You hope it never happens to you, but what if??

Insurance adjusters recommend a few easy steps that can save you much aggravation at a time when you truly need aggravation the least. In the case of a devastating event such as hurricane or fire in which all your records could be destroyed, these few tips can be invaluable:

1. Copy and save all receipts from major purchases. This can be important not only for insurance claims, but for calculating casualty losses for tax purposes as well.

2. Likewise with all your important documents. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance policies, etc.

3. Photograph and/or video everything in your home and business. Take a little time one day, (or a little time on several days) and digitally record everything! Art work, jewelry, pots, pans, clothes, electronics, linens, tools, everything! Open the closets, cabinets and drawers. Too much is far better than too little.

4. Store the data securely! Some recommend a cloud-based option such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Carbonite, etc. These are simple and can be set up to automatic update as well. Or, if you prefer to keep the stored information with you personally, you may opt to utilize thumb drives or external hard drives. If you choose one of the latter options, just remember to store the drives somewhere other than inside the home. A bank safety deposit box is a better choice.

At the end of that day, you want your photos and documents to be safe and secure. Safe from harm and secure from prying eyes. Security and password protection is a whole different subject. Just remember to utilize passwords that include a combination of lower case and upper case letters, along with some numbers and a special character or two if possible. Something that no one else could guess!

I own my home that is in a flood zone. Are flood insurance issues going to make it difficult to sell now?

At least in terms of the astronomical rate increases that you have been reading about lately, probably not.

The U.S. Senate just passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act which had already been passed by the House this month. Once signed by the President, this Act will negate the majority of the devastating changes that were enacted by the House and Senate last year. More on this at: http://rem.ax/1fXPi7o

For information on this or other real estate topics, please visit www.DestinFloridaRealEstate.com or email us at smith@realtor.com

Are flood insurance premiums still supposed to go up?

Flood insurance (NFIP) premiums have already gone up astronomically in the case of pre-FIRM homes, the result of the Biggert Waters Act. In this area, pre-FIRM generally refers to homes that were built before 1974.  Our elected politicians in D.C. are going through the motions but making little progress in the re-writing of this very bad legislation.
Our salvation may lie in the fact that FEMA failed to follow the rules and did not conduct the required cost studies before enacting. Therefore, a now pending lawsuit in federal court may provide our best option for relief.

As always, please visit us at www.Ed-Terri.com or for questions, email us at smith@realtor.com

 

Are flood insurance premiums still supposed to go up?

Flood insurance (NFIP) premiums have already gone up astronomically in the case of pre-FIRM homes, the result of the Biggert Waters Act. In this area, pre-FIRM generally refers to homes that were built before 1974.  Our elected politicians in D.C. are going through the motions but making little progress in the re-writing of this very bad legislation.

Our salvation may lie in the fact that FEMA failed to follow the rules and did not conduct the required cost studies before enacting. Therefore, a now pending lawsuit in federal court may provide our best option for relief.

More on this at: http://rem.ax/1fnwewZ

As always, please visit us at www.Ed-Terri.com or for questions, email us at smith@realtor.com

Ed & Terri Smith, Broker Owners
RE/MAX Coastal Properties
850-837-5500 x1

 

Citizens Raises Sinkhole Coverage Premiums

State legislators have allowed Citizens Insurance to dramatically increase the premiums it charges for sinkhole coverage. Citizens is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt government corporation.  Citizens was established to act as a safety net, or insurer of last resort for the thousands of Florida property owners who were unable to get coverage elsewhere. Unintentionally, Citizens became the largest property insurer in Florida with more than 1.4 million policies now in place.  That equates to more than $500 billion in property coverage and nearly $3 billion in annual premiums.

 

Fortunately, sinkholes are not a major concern in NW Florida. However, counties such as Orange and Hillsborough have been plagued with them.  Citizens has proposed sinkhole premiums coverage increases of up to 2,000 percent in such sinkhole prone areas. Citizen’s board voted to limit the rate increases (for sinkhole coverage) to 50 percent next year and then phase in the remaining increases over the next several years.

