuring Your Investment Properties

Think the REInsurePro program might be right for you? Please give us a call at 813-672-4100 for more information. And remember, L & M Insurance Group is a full service independent insurance agency. Look to us for all your insurance needs, including home, auto, business, and life. We’ve been serving Brandon, Valrico, Riverview, and other communities in the Tampa Bay Area for more than 30 years.

To contact us online, please click here.

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Commercial Landlords: Protect Your Liability with Lessors Risk Insurance

Owning a commercial building that you lease to others can be a great investment, but it’s not without risk. That’s why making sure you have the right insurance coverage to protect both your physical property and your liability in case of a lawsuit is crucial. This week, let’s talk about lessors risk insurance, also sometimes called landlord’s insurance.

What is lessors risk insurance?

Lessors risk is a type of small business insurance which protects you if you own a building that you lease or rent out as commercial space, such as retail, warehouse, or office space. It provides property damage coverage as well as liability coverage in case one of your tenants sues you because of a covered event that took place in your building or on your property. Of course, your tenant(s) should also carry their own general liability and commercial property insurance, but lessors risk is an important protection for you as a landlord.

Covered risks may include injury due to slip and fall, weather damage, fire, water damage (from a burst pipe or sewer back up), theft, vandalism, and auto accidents on the property.

To be eligible for lessors risk insurance, you as the landlord may not occupy more than 25 percent of the building. Generally, the building must be completely or mostly occupied, have no electrical hazards, have working smoke detectors, sprinklers and fire extinguishers, and be properly maintained.

You will be able to choose the coverage limits you want to carry. Many landlords find one million dollars worth of liability coverage to be enough, though each situation is different. However, if you have multiple tenants or tenants who engage in hazardous business, like manufacturing, for example, you may need higher limits.

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

Whether you need business insurance (like lessors risk) or personal insurance, the experts at L & M Insurance Group are here for you. We’ve been helping customers find coverage tailored to their needs for more than 30 years. If you’d like an insurance quote, please call us at 813-672-4100, or contact us online. L & M Insurance Group is a full service, independent insurance agency, primarily serving the communities of Brandon, Riverview, Valrico, Tampa, and surrounding areas. We hope you’ll allow us to be your partner in business, and in life. 

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Does Your Small Business Need Commercial Property Insurance?

As a business owner, you face many financial risks. For example, if your office or workspace is damaged or destroyed, not only have you lost your assets; you may have also lost your ability to do business at all. Even if you don’t own your own building, if your business has physical assets, you need commercial property insurance to cover your equipment, tools, or inventory.

What it covers

Commercial property insurance covers property owned by your business, including your building, equipment, inventory, furniture, documents, storage sheds, attached outdoor signs and other business assets, with some exceptions explained below. It will pay to repair or replace property damaged, destroyed, or stolen, including property belonging to others under your care and custody. Perils covered include fire, theft, damage from faulty plumbing, wind, and vandalism. Many policies also include coverage for loss of income or increased business expenses due to a covered peril.

What it doesn’t cover

Commercial property insurance does not cover vehicles used in your business—for that, you’ll need a commercial auto policy.

If your business is in a flood zone, you’ll need a separate flood policy, either through the National Flood Insurance Program or through one of the private companies offering flood insurance in Florida.

Commercial property insurance also doesn’t protect your liability if someone sues you. If you also need liability coverage, consider buying a Business Owners Policy (BOP) that combines commercial property insurance with general liability coverage.

Custom coverage

When discussing your business with your insurance agent, be sure to mention whether you transport equipment or supplies to work sites, or your work primarily takes place away from your physical business address. A typical commercial property insurance policy doesn’t cover your assets if they are removed from your business premises, but this is a fairly common issue so insurance companies do offer special coverage for that.

An insurance agent experienced in writing commercial insurance, such as those at L & M Insurance Group, will be able to help you decide what coverage you need to carry to protect your business assets. Take time to answer your agent’s questions—he or she is on your side, working to make sure you not only get the best insurance rate, but you also get the coverage you need for your unique business.

Commercial property insurance is an affordable way to reduce risk to your business’ financial health. Give us a call at 813-672-4100 for a quote, or to discuss your business insurance needs. You may also contact us online by clicking here.

