How Much Home Insurance Is Enough?

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Unlike car insurance, there’s no minimum legal requirement for home insurance in Florida. Despite this, you also don’t want to arrive home and discover that you left the stove on, realizing it resulted in your home being damaged. Once an accident renders your home uninhabitable, the costs of repairing the damage can add up to an astronomical number. Most homeowners have mortgages that already put them under financial pressure.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinal, three in every five homes in America are underinsured by an average of 20%. Since The Sunshine State is known to have some of the worst natural disasters in the country, including hurricanes, tornados, tropical storms, wildfires, and floods, Florida homes are more at risk than in other parts of the country. So it’s important to ensure that homeowners don’t get caught without the right coverage when they’re left with a house in disrepair or homeless, due to the whims of Mother Nature.

If the topic of home insurance is not something you’re unfamiliar with and you’re wondering “how much personal property coverage do I need?” then read on for some important factors to consider when choosing how what kind of coverage you require for your home.

What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover?

Homeowner’s insurance policies vary in order to accommodate the homeowner’s unique needs. This includes repairs or replacements that are needed due to damage or theft. It also often covers accidental damage to another person’s property, or if an accident occurs on your property.

One of the main reasons for home insurance claims in Florida is natural disasters. Not all insurance policies cover all kinds of natural disasters, which is why it’s important to check with your insurance provider beforehand. For example, damage caused by fire, lightning, tropical storms, and hail are usually covered by homeowners’ insurance but earthquakes and floods usually aren’t.

The main cover in all homeowner’s insurance is dwelling cover, which means that the structure of your home, like the walls and roof, as well as all structures attached to your home, including the garage, are all covered. Dwelling cover covers a variety of losses to the structure of your home, including fire, lightning, wind, hail, theft, and vandalism.

Calculating the Value of Your House

The value of your home insurance should be equal to the amount it would cost to rebuild your home with similar materials if something were to happen to it. But bear in mind that the increased cost of labor due to inflation needs to be taken into consideration as well.

In order to calculate the replacement cost of your house, you would need to take the square footage of your house (not the entire property, only your home’s floor size) and multiply it by average local construction costs. You can find good cost estimates of what construction would cost on most construction companies’ websites. Alternatively, you can ask your insurance agent to provide you with them. You can also use an online replacement cost calculator for this.

Unsurprisingly, a premium house costs a lot to replace, but there are specific things that really impact the replacement cost. These are:

  • Doors
  • Fireplaces
  • Kitchen countertop quality and design
  • Flooring – premium flooring like hardwood flooring can be particularly expensive
  • Attached fixtures
  • Crown molding

If you have other structures on your property that aren’t attached to your house, such as a detached garage, a shed, or your perimeter walls, these will also be covered by most homeowner’s insurance. It also covers the contents of your home such as your furniture or electronic devices if they are lost, damaged or stolen. However, you may need to purchase additional cover for very valuable and expensive items such as jewelry.

It’s also important to bear in mind that your house’s replacement value is not the same as its market value. The factors that determine its market value, such as supply and demand, as well as the value of the land, are not the same as those that determine replacement cost, which only includes what it would cost to rebuild your house from scratch.

How Much Home Insurance Do I Need?

One of the biggest risks associated with homeowner’s insurance is not having enough. When deciding how much home insurance you need, there are many factors that come into play. Some questions you should ask yourself are:

  1. Do you have a lot of valuable items in your home such as jewelry and antique furniture?
  2. Are you covered no matter how your home is damaged, i.e. if your house were to be wiped out by a natural disaster such as a tornado?
  3. Are you covered if an accident occurs or someone is injured in your home?
  4. How old is your home and were expensive materials used to construct it?
  5. Do you have any other structures on your property that aren’t attached to your house?

When deciding to take out a home insurance policy or change your current policy, it makes the process run a lot smoother if you have a detailed inventory of all the items in your home as well as their value. Always remember to keep all receipts in a safe place so that you can prove when and where you bought the item and how much you paid for it.

