Archive for June 2013

Happy National Insurance Awareness Day!   Leave a comment

Insurance

June 28 is National Insurance Awareness Day- our favorite holiday, of course! We want to remind you of some of the many reasons why insurance is so great and you just can’t afford to be caught without it.

Insurance provides safety and security. It’s a good feeling to know in the situation that if something were to happen, you are taken care of. Peace of mind is a great feeling to have. Life is unpredictable but we can protect ourselves and the ones we love from the unthinkable with a great insurance plan in effect.

Having insurance also helps you financially. The cost to repair damage can be significantly high, higher than you would be able to afford. Having insurance will allow you to prepare the deductible.

Take a look at some numbers.

In recent years, the average home claim has totaled $7,368.

Average flood claim is $24,166.

Average fire claim is $24,153.

National severe weather claim is $7,163.

National liability claim average is $11,153.

If you get stuck in one of these situations, would you have the money to pay out of pocket? Protect yourself and the ones you love. Celebrate National Insurance Awareness Day by making sure your polices are up to date.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

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The Art of Coverage: Collectibles Insurance vs. Traditional Homeowners Policy   Leave a comment

stamp vase 1918 coin

The chances are good that you are a collector of something. So what makes something a collectible or when do you need to “Schedule” your personal belongings. The simple answer is: it depends.

Some of the most commonly collected items include fine art, sports memorabilia, wine, rare books, stamps and coins, antique rugs and tapestries, musical instruments, action figures, dolls, toys, auto and movie memorabilia, and guns.

Large private collections generally have proper risk management in place including fine-art insurance that covers the full value of the items. But many smaller collections (those valued below $1 million) tend to be insured under a traditional homeowners policy or have no insurance at all. If these collectors face a devastating event resulting in damage, they may discover too late that their coverage is not sufficient to address their financial losses.

In simple terms, the process of insuring collections of fine art and collectibles under a traditional homeowners policy tends to be time-consuming and difficult while possibly yielding lower limits and less expansive coverage when compared to obtaining coverage with a fine art and collectible insurance policy. The comparisons below address specific differences between the two types of policies.

Appraisals – Homeowners policies generally require appraisals for collections or individual items valued over $2000 as part of the underwriting process. Many collectibles insurance policies do not require appraisals at the time of application.

Deductibles – Zero-dollar deductibles are the standard for collectibles insurance policies with some offering additional deductible options. Homeowners policies may offer zero-deductible policies, but it is not as common.

Limits – The limit on fine art and collectibles coverage generally ranges from $500 to $2000 for a homeowners policy without the addition of a floater or rider. Even with an added floater or rider, homeowners policies tend to limit the level of exposure. A collectibles policy may offer coverage up to $1 million or more.

Coverage – One of the most important coverage differences between a homeowners policy and collectibles policy is the valuation of covered items. Homeowners policies tend to insure for actual cash value while collectibles policies insure the full collectible value of items in the collection. This distinction alone can reflect a startling difference in potential claims payments in the event of a loss. Homeowners policies generally cover named perils only, exclude coverage for items during transit, limit coverage on items stored away from the home to as little as 10 to 15 percent, and extend coverage to newly acquired items for only 30 days. By contrast, collectibles policies typically include all risk coverage and provide coverage for items in transit, items stored away from the home (such as in an office or storage facility), and newly acquired items for up to 90 days. Some collectibles policies may offer additional coverage benefits such as discounts for monitored fire and burglar alarms or items kept in a UL-rated safe.

Claims – In today’s insurance market, filing a claim against a homeowners policy may leave an insured vulnerable to premium increases at renewal or the possibility of non-renewal. With a separate collectibles policy, claims do not affect homeowner premiums or loss history. In addition, companies that offer collectibles insurance may have claims adjusters with a high level of expertise in this area. Adjusters with this specialized knowledge are better able to determine the value of unique or rare items, which should expedite the claims process and lead to a better outcome for the insured.

