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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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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.

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

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

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

Why insurance premiums are skyrocketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can you do?

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

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

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

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

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

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Make These Insurance Resolutions for the New Year

At the start of a new year, many people resolve to get their finances in order. L & M Insurance Group would like to remind you that appropriate insurance coverage is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from financial disaster. Insurance can protect your most valuable assets, like your home and your vehicle, protect you from lawsuits, and even care for your family after you’re gone.

Here are a few things you can resolve to do now to make sure you have the financial protection you need—for the lowest possible insurance premiums.

Review your life changes. Was 2021 was an eventful year for you? Did you experience any major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child? Did you renovate your house, buy a new vehicle, turn 55, or start a business? Become an empty nester? Even if you already notified your insurance agent about these changes, now is a good time to do a more thorough review of your insurance coverage to make sure you’re properly protected.

Review your coverage. Once you’ve reviewed your personal situation, you’ll want to see how it lines up with your insurance coverage. Insurance is meant to protect your financial assets in case of accident, crime, or disaster, including providing liability protection in case someone sues you. Some common areas of concern we see frequently include:

For auto insurance, do you carry bodily injury in high enough limits? (Insurance experts recommend 100,000/300,000 for most situations, even though Florida state requirements are much lower.) Do you carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage? (In Florida, we have many un- or under-insured drivers on the roads, so we recommend carrying UM coverage.)

For home insurance, does your policy provide replacement cost coverage? Your home should be insured for enough to rebuild, repair, or replace it and your personal possessions with comparable quality—not just for how much you owe on your mortgage or the home’s market value.

And speaking of personal possessions, did you buy or receive any expensive items in 2021—such as jewelry, art, or home electronics? High value items may need special coverage, over and above what is covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy.

Consider your life insurance needs. Do you have life insurance? Do you need it? If you do have life insurance, be sure that your policy is up to date with the correct beneficiary, and any other details that may have changed. Life insurance is surprisingly affordable, especially for younger people who are most in need of it to help safeguard their families’ futures. If you don’t have life insurance but would like to explore your options, please call 813-672-4100, or click here for an online quote.

Keep your driving record clean. Still one of the most basic things you can do to keep your auto insurance rates down!

Maintain or improve your credit record. Many insurance companies look at your credit when calculating insurance premiums. Boosting your credit record can result in cheaper insurance rates and more policy options to choose from. (Even if your credit is not great, L & M Insurance Group can still help. Give us a call at 813-672-4100.)

Work with an independent agency. Independent agencies, like L & M Insurance Group, represent multiple insurance carriers instead of just one. This means we have more flexibility to shop for the best policy and insurance company for your individual situation. We can also write just about any type of insurance you need, including personal and commercial auto, home, life, renters, and business insurance. And OUR number one new year’s resolution is to help YOU find the best insurance deal! Give us a call at 813-672-4100, or contact us online for all your insurance needs.

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Home Shopping in Tampa Bay? These Factors Can Affect Your Homeowners Insurance Rates

If you’re looking for a home in the Tampa Bay area, you’re home shopping in a real estate market that’s as hot as one of our August days! Zillow reported that home prices are still increasing, and that homes spent a median of just six days on the market in the months of September and October.

As thrilling as buying a home can be, it is a big investment and you have many decisions to make and options to consider. Many people don’t think about the additional expenses which come with being a Florida homeowner. One of those expenses—homeowners insurance—can be a significant cost in our area. If you want to keep your homeowners insurance rates as low as possible, here are a few factors that will affect your premiums:

Credit rating

You’re probably already dialed in to how important your credit rating is since you’re trying to qualify for a home loan. But did you know that good credit can often net you lower homeowners insurance premiums? If your credit is less than stellar, now is the time to try to improve it.

Location, location, location

Where your home is located is important for many reasons. You may be considering school districts, your commute to work, and other factors. Homeowners insurance companies are interested in things like how close you are to the coast, and if you’re near a fire department or even a fire hydrant.

In Florida, you also need to be aware of your potential home’s flood zone. Standard homeowners insurance policies don’t include flood coverage, and many areas in our communities are prone to flooding, even if they aren’t in what’s considered a high risk zone.

Age, size, and condition of home

Common sense tells us that it will cost more to insure a larger or more luxurious home, or a home near the water. Additional factors that matter include things like the home’s roof and its systems, like plumbing and electrical. Many homeowners insurance companies have strict underwriting guidelines for roofs—if your prospective home has an older roof, you may pay more or even have trouble getting coverage at all. And if you’re looking at an older home, note whether the home’s systems have been updated. A home that is well constructed, under up-to-date building standards, will be more likely to withstand natural disasters—and cost less to insure. Be sure to have a home inspection done on any home you’re considering buying.

