Beware of the AOB…..Assignment of Benefits….Avoid this at all cost.

   

“What is an Assignment of Benefits?”

“An Assignment of Benefits (AOB) is a contract between you and a contractor (such as a plumber, water remediation firm, roofer, etc.) where you give the contractor control of your claims benefits. They file a claim for their services and direct the insurance company to pay them directly.

What’s in it for the contractor?

Once you sign an AOB, you lose control of the direction of your claim. The contractor takes control, and can submit whatever they like to your insurance company, sometimes billing the company two, three, four, five times the going market rate for their services, and sometimes including work that was never performed. You don’t see this, and you can’t verify what they did.

What are the potential pitfalls in signing an AOB?

  • You have committed to this contractor, and you have little to no recourse if you’re not satisfied with their work.
  • You can no longer comparison shop if you are not satisfied with their work. Even if they walk off the job with their work incomplete, they can still claim compensation from the insurance company which gets deducted from your benefits.
  • Both you, and the contractor, are still bound by the terms and conditions of the policy, and if the contractor violates those terms and conditions, those actions could potentially jeopardize coverage for your entire loss.

What’s in it for the contractor?

This is where the age old mantra of “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” comes into play.  Has the contractor done any of the following?

  • Solicits a job from you unannounced for damages you didn’t even know were allegedly present?
  • The contractor is offering you something for nothing, such as a free roof or kitchen.
  • Wants to start work immediately and advises you to delay contacting your insurance company?
  • Offered to “take care of” your deductible.

Any of these issues could potentially lead to a fraud investigation which could jeopardize your coverage.

Possible Litigation:

As mentioned above, there is no standard for what the contractor can submit to the insurance company, and if the company questions the scope and/or the pricing submitted by the contractor the company can be sued directly by the contractor.  And while you may not be a party to this lawsuit, more likely than not you will end up being a witness.

What should you do if you have a claim?”

Contact your insurance agent to report the claim.  He can guide you through the process.  Some insurance carriers will have contractors that they have vetted and will recommend.

This article is compliments of Federated National and SWFL Insurance Agency.

Questions or need a Homeowners or Property coverage quote, call 239-265-9577 or email joshw@swflagency.com.  We are Your Insurance Answer People in SWFL.

Sooo You Operate a Business from Your Home…Note to Self…My Homeowners Policy will not cover My Business Property or Liability.

     Most people often believe that their existing Homeowners, Condo or Renters insurance  Policy will cover any loss or damage to their business equipment, furniture and supplies in the event of Fire, Theft or other catastrophe, when in fact, those policies usually explicitly exclude coverage for any business exposures on their premises.

The Home Business Policy, can solve this problem.  However, is not intended for all types of home businesses. It is specifically targeted for over 100 retail and services risks operated from the insured’s residence and presenting minimal product liability, professional liability and/or off-premises exposures.

Policy Benefits:

  • Provides coverage for over 145 classes of small retail & service-type home-based businesses
  • Affordable Premiums
  • General Liability coverage up to $1 million
  • Loss of business income protection up to 12 months available
  • Broad coverage with on premises theft included
  • Carrier is admitted and A.M. Best “A+” rated
  • Up to $100,000 (varies by state of risk) comprehensive coverage for business personal property both on and temporarily off premises

Popular Business Classes Include:

  • Residential Inspection Services
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Insurance Agents
  • Mortgage Brokers
  • Teacher/Tutors
  • Photographers
  • Accounting Services
  • Bakers
  • Computer Consultants
  • Interior Decorating
  • Jewelry (Costume)
  • Art Gallery / Art Studio
  • Crafts

Call us today to discuss your business and obtain a premium proposal.  Policies start at $150. Only takes a few minutes.

SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.

8595 College Pkwy. Suite 160, Fort Myers, FL 33919

 239-265-9577

Family Risk Questionnaire

   

 SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.  /    Family Risk Questionnaire

Please Compete and Return so we may update your account

Customer:                                                       Phone:                                Email:

Auto Insurance

If we do not provide your auto Insurance, can we provide a Proposal? Yes _____  No _____

Do you presently carry adequate Liability and Uninsured Motorist coverage?   Yes _____  No _____

How much is your net worth?  You should have liability limits to protect this wealth.