Depending on the insurance company, you can also reduce the amount of your monthly premium through credits such as installing a burglar alarm and smoke detectors in your home.

The Importance of Home Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s insurance, also called home and contents insurance, covers all your belongings inside the house you’re renting and also includes off-premises coverage, so if you’re traveling and something happens to your luggage, or if you leave something in your car and it’s stolen, you should be able to claim for it. However, always check with your insurance provider to make sure you can claim for your belongings even if you lost them while travelling.

Home renter’s insurance also entitles you to stay in a hotel or other temporary accommodation if the house or apartment you’re renting becomes damaged or destroyed. Your accommodation should be covered for the duration of time it takes to repair the dwelling where you were renting, or until you find a new place to rent.

Damages covered by renter’s insurance includes the replacement or repair of your belongings due to fire or water damage. The last thing you want is to come home to discover that the geyser has burst and water has damaged your antique coffee table, but these things happen. With renter’s insurance, you know that you can get it repaired or replaced.

However, although renter’s insurance offers standard coverage for the theft or damage of your belongings, if you have particularly valuable assets such as jewelry or expensive electronics you might want to consider purchasing an endorsement to cover these higher risk items.

Renter’s insurance also provides liability coverage in case someone is injured in your rented house. This could include injuries from falls, dog bites and should also cover legal costs if an injured third party decides to sue you for the injuries sustained on your property.

Renter’s insurance is cheaper than homeowner’s insurance because it doesn’t cover the expensive cost to entirely rebuild a house and it is definitely worthwhile because it gives you peace of mind that all your belongings are covered. It’s important to bear in mind that your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance usually doesn’t cover your personal items.

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How Much Car Insurance Do I Need in Florida?

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Although there are car insurance minimum requirements in Florida, there is a big difference between the amount of car insurance motorists are required to have and the amount they need, and minimum car insurance is rarely enough.

In order to own and retain a license plate and registration in Florida, motorists need to have $10,000 worth of personal injury protection (PIP) and, if the driver has committed a DUI offense in the past, they are required to have $10,000 worth of property damage liability (PDL) cover as well. With PIP insurance, 80% of medical bills and up to 60% of lost income is covered up to the limit of your policy. However, $10,000 is not sufficient enough for the safety of yourself and your family, which is why there’s the option for additional coverage.

Additional Car Insurance Options in Florida

Although Florida residents are required to take out the minimum required car insurance, if you want to make sure you’re properly covered for every eventuality, we’ve listed some additional car insurance options you can consider over and above the required minimum.

Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

As the name suggests, bodily injury liability insurance covers any bodily harm you may have caused to other people as the result of an accident that was your fault. Without bodily injury liability insurance, you are at risk of being held liable for paying the medical bills that are incurred as the result of a motor vehicle accident.

If you only have the required car insurance minimum of $10,000, if you or anyone else is harmed due to an accident you caused, all medical bills over and above that amount will be your responsibility to pay for. If the accident was another driver’s fault and your medical bills exceeded $10,000, you will have to seek compensation from the driver.

You are not required to have bodily injury insurance in Florida unless you have been convicted of a DUI. If you were convicted on or before October 1, 2007, the minimum requirement is $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident and if you were convicted after October 1, 2007, the minimum requirement is $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. All Florida residents convicted of a DUI must have bodily injury insurance for a period of three years after the return of their driver’s license.

If you’re wondering, “how much bodily injury liability insurance do I need?” then it’s important to know that the Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires all drivers who are at fault in an accident to have coverage of at least $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident. If this financial responsibility isn’t met, your driving privileges could be revoked.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance

Typically, it is the responsibility of the motorist who caused the accident to cover all bills incurred as a result of their reckless driving. uninsured motorist (UM) insurance protects you from having to pay for your own medical bills if the motorist who caused the accident doesn’t have car insurance or is underinsured. It typically covers all bodily injury expenses as well as property damage repairs. Florida has the 5th largest number of uninsured drivers in the country, so Uninsured Motorist Insurance is encouraged.