Special features

As wonderful as it is to have a pool or hot tub, these special features can drive up the cost of your homeowners insurance. You will want to be sure to carry enough liability coverage in case someone is injured and sues you. You may even need an umbrella policy in addition to your homeowners insurance in order to protect your financial assets from possible lawsuits.

The home’s loss history report

Prior claims filed on the home by the previous owner are also a big factor in obtaining homeowners insurance coverage. Lenders are starting to require loss history reports from the seller to make sure the home will qualify for new coverage. Let your real estate agent know you’ll need this information.

Shopping for homeowners insurance?

Don’t wait until the last minute to look for homeowners insurance coverage for your new property. In today’s tumultuous insurance market, you want to choose an insurance agency you can trust—like L & M Insurance Group. We’ve been serving the needs of our neighbors in Tampa, Riverview, Brandon, Valrico, and surrounding communities for more than 30 years. Give one of our agents a call at 813-672-4100, or click here for a homeowners insurance quote. Our agency is local and independent, and we represent multiple financially sound homeowners insurance companies. Let us find a homeowners insurance policy that is just right for you!

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Fall Maintenance for Your Florida Home

Florida homeowners may not have to prepare for cold weather the same way our northern neighbors do—but fall is still a great time to perform some important home maintenance tasks. Keeping your home in good shape will save you money by preventing expensive home repairs later, and is more likely to help your home withstand Florida’s extreme weather.

Fall is the perfect time to address some of these tasks—since hurricane season is over and the temperatures and humidity have eased. Some of the following maintenance tasks you can do yourself. For others, look for a reputable professional company to do the inspections or repairs. And remember, homeowners insurance is for unexpected damage to your home, not routine maintenance.

As any homeowner knows, there are many necessary home maintenance tasks, but for now, we’ll concentrate on ones that relate to two of your home’s biggest enemies: fire and water.

Fire prevention                                                                                                                

Did you know that during the approaching holiday season, the risk of a home fire rises? Be prepared by making sure your fire extinguisher is full and properly pressurized, and that you know how to use it. You should also test your smoke detectors and replace batteries as necessary.

Even in Florida, it’s nice to sit around a cozy fireplace. Before you light that first fire, ensure your fireplace flue and gas line are in good condition. You may need a professional to inspect your chimney, and to clean it and remove any blockages. A blocked chimney can send toxic gasses and smoke into your home, or even start a fire.

Gutters and downspouts

Gutters and downspouts serve an important purpose by channeling water away from your home’s foundation. Blocked or damaged gutters allow water to drip and pool around your home, possibly causing flooding or roof leaks, or damaging your foundation. Clear out leaves or other debris or blockages in your gutters, and repair any damage to gutters and downspouts. And check that water drains away from the house, not toward it.

Roof

Your roof is your home’s first line of defense against rain and wind. Though we had a relatively mild storm season, fall is a great time to check your roof for any damage. Look for popped nails, broken, or damaged shingles, and check flashing around skylights, pipes, and chimneys. Keeping your roof in good repair keeps water from entering your home, damaging the structure or causing mold growth. Tip: Try using a pair of binoculars to examine your roof—no ladder climbing necessary.

Windows and door seals

Another area to inspect and fix to keep moisture out: the seals around windows and doors. A well-sealed home also helps to keep cool or warm air in and rodents, and insects out. Re-caulk or re-weatherstrip any holes or gaps you find near windows, doors, or baseboards.

The role of homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance is another important way to protect your home. The right policy will help you rebuild your home and replace your belongings should they be damaged or destroyed by a covered peril. That’s where L & M Insurance Group can help! We represent multiple homeowners insurance companies, and our agents will be happy to help you find the coverage that’s best for you. Please give us a call at 813-672-4100 (or click here to request a quote online). As a local, independently-owned insurance agency (based in the Brandon/Riverview area), we’re experts in the complicated Florida homeowners insurance market.

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Homeowners Insurance and the Attractive Nuisance

As summer winds down, your family might be spending more time playing outdoors—and maybe you have a jungle gym, pool, or even a trampoline so they can have a blast. While these things are great fun for your family and invited guests, how do they affect your homeowners insurance? What if a child comes onto your property without your permission, say maybe when you’re on vacation, and gets hurt while playing in your yard? Are you responsible for that child’s injuries?

You certainly could be.

The attractive nuisance

Items like pools, swing sets, zip lines, trampolines, hot tubs, skateboard ramps, and so on, are not just fun items for your family to enjoy. They’re also what is known as attractive nuisances. An attractive nuisance is something on your property that is “attractive,” especially to children, but is also potentially dangerous. Even things like heavy equipment (perhaps used for construction or remodeling), holes, and non-working cars can be considered attractive nuisances!

