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Property insurance

Before high winds blow, know your hurricane deductible amount

This should NOT be a surprise: Your home insurance policy has a separate deductible for hurricane damage. It should be common knowledge because it’s been in Florida statutes on insurance contracts at least since 1997. Yet, when the next hurricane hits, there will be some people shocked to find this out when it has been in plain sight for more than 20 years.

Truthfully, it’s in plain sight if you were actually to READ your insurance policy. You’ll find it in two places. On the front of your policy pages, there is this blaring headline in all capital letters:

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

Old roofs and new rules: Protecting your home from the top

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A so-called 30-year shingle roof does not last 30 years in Florida. Asphalt shingles simply don’t last that long in the brutal Florida sun and with the nearly daily beating from rain over the six months of hurricane season. Some insurers are asking their policyholders to have an older roof inspected; they want a licensed roofer to certify the roof and give it the okay for at least another 3 years of useful life. Other insurance companies may choose to not renew a home insurance policy if a roof is approaching its 20th birthday.

#1 reason for unpaid hurricane claims? Minor damage

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The 2016 hurricane season is a wrap, and you are probably seeing a few news stories detailing the number of insurance claims from Hurricane Matthew, as well as the  insurance claims from Hurricane Hermine. More than 87 percent of claims from Hermine are closed; almost 78 percent of claims from Matthew are closed. But the news headlines do not focus on that positive note. Instead, they point out that about a third of claims from the storm are unpaid. You have to read down six paragraphs in the newspaper story to find out why. I’ll tell you in the second paragraph below.

There are two primary reasons claims are closed without being paid:

  1. Storm damage was minor and under the amount of the hurricane deductible, or
  2. The damage was not covered by the policy.

Everyone knows headlines don’t tell the whole story. They are designed to attract attention and are not written by the reporter, but by someone looking to grab the reader.  To be truly informed, we have to look beyond the headline, true?

Insurers have encouraged policyholders to report storm damage even if it is minor because Florida has a calendar year hurricane deductible. That means storm damage from more than one storm in a season counts toward the deductible amount.

Damage not covered from the storms would include falling trees that do not damage an insured property, such as your house or fence.

Now you know rest of the story.

How named storms matter to property insurance

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Late summer is the peak time for hurricane season. And as if on cue, there’s a few storms brewing out in the Atlantic. It’s too early to tell if they will impact Florida, but it is not too early to prepare as if they are.

Review our hurricane season insurance checklist. First on the list is probably the most important: Make certain to have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home in the event it is severely damaged or destroyed. This means sufficient insurance protection to rebuild your home and replace all its contents.

Don’t confuse the real estate value of your home with its insurance cost. Typically, the older your home the bigger the gap between what it costs to insure it, which is the rebuilding costs, and what you would get if you sold it.

Managed Repair Programs: How controlling claims costs benefits policyholders

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You’ve heard of preferred providers for health insurance policies. They are considered mutually beneficial because insured people get medical services at a reduced rate and the provider gains business since more patients are directed there. Auto insurers have used that model for decades. They have networks of pre-approved auto body shops to repair cars involved in crashes. Because most people don’t know the best place to unbend a fender bender, this is a proven formula for piecing a car back together. Similar programs also exist when a home or business suffers damage. Many insurers have managed repair programs for filing property claims to get damage repaired promptly and correctly – and to help control claims costs.

The most important thing to understand about controlling claims costs is the consumer benefit.

What the…..? Hail in Florida!

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The Sunshine State and golf ball-size hail go together like hot sauce on ice cream (a taste treat some might think is not a bad idea….). Parts of South Florida got hit with the unfamiliar icy pounding last week, when hail damage was reported in six states.  Hail hit Orlando hard last month, bringing almost a foot of slushy melting crystals and turning the earth into a winter wonderland, of sorts, over the Easter weekend. The last time such a large hailstorm hit the area was in 1992.

Damage from hail causes about $1 billion dollars a year in losses to crops and property.