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Commercial Auto Insurance Policies for Every Type of Business

If you own a business that doesn’t involve making deliveries or transporting clients, you may not think you need a commercial auto insurance policy. But if your vehicle is registered in a company name, you have employees who sometimes drive it, or if it is outfitted with permanent equipment used in a business and you don’t have a commercial auto policy, you risk having a claim denied because the vehicle is used for business purposes.

In fact, if you or an employee use a vehicle for business purposes, even just now and then, you really should protect yourself financially by purchasing a commercial auto policy.

Policies for small businesses and beyond

L & M Insurance Group can write commercial auto policies to cover all sorts of businesses, including lawn care companies, transportation services (for goods or people), real estate agents who take clients to see properties, construction companies, and housecleaner or janitorial services to name just a few. We can also write coverage for all types of vehicles—sedans, pickup trucks, box trucks, and more.

Terms and available coverage vary among companies, but the most common coverage options are: property damage liability; liability for bodily injuries to others; personal injury coverage for you, employees who drive the vehicle(s) and your passengers; collision (coverage for your vehicle in an accident, regardless of who is at fault); comprehensive (coverage for damage to your vehicle other than collision); and uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payments, loss of use/rental reimbursement, and emergency roadside assistance. Your insurance agent can help you sort through what your individual needs are.


Need a commercial auto quote?

Call us at 813-672-4100

Or contact us online today!


Do commercial policies cost more?

You’ll be happy to know that commercial auto policies are often no more expensive to buy than personal auto policies. Factors that influence the cost are much the same as factors that matter for a personal auto policy. They include the amount of driving involved, the radius of operation (do you cross state boundary lines?), the types and number of vehicles to be insured, the driving records of those who will be on the policy, proof of prior insurance, and the amount of coverage you need to carry.

As independent agents, L & M Insurance Group will work with you to find the insurance policy that best meets your needs by comparing rates among the multiple companies we represent. We provide you with coverage for everything from a single vehicle to a fleet of vehicles, from a sedan to a semi. And since we’re local, you can reach us by phone, email, or even by visiting our office (COVID-19 protocols apply). We’ve been serving the insurance needs of Brandon, Valrico, Riverview and surrounding communities for more than 10 years, and we’d love to serve YOU!

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Own a Small Business? Protect It With This Liability Coverage

Doing business in the 21st century is both easier and more complicated that it used to be. Unfortunately, the employees and tools that help you serve your clients may also be the downfall of your business. Your hard work can be wiped out in the blink of an eye by the expenses of recovering from a data breach, or if you must defend yourself from a lawsuit brought against you by an employee.

At L & M Insurance Group, we think you should consider the following two types of liability coverage, in addition to a standard Business Owners Policy (BOP), if you’re a small business owner.

Cyber Liability Insurance

Many small businesses are not even aware that they are at risk for attack, believing cyber criminals are more likely to target large companies. Unfortunately, small businesses are more and more frequently the target of cyber attacks—for example, not long ago one small accounting firm in our area had to spend many hours and dollars recovering from having a hacker breach their system and access clients’ personal information.

Any business that collects and stores sensitive personal information is at risk. If your business handles or stores customer information such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and even addresses, you should carry cyber liability insurance.

It can cost your business thousands of dollars to recover from a data breach. You’ll face expenses related to investigating the crime, communicating the breach to your customers (which is required by law in most states), legal and public relations expenses, and costs you incur due to interruption of your business while you sort things out.

Cyber liability insurance protects both you and your customers from financial losses related to a data breach. It covers a range of threats, including hacking, network failures, or a breach related to the loss or theft of an employee’s laptop or smart phone.

Insurance companies have been working to make this coverage more affordable, as well as suit the needs of businesses of all sizes.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Another type of liability coverage you should consider buying is Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). This coverage protects your business from lawsuits brought by employees claiming discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discipline, wrongful termination, retaliation, and so on.

Small businesses can be especially vulnerable to these claims because, unlike large corporations, they may not have an employee handbook or a legal department spelling out what procedures to follow when hiring, disciplining, promoting, and firing employees. You can be sued even if you’ve done nothing wrong!

Most EPLI covers legal costs (whether or not you win the lawsuit), judgments, and settlements. Most policies cover the business itself, officers and directors, management, and employees.

