What Flood Insurance Covers

This year, hurricane season struck in full force. Homeowner’s in many states are beginning the long process of rebuilding after the effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. For many, this is the first time filing a claim for flood insurance. Often, after a flood homeowners are surprised to find they lack sufficient insurance coverage. Flood insurance is separate from home yet in some Gulf states, only 20% of homes have flood insurance protection.

For homeowners protected by flood insurance, there may yet be gaps in coverage. Protection through the FEMA-controlled National Flood Insurance Program is limited, leaving some homeowner’s holding the bill. Under the National Flood Insurance Program homeowner’s balance coverage and gaps.

Insurance Coverage Under the National Flood Insurance Plan

  • Life Essentials. Systems such as electrical and plumbing, HVAC, sump pumps and similar. This includes covering water and fuel supplies, and solar energy.
  • Home appliances. Integrated appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers are protected, as well as portable AC and refrigeration.
  • Carpeting and window coverings. Installed carpeting, blinds, and drapes are generally covered.
  • Permanently installed additions. Installed cabinets, bookcases, and wall paneling are covered.
  • Foundation support. Walls which anchor the home in place, and structural staircases.
  • Separate garages. Up to 10% of coverage can be directed toward the garage, leaving 90% for the home.
  • Personal effects. Clothing, furniture, and electronics stored above ground. Additional protection for valuables, up to $2500.

Mudslides and other water damage may be covered, depending on the cause. The program covers above-ground pool leaks and burst pipes, yet neglects other damages such as sewage-backups.

Gaps in the National Flood Insurance Program

Gaps in the program mean some things slip through the insurance safety net. Covered areas on the previous list, when underground, in a crawlspace, or in any other excluded area will be left unprotected. The National Flood Insurance Program caps coverage at $250,000 per house. Prepare for different deductible rates for the home and the possessions within.

Obtaining Flood Insurance

Flood insurance policies take effect 30 days after purchase. The same carries for plans through the government or through an insurance agency. Rates for the FEMA program are set by the government, regardless of location. This means homeowner’s in low-risk areas may be paying geographically above-average rates.

A local flood insurance agent will explain the differences in FEMA and private insurance protection as they apply to your area and home. Home elevation, local weather, proximity to water, home age and more all matter when designing a flood insurance policy.

The Right Comprehensive Flood Insurance

More homeowners are turning to private flood insurance through a local agency. Private flood insurance generally has higher coverage amounts with rates matched to the local area. Often, flood insurance comes as a rider with homeowner’s insurance. Depending on location, private flood insurance may be more affordable than insurance through FEMA. Private plans often cover more than government policies, including damage estimation costs and living expenses, during the claims process.

To learn more about flood insurance protection and the policy options available, contact a local agent. Compare all the options based on your specific needs to find the right flood insurance policy fit. 30-day activation periods mean planning ahead makes all the difference. Protect home and property today with flood insurance.

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Always Work With a Net

Entrepreneurs spin a lot of plates. Gathering licenses, building inventory, and engaging potential vendors are several of many things involved with launching. A large number of responsibilities involved with starting a company leaves it unsurprising many entrepreneurs overlook securing effective commercial insurance policies. A grasp on specific risks helps tailor the right commercial insurance policy.

Mike Barton, with Commercial Insurance of Allstate, says the right policy changes for each company. Daycare-center operators and at-home caregivers carry different levels of risk. Policies tailored for meeting specific risks head-on limit liability. Kevin Haward of State Farm recommends general liability insurance coverage as a starting point to build upon. For home-based entrepreneurs, general liability policies cover gaps homeowner’s insurance policies may leave, such as guests attending at-home sales parties.

