How Well Do You Know Your Flood Insurance?

There have been many changes to flood insurance in the past 2 years. Some more were just instituted last month. Have you kept up to date to see if you will be affected when its time to renew? As of April 1st, 2015 new changes were made to flood insurance where for some this will result in lower rates and more affordable insurance, for others though, the cost will be going up. These are important changes to know for your current insurance and new insurance if you are looking to purchase a new home that may be in a flood zone. If you are buying a new home check this list for some questions you should ask before making your final decision. 

If you do not live in an area that is considered a flood zone you are not required (in most cases) to obtain flood insurance. This is never recommended though. At any time a pipe could burst and cause massive destruction to your home. Most people are not aware that your homeowners insurance policy does not include damages caused by flooding. This is a separate policy you need to obtain. If you are not in a flood zone your policy will most likely not be very costly, the destruction caused by water damage is.

How you reviewed your policies lately? We encourage you to do so. If you have any questions please call us at 813.876.4166

Also, check out this quiz and test your flood insurance knowledge. Post your answers in the comments to be entered in our summer drawing.

 

  1. Is the SFHDF mandatory for all real estate-related loans?
  2. If the SFHDF form shows the property is not in a flood zone but the map indicates it is in a flood zone, which controls?
  3. Can a lender waive flood insurance on a piece of property?
  4. What happens if a lender disagrees with FEMA about a property?
  5. When is a loan considered “made” for flood insurance purposes?
  6. What evidence of coverage does a bank need to have at closing?
  7. How long does proof of coverage have to be maintained?
  8. What rules apply to second mortgage loans?
  9. Do the same rules apply for business and construction loans?
  10. Do the new Consumer Protection regulations that became effective october 1, 2001 apply to flood insurance?

 

 

 

Remodeling Your Home? Read This First.

This time of year many people start thinking about remodeling their homes and doing some updating. The weather is nicer and its a lot easier. It could also be due to damage caused from inclement weather. Whatever the reasoning may be, it is a popular time of year for this.

The majority of people will hire a general contractor to handle their renovations while some choose to do so themselves. Some homeowners will do portions of the work and hire licensed electricians and plumbers for that work.

No matter how you go about this, remember: The homeowner, the general contractor and all subcontractors need to have proper insurance coverage.

The first thing you want to do is review your homeowners insurance policy. You want to be sure that your policy covers your home and property during the time it is being remodeled. You may have to move furniture out of the house. A lot of times people will rent a container and store this on their property. Make sure that when doing so the contents are covered. You may need to get an additional policy for that period of time depending on your coverage.

You want to contact your broker if you are doing the work yourself to insure you are not voiding your policy. Some homeowners insurance policies do not cover work done unless it is by a licensed and bonded professional. Due to the amount of variables that exist when it comes to insurance, especially for remodeling projects, you want to be sure that you have crossed every “t” and dotted every “i”.

That being said. If you decide to hire a contractor, make sure they are licensed and bonded with a surety bond before you sign a contract. This protects you in the event they cannot finish the job. Under your contract there should be an agreement that all of the work will be done according to current building codes and all of the proper permits will be obtained.

The general contractor is responsible for property damage, on the job injuries and negligence in workmanship. All of this should be covered by their general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Confirm their coverage with their insurance company and ask them for documentation and proof of all certifications with dates to insure that this will be in effect during the time period the work is being done.

Purchase a builder’s risk policy. Building materials and equipment belonging to the contractor or subcontractor are not protected in the event of theft by your homeowners insurance policy. Consult your broker about whether or not this is something you want to invest in during the construction period to protect yourself and the contractors. The general liability policy your general contractor should have will most likely cover damage to your existing property, but not to any new work they do, or additions made. They are only liable for damage to the old home, not the new additions. By having a builders risk policy you will be protecting your home addition as well as the tools and equipment of the contractor.

 

 

 

 

 

Flood Insurance Changes as of April 1, 2015

There are cost changes coming into effect on April 1, 2015 to flood insurance. For some this will result in lower rates and more affordable insurance, for others though, the cost will be going up. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be implementing more changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as directed by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA) and Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Biggert-Waters).

Older homes that are not your primary residence are going to be subjected to the highest increase. The lower, subsidized rates that previously applied to these properties are being phased out and homeowners will be looking at a cost in crease of 25% plus a surcharge. The changes will also bring lower initial rates for properties that are now considered high risk due to changes in FEMA flood maps. This will last for 12 months after the changes to the maps are made and then will gradually increase to reach their full risk rate.

