Why You May Need a Vacant Dwelling or Builder’s Risk Policy

Insurance Policies to Protect your Vacant Dwelling in Brandon, Tampa, Riverview and Surrounding Florida

Vacant Dwelling Builder's Risk Policy Brandon, Tampa FloridaEmpty buildings or buildings under construction or renovation present some unique concerns. An empty home or other building can be a magnet for vandalism, and if someone isn’t living there, a small leak could easily become a big flood. Empty buildings are just as likely to be affected by fire, wind, or lightning. Standard homeowner’s or commercial insurance policies may not cover you if the insured building is vacant. Certain remodeling projects, and residential and commercial construction jobs require specialized insurance policies. At L & M Insurance Group, we have the experience and knowledge to help you with your unique needs.

Here are two types of policies that might apply to your situation:

A vacant dwelling policy covers your home if it is left vacant for a certain length of time, usually at least 60 days.

A Builder’s Risk policy covers a building under construction. It can cover just the building itself, or also the materials at the job site for use in construction of the building. Coverage limits should be for the completed value of the structure, less the value of the land. The policy can be written for as short a term as one month all the way up to 6 months or a year. The policy can also be extended if construction is not finished in time, or be cancelled if the building is finished before the end of the policy term.

Let’s look at some scenarios in which you should have a vacant dwelling or builder’s risk policy:

Vacant dwelling

  • You’ve bought a home, but for some reason you can’t move in yet—you haven’t sold your old home, or, conversely, you’ve moved to your new home and need an insurance policy to cover your previous home until it sells.
  • You own a commercial building or rental property that currently has no tenant.

Builder’s risk

  • You bought a home as investment, intending to have renovations done before selling it, and it will remain vacant until you sell.
  • You’re building a home from the ground up.
  • You bought a bank-owned home you’re renovating before you move in.

Unlike many agencies, at L & M Insurance Group, we have a lot of experience working with property investors and others with complex real estate insurance needs. We understand and are familiar with the situations that require these types of policies. Please contact us so we can tailor the right policy for your unique builder’s risk or vacant dwelling needs in Tampa, Brandon, Riverview and all of Florida.

Congratulations Kristin!

Kristin Gott Insurance Agent for L&M InsuranceCongratulations Kristin!


We would like to extend our congratulations to Kristin Gott, who is now a fully licensed Registered Customer Service Representative.   Because she completed the required online college classes to get the designation, she was able to successfully obtain her Florida 4-40 customer service representative license to sell and service insurance.

If you talk to her be sure to congratulate her on this accomplishment.

Well done, Kristin.

Can I Save Money With a Multi-Policy Discount?

Can I save money with a multi-policy discount?

Why Bundling Insurance Might Cost You More

multi policy insurance discount

Another way I hear this question asked is; if I bundle my auto and home insurance with you, will I get a discount? It’s a great question, and there are companies out there that offer discounts if you purchase both your auto and homeowners insurance with them.   However, it’s usually the captive agencies that offer it. Captive agents sell for just one company, generally one with a familiar name that has been built up with a tremendous amount of advertising, but in the end, you are just buying a brand. They will provide one quote from one company, and it may or may not include a multi-policy discount.

Your best rate will almost always come from an independent agency. An independent insurance agency like L&M Insurance Group will offer you the most choices in coverage options and prices. Independent agencies represent more than just one national brand–for instance L&M Insurance Group represents more than 40 different insurance carriers.   We know it’s convenient for you to have all your insurance with one agency, and that’s why we work so hard to make sure we represent the best companies with the lowest rates for all types of insurance–your car insurance, home insurance, commercial insurance, renters insurance, and life insurance.independent vs captive insurance agency

A couple of months back, I got a call from someone looking for a better rate on his homeowners insurance and a rental property he owned as well. He was insured with a national brand insurance company that you would recognize instantly. The individual believed he was getting a great rate because he was told he would get a “special” rate for bundling his insurance. When I finished quoting and writing his two properties, I was able to save him THOUSANDS of dollars–that’s how much he was overpaying.   He was shocked and thrilled at the same time.

