Florida tops for lightning damage

lightningA

Stormiest state in the U.S.? You’re living in it! Of the top 12 stormiest cities, Florida owns 7 spots. (Lakeland tops the chart.) Thunderstorms are just part of the summertime experience, and where there is thunder, there is lightning – and lightning damage. No surprise, then, that Florida ranks #1 for the most lightning claims.

In 2015, Florida had nearly 12,000 lightning claims. A look at the number of claims and average claim cost shows that Florida also leads in

Check hurricane deductible, have a plan to fund it

Understanding-Insurance-DeductiblesA

Let’s start with the most important tip about deductibles: You should NEVER select a higher deductible than you can afford.

Big deductibles reduce the amount you pay for insurance. But the higher the deductible, the more you pay out of pocket when things go wrong. That means selecting a hefty deductible is only smart in a Perfect World. And, while we all wished we lived on that planet, all kinds of disasters happen – manmade and natural – to mess with it, at least temporarily.

You have two deductibles on your homeowners insurance: one is for hurricanes and the other is for everything else. The “everything else” deductible is for things like a fire, lightning strike or water damage, to name a few. It is usually a flat dollar amount, such as $1,000. The hurricane deductible is, obviously, for hurricanes – and for homes valued over $100,000, it starts at 2 percent of what the home is insured for, which is what it would cost to rebuild it. So, if the house is insured for $250,000, a 2 percent deductible would be $5,000.

In Florida, you can select up to a 10 percent deductible. And, some people decide to do that, which is fine if you have a plan to save that amount of money and keep it secured for when the wind blows.

Here is a handy factsheet on how insurance deductibles work in Florida. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation explains when hurricane deductibles go into effect and how long they last. Regulators also require this notice on the declarations page of every homeowners policy, in boldface type of at least 18 points:

“THIS POLICY CONTAINS A SEPARATE DEDUCTIBLE FOR HURRICANE LOSSES, WHICH MAY RESULT IN HIGH OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES TO YOU.”

Now is the time to verify that the deductible amount you chose makes sense for your circumstances.

Florida Alert: 5 days into hurricane season, 3 named storms already

colinA

Today is Day 5 of the 2016 hurricane season, and Florida is on alert for a tropical system. It’s the third named storm of the year, and did I mention we are only 5 days into hurricane season? Pay attention please. There has never been 3 storms named this early in the season, which began June 1 and continues through November 30. Keep track of things locally, through the national Weather Prediction Center or through state weather status updates from the Division of Emergency Management.

Complacency is the biggest threat to storm preparation. Maybe you don’t scare easily. Maybe you were well prepared every year since the

Get schooled on dog bite liability

Funny Dog-08A

Your pets may have pet insurance to keep them healthy. But when it comes to liability for their misdeeds, the financial impact will bite into your wallet.

This is Dog Bite Prevention Week, and the American Veterinary Medical Association reminds us that even nice dogs can bite. Dog bites (and other dog-related injuries) accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2015, costing in excess of $570 million, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®, the largest writer of homeowners insurance in the United States.

Can Friday the 13th be a lucky day?

black_catA

Somewhere in Florida today, someone is going to have a fender bender. This, like all calamities, is an unfortunate occurrence. But if there are no injuries, that’s lucky! And, if those involved in the crash had proper auto insurance protection, it is both lucky and smart.

Make your own luck by understanding your auto insurance coverage. If things go bump, your first reaction will be to curse the stars (or the other driver). Your second reaction would be to thank yourself for getting the coverage to turn your luck around.

Is Friday the 13th really an unlucky day? Facts about the 13th say it’s mostly superstition. Then again, safe drivers (PUT THE CELL PHONE DOWN!) know luck favors the wise.

Make today an action day: America’s PrepareAthon!

April 30 preparationA

Twice a year, FEMA promotes a grass-roots campaign to get communities to up their preparedness against natural disasters. Today, April 30 is the springtime event for America’s PrepareAthon! The title of the event includes the exclamation point (!), so that’s how important it is! And !!

No joke. Preparing for emergencies takes a community, and it starts with you. First step is to Know Your Hazards. There are six of them listed. One is winter storms, and as a Floridian, you can strike that off the list. But that leaves a handful — hurricanes top the list, of course.

Why spend a lovely, calm spring Saturday preparing for a dreaded summer hurricane? That is a rhetorical question. Here are 10 Ways to Participate. Among the tips is to document your personal property and to know what your home insurance covers. You can do those two important steps right now. Today. It’s America’s PrepareAthon! Award yourself an exclamation point.