One thing to bear in mind is that uninsured motorist insurance doesn’t pay for repairs on your car. It covers things such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Loss of enjoyment of life due to the collision
  • Wheelchairs and other mobile devices
  • Death
  • Replacement services for things you are no longer able to do, e.g. cleaner, caregiver

Stacked and Unstacked Uninsured Motorist Insurance

If you want the most comprehensive insurance, choose stacked over unstacked uninsured motorist insurance because it provides better coverage and higher limits. Stacked UM insurance also covers you if you are the driver or passenger of any car, including another person’s car, a rented car, or a motorcycle. Unstacked UM insurance only covers injuries that are listed on your policy. If you own a car and a motorcycle and you opt for stacked UM insurance, you can also add your motorcycle to your policy, which makes it more affordable than taking out a separate unstacked policy for your motorcycle.

So, even though unstacked UM insurance is a lot cheaper than stacked, the latter is more cost-effective in the long run.

Extended Personal Injury Protection

Florida is one of ten states that have personal injury protection (PIP) cover as a required minimum, also called Florida No Fault Insurance. The purpose of PIP coverage is to speed up the process of receiving compensation and to limit using the court system in Florida to determine fault in car accidents. With PIP insurance, the injured party goes to his or her own insurance company to collect payment, regardless of whether they are at fault. The payment received is meant to go towards all medical bills that and any lost wages due to the accident.

However, the minimum required coverage in Florida for bodily injuries is $10,000, which doesn’t go far, especially if other people besides yourself were in your car at the time of the accident. You should consider extending your PIP insurance to $50,000 or $100,000 so that you don’t have to pay for medical bills out of your own pocket or worry about lost wages.

Medical Payment Insurance

If you or your passengers are injured in a car accident, medical payment insurance, or Med-Pay, will help cover medical-related bills such as ambulance and paramedic fees, doctor and hospital visits, nursing services, surgery, scans, and tests. Med-Pay is an added extra on top of personal injury protection, most Florida residents don’t opt for it if they already have personal injury insurance.

Medical payment insurance may sound a lot like personal injury protection insurance and they are similar in that both pay for you and your passengers’ medical bills, regardless of who caused the accident, however, there are three main differences between the two:

  • Med-Pay covers the 20% co-payment that is not covered by personal injury insurance
        • For example, if you are in an accident and you are admitted to hospital and your hospital bills amount to $1500, your personal injury insurance will cover 80% of the bill but if you purchased Med-Pay, the extra 20% co-payment will be covered as well
  • Med-Pay is not dependent on fault
  • Unlike PIP, Med-Pay doesn’t reimburse you for lost wages

What is Comprehensive Car Insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance isn’t required in Florida but it’s highly recommended. It covers you if your car is stolen or damaged not due to a collision. This includes damage due to fire, hailstorms, or if something falls on your car and damages it, as well as vandalism. If you’re still paying off your car, financers will often request that you take out this type of insurance.

Comprehensive car insurance is a nice add-on, however, it doesn’t cover any damage done to your car or the other driver’s car as the result of a collision and it doesn’t cover any medical bills resulting from a collision. When you take out comprehensive car insurance, you will have to select a deductible, which is the amount you will pay out of your own pocket and it also has a limit to the amount it will pay out, which is typically the cash value of your car — this would be the depreciated value of your car and not value of your car when you bought it.

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What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover in Florida?

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Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance are both types of property insurance specially to protect your home. For homeowners, home insurance covers both the physical building and its contents (assuming the owners stays in the house). Renter’s insurance doesn’t cover the building where the renter is staying but the contents inside the house, such as furniture, will be covered. But what does homeowner’s insurance actually cover in Florida? While you know your building and belongings are insured, you might not be sure what kind of damages you can claim for.

What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Typically Cover?

