Hey.. why did my Insurance go up… I didn’t have any claims !?!?!?

Insurance Premiums that  rates are developed from overall claims expense in a neighborhood, community, zip code or area of the State. Sometimes Companies will raise rates on a particular insured demographic in order to encourage insureds to “shop” – lessening their exposure. Rates can increase due to new legislation ( sinkhole, PIP costs and hurricane coverage are examples) , costs of doing business , and amount of fraudulent claims in the system.  Last but not least – approx. 25 % of Florida Drivers do not have the mandatory coverage for their vehicle(s) – the other 75% gets the high honor of paying for them !!!

Great … so how can I keep my costs down ???

Lots of ways…  If you are thinking  about filing a claim.. talk to your insurance agent.. it may not be in your best interests to do so!! If you able to afford to- raise your deductibles- it will reduce your premium. If you have teenage drivers – ask about Good Student and Drivers Ed discounts !!!  Ask your insurance professional to “shop” your coverage annually –  there may be a highly qualified  company out there that REALLY wants your business !!!  Last but not least – avoid tickets & at fault accidents on your driving record !!

Okay… so what IS a Flood anyway ???

First.. let’s talk about what it isn’t … Flood isn’t covered on your Homeowners policy- you need to purchase a separate contract to cover this exposure !! According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) a Flood is a general rising of water covering either a 2 acre area of land or more than 1 lot in a neighborhood. Some homes have a greater exposure than others – in those cases your mortgage company will require you to purchase flood in addition to Homeowners when you purchase the home.  BUT- even in situations where it is not required- smart homeowners should consider Flood coverage. Over 1/3 of the homes in non-flood areas have purchased a Flood contract- for as little as $250 annually for $250,000 of coverage !!

If I do have a claim- how do I get what I deserve???

First order of business- contact your agent !!  Sometimes it is not in your best interests to file a relatively small claim- insurance policies are built for infrequent large claims ( car is stolen, home burned down, storm damaged my business building etc.)  as opposed to frequent smaller challenges. But.. if you do file a claim.. two words to live by… cooperate and document !!  During the claims process – protect your insured item(s)  from further damage and give all information and attention to the claims adjuster – the more helpful you are in providing information about your claim- the better job he/she can do for you!!

Secondly, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT!! Videos or photos of your insured items ( home, business, auto, jewelry etc….) with a inventory checklist really help the adjuster confirm what items were damaged and how severely. Help them to help you!!

What are deductibles – and why do I have a separate one for Hurricanes ???

Deductible are the portion of an insurance claim you would be responsible for –  helping to share the risk and bring insurance costs down !!! Deductibles are not always paid by the insured- in some cases if it can be proven that the insured was not at fault for the damages- the at fault party  would cover the deductible .  Hurricane deductibles are specific limits for this exposure in Florida- in many cases they are apart from the deductible for all other exposures to loss ( fire, theft, vandalism etc…)   . Typically they are a percentage of the value of the insured structure – for example a $300,000 home with a 5% hurricane deductible could mean a $15,000 exposure to the insured if it can proved that a hurricane caused the loss !!!

Check with your agent on how the company you have your  policy with  defines ” hurricane” – it can be anything from any wind related loss to a National Hurricane  Service Warning has to be in effect in the County where the loss occurs- a much tighter definition !!!