Archive for the ‘Flood’ Category

Top 10 most common homeowners insurance claims and simple ways you can avoid costly problems   Leave a comment

hose bursting1

What can you do?

Insurance adjusters have ranked the most common, yet preventable, homeowners claims. Five of them – that’s half the list – are plumbing related. This is a busy time for everyone and the last thing you need is an unexpected plumbing breakdown. Unless you enjoy the excitement of a flooded laundry room or having a toilet take a one-way trip through the floor, the answer lies in smart preventative maintenance.

Top ten homeowners claims to avoid
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1. Burst washing machine hose – Plastic or rubber washing machine hoses eventually leak and even burst. Three bad combinations here: The machine jars and jumps; the lines get hot and cold repeatedly; laundry rooms are typically located in low-traffic areas, meaning it may go unnoticed a while. Damage is often extensive and expensive, which is why it’s ranked #1.
Precaution: Plastic hoses should be replaced at least every three years, and frequently inspected for leaks. Stainless hoses look substantially stronger and in many cases are but there are alos some that are not much better than the “cheapie” model.

2. Slow leaks around tub/shower grout and edges – Grout and caulking decay over time, and cracks can develop. Water seeps into walls and floors little by little, causing tub and shower pans to corrode or to actually sink due to softening wood supports. The problem greatly accelerates as more water intrudes, leading to major repairs in plumbing, carpentry, tile work and more. Insurance rarely covers these expenses.
Precaution: Make sure that all water from the shower or bath stays there. This means securing shower doors and tightly closing curtains. Also, frequently inspect and repair seals. A little time now can save thousands of dollars later. On a preventive maintenance trip.

3. Toilet seal leaks – If your toilet wobbles it could mean that the seal is worn, or that it was improperly installed. Since the seal prevents sewage gases and other wastes from leaking into your home, this is not just a costly repair—it’s a health issue. We’re not talking “maybe” here; sewer gases are a health risk and not to be taken lightly. Get this fixed.
Precaution: Periodically check the base of the toilet for water. If a leak is present, have it repaired immediately.

4. Refrigerator water-supply line leaks – The small water line that goes from your refrigerator—called a capillary line—can easily become kinked. Plastic lines also become brittle from use, which leads to leaks. These leaks are rarely noticed but can cause extensive damage to the walls, floor, and cabinets around the refrigerator.
Precaution: If lines become brittle, replace them as soon as possible. Be sure to check metal lines for crimps or kinks that can cause the line to form a leak.

5. Roof leaks – Weather, age, wear and tear — these conditions adversely affect your roof’s condition. Signs of a leaking roof include spots or stains that appear on the ceiling, or curled, upturned shingles around the edges of your home.
Precaution: Don’t try to stretch the life of your roof past its time. But to ensure a longer life, make sure that gutters are cleaned regularly. Also check for loose or missing shingles, especially after storms with high winds. Home owners insurance does not cover wear and tear. If your roof is leaking because it is old it is your responsibility to maintain and replace the roof as necessary. Most insurance companies in Florida allow up to 15 years on a shingle roof. Tile roofs are generally acceptable up to 20. Many companies now are settling roof claims on a depreciated basis based on the age of the roof.

6. Chimney/fireplace fires – It’s easy to think that starting a fire in the fireplace is as simple as throwing a few longs and matches together and watching it burn. Before your next family weenie roast, you should know that dirty or plugged chimneys regularly cause home fires.
Precaution: Practice fire safety: keep flammable items clear of the fireplace; be sure that children are supervised at all times; keep matches and flame accelerants in a safe, secured place. Before you start a fire, clean any excessive amounts of soot and ashes from the chimney. Also, maintain a regular chimney-cleaning schedule.