I have been licensed to write insurance for 24 years and during this time I can honestly say I rarely see where a policy could be lower in price bundled than if you quoted both out separately. I have found that the companies that bundle either offer a decent homeowner insurance rate and kill you on your auto premiums or offer decent auto premiums and have horrible home insurance rates. Think about it for a moment–if their rates are so great on both auto and home, why do they need to give a bundling discount?   Because it’s a great marketing gimmick and they make more money!

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 U.S. National Auto Insurance Study found that customers who had auto and home insurance policies with two different companies were more satisfied with what they’re paying for auto insurance than customers who bundled their auto and home insurance policies.

Of course, we at L&M Insurance Group would love to write all your policies–and it’s convenient for you to have all your policies in one place. Our focus will not be on who will offer a bundled price, it will be on how can we write all your insurance for the lowest price, the best coverage and with the best carriers. We represent your interests as an independent agency–unlike a call center or direct writer that writes with just one national brand.

So the answer is no, I don’t believe you can save money taking advantage of a bundling discount. But you can save money if you shop with an independent agent like me.   So give me a call–you will never find someone who will work harder to save you money and protect your interests.   Click this link to send me an email or call me today at 813-672-4100

What is General Liability Insurance and Why Do I Need It?

What is General Liability Insurance and Why Do I need It?

General Liability Insurance For Florida including Brandon, Tampa, Riverview and Hillsborough County

general liability insurance Brandon Tampa Florida

You’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into building your business, yet you could lose it all in the smallest of mishaps that could result in a large lawsuit. We live in a litigious society, and although it may be unlikely for you to face a claim, getting general liability insurance is a wise investment that doesn’t cost much.   Most annual premiums range from between $550 to $2,000, depending of your type of business, coverage limit requirements, years of experience in your business and your company size.  The premiums obviously can be higher if you own a large business.


Tampa Brandon general liability insurance

Liability insurance (also known as Commercial General Business Liability) protects you from a variety of claims, including bodily injury, property damage, products and completed operations, and personal injury (libel, slander or advertising injury) that can arise from your day to day business operations.   Liability insurance will typically cover the cost of your legal defense and any settlement should you be successfully sued, up to the limits of your policy.

It’s important to understand that general liability is not the same thing as a product warranty policy.   For example, if a plumber installs a water pipe that leaks and causes property damage, the GL policy should cover the property damage during the time when converge was in force, but it would not pay for the defective pipe or bad workmanship.

  • Additional risks not covered under a comprehensive general liability policy include:
  • Workers compensation
  • Automobile liabilityBrandon Commercial General Liability Insurance
  • Directors and officers liability
  • Errors and omissions or professional liability
  • Non-performance of contracts
  • Employment practices
  • Damages or injuries resulting from intentional acts

General liability insurance can be purchased on it’s own, or in some cases, it is included as part of a Business Owners Policy (BOP) which combines the liability with property insurance at a cost effective rate.

All of us at L&M Insurance Group take your protection seriously and will work hard to help you evaluate all aspects of your business to ensure you have the general liability policy that’s right for your business. We have been serving the insurance needs of Brandon and East Hillsborough County for more than 10 years and have access to dozens of A-rated insurance companies, allowing us to provide the best coverage at the lowest rate. Call us today at 813-672-4100 or click this link to send us an email.

Does It Really Matter Where You Buy Insurance?

Choosing the right Insurance Agent Can Make a big difference in your Insurance Rates

Does It Really Matter Where You Buy Insurance?

Yes, and making the wrong choice could be costing you money, service and coverage protection. Purchasing insurance for your car, home, business or life is too important to treat lightly.

Independent Insurance Agents Give You Options

There are basically three ways to purchase insurance. The first is through captive agents. Captive agents sell for just one company, they generally have a familiar name that has been built up with a tremendous amount of advertising, but in the end, you are just buying a brand. They will provide one quote from one company. The second way to buy insurance is with a telephone representative, and once again, you are getting a quote from a heavily advertised brand name with very little choice. Finally, the third way is through an independent insurance agency like L&M Insurance Group–this is the way that will offer you the most choices in coverage options and prices.independent insurance agent


 What Are The Benefits Of Working With An Independent Insurance Agency Like L&M Insurance Group?