Can we provide you with a quote for increased Liability and Uninsured Limits?   Yes____   No___

Do you have electronic device/equipment that has not been declared?  Yes____  No _____

Do you have regular use of a vehicle that you do not own? Yes____  No _____

Do you need Rental Reimbursement and Towing and Labor coverage?  Yes____  No_____

Have any vehicles been titled to a Trust or another family member?  Yes ____  No______

Do you have recreational vehicles (boats, motorbikes, motor homes, golf carts, LSV? Yes ____  No______

Do you have any vehicles not listed on this policy? Yes ____  No______

Do you have drivers or persons who live in household not listed on policy? Yes ____  No _____

 

Home Owners Insurance/  Condo Owners Insurance

If we do not provide your Home or Condo Insurance, can we provide a Proposal? Yes ___No___

Costs of construction of homes increases every year.  Insured values should be reviewed each year.

Are your home and contents insured to 100% replacement cost?  Yes ___No___

Do you carry adequate Additions and Alterations for your condo?    Yes ___No___

Do you rent your home or condo to others?    Yes ___No___

Valuable items such as jewelry, furs, silver, guns typically have limited coverage under the HO Policy.

Do you have valuable items that need to be insured?  Yes_____  No_____

Are you interested in higher Liability Coverage Limits ?  Yes_____  No_____

We recommend that you consider purchasing an Umbrella Liability Policy.  Can we quote?  Y__  N___

Are you interested in Personal Injury coverage (libel, slander, defamation)?  Yes_____  No_____

FLOOD coverage is not included in the Homeowners Policy?

Do you need a quote for flood insurance?  Yes_____  No_____

If Wind/Hurricane coverage is not included in your Homeowners Policy, do you need a quote? Y___N__

Do you need Excess Wind or Flood coverage?  Yes_____  No_____

Do you operate a business from your home?  Yes_____  No_____

Do you own rental property or vacant land or a farm?  Yes_____  No_____

Do you have domestic employees in your home?  Yes_____  No_____

Have any property deeds been changed to another family member or trust?  Yes_____  No_____

Do you have pets?  If so what kind?  ________________________

Do you have children living away from home or away at school?  Yes_____  No_____

Do you have a pool ?  Do you have an enclosure?  Do you need insurance?  Yes_____  No_____

Do you have a dock?  Do you have a boat?   What kind and size?  _____________________

Do you have a new roof or new hurricane protection?   Yes_____  No_____

Have there been other changes that we should be aware of?  Yes_____  No_____

Do you have a significant other, roommate, etc. living with you….No Liability or Property coverage is provided for them…….discuss with agency.

NOTE:  This may not be a complete listing of every possible risk exposure that your family may have, however this list does include the majority of the most common exposures that occur. Please discuss with us any situation in which you may not be sure of coverage.

Thank you for taking the time to review and respond to this questionnaire.  These are important considerations for your valuable insurance coverage.  We look forward to assisting you with any new quotes that you may request.  We Value and Appreciate your Business.

Please copy and print this list as needed.

Please call us at 239-265-9577 or email info@swflagency.com  with any questions or requests.

Thanks much.

SWFL Insurance Agency

Sooo….Your fiancé, who lives with you, is driving your car and has a serious accident….Will your auto policy respond?

Today, over 50% of American households are occupied by individuals, roommates or unmarried couples.  If you fall into the living together but not married category, you should be very careful making any assumptions about how your insurance policies may respond to a Liability or Property loss.

Home Insurance

Coverage restricted to named insured, resident relatives by blood, marriage, adoption or someone under 21 in foster care.  Girl friends, boy friends, fiancés, roommates, tenants typically have no coverage extended to them.

No coverage extended to non insureds for liability losses or defense activity or costs.

No coverage for personal property of non insureds.

Example of problem….your girlfriend and teenage son live with you.  Her son is playing sandlot football and injures another child.  The parents of the child are suing the girlfriend / mother for medical bills and damages…..no coverage would extend from your homeowners policy.  The girlfriend should have a Renter’s Policy to provide liability and property coverage for she and her son.

Auto Insurance

Be wary of the definitions of “Named Insured” under the different coverage parts of the Personal Auto Policy.

Be very careful allowing any “non insured person”, especially those living with you, to use your vehicle on a regular basis.  There are exclusions that apply to such situations.  If you both use each other’s vehicle on a regular basis, you should consider having your girlfriend added as a driver on your policy and likewise adding you as a driver to her policy.

Need to discuss your life situation and how your insurance will apply, give SWFL Insurance Agency a call at 239-265-9577 or email me at joshw@SWFLAgency.com.  We are your Insurance Answer People.

Vacant Homes being Renovated or Remodeled…Hard to Insure?

Sooo….you purchased a home that has been vacant, and you do not intend to immediately occupy.  Your intent is to have the house remodeled before you occupy.  This situation can present a difficult insurance problem.