7. Hot water tank leaks – When was the last time you thought about your hot water tank? Probably not any time in the recent past unless you had a problem or repair. Since hot water tanks develop leaks and rust as they age, this “out of sight, out of mind” mentality can lead to major home damage. Sometimes, you begin to notice that you run out of hot water more quickly, indicating poor performance or maybe sediment in the tank. Both indicate a service or replacement need.
Precaution: Periodically check for water damage in the flooring around your hot water heater. If your water heater was installed more than five years ago, a qualified technician should check it at least annually. It may only need cleaning and servicing.

8. Electrical cord fires – Do you have a lot of “gadgets” and appliances plugged in throughout your home? Hiding those unseemly cords with throw rugs? Bad idea. Electrical cord fires result primarily from overloaded circuits, cords under throw rugs, and baseboard heaters.
Precaution: Minimize the number of appliances in use or plugged in at the same time. This will keep your circuits operating within their safe capacity. Also, route cords around throw rugs to reduce the likelihood of fire. Make sure all furniture is a safe distance from heaters, and that they are properly ventilated.

9. Unattended cooking or candle fires – Candlelight flickering shadows on the wall is relaxing, beautiful, soothing. Standing on the curb watching the flames flicker throughout your home is, um, something less than calming. Contained fires can become ‘uncontained’ quickly and violently. It’s from one thing: Lack of attention.
Precaution: Be aware of your candles or cooking fires at all times. Is a candle burning too closely to a flammable object? Is it in a non-flammable holder? Periodically monitor all candle and cooking fires and always practice fire safety.

10. Garage door opener theft – You want your home to comfortable, safe, and secure. You may lock your doors, but sly criminals often snatch garage door openers, gaining access to garages and homes.
Precaution: If you’re not parking your car in the garage, take the garage door opener out of the car. This one, simple measure substantially increases your home security. Thieves cannot gain access to your home easily, making break-ins more difficult and therefore less likely.

“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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Flood Insight   Leave a comment

hurricane-sandy-damage-bay-head-n

Flood coverage is not included in your homeowners or dwelling fire policies, but is available for purchase as a separate policy. Flood policies cover damage due to flooding, according to the guidelines established by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Just an inch or two of water in your home can cause extensive and costly damage.

Available Coverage

For homeowners, flood policies are available to insure your home (dwelling) up to $250,000 and its contents up to $100,000. If additional coverage is needed, separate excess flood insurance policies are also available for purchase.
For renters, it is recommended that tenants purchase a flood policy in addition to their renter’s policy to cover contents. Up to $100,000 of flood coverage is available for renters.

Activation Period

Don’t wait to purchase flood insurance until hurricane season or spring storms are headed your way! Flood policies are not effective until 30 days after purchase. We recommend reviewing your policy coverages on an annual basis with your insurance agent. Contact Lee County Insurance today to learn more about flood insurance policies and available options such as excess flood coverage. You may also get a multi-policy discount and save money on your homeowners (HO3) by purchasing a flood policy.

“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.”

Flood Insurance: Are you Covered   Leave a comment

sandbags

Many homeowners forget that homeowners policies do not include flood insurance coverage, which is available as a separate policy.

Floods happen in every state including Florida. Your independent insurance agent can help you purchase a flood policy, but be sure not to wait! Unlike home insurance, flood insurance policies do not take effect until 30 days after purchase. Even if you don’t live in a high-risk flood zone, hurricanes and heavy rains can cause flash flooding. Just one inch of water in your home can cause serious AND costly damage. Be smart about flood insurance. Contact your insurance agent today!

Information Courtesy of Tower Hill Insurance

“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.”

Damage from Floods: How to Protect Your Home   Leave a comment

girls-in-flood-waters

Floods can happen any time and any place, and they can happen fast! Whether you live near the water or not, you should always be ready. Here are some important things you can do to prepare.

Everyone Lives in a Flood Zone

Did you know that most homeowners policies do not cover flood damage? However, you can purchase flood insurance as a separate policy from your insurance agent.

But do you need flood insurance? In a word, “YES!”