And because of what’s known legally as the attractive nuisance doctrine, homeowners can be held responsible if a child* is injured on their property due to an attractive nuisance. As a homeowner, you are required to safeguard children from an attractive nuisance if at all possible, even children who have not been invited onto your property.

How homeowners insurance is affected

Some attractive nuisances, like pools, may make your home insurance premiums more expensive. Many insurance companies charge higher premiums if you have a pool on your property, due to the higher risk of accident. They will also only cover liability for a pool if you meet state and county requirements regarding fencing or screening in your pool. Pools are not only the cause of drownings, but slippery pool decking can also cause falls. Other backyard equipment, such as trampolines, may even be excluded by some insurance companies, as are diving boards and pool slides. It’s important to disclose the presence of these things on your property to your homeowners insurance agent so he or she can place you with an insurance company that will insure you. Future claims could be denied if your insurance company is not aware of the presence of attractive nuisances such as the ones listed above. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent if you have any questions about what might or might not be covered under your homeowners insurance policy.

Do you have enough liability coverage?

Another consideration: If you have a pool or other backyard play equipment, make sure you have enough liability coverage on your homeowners insurance policy to cover the cost of injuries a visitor (invited or uninvited) could incur on your property. If the injury expenses are more than your policy’s limits, you will be responsible for the rest of the cost. Many standard homeowners policies come with a $100,000 limit, but it costs very little to raise that to $300,000. You might also consider buying an umbrella policy, which will kick in once you reach the limit of your homeowners insurance liability coverage.

Aside from buying adequate insurance coverage, if your property contains an attractive nuisance, you also should take precautions that include:

  • Creating physical barriers to the attractive nuisance: a fence with a locked gate around your yard, a fence and alarm for your pool, and so on.
  • Making sure guests, especially children, understand and follow safety guidelines.
  • Supervising children while they’re playing at your home.
  • Installing proper lighting.
  • Keeping walkways clear of items that might cause a trip and fall.

Insurance agents you can trust

At L & M Insurance Group, we understand the importance of finding the right homeowners insurance policy. 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 request a quote online. 

*Usually, in Florida, an adult has no right to recover damages incurred while trespassing.

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Is Bundling Your Insurance Policies Right for You?

You’ve probably seen TV commercials that talk about bundling your insurance coverage, and you may be wondering if bundling—buying more than one type of insurance policy from the same insurance carrier—is right for you. Could you save a significant amount of money by buying your auto insurance and homeowners insurance from the same company, for example?

Maybe. But maybe not. Here are some things to think about if you’re considering whether or not to bundle your insurance coverage.

Will bundling save you money?

The most popular reason to bundle insurance is to save money on policy premiums. Bundling discounts vary by company, but usually range from 5-25%. In Florida, however, you might not get much of a discount—one study found that Florida consumers saved less than those in other states on bundled policies, only about 6.7%.

In certain situations, you also won’t save much, if anything, by bundling your insurance—if you have a less-than-pristine driving record, for example. We’ve found that companies that offer a good rate for your auto insurance may not be competitive for your home insurance, or vice versa.

Some consumers like the convenience of dealing with one insurance company for multiple policies. But this convenience can sometimes be a disadvantage if you want the most cost effective insurance. Once you place your policies with one company, you may be less likely to shop around for a better quote at renewal. While it may be tempting to “set and forget” your insurance coverage, if you do so, you may wind up paying more than you need to. Premiums tend to inch up at renewal each year. It’s good practice to review your coverage and your premiums yearly, or if you have a major life change such as marriage, divorce, or a move.

Other ways to save on insurance

Insurance premiums are based on a number of factors, including the value of what you’re insuring, your credit record, and where you live. Bundling may save you money, but not always. Your best bet is to contact an independent agency, like L & M Insurance Group. Our agents will shop for the best rates and coverage for your situation, whether it’s with one insurance carrier or more than one.

Bundling is also not the only way to save on your insurance coverage. Talk to your agent about ways to lower your insurance costs. Ask about discounts (for example, some auto insurance companies offer a discount if you have a homeowner’s insurance policy, even if it’s not with them) and consider raising your deductibles. Also, if your credit improves or a moving violation comes off you driving record, your insurance premiums may go down.

And if you’re still interested in bundling your insurance, remember to compare the price you’d pay for bundled policies with the two lowest cost individual policies. And always be sure you’re comparing similar coverage when you compare insurance quotes.

We know shopping for insurance is no one’s favorite activity. That’s why an independent insurance agency like L & M Insurance Group is an excellent choice to represent you. We can do the comparisons for you—we partner with many great auto and homeowners insurance companies, as well companies that write insurance for boats, RVs, jet skis, and so on. We also write life, health, and business policies. We’ll work with you to create an insurance package that will work with your budget and provide the insurance coverage you need. Please give us a call at 813-672-4100 (or contact us online) for a free quote today!