Commercial Insurance: The Options

Insurance requirements vary based on company size, industry, location and more. General liability protection creates a starting-point for coverage. Add extra coverage for increased protection. These additional commercial insurance coverage policy inclusions are available through a broker:

  • Commercial Property Insurance. The artwork in the office, computers, machinery and more gain protection through commercial property coverage.
  • Lost-Income Insurance. This policy compensates for revenue lost due to an insurable event, rendering the company unable to operate. Weather the storm with the right insurance protection.
  • Omission/Error Insurance. Dealing with small details is challenging; the occasional oversight may occur. This policy protects lawyers, doctors, and other professionals against damages due to unintentional data omission.
  • Compromised-Data Insurance. Corporate espionage is alive and well. Protect customer information, company secrets, and other sensitive information with a data compromise inclusion.
  • Cyber insurance protects companies using Cloud, internet, and other connected platforms for sharing data. Any entrepreneur with an internet connection is at risk, ransom-ware targets companies of all sizes.

Tips for Success

The experts recommend several tips for securing the right commercial insurance policy coverage:

1. Properly Value Property. Often, entrepreneurs underestimate the value of personal effects employed for company purposes or rely on a homeowner’s policy for protection. Protect these effects using commercial property coverage.

2. Ask Around. Many resources exist online for researching insurance policies and protection before buying. Other local entrepreneurs are an additional source of information. They can give advice coverage options, share knowledge about risks, and recommend an agent.

3. Get Help. According to Barton, small operations account for nearly one-third of the American labor force. At smaller companies staff often adapts, performing multiple roles to keep operations running. Sales, accounting, and customer service take time. An agent can shoulder the task of finding and activating the right policy.

4. Find the Right Agent. The right insurance agent understands the industry, location, and objective of the company. Commercial policies differ by state, agency, and by the agent. A local agent remains attentive to needs ensuring continuous and comprehensive coverage. Gain the right coverage for the right price using a local agent.

Researching ahead of time can help save later. To learn more about commercial insurance protection contact an agent today. Protection is available for companies of all sizes. Reduce risk, limit liability, and protect property with commercial insurance.

Contact an agent for any questions about commercial insurance, or with any other questions about insurance protection. Have a great article topic to share? We’d love to hear it!


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Are You a Parent? 5 Things to Know About Life Insurance Now

Parents want the best for their children. Creating a future for kids takes effort and for single parents, the responsibilities increase. Should the unthinkable happen, children have needs. Life insurance plans alleviate anxiety for the future but single parents have more to think about when shopping insurance policies. Coverage, pricing, and more all change for single parents. Eliminate uncertainty. Gathering the right answers beforehand helps determine the right life insurance policy. For single parents making the decision about life insurance these pieces of information help determine the coverage amounts and the right policy choice:

1. Speak to Caregivers

The first thing is determining caregiver options for children. Selecting a legal guardian creates a definitive plan for the care of children. Capabilities, assets, and opportunities vary per caregiver situation. Caregivers may be peers to parents and anyone in-between. The right policy covers expenses realistic to each case. Speak to caregivers early and learn to plan for later.

2. Think about the Children

The right policy includes planning for child age and personal needs. Parents of younger children may wish for more coverage to cover longer lengths of time. Parents of older children may have school or college expenses to plan for. Many policies may be amended, adding coverage later on.

3. Understand the Finances

The right policy extends coverage beyond immediate costs, closing out personal debts as well. Things will already be difficult for the children, adding debt and expenses only serve to complicate things. Organizing personal debts beforehand and finding sufficient coverage helps children cope with their immediate situation, and the future moving forward.

4. Add Everything Together

Experts recommend multiplying annual salary by 7 to create base coverage amounts. This means life insurance policy coverage for a single parent with an income of $40,000 begins at $280,000 and grows from there. Caregiver options, future plans, and personal debts additionally factor in determining the right amount of life insurance coverage. This may sound like a large number, but life insurance policies are affordable through the right insurance carrier.

5. Shopping for Life Insurance

It is easy to overestimate the cost of life insurance. Policy amounts sound large yet policies are often much more affordable than first suspected. Planning a life insurance policy around children means choosing policies for the right amount of time. For parents of children leaving the home in several years, long policies may be unnecessary. Coverage for the proper amount of time helps limit overall cost. With the right planning and forethought, life insurance policies can cost as low as $50/month. Speak to an agent today about finding the right life insurance coverage. Having a plan for the future helps keep the focus on today.