For your protection, please consider adding these two types of liability coverage to your insurance plan, either by endorsement or by purchasing stand-alone coverage.

At L & M Insurance Group, we understand the challenges of small business because we’re a small business ourselves. Please call one of our trained agents at 813-672-4100 to discuss your small business insurance requirements, or contact us by email. As independent agents, we can tailor your insurance coverage to fit your specific needs.

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Commercial Auto Insurance Options for Small Businesses to Fleet Vehicles

The start of a new year has many of us thinking of new goals. Maybe one of yours is to start or expand a business. If that’s so, remember that an important protection is the right insurance. Commercial auto insurance is not just for businesses with a fleet of vehicles. It’s also a crucial financial protection for small businesses and individuals who use their vehicles for business purposes. L & M Insurance Group, an independent insurance agency, writes with many different insurance companies to find you the most affordable coverage, as well as a policy tailored to meet your specific needs.

Don’t take the chance of having a claim denied because you have a personal auto policy but are using your vehicle for business purposes. A commercial auto policy is not always more expensive than a personal auto policy; it might even cost less! That’s just one reason why you should not try to hide business use of your vehicle from your agent.

Do you need commercial auto insurance?

Commercial auto insurance, also known as business auto, is intended to protect you financially if you or a company employee driving a company car is at fault in an accident, and injures someone or damages property. A commercial auto policy will cover the cost of the claim up to the policy limits. You need some form of commercial auto insurance if you use your vehicle for work purposes other than driving back and forth to your job. This might include:

  • Delivering packages or food
  • Transporting people, such as driving for Uber or Lyft
  • Driving to job sites or transporting clients or other employees
  • Transporting tools and equipment to a construction site
  • Vehicles registered in a business name or bearing a commercial license plate
  • Pulling a trailer in relation to your work

Several types of commercial auto policies are available for several different scenarios, including:

  • Occasional business use—a policy that covers one main driver, and often his or her spouse, who uses a vehicle occasionally for work.
  • Business use for multiple drivers—a policy that covers business use by multiple drivers.

L & M Insurance Group—your partner in business

Independent insurance agencies like L & M Insurance Group are ideal places to purchase your commercial auto insurance. Why? Because we work for you. We’re knowledgeable about the options available to you, and can compare insurance rates among the multiple companies we represent. We’re also local—and available to discuss options, look for discounts, and customize an insurance policy to meet your needs. Please give us a call at 813-672-4100, or contact us online for a quote, or if you have any questions about a commercial auto policy.

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Buying Commercial Trucking Insurance: What You Need to Get Started

Buying Commercial Trucking Insurance is important for your trucking business

One of the most important steps in running a commercial trucking business is purchasing adequate insurance, tailored to your needs, at the best rate possible. But because of the nature of the risk, insurance for your trucking business will likely be one of your major expenses. This isn’t surprising, since commercial trucking insurance protects your liability as well as your cargo and your physical assets (trucks and trailers). To learn more about what types of insurance coverage you’ll need for your trucking business click here.

Helpful Information to get the best Commercial Trucking Insurance

In order for us to help you purchase the coverage best suited for your business, we recommend that you collect the information we will need to give you an accurate quote, including the following:

  • Driver information: legal names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, marital status (insurance companies offer discounts for married drivers), and the original issue date of each driver’s CDL.
  • Vehicle information: make, model, year, cost when new, gross vehicle weight, vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • DOT number
  • What is your business?
    • Will you be driving over state lines or operating locally?
    • How is each vehicle used?
    • Do you carry cargo, or transport people?
  • Information about your cargo:
    • What types of cargo will be hauled, including if there will be any heavy equipment or hazardous materials.
    • Is your cargo refrigerated? If so, what type of cargo are you hauling?
    • If you’re hauling general freight, we need to know what types of freight you’re hauling.

If you already have a commercial vehicle policy, have the declarations page handy so you can confirm the coverages and limits you currently carry.

Ready to start buying Commercial Trucking Insurance?

Remember, the more information we have, the better we will be able to match your needs to an insurance company that’s right for you. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in the commercial trucking business for a while, let L & M Insurance Group help you with this important aspect of your business. As independent agents, we represent several quality commercial trucking insurance carriers. Give us a call at 813-672-4100, or contact us online and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or give you a quote.

For more information:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/

http://www.floridatruckinginfo.com/