Property insurance companies seeking increases

More than a dozen insurance companies have asked Florida regulators to approve rate increases. Despite five years with no hurricanes, more requests are expected as insurers line up like cattle at the trough. Should rate increases be approved, it would affect inland markets like Tallahassee and Orland as well as the coastal communities like Destin and Rosemary Beach. Former health care CEO Governor Rick Scott is more sympathetic to the insurance industry than was his predecessor Charlie Crist.

For more information on real estate related issues, visit Ed and Terri Smith at http://www.DestinFloridaRealEstate.com

Bills to address flaws in condo-insurance law

MIAMI – Jan. 27, 2009 – A controversial law requiring condo owners to have property insurance has many of them up in arms, but lawmakers already are working on bills that would change the requirement this spring.

Letters from condo associations to unit owners demanding owners to show proof of insurance within 30 days or the associations will buy coverage on their behalf have prompted hundreds of complaints, lawmakers said.

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, also requires condo owners to add the association as an insured party on the policy.

Associations typically buy insurance that covers the building, while owners are responsible for buying policies to cover their units’ interior – flooring, cabinets, appliances and the like. Many owners, however, opt not to spend the money and were not required to – until now.

After the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes, many associations faced the problem of damaged or destroyed units that were not repaired because unit owners had no insurance. The associations wanted to be able to force owners to have the proper coverage. Before Jan. 1, only lenders could buy coverage for a home or condo if the owner let it lapse or canceled the policy.

The new law has owners confused and worried about the cost.

“Condo owners are coming and saying, ‘Tell me what I should buy,’” said Carol Everhart, an agent with BB&T Insurance in St. Petersburg.

Everhart, who sits on the board of Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run insurer, works with more than 200 condo associations.

‘Economic issue’

“It’s not such a bad law. But it’s an economic issue,” said Dulce Suarez-Resnick, an executive at Brown & Brown Insurance.

A condo policy for a small apartment (about 750 square feet in a modest building) can cost about $1,000 a year. A luxury condo with plenty of marble and granite and a high-end interior could cost as much as $5,000 a year, she said.

In addition, the law is flawed, agents said, because no insurer in Florida will sell coverage for an individual unit to a condo association and then have the association bill the owner.

The problem, says Donna Berger, general counsel for the association lobbying group Community Advocacy Network, is that the new law makes having the insurance mandatory rather than voluntary.

Already two bills – one by Rep. Ellen Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale and the other by Sen. Dennis Jones of Seminole – have been filed that will make some fixes in the “glitches” in new law.

Both bills would make the insurance coverage voluntary – not mandatory – for unit owners and would allow the associations to buy the coverage if they choose to and then bill the owners.

‘Unhappy’

Rep. Julio Robaina of Miami said his office has fielded hundreds of calls from condo owners all over the state who have gotten letters from their associations and don’t know how to proceed.

“They’re unhappy with the mandates of the new law. But [an owner] might have to buy a policy until a new law is passed,” said Robaina.

There is no penalty for not following the law, so associations could decide not to enforce it with their owners.

But agents like Suarez-Resnick and Gaby Dominguez at Avanti Insurance in west Miami-Dade County say buying insurance to cover the contents of their units as well as the interior is a good idea for condo owners to do anyway.

“The biggest mistake condo owners make is to not buy insurance because they think their units are covered by the association’s master policy,” said Suarez-Resnick.

Another aspect

One provision in the new law that isn’t controversial requires unit owners to purchase loss-assessment coverage of at least $2,000. That coverage would help pay for an additional charge levied by the association after a major storm to cover any shortfall to pay needed repairs.

Right now, most policies include coverage of $1,000 and many carriers were already increasing it voluntarily to $2,000, said Everhart.

But she said this coverage should be applied to the assessment deductible so that the additional cost does not burden unit owners.

Copyright © 2009 The Miami Herald, Beatrice E. Garcia. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.