Insurance topics have bearing on finances, decisions, and healthy living just to name a few. Have any topics to suggest? Send any topic suggestions or insurance-related questions on over!


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Recent Storms Demonstrate Why Builders Risk Protection is Important

Building during hurricane season carries risks for entrepreneurs and construction companies. Storms tear into construction sites ravaging materials and destroying site preparation. Beyond the physical toll, construction companies shoulder extra staffing, transportation, and other costs due to delay. Construction continues year-round, regardless of hurricane season. Each year, builders take a gamble projects will safe from major storms. Builders risk insurance protects residential and commercial construction projects from damages caused by storm activity.

Often, the language in a builders risk plan is specific to an insurance agency. Standardized insurance formats for builders risk plans have yet to take hold, making these plans difficult to understand. This leaves many entrepreneurs and builders in a lurch if insurance claims are filed. Many claimants receive less compensation than owed. This is due to confusing policy language and coverage on most builders risk plans.

Builders risk protects projects under-construction. This includes protection for plans, materials, tools and more. If a claim is submitted there are a number of steps the insured is expected to take. Rigid timelines, complicated paperwork and more create hurdles for filing in the requisite amount of time.

Builders Risk Insurance: Claims

Filing claims correctly and on-time helps avoid unnecessary claim denial or delay in compensation. To increase chances for compensation without delay or rejection, here are 5 steps for filing a builder’s risk insurance claim:

1. Understand the Builders Risk Policy

Insurance policy paperwork grows in size with each added layer of protection. Arrange proper coverage with an agent and review all policy materials. A solid understanding of coverage protection, policy limitations, claims processes and timelines all help expedite the claims process.

2. Build an Insurance Claims Team

A designated team of individuals dedicated to insurance matters expedites the claims process. Persons educated on processes, language and timelines for filing builders risk claims are better able to react to damages. Teams may include members from legal, accounting, management sections and more. Train teams to respond to insurance matters and improve chances for the effective filing of claims for compensation payout.

3. Create a Single Point of Contact

Insurance claims are legal matters where the right language matters. Create a single point of contact on the claims team for communicating to the insurance agency. Insurance agencies take statements into effect deciding claims; ensure statements are controlled. Including legal counsel for representatives creates additional protective layers.

4. Thoroughly Record Losses

On a builders risk insurance claim, the details matter. Record all losses regardless of size. Independent experts are a valuable resource for thorough inspection of potential losses. This helps capture all potential insurance payouts for both hard costs and soft.

5. Contact Insurance Carriers Promptly

Builders risk policies created by local agencies often bundle services from several carriers for complete protection. Each of these carriers extends coverage for specific risks, shouldering a percentage of claim responsibility. For claims filing, contact each carrier promptly and begin the claims process.

Unexpected weather wreaks havoc on construction projects of all sizes each storm season. Builders risk insurance protects from losses due to hurricane and storms. To find the right builder’s risk policy talk to an insurance agent. Builders risk policies are tailored to fit. A local insurance broker has the best perspective on coverage necessary in your area. Contact an agent today and discover all the layers of protection available under builders risk insurance.

Have questions related to personal and business insurance matters? An article topic to suggest? Contact an agent today!


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Making Workers Safe With Guardrails

Construction sites are active environments. Active transfer of people and materials creates the potential for anything to happen. Site safety is a regulated industry. Safety standards and guidelines in place by OSHA and the International Code Council help maintain site and worker safety

These agencies recommend safety measures developed following years of real-world learning. In the early 1990’s, builders discovered gaps in standardized building safety ordinances. By 1997, the ICC published the first international safety guidelines: the International Building Code (IBC). Alongside OSHA, these agencies set the standard for construction site safety measures.