A detailed comparison of the benefits and limitations of standard homeowners insurance versus collectibles insurance demonstrates that specialty coverage can be very advantageous for even a small collector.

Standard homeowners policies have limitations for most common items such as Firearms, Jewelry, Furs, Silverware, Precious and Semi-precious stones, Money, Gold, Silver, Coin or Stamp collections etc. Anything that has a special value such as an oriental rug (worth more than an area rug you may purchase as a home improvement store), anything that is “one of a kind” that can’t be replaced by going to a local department store, a collection of things such a porcelain figurines, fine art, breakable art such as a vase or statue. These are things that may need to be insured by a personal articles policy. Sometimes referred to as “scheduling”, this is a policy that insures specific items at a specific value determined by an appraisal or other means of valuation.

If your $10,000 Persian rug is damaged but not insured for $10,000, it is a rug and can be replaced for about $150 at Home Depot. A 1938- 3 legged Buffalo nickel may appraise for several thousand dollars depending on the grade, but if it is not insured for that value, you guessed it, it’s just a nickel worth 5 cents. Sentimental value is dear to us and nothing can replace sentimental value but Grandma’s old wedding ring could be worth a few hundred dollars or a million bucks. Every insurance policy has limitations, exclusions and provisions that you may need to comply with before you are properly insured. Please contact Lee County Insurance Agency for additional information about insuring your valuables.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Man’s Best Friend… but not always.   Leave a comment

animal liability

Your pets are likely more of a liability to you than you realize. In fact, many dog breeds are specifically excluded from traditional homeowners’ policies. That means that anything from digging and playful nips to injurious bites or even provoked attacks could easily leave you vulnerable to a devastating lawsuit. Did you know that 4.7 million dog bites happen every year––making dog-related damage the biggest cause of homeowner’s insurance claims? As a result, many insurance companies are limiting dog bite insurance coverage or excluding animal liability coverage all together. With increasingly strict state and local regulations being enforced across the country, animal liability and dog bite insurance coverage are things that every dog owner should consider. There are costs associated with dog bite claims that include medical treatment, surgical procedures and counseling not to mention the legal bills.

Dog Breeds Most Commonly Excluded from Homeowners Coverage:
• Bully Breeds
• Pit Bulls
• Chows
• Rottweilers
• Doberman Pinschers
• German Shepherds
• Akitas

Just because your dogs breed isn’t listed doesn’t mean you are covered, many companies have an extensive list of prohibited breeds, some of which, you may have never even heard of. A stand-alone animal liability policy should be able to give you more protection against a possible large out of pocket claim. This is purchased in addition to a homeowners or renters policy that provides other coverages you still need.

It is not just dogs that are a problem for insurance exclusions, In Florida most companies exclude ANIMAL liability. This could include your parrot that takes a chunk out of someone’s finger or even a cat that your neighbor trips over. Let’s not forget those exotic animals like large iguanas, tigers, snakes, monkeys or even alligators that are kept as pets.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted June 13, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in General Info

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NOAA predicts active 2013 Atlantic hurricane season   Leave a comment

Sandy_Oct28_2012_GOES13_Image_300
2013 Atlantic hurricane predictions

In its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an active or extremely active season this year.

For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

“With the devastation of Sandy fresh in our minds, and another active season predicted, everyone at NOAA is committed to providing life-saving forecasts in the face of these storms and ensuring that Americans are prepared and ready ahead of time.” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA acting administrator. “As we saw first-hand with Sandy, it’s important to remember that tropical storm and hurricane impacts are not limited to the coastline. Strong winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes often threaten inland areas far from where the storm first makes landfall.”

Three climate factors that strongly control Atlantic hurricane activity are expected to come together to produce an active or extremely active 2013 hurricane season. These are:
•A continuation of the atmospheric climate pattern, which includes a strong west African monsoon, that is responsible for the ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995;

•Warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea; and

•El Niño is not expected to develop and suppress hurricane formation.