  1. L&M Insurance Group represents multiple insurance carriers. In fact, we represent more than 40 different insurance companies. With this many carriers we can insure any risk you bring through our door. For instance, if you called us today for a quote on your auto insurance, we would be able to provide rates from more than 15 different companies and another 20 companies if you needed us to insure your home. By doing this we can provide the best combination of rate, service, company strength and coverage options of any captive agent or telephone representative anywhere.
  1. L&M Insurance Group is on your side. Do you ever wonder who represents YOU and YOUR needs when it comes to insurance? Don’t wonder anymore. WE do.   WE work for you, not the insurance company. We periodically review your coverage to make sure it meets your changing needs and to make sure you are getting the best value for your money. You can’t say that of a telephone representative or a captive agent–they are both employees of the insurance companies.
  1. L&M Insurance Group is your trusted insurance professional. Need questions answered about SR22 insurance, replacement cost coverage vs actual cash value? Need help understanding wind mitigation reports, 4-point inspections or commercial general liability? Call and ask! Try that with a telephone representative who is evaluated on one criteria only–did he/she SELL you insurance.
  1. L&M Insurance Group can do it all. That means whether you need car, renters insurance, commercial auto, homeowners, general liability, life or builders risk–we can help you. It’s nice to have all your insurance taken care of by one professional.
  1. L&M Insurance Group will always treat you like a person. You are not a number to us.   Customer satisfaction is paramount here. We return calls and go out of our way to make each encounter with our agency a positive experience.

L&M Insurance Group: Your Local Independent Insurance Agency

Proudly serving Brandon, Riverview, Tampa and surrounding cities in Hillsborough County and beyond.

Contact L&M Insurance Group today for a free review of your insurance needs. Partner with us and you won’t regret it. 813-672-4100. Click this link to email us.

Florida Independent Insurance Agents

How Do We Determine the Replacement Cost Estimate of Your Home or Investment Property?

How Do We Determine the Replacement Cost Estimate of Your Home or Investment Property?


When we insure your home we insure it for its “replacement cost estimate,” and I get asked all the time, “How did you come up with that amount?”   That’s a fair question, but before I answer it, I need to tell you that replacement cost is NOT:


  1. The market value of the home.replacement cost estimator
  2. The home’s purchase price or the cost of the land.
  3. The outstanding amount of any mortgage loan.


As we learned in the previous blog, replacement cost is: “the amount of money it would take to repair, replace or rebuild your home with materials similar to the kind and quality used in constructing your home.”


So how do we determine the replacement cost? It’s simple. L&M Insurance Group uses software packages provided by insurance companies that ask a series of specific questions about the structure. These questions include frame or block construction?   Slab or open foundation? What is the square footage? How many bedrooms/bathrooms? Is there a garage/carport, pool, etc. Once this information is all entered, the software gives us the replacement cost estimate.


If you want to determine your home’s replacement cost, here is a website you can use.   Building-cost.net


Call today (813-672-4100) or click this link to get a quote today on your home or investment property.

How Much Should I Insure My Home For?

Brandon and Tampa Insurance Advice

How Much Should I Insure My Home For?

homeowners insurance

Here is a question I hear from my customers a lot: “I can’t sell my house for that much, so why do I have to insure it for that much?” With the downturn in property values, many people find themselves insuring properties for more than they are worth–and they want to know why.

Properly Insuring Investment Properties

Another issue that comes up, especially among my property investor clients, is that they pick up a home for only $50,000 and invest another $20,000 in it, but don’t like it when I insure the property for $200,000. They ask: “I only have $70,000 in the property, why do I have to insure it for $200,000?”

When this happens, I have to remind my clients that they are purchasing a replacement cost policy and the cost of replacing a home has little to do with the property’s market value or how little you paid for the property.