ICC and OSHA regularly publish standards recommending guardrails on construction sites, keeping workers safe. These safety standards help keep workers safe and reduce insurance costs:

1. Guardrails for Construction Sites

Guardrails help prevent falls on construction sites for workers and visitors. Builders can seal-off areas and secure open walkways for safety. Construction guardrails are for securing:

  • Platforms
  • Stairs
  • Rooftops
  • Pits
  • Wells
  • Materials

Guardrails are required anywhere 30 inches or more separate two walking surfaces. Per ICC and OSHA regulations, rails are to be constructed of rigid materials built to a height of 42 inches above the platform. OSHA regulations stipulate areas separated by 6′ of difference or more be equipped with guardrails or fall-protection system.

2. Construction Site Guardrail Installation

Site guardrails are subject to OSHA and ICC guidelines on proper construction. Regulations for guardrail construction protect workers and visitors. Builders employing properly constructed guardrails:

  • Keep workers safe on constitutions sites
  • Keep visitors and passerby safe
  • Keep access limited to authorized persons
  • Keep insurance rates low
  • Keep building costs low
  • Keep construction companies operationally compliant

Properly constructed guardrails built to code limit builder insurance and legal obligations. This translates to saved time and reduced costs for construction companies and builders alike. Load requirements are determined by architectural design. The forces and stress-levels specific to a site determine guardrail load limits.

3. Guardrail Load Requirements

OSHA and the ICC set guardrail load requirements for the construction industry. Load requirements may vary due to the site and architectural layout. Construction site guard rail general load limit guidelines express rails be able to support:

  • 50lbs of weight per foot
  • 200lbs of direct force, anywhere rails are present

Rails may shift during building, and wear-and-tear is a part of guardrail construction. Regular inspection of guard rails by site managers and safety personnel helps keep rails safe and compliant.

4. Staying Compliant

Construction companies and builders following the guidelines in place by OSHA and the ICC will avoid penalties and fines. Local authorities enforce construction site safety. Each governing body has authority to issue fines and other reprimands for non-compliance. Repeat violations result in increased severity of penalties. Fines may reach as high as $100,000 per violation.

Construction companies also have the moral obligation to workers for creating a safe work environment. Builders work on reputation, among other traits. Companies holding positive reputations and safe track-records are much more likely to secure bids and contracts. Safe employees can perform better knowing the site is safer, keeping building and insurance costs low.

Construction and insurance topics directly affect health and pocketbook. Topic suggestions are always welcome. Contact an agent for any insurance-related questions or for an insurance quote.


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In An Auto Accident? Do This

Car accidents happen to new and old drivers alike. Knowing the steps to take following an accident can ease the insurance process and protect drivers from liability. The correct immediate actions can save insurance and personal worries later. These are the steps to take following an auto accident:

1. Be Safe

Before anything, secure the scene. Safety is the top priority. Exiting vehicles, placing flares or cones, or moving off the roadway may be necessary. Exercise judgment. Remain on the shoulder and away from traffic.

2. Assess for Injuries

Following an auto accident, people may be in shock, unaware of injuries. Check the persons involved. Persons with suspected back injuries should remain in place. For those comfortable doing so, apply first aid where necessary. Any medical staff present may be able to assist.

3. Call 911

As soon as possible, call 911. If performing first aid, direct another person to call emergency services. This is also true for car accidents without any injury, as police records may be important. If alone, call 911 quickly.

4. Gather Information

After completing the preliminary steps, gather information for later insurance purposes later. Collect driver information including insurance carriers. Take photos of the scene, vehicles involved, and license plates. Any information regarding first responders may help. These experiences are harrowing; important details may be lost to memory. Write all information down.

5. Cooperate

Accidents may trigger intense emotional responses. Working together with first responders and other drivers helps accomplish more. Medical personnel train for this.

6: Remain Neutral

Discussing the accident, the time period leading up to it, or personal involvement would be a poor decision. The moments immediately following may be the worst time for discussion. Inform police a statement will be available at a later time. For drivers concerned about involvement, a lawyer may be helpful.

