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Water Damage: What Your Homeowners Insurance Will—and WON’T—Cover

When you buy a homeowners insurance policy, you’re purchasing protection for your family’s safe haven as well as your most valuable asset. A homeowners policy is intended to help you recover from a sudden and accidental loss, likely an expensive one, such as fire, lightning, hail, etc. However, we find that coverage for one peril, water, is sometimes misunderstood.

Water damage is the second most common reason a homeowner will make an insurance claim, and it is often covered. However, that depends on what caused the damage in the first place. The key is in the concept of the damage being “sudden and accidental.” For example, if a pipe bursts or an appliance overflows, flooding your home and damaging it—those things are both sudden and accidental. However, gradual damage, like that which occurs over time from a leaking faucet, would likely not be covered. Homeowners insurance will not cover water damage due to negligence or lack of maintenance. It’s not intended to serve as a vehicle for maintaining your home.

In addition, your homeowners insurance will NOT cover water damage due to:

  • Intentional acts.
  • Sewer or drain backup (unless you’ve purchased that coverage).
  • Leaks from a swimming pool or other structure.
  • Ground water seepage.

What about flood damage?

A major concern in Florida is flood damage. Flooding is not covered under a standard homeowners policy. This includes flooding from a hurricane, rising water from overflowing rivers, storm surge, or water from heavy rains. If you need flood coverage, L & M Insurance Group can help you get the coverage you need.

Tips to prevent water damage

The best way to prevent water damage is to keep your home in good repair. Here are a few simple things you can do to prevent water damage (see “Fall Maintenance for Your Florida Home” for more suggestions):

  • Inspect dishwasher, water heater, and washing machine hoses and replace if necessary.
  • Turn off water supply to washing machine and refrigerator when going out of town.
  • Monitor your water bill for unexpected increases.
  • Install a leak detector/leak sensor, a device which detects and notifies you about leaks.

L & M Insurance Group—your source for homeowners insurance

If you have questions about what is or is not covered under your Florida homeowners insurance policy, don’t hesitate to call your insurance agent. And if you need a quote for homeowners insurance, please consider giving L & M Insurance Group a call. We understand the importance of finding the right homeowners insurance coverage for your needs. We are an independent insurance agency partnered with many great homeowners insurance companies, and we’d love to help you find the most cost-effective coverage for your individual situation. Please give us a call at 813-672-4100 or click here to 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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Safe Grilling Tips for National Grilling Month

Ah, the smell of backyard barbecue—one of the best aromas of summer! July is National Grilling Month, and the height of “grilling season” across the US. And while most people go their whole lifetimes without an incident, July is also peak month for grill fires, resulting in thousands of injuries and millions of dollars of property damage each year. While fire is a covered peril under your homeowner’s insurance, no one wants to deal with the trauma and hassle of coping with a house fire.

So before you fire up that grill, protect your property and loved ones with these key grilling safety tips.

Grilling safety tips

Always operate your propane or charcoal grill outdoors in a well-ventilated area. In addition to posing a fire risk, grills produce deadly carbon monoxide fumes—so never use your grill inside your house or garage.

Position your grill well away from your home, garage, deck railings, overhanging branches, or shrubs. Make sure it’s on a flat and level surface so that it won’t tip over or roll. Don’t move the grill once it’s lit.

Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill, and never leave it unattended. Make sure matches and lighters are not where children can reach them.

Keep your distance from the heat and flames by using long-handled tools when grilling.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of a grill fire. Grill fires are basically the same as grease fires, so using water won’t work and can be dangerous. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, you can try smothering the flames by closing the lid and grill vents to cut off oxygen to the fire. If you can do so safely, you may also pour baking soda on the flames.

If there’s any danger of the fire spreading to your home (or a neighbor’s), call the fire department immediately. House fires can spread rapidly.

If you have a gas/propane grill:

Before you grill for the first time this season, or if you haven’t already done so, check that tank hoses are in good condition with no leaks or blockages. Apply a 50/50 soap and water solution, and if you see bubbles, there’s a leak. Turn off the propane, and have the tank serviced professionally. You can use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear any blockages.

Make sure the lid is open when lighting the grill. If the lid is closed, gas can build up and cause a fireball.

Don’t lean over the grill as you light it.

If a burner won’t light or goes out after lighting, turn off the grill and wait at least five minutes before trying again.

Remember to turn off the gas when you’re done grilling!

Note: if you can still smell gas after you turn off the grill, call the fire department.

If you have a charcoal grill:

If you use starter fluid to light your coals, only use fluid specifically made for grilling. Once you’ve lighted the charcoal, do not add more lighter fluid. You might also want to try an alternate method for lighting charcoal, such as a charcoal chimney starter that uses newspaper as fuel.

Once you’re done cooking, close the air vents to let the coals begin to cool. Let coals cool completely before disposing of them in a metal container.

After you grill

Keep your grill clean. Not only will you avoid potential fire hazards, the food you cook will taste better! Scrape down grill grates and clean drip trays. Keep your grill covered to protect it from dirt, insects, and moisture.

Always store propane tanks outside and away from your house.

Maintain your grill, use it safely, and know what to do in an emergency, and you’ll be able to enjoy some good times and good food while grilling this summer. Let us know what time to come over—we’ll bring the potato salad!

Protect your home from fire as well as other perils by buying the right homeowners insurance for your situation. The agents at L & M Insurance Group will help you navigate the confusing Florida homeowners insurance market. Please call us at 813-672-4100 or email us for a free homeowners insurance quote. L & M Insurance Group is a full-service, independent insurance agency.

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Insurance News You Can Use

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

Florida Homeowners Insurance Legislation

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

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

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

Post-pandemic Distracted Driving

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

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

Dog-related Claims Rising

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

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

An independent agency for all your insurance needs

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

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Prepare Now for the 2022 Hurricane Season

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

Before the storms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enable wireless emergency alerts on your cell phone.

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

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

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

During the storm

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

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

For more information:

Hillsborough County Disaster Planning Guide

Floridadisaster.org

Ready.gov

NOAA.gov

Weather.gov

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

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

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

What is Assignment of Benefits (AOB)?

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

What does AOB abuse entail?

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

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

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

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

AOB abuse “acts like a tax”

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

If you have a claim

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

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

L & M Insurance Group—your source for insurance

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

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Help Prevent Homeowners Disasters With This Spring Maintenance Checklist

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

Fire protection

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

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

Prevent water damage

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

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

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

Is it time for a homeowners insurance review?

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

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Builder’s Risk—Insurance for New Builds and Renovations

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

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

What is builder’s risk insurance?

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t forget liability coverage

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

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

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

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Three Things You Should Know About Water Damage

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

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

Here are three things you should know about water damage.

Water damage is expensive

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

Water damage isn’t always covered by homeowners insurance

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

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

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

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

You can help prevent water damage

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

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

Let L & M Insurance Group help

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