Floods can happen anywhere, anytime. Even an inch of water in your home can cause extensive–and expensive–damage. Consider the following….
•Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
•In the past several years, about 60 percent of all declared disasters involved flooding.
•Floods are caused by storms, hurricanes, water backup due to inadequate or overloaded drainage systems, as well as broken water mains. In Florida especially, slow-moving tropical storms can result in significant inland flooding.
•You do not need to live near water to be flooded. Some of the most damaging and costly floods occur hundreds of miles from coasts and river banks.
•Nearly one-third of flood insurance claims come from low-to-moderate risk areas. In areas with the greatest risk of flooding, Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), a building has a 26 percent chance of being flooded during a 30-year mortgage. Sources: FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

What Does a Flood Insurance Policy Cover?

A standard flood policy covers the home’s structure (building) for up to $250,000 and its contents up to $100,000. In addition to the building, the structure portion of the policy will typically cover furnace, water heater and air conditioner damage; flood debris clean up; and flood surface damage such as to installed carpeting and tile. The contents portion will typically cover furniture, clothing, electronics, and valuables such as jewelry and art.

If you need an additional amount of coverage based on the value of your home and contents, excess flood policies are available. Check with your insurance agent to learn more about flood policy options and which type of coverage best meets your individual needs. For renters, flood insurance is available for contents coverage up to $100,000. Flood insurance is also available for business owners (nonresidential property owners); standard coverage includes up to $500,000 each for a building and its contents.

If You Wait, It May Be Too Late

Flood insurance is typically subject to a 30-day waiting period, meaning that it will not cover losses incurred within 30 days after the policy effective date. So don’t wait until a hurricane is forecast in your area to purchase a flood policy–or it will be too late to have coverage for that storm. If a policy is purchased in connection with a mortgage, the 30-day waiting period does not apply.

Be Prepared Before a Flood

Floods can happen any time and any place, and they can happen fast! Whether you live near the water or not, you should always be ready. Here are some important things you can do to prepare.
•Copy your most important documents (i.e., mortgage papers, deed, passport, insurance policies, bank information). Keep copies in your home above ground level, and store originals in a secure place outside the home, such as a safe deposit box.
•Complete a household inventory ahead of time. The more comprehensive you make the list, the better.
•Take photos of your most valuable possessions (i.e., furniture, musical instruments, electronic equipment) and keep the photos with copies of your important documents. With the photos be sure to include receipts, so that you have proof of the original cost, purchase date, manufacturer, model number, and other details that will help expedite repairs or replacement.
•Have an emergency plan in place for your family. Keep at least a 3-day supply of nonperishable food and bottled water on hand, plus an emergency kit that includes a battery-powered radio.
•Be sure to review your policy coverages with your insurance agent annually, to be sure you have adequate coverage. Between policy reviews contact your agent to discuss any important changes, such as remodeling or new valuables, to confirm you have the coverage you need.

Be Safe During a Flood

Hopefully, you will never have to experience a flood firsthand. But if you do, there are a few things you can do to help stay safe:
•Closely monitor weather advisories, and evacuate if ordered to do so.
•Keep away from downed power lines and any other electrical wires. Electrocution is often a major cause of death in floods.
•Do not walk through a flooded area.
•Just six inches of moving water can knock you down.
•Do not drive through a flooded area. Just two feet of water can lift and move a car, even an SUV. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else during a flood.

Check Out these Helpful Website
•FloodSmart.gov, the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), includes helpful information about the causes of flooding and flood risk scenarios. The website also includes an interactive tool that shows the potential damage and cost a flood could cause to your home. Tips on preparing before a flood and recovering after one are also provided.
•FloridaDisaster.org provides tips on developing an emergency plan for your family. There is even a section for the youngest family members to get involved, “Kids Get a Plan.”
•NOAA.gov, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website, also includes tips on flood safety and awareness.

Report any property damage to your insurance agent or company representative immediately, and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.