Replacement cost coverage defined is: “the amount of money it would take to repair, replace or rebuild your home with materials similar to the kind and quality used in constructing your home.”

80% Rule for Insuring HomesThe 80% rule is another important part of the replacement cost concept. The 80% rule simply means that your structure must be insured to at least 80% of its replacement cost in order for you to be fully covered. If your home is not insured to 80% of the replacement cost, your insurance company is not obligated to cover the entire cost to rebuild your home, or even pay the full amount on partial loss claims. In the event that a homeowner purchases insurance that is less than the minimum 80%, the insurance company will only reimburse the homeowner a proportionate amount of the required minimum coverage that should have been purchased.

Guaranteed replacement cost coverage example

Here’s an example of guaranteed replacement cost coverage: let’s say an investor/homeowner purchased a home that suffered a complete fire loss.   Let’s also say the day before the total loss the property had a market value of $200,000 (down from $300,000 before the market downturn). The homeowner decides to rebuild the structure from the ground up and discovers that the cost to do so will be $300,000. Unfortunately, the property owner only insured the home for $200,000 (less than 80% of the replacement cost), so now he/she is out of pocket for the additional $100,000 to build the new home. Had the owner carried at least $240,000 in coverage (80% of $300,000), his/her insurance company would have paid the entire $300,000 replacement cost.

The same principle applies to partial losses. Let’s say the loss was only for $32,000. Using the formula above, the insurance company would only cover $21,333 (the loss amount multiplied by the coverage level divided by the replacement cost, which in this case is $32,000 * ($200,000/$300,000). At first glance, you might assume that since the amount of coverage is greater than the cost of the damage ($200,000 vs. $32,00), the insurance company should reimburse the entire amount. However, because of the 80% rule, this is not necessarily the case.

I also like to ask my investors when they don’t want to insure their investment properties for the full estimated replacement cost: “I understand you only have $70,000 invested in this property, but if it burned to the ground and it cost $200,000 to rebuild, will you be happy when the insurance company only gives you a fraction of that? Or, if you had a $50,000 partial loss and the insurance company only gives you $17,500, will you be satisfied?” $50,000 * ($70,000/$200,000).

That is why we at L&M Insurance Group insure properties for the full estimated replacement cost value.

So now you may ask, how do you determine the replacement cost value of my property? That’s a great question and I will discuss it in my next blog.

Property Investors Have Special Insurance Needs

Property Investors Have Special Insurance Needs

We Understand and Meet Those Needs

property investors Insurance Florida

More and more investors are buying properties not just in their personal name, but in the name of land trusts, family or estate trusts, LLC’s, and corporations. What you may discover when trying to insure these properties is apprehension on behalf of the insurance agencies–many clearly don’t understand your needs. We want you to know we have made a special effort to seek out insurance providers that are eager to have your business. We represent nearly a dozen companies to shop your property and liability insurance with–these companies welcome purchases in the name of entities.



This is the most basic insurance policy available for rental properties. It offers the most basic coverage of all the rental property policies. It contains no bells and no whistles. The most common reason for a landlord to purchase this type of insurance would be to reduce costs. A DP1 policy is a named perils policy, this means that all the perils that are insured against are specifically listed in the policy. Most DP1 policies will not cover theft, burglary, vandalism and & malicious mischief, accidental water damage or replacement cost coverage on any contents you might be insuring–in fact, some companies will not provide replacement cost coverage on the dwelling on a DP1.– Be sure to communicate clearly with your agent about what you want covered.



This policy is much more extensive in coverage and is often referred to as an open perils policy, which means it provides coverage against all perils, with the exception of a few exclusions specifically listed in the policy. The DP3 is a replacement cost policy, can provide coverage for your contents and provide loss of rents coverage. Overall, the DP3 policy is an excellent policy and is one of the best non-owner occupied policies on the market.