Not all homeowner’s insurance policies are the same, so by knowing your policy, you can familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions. However, homeowner’s insurance should typically cover a broad range of incidents that could occur.

If you own the building where you stay, your home insurance policy should cover both the building and its structures (garages, outside buildings, decks etc.) and the contents of your home.

Your policy should ideally cover most of your home’s contents, but certain things are excluded from most policies by default. Cellphones, laptops, watches and other portable items often need to be covered separately from your home’s contents. This is mainly because these items are portable and therefore aren’t considered as part of your home’s standard contents. To cover portable items like cellphones and jewelry against accidental loss or theft, even if you lost them when you weren’t at home, usually requires you to add a special rider for them on your home insurance policy.

Depending on your policy, your home insurance may still cover your jewelry and cellphone if you lost it in a house fire or other insured incident.

Home Insurance Coverage Levels

There are three main ways you can insure your house and its contents. The amount of cover you get will depend on which option you choose.

Actual Cash Value

When you choose this option, your home and contents will be insured for the amount they are worth at any given time. What this means is that if you lose your house and contents, your insurance provider will pay out the amount that your home and its contents are worth at the time you lose them.

The problem with this insurance model is that depreciation of value is factored into the value of your belongings. So, if an incident occurs and you suffer the loss of an important piece of furniture, your insurance will pay out the amount that item was worth when you lost it. Of course, being a used item, your insurance provider will likely value the item at 50% or less of what it would cost to buy a brand new item.

All regular household items that depreciate in value will have less cover with each year gone by.

Replacement Cost

A homeowner’s insurance policy that covers your property at replacement cost won’t factor in depreciation. This means that if you have an insured item that will cost $1000 to replace, your home insurance will pay out the full $1000 to replace it. Even if the item was 10 years old and worth only $150 when you lost it, your policy will still pay out $1000 for replacement, as the depreciation on the item isn’t a factor in this case.

In case of damage to your home or buildings – your policy will pay out enough so you can rebuild your home to its original value. In this case the term “original value” refers to what the house cost when you first bought it. It goes without saying that this isn’t always the same amount you need for full repairs, which is something you should discuss with your insurance provider before taking out cover.

In concept, having home insurance at replacement cost means you’ll run a loss in case of structural damages to your home. If your house increased in value by 15% since you bought it, your insurance provider won’t pay out for repairs in full. After claiming for repairs on your house, it will be restored to the original value you bought it for, minus the 15% increase in value since purchase.

Guaranteed/Extended Replacement Cost Value

Extended Replacement cost value insurance is one of the most comprehensive homeowner’s insurance policy models on the market.

With this type of cover, your home and contents aren’t covered only for replacement cost. If your home appreciates in value after purchase, your policy will pay out for home repairs to restore your home to what its current value was before an incident. This means that if your home appreciated by 15% since you bought it, your policy will pay for full repairs to restore its actual value.

This form of homeowner’s insurance still isn’t fool proof. There is usually a specified limit on how much more an insurance company will pay out. Usually this amount will be 20%-25% higher than your original policy limit.

To avoid losing out when you claim for home insurance at either replacement cost or extended replacement cost value, it’s good to review your policy every few years by updating it to the current value of your home and contents, if possible.

What Does Home Insurance Pay Out for?

It’s good to know what you can claim for on your home insurance policy. While most regular damages will be covered, there are certain losses you would need to cover by adding a rider to your policy.

Dwelling and Personal Property Coverage

Dwelling coverage insures the building where you stay. So, if your house is damaged in an incident for which you’re covered, your dwelling coverage will pay out for repairs, or possibly even to rebuild your home entirely if you lost it.

Property coverage, on the other hand, insures the contents of your home. So, if someone broke into your home and stole your belongings, you should be able to claim for property cover.

Loss of Use Coverage

Suppose your house is damaged by a tree that fell on it. During the time your house is being repaired, you might not be able to stay in it. If this happens, your home insurance provider might pay for you to stay in a hotel or some other form of alternative accommodation.