Some of the important Flood Insurance changes take effect in April as the result of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) and the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Biggert-Waters):

  • Implementation of the annual surcharges that are required by the are HFIAA
  • Increasing the reserve fund assessments required by Biggert-Waters
  • Guidance on substantially damaged and substantially improved structures and additions rating guidance on Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) structures
  • Implementation of the annual surcharges required by HFIAA
  • New deductible options
  • Implementation of a new procedure for Properties Newly Mapped into the Special Flood Hazard Area and existing Preferred Risk Policy Eligibility Extension (PRP) policies
  • Implementation of the first annual rate change that sets rates using rate increase limitations set by HFIAA, for individual premiums and rate classes

Federal Policy Fee (FPF) Changes

Make sure you complete and return the residency forms from your insurance company/agent, as your responses (or lack thereof) will impact your renewal rate.

If you have any questions about your current policy and what changes you may incur please call us at 813.876.4166 and one of our specialists will be on the line to help you.

To learn more about Flood Insurance you can read in detail at I Got Dropped.

Frequently Overlooked Home Costs

The main things people focus on when buying their first home is saving for a down payment, worrying about our credit and interest rate, paying the mortgage off and decorating. There are several other costs that factor into the monthly expense of a home that are frequently overlooked.

Some of the most overlooked expenses are:

  1. Homeowners InsuranceYou want to get the best coverage you can afford. If you have a mortgage most likely the broker will require a certain amount of coverage. That is to protect them in the event of a loss while they hold the title to your home. To fully protects yourself though you want to insure your homes total replacement cost, not just the market value. What this means is that you want to have enough coverage to rebuild in the event of a disaster and replacement all of your belongings inside.
  2. Flood InsuranceDepending on where you live you may need to also have flood insurance. The rates on this can vary based on the age of your home, your proximity to water and the current changes to FEMA maps. To read more about this please click here.
  3. Association Fees: Many communities and condo’s will have monthly or quarterly dues to help maintain all of the amenities you get to use while living there. Always find out about this and factor into your budget because many communities and associations will put a lean on your home if you do not stay current with these fees and it could result in a possible eviction.
  4. Repairs & Maintenance: Whether the house be older or newer, there will be times where you need to repair things and keep other’s up to date. These costs will vary depending on the economy and demand. There will be times where you need to replace major parts of the home, like the roof for example or may want to repaint your home.
  5. Upgrades: When you walk into your possible new home everything looks perfect. Then you buy, and move in and realize you want to change things. While in most cases this will add a lot of value it will also be costly depending on what you want done. Always be aware that no matter how much you love it on day one, a year later you may want to make changes.
  6. Furniture: When moving into a new home, especially if you are coming from a smaller apartment or somewhere else, it is easy to not realize that you may need to purchase items that fit the home better or fill it. This is not the most important expense but it is one to consider when purchasing a home or upgrading.

Keep Your Insurance In Check for 2015

It becomes very easy to become comfortable with the insurance company you have and just continue to renew and not bother reviewing your policy to see if you can save money and get better coverage. We have a few tips that will help you have the best coverage for all of your policies for the least out of your pocket to make 2015 a great year for you insurance wise!

  1. Always pay on time: If you do not pay your premiums on time you face cancellation or your policy lapsing. This can result in paying higher rates to reinstate and also if you have an incident in the time period where it lapsed, you may not be covered, even if you have been with the company for years.
  2. Review your policies yearly: Laws and limits change yearly so it is good practice to review your policy every 6-12 months to make sure you have enough coverage and also to be sure you are not over paying for things you do not need.
  3. Do not make constant claims: Remember any damage lower than your deductible comes out of your pocket. So try to only report things that really are major. If the claim is only slightly higher than your deductible the rate increase could end up costing you more in the long rung
  4. Remove your ex if you have one: If you are divorced or had your partner as your beneficiary remove them if you don’t want assets to go to them. Designate a new person. If you do not have a will or beneficiary your assets could go to the government. It is important to have this setup properly.
  5. Be-careful loaning out your carWhen you loan out your care you are not just loaning your property, you are loaning your insurance. If the person you lend your car to gets in an accident you are liable and it goes on your record and your rates.
  6. Have healthcare: With the new laws you must have health insurance by a certain date (unless you qualify for an extension) or you will get penalized. Be sure to sign up and have all of your dependents insured as well.
  7. Don’t drink and drive! Period!: For the first reason its dangerous. Besides that though, the insurance ramifications can and will be a total nightmare. Your rates will increase significantly. Depending on the state you live in and how many offenses you have you may be required to have a breathalyzer installed in your car, which if you lease will be another nightmare. The fines can last for years and be costly, not to mention possible jail time, lawyer fees and long-term loss of license.
  8. Add your new child: You must add your child within 30 days of birth or face penalties and the possibility of no insurance.
  9. Alert your insurance company of new car: Most insurance companies will offer a short time of coverage for a new car. You should call within one week to let your insurance company know of your new car. In some cases depending on the car you will save money too. Don’t hesitate, call!
  10. Create a  home inventory: It is good practice to have a detailed home inventory for claims. The easiest way to do this is go room by room, take photos, add details and save any invoices or receipts you have. This will make filing your claim and being properly reimbursed much easier.