Most Homeowners and Dwelling Insurance policies have a limitation on how long a home can be vacant before coverage will no longer be afforded.  Vacancy typically means no furnishings, no one living in home.  Each policy will have specific language regarding what constitutes vacancy.

The best way to provide coverage in this situation is to purchase a short term policy, typically a dwelling policy form for the period of time that the house will be renovated.  This will typically be a named peril policy with loss by theft being excluded.  Wind coverage will be available based on location in the county.  Contents coverage may be available.

Once the renovations are complete and the home is occupied, a standard Homeowners Policy should be available, dependent on whether it is rented or owner occupied.  Every situation will be unique.

When you have vacant property of any kind, call SWFL Insurance Agency at 239-265-9577.

We have extensive markets and are able to place your property coverages at the best price.

 

 

 

Avoiding Water Damage Losses in Your Home or Condo….Must Read

water-damage-home“From torn washing machine hoses to burst pipes, it’s no wonder that water damage is among the leading causes of homeowners’ claims across the country.

Anyone who has ever dealt with a water issue at home or been involved with a water loss claim can speak to the devastation. The loss is typically greater than the property that is destroyed.”

With so many SWFL homes and condos sitting unoccupied for various lengths of time, it is important to have your customers understand the risk associated with not shutting off the potable water supply to the plumbing system of their home. Water damage claims from a plumbing break can be devastating and can happen at any time. Losses are more likely to happen when you are not home and the damage will typically be more extensive.

Help your customers understand where the main water shut off for their home or condo is located. Make sure they know where the shut off valves for each plumbing fixture and appliance is located, Being able to get to the shut off quickly can reduce damages. This is particularly important for multi story homes and condos.

If the home or condo is 10 years or older, always recommend that the shut off valves be inspected and replaced. The quality of the water can cause deposits in shut off valves causing them to not operate. These valves are typically not turned at all, unless there is an emergency or a fixture needs repair. These valves are typically the weakest link in the plumbing system.

The condensate drain and catch pan for the air conditioning system is another potential cause of water damage. This system should be cleaned and inspected at least once per year to avoid problems. Many condensate systems utilize a shut off switch to monitor excess water in the drain catch pan and shut the system down. This switch should be inspected and replaced if not working. This switch can make the difference in avoiding water damage, which can be serious depending upon where system is located.

Technology advances have created devices to shut off the main water supply when a major drop in pressure is detected. Some devices can send a text alert to your phone. Learn more at Auto Shut Off Devices. Condominium associations with multi story buildings should consider having auto shut off valves installed in all units due to the potential for extensive losses affecting multiple units.

Your Homeowners Insurance Policy may have water damage coverage, check closely. If coverage is included or endorsed to the policy, the limit of coverage will typically be $5,000. This being the case, it is even more important to be pro active in preventing a water damage loss.

Questions…Need a Homeowners Policy competitive premium quote… Call SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc., 239-265-9577 info@swflagency.com………www.SWFLAgency.com

 

Renting your Home or Condo?…An important point to consider….

Beaches3

Soooo….You just purchased a great condominium on Fort Myer Beach, FL.  You purchased the property with your Mom and Dad.  You intend to use the property about 6 weeks out of the year and then list the condo for rental with a local Property Manager/ Realtor, AirBNB, HomeAway or other home sharing rental company.   You actually calculated the rental income when making the purchase decision. This sounds great…..

Until you call your insurance agent……When homeowners or renters head to a home-sharing website to rent out their homes in exchange for income, “most probably do not think through the fact that they’re beginning to engage in a commercial endeavor”.

Homeowners and condo owners insurance policies will have language that excludes “business pursuits”….renting your property for income is a “business pursuit”.  And as soon as an owner creates a business exposure in their home, their homeowners insurance carrier can not only refuse coverage for a related claim—they also have the right to suspend all liability and property coverage.

The Liability Exposure created by “renting” is huge and needs to be a primary consideration.  The “home-sharing businesses” will most likely require you to have Liability Coverage.  If they offer some level of Liability Coverage with the “for rent contract”, the language should be reviewed closely, possibly by your attorney.  You will be wise to secure your own liability and property insurance with all owners listed as “named insured”.  In the case of a condominium, the Association may require proof of insurance and be listed as a “additional named insured”.  If your property is located outside of the USA, be very careful…protecting your assets will take careful planning.

Personal Umbrella Liability policies will not extend to this “Rental Property”.   This is considered a “Commercial” risk and requires a Commercial Umbrella Policy.  Discuss this important “gap” with your insurance agent.

