Sooo….What does the Louisiana Thousand Year Flood Event mean to you? Are you at Risk for a Flood?

La.Flood

So let’s look at how FEMA determines if you are “at risk”.  Flood maps, known officially as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS), show areas of high and moderate to low flood risk.  Cities and counties use the maps to set minimum building requirements for coastal areas and floodplains.  Lenders use them to determine flood insurance requirements, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses them to help determine what you pay for flood insurance.

High-risk areas are identified on the FIRMs as:

  • Zones AE, A, AH, AR, A99, or AO. These properties have at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage.
  • Zones VE or V. These properties also have at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. In addition, these properties face hazards associated with coastal storm waves and storm surge.

 Insurance note: Federally regulated or insured lenders require mortgage holders to purchase flood insurance for properties in high-risk areas.   

An elevation survey of the lowest living level of your home is required in order to apply for Flood Insurance.  The surveyor will provide a Flood Certificate showing the elevation.  When buying a home, make sure to ask if a flood Certificate is available.  Flood Insurance rates are based on the Flood Zone as determined by FEMA maps and the elevation of your home.  The higher your home is above the required minimal flood elevation, the less your pay in premiums.

Moderate- to low-risk areas are identified on the FIRMs as:

  • Shaded Zone X. The risk is reduced in these areas but not eliminated.
  • Zone X. These properties are in an area of overall lower risk.

Insurance note: Lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) are often an option in these areas. Flood insurance coverage is not mandatory in these areas but is recommended, as the risk for flooding is still very real. Keep in mind that while your property could be designated as moderate to low risk, it still may be geographically close to a high-risk area

In this case you should consider purchasing a Preferred Risk Flood Policy.  Premiums are reasonable.  Typically, for $250K on your Home and $100k Contents, annual premiums are $450.  Every homeowner in Louisiana was probably eligible.  Just because your Mortgage Company did not require you to purchase Flood Insurance does not mean you do not have a Risk of flooding or that you were not eligible for Flood Insurance.

Not sure about your home or business’s true Flood Risk,                                                             call SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.  239-265-9577

We will help you assess your risk, review your present coverage and make recommendations.  Do  not take chances with your most important asset.

Find out what is covered by Flood Insurance

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

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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…You are considering getting a concealed carry permit

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If you are like many law abiding citizens, you may be considering the purchase of a hand gun and possibly securing a concealed weapons permit.  If so, you should visit the following website.   US Concealed Carry .  The articles and videos are very informative.   ConcealedCarry_Guide_23-Proven_Strategies is a sample of what you will find.

Here are some previous posts from SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.

Concerned about Carrying a Concealed Weapon and the Liability issue?

So…..Where can I have a gun in Florida?

So…You used your Glock to stop a Criminal Invasion at your home….How does your Homeowners Policy respond?

2016 Florida Statutes. Weapons and Firearms

Florida Dept. of Agriculture. Licensing Division

Being informed is the first step to take before arming yourself.

SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.

 

 

Does your Company use Drones…Read on.

drone accident

“The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International trade group forecasts drones will produce $82 billion in economic value and create more than 100,000 new jobs in the first 10 years after widespread flights are ultimately approved.

There are now more registered unmanned aircraft in the United States than private and commercial aircraft combined…some 400,000 of these flying devices (oops…unmanned aircraft)”

Typically standard Commercial General Liability Insurance policies and Business owners Policies do not provide any Liability Coverage for “unmanned flying devices” or drones.  If your company uses drones, you will need to purchase a specific policy for Drone Liability Coverage.  SWFL Insurance Agency can provide this coverage…call us at 239-265-9577.

If your company hires or contracts other companies or individuals to conduct activities such as photography using drones, you should ask to be added as an “Additional Named Insured” on this policy and obtain a Certificate of Insurance showing same.  Since this is a new and developing area of insurance, it will be wise to ask for a copy of the policy to review the coverage language.  We can help you review this coverage.

SWFL Insurance Agency     info@SWFLAgency.com     www.SWFLAgency.com   239-265-9577

Fraud in the Construction Industry

work comp fraud is a crime

“A dangerous fraud scheme has infiltrated the construction industry in Florida over the last several years. Usually involving residential home building, it started in South Florida but has swept northward to encompass most major cities in the state. The scheme revolves around “shell companies,” which on the surface look legitimate and have proper workers comp coverage, but in reality are operating a giant pool of off-the-books labor and are hiding millions of dollars of unreported payroll.

The fraud starts when a labor broker, also called a facilitator, induces a (sometimes) innocent third party-often a foreign national with family to support in his or her home country-to set up a company with the state Division of Corporations that has a very generic name that may reference construction. The company’s name has to be generic, because different crews will be (a) working on many different job sites and (b) often performing all types of construction work. Often the words “Construction Services” or “Services Corp” are in the name. A series of three initials like “ABC Construction” is also common.

The owner then approaches an insurance agent to secure workers compensation coverage and reports just enough payroll in a construction class to look legitimate and to not arouse suspicion from the insurance carrier. Most often, the class code is one that typically uses unskilled labor, such as drywall, framing or concrete.

After the workers comp coverage is in place, the business owner takes his certificate of insurance (COI) listing the company’s workers comp coverage and then rents that COI out for a fee to dozens of different construction crews doing work on many different job sites.

When the general contractor pays the crew for work performed, the labor broker takes that check to a check-cashing store, gets the cash, takes his (substantial) cut, gives the check cashing store its cut, and gives what’s left to the crew leader to pay his crew for doing the work. The labor broker can have dozens of crews using hundreds of workers on different jobs sites at any one time, which means he is cashing millions of dollars in payroll checks in any given policy period.