“This year, oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin are expected to produce more and stronger hurricanes,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions include weaker wind shear, warmer Atlantic waters and conducive winds patterns coming from Africa.”

NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook is not a hurricane landfall forecast; it does not predict how many storms will hit land or where a storm will strike. Forecasts for individual storms and their impacts will be provided throughout the season by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.

New for this hurricane season are improvements to forecast models, data gathering, and the National Hurricane Center communication procedure for post-tropical cyclones. In July, NOAA plans to bring online a new supercomputer that will run an upgraded Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model that provides significantly enhanced depiction of storm structure and improved storm intensity forecast guidance.

Also this year, Doppler radar data will be transmitted in real time from NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft. This will help forecasters better analyze rapidly evolving storm conditions, and these data could further improve the HWRF model forecasts by 10 to 15 percent.

The National Weather Service has also made changes to allow for hurricane warnings to remain in effect, or to be newly issued, for storms like Sandy that have become post-tropical. This flexibility allows forecasters to provide a continuous flow of forecast and warning information for evolving or continuing threats.

“The start of hurricane season is a reminder that our families, businesses and communities need to be ready for the next big storm,” said Joe Nimmich, FEMA associate administrator for Response and Recovery. “Preparedness today can make a big difference down the line, so update your family emergency plan and make sure your emergency kit is stocked. Learn more about how you can prepare for hurricane season at http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.”

Next week, May 26 – June 1, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. To help those living in hurricane-prone areas prepare, NOAA is offering hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements in both English and Spanish, featuring NOAA hurricane experts and the FEMA administrator at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/.

NOAA’s outlook for the Eastern Pacific basin is for a below-normal hurricane season and the Central Pacific basin is also expected to have a below-normal season. NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.

Make sure you have adequate insurance protection before the storms threaten. Contact Lee County Insurance Agency for a free no obligation quote on any of your insurance needs, or check us out at http://www.LciQuotes.com.

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Business Identity Theft is on the Rise   Leave a comment

There is a new form of identity theft in Florida, and it is affecting businesses and the information they have on file with the State of Florida. 

All business entities in the state (like corporations and limited liability companies) must register with the state’s Division of Corporations, who is the keeper of the official records for all business entities in the State of Florida.  The information kept on file by the Division of Corporations, which includes a company’s name, address, and names and addresses of owners/directors, is public and available to anyone who logs into the Division of Corporations’ website at http://www.sunbiz.org.

Because this information is available to the general public, identity thieves are logging into http://www.sunbiz.org and changing an individual company’s information as well as their contact email address (email is the only way the Division of Corporations corresponds with businesses.)  The thieves then use these altered records to open new bank accounts, redirect a company’s mail to a new address, or fraudulently obtain lines of credit.  In some cases, thieves have even used the altered information to get contracts and collect cash for work performed, leaving the original company with the tax burden. 

Right now, a company’s information on file with the Division of Corporations at http://www.sunbiz.org is not password-protected, and the system cannot prevent an unauthorized user from going online and changing the information on file for any given company, leaving businesses vulnerable.  However, the Division of Corporations has instituted an email alert process, where they will send an email notice to any business entity if that entity’s mailing address or FEIN is changed on http://www.sunbiz.org.  If the change was not authorized, the business can then notify the state right away by using a link provided in the email.  However, this only works if the email address on file with the state is the correct and authorized one. 

We are advising our policyholders who are registered with the Division of Corporations to periodically check and verify the data on file for them with the state, to make sure no unauthorized changes have been made.  At http://www.sunbiz.org, a business can click on “Search our Records” then “Inquire by Name” and enter their business name.  When they click on their company’s name, all the company’s information currently on file with the state will come up.  A business needs to check it over carefully and make sure the information on file is accurate, especially the business mailing address, FEIN and authorized contact email address.

More information about business identity theft is available from the National Association of Secretaries of State at http://www.nass.org. 

“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”

Posted June 7, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Uncategorized