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2021 Hurricane Season Dos and Don’ts

The 2021 hurricane season is upon us. We were lucky last year, and Florida didn’t have to cope with a direct hit from a hurricane. But that’s not our norm, and we shouldn’t get lazy about preparing. According to the Tampa Bay Times, since 1851, Florida has been hit by 121 hurricanes and 37 major hurricanes—by far the most of any state. To help you stay prepared for a storm hitting our area, here are some dos and don’ts for the 2021 hurricane season.

DO be sure you have the right insurance coverage

If your home is severely damaged or destroyed by a hurricane, your homeowners insurance could be all that stands between you and financial devastation. Now is the time to review your homeowners policy to make sure it covers the current true value of your home. You should also familiarize yourself with your coverage terms, including your hurricane deductible, and consider purchasing flood insurance if you don’t already have it. Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover water or flood damage, including water damage caused by a hurricane or tropical storm. You may want to review your coverage with your insurance agent if you have questions or need advice.

DO gather important documents

If you need to evacuate, you’ll want to be able to quickly locate documents, photos or videos of your belongings, and even certain irreplaceable mementos. Make a checklist of the items you need, and keep them in a waterproof container that you can grab as you leave.

DO prepare your home and yard

Make necessary home repairs, especially any to doors, windows or your roof. Look for branches that hang over your house or screened enclosure as well as dead or dying trees. Most tree work should be done by a professional for safety’s sake.  Also check your yard for anything that could become a flying missile during a storm and get rid of it if you can. Have a plan for what to do with things you want to keep, like flower pots and patio furniture.

DON’T wait until a storm is on its way to prepare

In addition to getting your home and yard ship shape, you should also review lists of what hurricane supplies you should have on hand (see Resources below for some helpful links). Check what you already have and start updating or adding to your hurricane supplies as quickly as you can. Include food, water, medications, and pet supplies in your stash. Check use by dates for food and batteries—and don’t forget the toilet paper!

If you’re in an evacuation zone, have a plan for where you will go and how you’ll get there. Prepare a “go bag” for your family, and keep your vehicles gassed up and properly maintained.

DON’T be complacent

Just because Florida didn’t have a direct hit last year doesn’t mean it won’t this year. Take an hour or two to plan now and save yourself the fear and hassle of being unprepared if a storm heads our way.

DO remember L & M Insurance Group is here for you as you prepare for the 2021 hurricane season

If you need a quote for homeowners insurance, flood insurance, or if you have questions about your existing policies, please give us a call at 813-672-4100. (Click here to request a homeowners insurance quote or here to request a flood insurance quote online.) We are a local, independent insurance agency serving Tampa, Brandon, Valrico, Riverview, and surrounding communities.

Resources

Floridadisaster.org

Insurer Southern Oak has several free resources to help homeowners prepare:

Disaster Preparedness e-book

Home inventory checklist

Family emergency plan

Tower Hill Insurance Advice and Tips

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Homeowners Insurance Skyrocketing? Policy Canceling? L & M Can Help!

The Florida homeowners insurance market is in turmoil, and Florida homeowners are paying the price—literally. Premiums are rising fast, and just recently two more homeowners companies received permission from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to cancel more than 33,000 Florida homeowners insurance policies. A third company plans to non-renew an additional 19,000+ policies over the next 14 months. As hurricane season looms, more than 50,000 Florida policyholders will need a new homeowners insurance policy.

Are you one of them?

If you’re one of the Florida homeowners who will be affected by this situation, please give L & M Insurance Group a call. We represent multiple financially sound homeowners insurance companies—those that are nationally known but also solid, lesser-known companies. Our agents will carefully compare our markets to find the best deal for you, one that combines the policy features you need, at the best price available. (Call us at 813-672-4100, or click here for a homeowners insurance quote.)

Why is this happening?

Even though in 2020 Florida saw no direct hits from hurricanes, Florida insurers reported combined losses of nearly $1.6 billion. In fact, this is the fifth year in a row Florida insurers have suffered losses. The reasons? According to industry experts, these losses are due to excessive lawsuits, dishonest contracting schemes, catastrophes, and the high cost of reinsurance.

Lawmakers are attempting to pass legislation to ease the situation, but that won’t take effect immediately. Insurance companies are writing fewer policies in areas that have high litigation rates and reinsurance costs, they’re tightening underwriting requirements, and they’re raising premiums. All this means that homeowners insurance is harder to get and more expensive.

How L & M can help

As a local, independent agency, we do our best to work only with financially sound insurance companies. We live and work where you do, and we’re personally familiar with markets in Tampa, Brandon, Valrico, Riverview, and surrounding communities. Please give us a chance to serve you by calling us at 813-672-4100, or by clicking here for a homeowners insurance quote.