The victims

None of this payroll is reported to the company’s insurance agent or workers comp carrier. Neither the carrier nor the agent know the true exposure associated with the policy for the shell company. For example, what is supposed to be a company with $50,000 in framing payroll that is paying $8,500 in annual premium could in reality be a company with $5 million in framing, drywall and concrete payroll that should be paying $850,000 annually.
This results in hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid premium that the insurance carrier never receives. If claims are made on the policy, they usually are from workers the insurance carrier never knew they were covering and for which they never received a penny. Of course, the shell game also reduces the commission the insurance agent should have received.

Other victims of this scheme are the undocumented workers who are injured working for one of these companies. They are the ones doing the hard work, and if they are hurt on the job, they have no idea what to do. Usually the only name they know is their crew leader; they don’t know the name of the shell company and they don’t know the name of the shell company’s insurance carrier. This complicated structure means injured workers can be left on their own to try and find medical help for injuries. ”

Read more about how to identify this very illegal activity so that you will not be caught in the scam at The Shell Game.

An article by Karen Phillips in Rough Notes, Special Report, June 2016.

Is Umbrella Insurance Right For Me?

Umbrella

The majority of people believe that umbrella insurance is something that rich people need and that they will have no use for. However, there are many people who can benefit from an umbrella insurance policy. As you purchase more assets and have more earning power, you also increase the amount of assets you have at risk. If your basic auto and homeowners insurance policies are not enough to cover your assets, then it may be time to consider an umbrella insurance policy.

With both homeowners insurance and auto insurance, there is a minimum to purchase and there is a maximum that you can purchase. If you have maxed out your coverage through your traditional policies, you are not out of luck. You simply need to purchase excess liability which would cover anything above your traditional policy. This is referred to as an umbrella policy.

An umbrella insurance policy will not just cover your home or vehicle, though. It can cover all of your assets including your retirement fund. In addition to that protection, it offers protection against non-work related cases of personal injury including libel, slander, false arrest, and wrongful eviction. It can cover your legal costs for a covered loss. It also covers you worldwide and not just here in the United States or in a specific state.

You can purchase an umbrella policy ranging from $1 million to $5 million. With such large amounts of coverage, it is the ideal insurance policy to supplement existing policies when you have a lot of assets to protect. While it is not right for everyone, if you have a lot to protect, you may want to consider it.

For more information about an umbrella insurance policy or to get a quote for one, contact us today at SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.   239-265-9577

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

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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…Your Driver’s License is being cancelled because you have an LSV without insurance.

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Your first thought is…what is an LSV?  A Low Speed Vehicle is defined as a four wheeled electric or gas vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 mph, but less than 25 mph.  Many LSV vehicles start out as golf carts and are converted.  The easiest way to tell the difference between a golf cart and an LSV is to look at Registration Numbers. A Golf Cart will have a Serial Number while an LSV will have a 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number.

If you happen to own an LSV and think you have it insured under your Homeowners Policy…..you are not properly insured.  The State of Florida requires the LSV to be insured under a Personal Auto Policy.  Without the proper coverage on file with the DMV, they will cancel your driver’s license.

A low speed vehicle may operate on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less. The vehicle can also cross intersecting roadways where the speed is greater than 35 mph.  An LSV must be registered with the Florida DMV and have a valid license plate and registration.  An LSV must be insured. Florida law requires PIP or No-Fault coverage and Property Damage Liability at a minimum. We strongly recommend Bodily Injury (BI), Uninsured Motorist (UM), and Medical Payments (MedPay) coverages.

Any low speed vehicle must be equipped with standard safety equipment. NHTSA requires these components: headlights, taillights, stoplights, front and rear turn signals, reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, safety belts, and vehicle identification numbers. Significantly, NHTSA does not require LSVs to have airbags, or other safety features beyond seatbelts since they are intended for low risk driving.

You must have a valid drivers license in Florida to operate an LSV……This is not your 12 year old.

Florida DMV has an informational brochure ….Low Speed Vehicles  .

SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc. has a carrier that will cover your LSV.  Call us at 239-265-9577.

Sooo….Is my Screen Enclosure insured for Hurricane damage under my Homeowners Policy?

screen enclosure storm

Well that depends…..Most insurance companies writing in Florida either exclude “Screen Enclosures” for loss due to a Hurricane; exclude “screen enclosures” and carports for all perils; or provide a minimal coverage limit.  Typically, “Hurricane Coverage” for screen enclosures can be added by endorsement up to a maximum limit of between $50,000 and $75,000, dependent on the company.

Screen enclosures or pool cages are typically structures that have an aluminum frame structure with screen walls and screen roof or aluminum pan roof.   Screen wall porches or lanais where the roof is constructed of the same material as the primary residence are typically included in the Dwelling Coverage A of the Homeowners Policy.  Discuss fully with your agent.  Make no assumptions.

Note that many policies totally exclude any type of loss to structures that have screen walls on more than one side, are open to the weather and the roof construction is not like that of the primary dwelling.    So…. this is the screen room and carport with aluminum “pan” roofs and screen walls whether attached to dwelling or not.  There is typically no ability to add these structures by endorsement other than the Hurricane coverage.

The catch here is that the “Hurricane Coverage ” for screen enclosures and carports permanently attached to the dwelling is typically provided for the “aluminum framing only”.  This would mean that no coverage is provided for the screen material, nor for the cost to remove and replace the screen material.

IMPORTANT:  If you have screens or a screen enclosure, you should discuss the details with your insurance agent to determine what is insured. Coverage language varies greatly from company to company.  The “hurricane coverage” for screen enclosures can be “pricey”, so request a quote.

Call SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc. at 239-265-9577 for all of your Personal and Business Insurance Needs.

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