7. Stay Silent on Social Media

The urge for talking about a car accident on social media may be strong, yet this is strongly inadvisable. Detectives and lawyers count on this, scouring social media accounts for incriminating information.

Once things settle, contact an insurance agent. The unexpected happens. Prepare with a plan and comprehensive auto insurance. Always a source for great information about auto insurance and other insurance-related topics, contact an agent for insurance questions.


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Why Continuity Planning Matters: Only 60% of Businesses Recover From Disasters

This year, hurricane season is in full effect. Businesses in the paths of Harvey and Irma dealt with significant impacts. Most small business owners are occupied running their business. Plan for natural disasters is a distant thought. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40% of local entrepreneurs close following a disaster. The lessons learned from this year’s hurricane season distill to one: a disaster plan is essential for commercial survival.

Recent findings from CNBC demonstrate owners are thinking about other things when it comes to disasters. A paltry 8% of respondents said the environment is a top concern when planning business matters. That number drops to 6% in the Southwest, and 5% in the hurricane-plagued south. Job creation, healthcare, immigration, and the “other” category all ranked higher for attention.

Plans can help businesses survive and recover faster. Here are 5 ways entrepreneurs can prepare for natural disasters:

1. Use Online Backup

There may be little notice before disaster strikes. thumb drives, Cloud services, and external hard drives can all store important records. Things such as:

  • Invoices and contracts
  • Agreements
  • Employee documents
  • Accounting and tax papers
  • Insurance paperwork

Rebuilding will be easier if these are protected and safe.

2. Create Plans for Employees, Vendors, and Customers

A business can prepare for a disaster, but customers, employees, and vendors are essential for survival. Insurance policies may cover business losses, but planning for customers and staff can help prepare. Businesses should share information with customers and staff early about possible supply or sales delays.

  • Customers: Helping customers by sharing information can aid preparations. Staying in touch with regular and important customers helps strengthen relationships. Open lines of communication with customers will let them know when the business is back open.
  • Employees: Help employees prepare by outlining clear instructions for pay and leave during a disaster. Keep and update employee contact information for updates during and after a storm or event.
  • Vendors: Vendors and distributors are a vital part of the commerce. Disaster-related delays may force them to shop elsewhere unless they’ve been informed.

Promptly address customers, employees, and vendors when disaster strikes. It may be a regional event or one specific to a single business. Sharing information with others can help a business survive a disaster.

3. Create a Continuity Plan

A continuity plan enables businesses to keep doing business following a disaster. Label key operations and assign employees to specific roles. Some staff may require cross-training for disaster relief purposes.

The government recommends the following components exist in a disaster plan:

  • Find the most-important company operations.
  • Develop techniques for filling emergency supply and staffing gaps
  • Test the plan for areas to improve on
  • Educate staff members

Continuing operations can generate much-needed revenue following a disaster. Businesses able to operate quickly following a disaster are more likely to survive.

4. Evaluate Risks

There are many risks to consider when crafting an emergency plan for a business. There are events common to all businesses, and some which may be specific to an industry or area. An insurance agent can help determine areas of risk specific for an individual business preparedness plan. An agent will ask questions to help determine possible areas to prepare for, such as:

  • Is the business in an area prone to extreme weather?
  • Is there a history of flooding in the area?
  • Is the company in a city at risk of terrorism?
  • Does the business produce volatile products?

Risks common to an industry or location can help determine adequate insurance coverage for protection.

5. Practice

Drills help staff learn disaster plans for better implementation if needed. Businesses that drill for disaster plans are more likely to have those drills work during a crisis.

Insurance agents are knowledgeable resources for information about potential disasters and preparing for them. The world can be dynamic but with the right insurance coverage a business can survive a disaster and come out successful. A disaster plan may never be necessary but if so, it can mean closing for a storm and closing forever.

Our agents are always looking for insurance related topics for better health and better savings. For any insurance-related questions please contact us for answers.


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