Information Courtesy of Tower Hill Insurance

“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 May 14, 2013 by leecountyinsurance in Flood

Buy and Renew your Flood Insurance now to avoid substantial price increase in October 2013   Leave a comment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty is encouraging Floridians to make preparations now for the upcoming 2013 hurricane season by purchasing flood insurance. Flood insurance is administered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and is available to homeowners, renters and business owners who live in a community participating in the NFIP. Consumers should be aware that significant rate increases will take effect for new and renewal NFIP policies starting on October 1, 2013.

 

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States; however, flood damage is not covered by a typical homeowners or business insurance policy.  This type of coverage is an extra layer of security in the event of a catastrophic event.
 
“Florida’s risk for severe weather is well-known and, even though a hurricane has not impacted our state in recent years, several tropical storms have caused significant flood damage to many Floridians. Regardless of the storm type, I strongly urge Floridians to prepare now and purchase flood insurance by May 1st, as a typical flood insurance policy takes 30 days to become effective. This will ensure you are covered on June 1st, the first day of hurricane season,” stated McCarty.
 
Florida consumers can purchase flood insurance from NFIP for up to $250,000 for property damage and $100,000 for personal contents. Excess flood insurance can be purchased for homes valued at more than $250,000. NFIP coverage is also available for commercial structures at $500,000 for building coverage and $500,000 for contents coverage. Check with Lee County Insurance Agency for more information about flood insurance.
 
In July 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 extending the NFIP through September 30, 2017. Key provisions of this legislation will be implemented over time and include raising premium rates to reflect the actual flood risk of the program, phasing out subsidies on properties with repetitive losses, allowing coverage availability for multifamily properties and minimum deductibles for flood claims, etc.
 
In addition to more information about NFIP and flood insurance, Commissioner McCarty has prepared a video message for consumers with some helpful hurricane preparedness tips. The video is available on the Office of Insurance Regulation’s new Hurricane Resource website page, which also features important contact and consumer information from the Department of Financial Services, Florida Division of Emergency Management and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
 

Water Damage Claims: What You Should Know   Leave a comment

Water Damage Claims: What You Should Know

water damage

Did you know that over 50 percent of claims involve water damage? Some examples include pipe, supply line, and appliance failures, as well as roof or window leaks. It is very important that any damage caused by water is addressed and remediated early on during the life cycle of the claims process.
It is recommended that homeowners do not attempt to deal with the water damage themselves. A better solution is to hire a certified water restoration professional. Most insurance companies and agencies maintain a database of certified water extraction vendors that must meet strict guidelines to ensure superior customer service. As an added value to the policyholder, our knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives can put the policyholder directly in touch with one of our preferred water extraction vendors while on the line. This practice guarantees our policyholders have a trained professional in their home to assist in the drying process.
Prompt response to drying out the home is crucial in preventing further damages. Experiencing a water loss to your home can be extremely stressful, so let us help you by recommending a preferred vendor that in trained and meets rigid standards. If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our staff at (239) 656-5551

Why Should I Buy Flood Insurance   Leave a comment

Sandbags will not protect your home and they will not replace or repair the damage. You need Flood Insurance in addition to homeowners insurance

Most homeowners policies don’t cover flood damage.  This type of loss is different from others and it needs special underwriting and rating.  Because flood damage is usually more severe and affects more than one home at a time, it’s difficult for the private market to bear that burden.

For that reason, flood coverage is provided by the federal government under a program called NFIP. However, your local independent insurance agent can write the coverage for you, and administration of the policy, including claims paperwork, is usually done by a private carrier. The NFIP collects most of the premium, though, and it’s their checkbook that pays the claims.

If you even suspect you are in a flood plain, ask an independent agent to check it out for you. Foundation washout is a common problem with flooding, so even if you are a condo dweller on the 10th floor you might need the overage.  With hurricane Hugo in South Carolina, twenty story high condos came down due to the washout of the foundation, and standard policies didn’t cover the losses.

Technically, all homes are at risk of flood, but obviously the risk is much greater in states like Florida, for example. Some problems that flood insurance covers, like sewer back-up, have nothing to do with the weather.

Don’t take the risk of being without this valuable coverage. Ask your agent today about flood insurance.