Liability Insurance/Medical Payments

This coverage will cover you in the event you are sued for bodily injury or property damage of other peoples property. Coverage amounts range from $100,000 to $1,000,000–with $300,000 being the most common. Medical payments coverage is usually included in a dwelling policy and offers a smaller amount of coverage ($1,000-$5,000) to cover medical bills resulting form injuries that occur on your property. Unlike liability coverage, you do not need to be legally liable for a medical payment claim to be paid. Important:   Liability/Medical payments coverage is not included in a policy where the property is purchased in the name of an entity (LLC, Corp or Trust) and must be purchased separately–we can accommodate this as well.


Are You Renovating?

A Builders Risk policy will provide coverage for damage done to the insured structure, and provide liability during the renovation process. These policies can be written in terms of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 12 months. Remember to qualify for a builders risk policy your renovations need to improve the property by 50% of it’s value. We now represent a company that only requires a 20% improvement in the structure to quality for a builder risk policy–however the shortest term they write is 6 month and the liability must be written separately. When the purchase is only requiring cosmetic changes that are not extensive enough to qualify for a builders risk policy, we can insure it as a Vacant Dwelling.


Choose the Investment Property Insurance Experts in Tampa

When we work with you, we evaluate your situation and needs to properly insure your property–we become your insurance partner so you can focus on what you do best–buy, sell and manage property.  Call us today to discuss your insurance needs–813-672-4100.  Or click this link to contact us.

To get a quote right away through our National Real Estate Insurance Program click here.

How To Insure Your Investment Properties

Tampa and Brandon Investment Insurance Experts Share Tips on Protecting your Investment Property

Tampa property investorsIf you own investment properties, you will want to make sure you have the right insurance coverage for your situation. Property insurance can protect you from property loss and liability lawsuits, and is an important part of successful property investing. Read on for an explanation of the various types of insurance you might need.

Who needs a Vacant Dwelling policy?

If you have an investment or primary home that has been vacant for 60 days or more, you need a Vacant Dwelling policy.

Who needs a Builder’s Risk policy?

If you’re doing renovation and increasing the value of your home by 50%, your property qualifies for the builder’s risk program.

What type of policy do I need to insure my tenant-occupied property?

There are two types of policies to choose from to insure your property correctly.

  1.  DP1 is a bare-bones, policy offering actual cash value coverage on your personal property.There is no burglary and theft coverage or coverage for accidental water damage. If your air conditioning unit is stolen, this policy will not pay for it to be replaced. If your plumbing leaks and floods the home, there is no coverage.
  2.  A DP3 policy covers everything the DP1 does except that it pays replacement cost instead of actual cash value. It also pays burglary and theft as well as accidental water damage. To protect your property properly, the DP3 is the better choice.

What if my property is in the name of an LLC or trust?

If your property is held in a trust or LLC , you must buy a separate liability policy.
More insurance carriers are available to choose from if your property is owned by an LLC rather than a trust.

We at L&M Insurance understand how properties held in a trust or LLC need to be insured.
In order to insure the property with the company that has the lowest rates and best coverage for you, we need complete and accurate information about the LLC or trust. You will get the most accurate quote if you are able to answer our agent’s questions fully and honestly. If possible, it helps us when insuring the property to have a copy of the trust.

Can I as an investor write multiple properties on the same liability policy?

Yes, as long as they are all in the same name, whether it be in an individual’s name or in the name of an LLC or trust.

When do I need a flood policy?

If your property is in a flood zone and you have a mortgage, you are required to have a flood policy.

What is the difference between sinkhole coverage and catastrophic ground coverage collapse?

If you have a sinkhole claim you can live in the home while it is being repaired. With catastrophic ground coverage collapse, your home has to be damaged to the extent that it is not livable.  Catastrophic ground coverage collapse is included in all DP and H03 policies.

Can I insure a property that has had a sinkhole claim?

Yes, once the repair has been signed off on by an licensed engineer.

When do I need a four point inspection in order to bind coverage on my new purchase?

If your property is older than 30 years.

How can a wind mitigation help me?

If your property is an older home and you have replaced the roof, a wind mitigation can save you hundreds on your property insurance. You can get a four point inspection and a wind mitigation for $95.00.

Please email us or call our office at 813-672-4100 with additional questions.

To get a quote right away through our National Real Estate Insurance Program click here.