Here's where you'll find quick answers to the most frequently asked questions that we encounter. Within some of those answers you'll see links to in depth articles and resources on the subjects.
Frequently Asked Questions
1Why use an independent agent?
An independent agent typically has more options available when shopping for a specific type of policy. More options often means better prices for you. An independent agent is usually local and available to help you. Best of all, it's typically the same price as if you were to purchase a policy directly through the carrier (insurance company). Also, we can go to bat for you when necessary. If you purchase insurance directly through the carrier, without an assigned agent, in the event of a claim you are the only point of contact. When you have an agent, we can help you with the claims process and make sure you're getting any claims handled the way they should be. We have close relationships with the territory reps for each of the companies that we represent. Sometimes knowing the right person can help.
2What is Citizens?
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation was created by the state of Florida for residents who are unable to find homeowners insurance in the private market. For a while there was too many Florida residents in the Citizens pool. Citizens has been working on a "depopulation" project to get many of those residents insured by private carriers. As it claims on their website, they are "the insurer of last resort". We shop your homeowners insurance with the strongest private market homeowners companies, many of which have been in business prior to the notorious 2004 hurricane season. It's only when we can't find ideal coverage and prices through them that we resort to Citizens.
3Do I have to have an Elevation Certificate to obtain Flood Insurance?
No, it is often encouraged and can sometimes save you money on your flood insurance premium, but it is not a requirement. We write through FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and also have private market carriers that we work with as well. With the various options we can see what best suits your needs and find affordable coverage for you. We also offer excess coverage if you'd like to insure your home or business above the normal limits.
4How do I get an Elevation Certificate?
First, you'll want to know if one already exists for your property. If not, you may need to get one. You can do so by contacting a Licensed Land Surveyor, Registered Professional Engineer or Registered Architect. Please call us with any questions. Once you have an elevation certificate, which shows the exact elevation for your home, you can get an accurate quote for flood insurance. Also, you don't always necessarily have to have an Elevation Certificate. Some of our private market options don't require one.
5Citizens or private market carriers for homeowners insurance?
Despite what you may have heard, you CAN get quality coverage from a quality homeowners insurance carrier in Florida. Yes, there have been some companies that have come and gone, even gone bankrupt, but for more than a decade now, there has not been a heavy hurricane season. Many carriers have been collecting premiums and building financial strength, which has made them prepared to handle an active hurricane season. We shop your homeowners insurance with the strongest A rated, through Demotech, private market homeowners companies, many of which have been in business even prior to the notorious 2004 hurricane season. Some of these carriers also insure homes in multiple states. It's only when we can't find ideal coverage and prices through them that we resort to using Citizens.
6What's a 4 Point Inspection?
Some homeowners carriers will require a 4 Point Inspection to be able to decide if they want to offer you insurance and at what rate. You can find home inspectors who do 4 Point Inspections and some who can also provide Wind Mitigation reports on the same visit by searching home inspection companies on Yelp.com or google.com, etc.
7What is a Wind Mitigation Inspection?
Wind Mitigation is not always necessary, but can sometimes help you obtain coverage and/or get coverage at a lower premium. During a Wind Mitigation Inspection, a certified inspector reports on the key features that may decrease the amount of damage your home suffers during a hurricane or strong windstorm. These features fall into several categories, such as exterior construction type, roof shape and construction methods, age of roof covering, door and window opening protection and year built. Elevation of a property and how it relates to wind speed is another factor that is considered. The inspector may make some suggestions to the homeowner on any changes that can be made to protect your home.
8How do I know if I need Flood insurance?
If you live in Florida, especially if you live in the Tampa Bay area, it's probably a good idea to have Flood insurance. There's a few exceptions, but not many. Flood is typically a requirement when you're paying a mortgage and your property is in an A or V Flood Zone. These are the highest risk zones, therefore they come with higher priced premiums. Zones C, B & X are referred to as "preferred risk". Here in Florida, even those less risky, preferred risk, zones make up close to 30% of the flood claims. If a category 4 or 5 hurricane were to push a storm surge into Tampa Bay, it would flood much of St. Petersburg & Tampa.
9What is stacking?
Stacking allows you to use your uninsured and/or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage in a manner that combines multiple policies. For example, if you have $50,000/$100,000 coverage on each of two vehicles, the total coverage would combine to be $100,000/$200,000. Three vehicles insured at $50,000/$100,000 UM/UIM would total $150,000/$300,000 and so on. The addition of this advantageous Stacking to your policy will raise your premium. More detail can be found in our article on the subject: Stacking