“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 September 4, 2012 by leecountyinsurance in Condo, Flood, Homeowners

What Do I Do After a Flood?   Leave a comment

The following are helpful tips following a flood:

  • Follow local news and government notices to learn whether your water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid the floodwaters since they may be contaminated by a variety of contaminants like oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. It can also be electrically charged from downed power lines.
  • Avoid ALL moving water.
  • Know where the floodwaters have receded since the roads and surrounding areas may have weakened and could collapse under excessive weight.
  • As with all catastrophes, you must stay away from downed power lines since they may be hot, and try to report them to the power company even if you think they may already have been reported.
  • Return to your home only when you are re-assured by authorities it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid all buildings if they are surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Always use extreme caution when entering any building after a flood. There may be hidden damage that could create catastrophic results, particularly in foundations.
  • Since damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards, make sure you service your damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Make sure you clean, disinfect, and dry out everything that got wet. Remember, Mud left from floodwater can contain contaminants and need to be removed.

Check FEMA for other helpful information http://www.fema.gov

Posted September 4, 2012 by leecountyinsurance in Flood

Before a Flood   Leave a comment

Here are some tips to help you prepare for a flood;

  • Avoid building in areas prone to flooding. If you do build, make sure you elevate and reinforce your home or business. Check your local ordinances as to the base elevation, and how much higher you need to be to reduce your flood premium.
  • Always elevate all mechanical items such as furnace, A/C, water heater, and electric panel if your building is prone to flooding, as this is often overlooked.
  • Install one way “check valves” in your sewer traps (may be required by code). This will prevent floodwaters from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Contact your local community officials to find out if they are planning to construct any levees, beams, or floodwalls to stop floodwater from entering the homes in your area. This may also affect your flood rates, and your exposure to floods.
  • If you have a basement or have a home that is off-grade, seal the walls with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
  • Check FEMA for other helpful information http://www.fema.gov

Posted September 4, 2012 by leecountyinsurance in Flood

Flood Zones Defines   Leave a comment

What are flood zones?
Flood zones are certain areas identified by a federal agency called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Each flood zone describes that area in terms of the risks of flooding in that area. Contrary to certain belief, everyone lives in a flood zone—it’s merely a question of whether you live in a low, moderate, or high risk area. 
 
How do I find out whether or not my property is at risk of Flood, and if so, how bad?
You could go to FEMA and fill out their risk profile or you could call us.
 
What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and how do I use it?
You may have heard the term “FIRM MAP”. Well a FIRM is a map created by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for floodplain management and insurance purposes. You can also get Digital versions of these maps; DFIRMs.

FIRMs generally show your community’s base flood elevations, flood zones, and floodplain boundaries. You can use this map to get a reliable indication of the flood zone you’re in. These maps are constantly being updated due to changes in geography, construction and mitigation activities, and meteorological events, so for a truly accurate determination, contact us or your community floodplain manager. 
 
What is a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)?
Land areas that are at high risk for flooding are called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), or floodplains. These areas are indicated on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). Basically, a home located within an SFHA has a 26 percent chance of suffering flood damage during the term of a 30-year mortgage, and will require insurance.  

What is a Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA)?
A Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA) is an area that is in a low-to-moderate risk flood zone (Zones B, C, X Pre- and Post-FIRM). An NSFHA is not in any immediate danger from flooding caused by overflowing rivers or hard rains. Just because a structure is within a NSFHA, does not mean it is not at risk…just not high risk. Remember this; one out of four floods occurs in an NSFHA! Properties in these areas generally are less expensive to insure, and we always suggest carrying coverage even in NSFHA areas.
 
I live on the coast, is this different zone?
Yes. The coast has some of its own idiosyncrasies. These areas are called a V zone, and you will need to speak with an agent or FEMA about how to insure these areas since these are special risk-rating procedures for the coastal high hazard areas. Not only are the rates different, but the procedures to acquire Flood Insurance is different as well.

Posted September 4, 2012 by leecountyinsurance in Flood