We offer Property and Liability Insurance coverage designed for these rental situations.

Call us at 239-265-9577.

SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.    www.SWFLAgency.com      Info@SwflAgency.com

 

 

 

 

Sooo….Do I need Flood Insurance for my 3rd Floor Condo unit?

condo2

First, does your Association provide a Master Flood Policy through the RCBAP, Residential Condominium Building Association Policy administered by FEMA?  The RCBAP limits the flood coverage that can be purchased by the Association up to $250,000.coverage limit per condo unit in the building.  This program requires the Assoc. flood insurance to be purchased at a limit equal to 80% or greater of replacement value of the building in order to avoid a “Co Insurance” loss penalty at time of a claim.  The RCBAP policy covers all building items regardless of who installed them.  This is broader than the coverage required by the Florida Condominium Statute.

The Condominium Owners Policy form HO6 in Florida does not provide any Flood coverage.  The Loss Assessment coverage within the HO6 will not respond to a flood loss to Association property.

The only way that a unit owner can cover a Loss Assessment for a direct flood loss to Association owned buildings is to purchase an individual flood policy with building coverage from National Flood Insurance Program.  The Building Coverage Limit will double as the Loss Assessment coverage limit.  There is no deductible for a covered Loss Assessment claim.

This Individual Flood Policy will also typically provide Loss Assessment coverage for the following:

  • When the RCBAP has been written for a coverage limit of at least 80% but less than 100% of replacement value.
  • Assessments due to there being NO RCBAP coverage at all.
  • Assessment for damage to a non covered building.

This is not a complete analysis of this issue, but it points out some very important considerations for the Condo Owner…..

  • Find out what Flood Insurance is in place for your Association property.
  • Question whether coverage limits are at 100% of replacement value?

You can read more at Condo Owners Flood Insurance.

Questions…Call SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc. at 239-265-9577 or email us at  info@swflagency.com

Sooo….Is my boat dock covered by my Homeowners or Condo Owners Policy?

boat dock

In Florida, many times homes and condos are sold  with a boat dock deeded  with the property purchase.  Many times the boat dock is not directly connected to the “residence premises.  In these cases, the owner should be concerned about the “property exposure” and the “liability insurance”.

Typically, docks are covered for property damage under Coverage B of the Homeowners and Condo Owners Policy.  Coverage B is for “other structures on the residence premises”.  When the dock is attached to the residence premises, it is covered under Coverage B.   When the dock is not attached, it should be added by endorsement,  Coverage B-Off premises or Specific Structures Away From the Premises.   The  dock will not be covered  for Hurricane or Flood damage, but would be covered for Other Perils stated in policy for Coverage B-Other Premises Structures.

In any case, be careful of values for docks.  Coverage B has a limit of 10% of the home insured value.  In some cases, this may not be adequate..  For a home insured for $300,000. , the dock and other structures would be insured for $ 30,000.  Discuss with your insurance agent.

Your Homeowner or Condo Owner Liability Coverage should extend  to your deeded dock, however, in the case of the “off premises dock”, we recommend that you include the following wording in the declarations page of your policy. Wording such as “1234 Main Street, Anytown, Florida including boat dock deeded to insured” .  Again discuss with your agent.

Be very careful if you rent your dock to others.  There is no way to cover this liability exposure under the Homeowners or Condo Owners Policy, it becomes a Commercial insurance exposure that is very difficult to insure.  You will probably be self insuring the exposure…Not a good idea.

Questions…Call  SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.,   “Your Insurance Answer People”       

239-265-9577    Info@SWFLAgency.com    

Umbrella Liability Claim Scenario # 5….This could be You.

Motorcycle accident

The 56-year-old insured pulled forward out of her driveway, making a left turn into the path of a motorcycle, which was coming out of a curve. The operator of the motorcycle applied his brakes and “laid it down,” but struck the quarter panel of the insured’s vehicle.

The insured was cited for traffic violations. The motorcycle passenger (wife of the motorcycle operator), died at the scene. She is survived by her husband, four children (ages 7 to 15), her parents, grandparents and several siblings. The motorcycle operator suffered a fractured finger and abrasions and had a valid “bystander’s claim” under state law.

The Personal Umbrella Policy contributed $640,000, above the primary policies.  This is areal life claim situation.  Remember Liability Insurance is really about Wealth Protection.

Do not let something like this happen to you.  Call SWFL Insurance Agency at 239-265-9577 for an Umbrella proposal.