Talk to your insurance provider to ensure that you’re covered for loss of use.

Personal Liability Cover

If your home insurance policy includes personal liability cover, you can claim for damages you and your family cause to others. Usually, this cover is intended to pay out if a visitor on your property was injured and you’re at fault.

If, for instance, your dog bites a visitor, your homeowner’s insurance will pay out for legal fees and possible damage claims against you. Another example is if a visitor on your property gets injured by tripping over something in your yard and decides to sue for damages, claiming your grass was too long, and so they weren’t able to see where they were walking.

Personal liability coverage will also pay out if a third party claims for damage to their property against you. For instance, if a tree in your yard fell over onto your neighbor’s house, they might file a claim against you to fix their damages. Perhaps they argue that the tree always posed a significant hazard and you should’ve removed it a long time ago. If they take you to court and win the claim, your insurance should cover the legal costs to the maximum amount of your benefits, as well as the costs of the claim against you.

Cover for Other Structures

Other structures on your property, such as garages, pools and sheds are insured under a separate form of cover than your home insurance. This, however, doesn’t mean that your current home insurance policy won’t pay out for other structures. Whether or not you’re covered for damages to other structures will depend on what policy you currently hold. Contact your insurance provider to learn more about the current benefits your policy provides for other structures.

Things Homeowner’s Insurance Won’t Cover

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies tend to pay out for the following:

  • Damage from house fires
  • Structural damages, like burst geysers and water pipes
  • Loss through theft for home contents
  • Physical injury and property damage you cause to another person (related to your home)
  • Damage caused by accidents. If you accidentally drive into your garage door or mailbox – your insurance might pay out for the damage to your residence, but not your car

It’s difficult to know exactly what you’re covered for. Insurance providers will typically have their own standard policies that might exclude covering house fires, for instance, but this is uncommon.

There are, however, some forms of cover that often require you to take out a rider on your policy if you want to claim for such damages. Damages that aren’t typically covered by home insurance policies include the following:

  • Damage from natural disasters or acts of war: If your house is damaged by a hurricane, floods or bomb explosion, you won’t be covered unless you have an applicable rider on your policy.
  • Acts of malice: If you intentionally cause damage to a third party by injury or property damage, or if intentionally damage your own property, you won’t be able to claim for your losses.
  • Mold growth: The growth of mold can be a big problem in Florida’s hot, humid weather conditions, unfortunately your policy is unlikely to pay out to fix a mold problem.
  • Home maintenance: Your insurance won’t typically pay to fix wall cracks or tiles breaking. Things like leaky roofs are usually covered, but not if the leak originated as a result of your negligence to maintain your property.

In a nutshell, your insurance will pay for everyday accidents and incidents (which excludes natural disasters) and will pay out for water damage and structural damages provided you maintain your property as necessary.

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How are Car Insurance Premiums Calculated?

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In Florida state, car insurance is a legal requirement. While the minimum car insurance requirements in Florida aren’t very difficult to adhere to, the need to pay auto insurance still begs the question – how are your car insurance premiums calculated? Knowing how insurance companies calculate your premiums can be useful. Once you know what factors are important to consider, you might find that there are things you can do to help keep your premiums lower.

How Your Car Insurance Premiums are Calculated?

Car insurance premiums are a monthly charge that insurance providers require to allow you to take out a policy. As long as you pay your premiums, your car insurance policy should cover you for personal injury protection and property damage liability. Depending on your policy, you may also be covered for some form of bodily injury liability.

However, when it comes to your auto insurance premium, it’s important that you know what you’re paying for. Your car might be worth far more than the maximum payout your insurance provider would offer in the case of a write-off or loss through theft.

The extent of your cover plays a big role in how much you pay for car insurance each month. More cover usually goes hand-in-hand with higher premiums. While the extra cost can seem like a waste of money, keep in mind that you’re getting more benefits for the money you spend.

With that in mind, cutting corners by taking out less cover than you need is risky. When shopping around for auto insurance, you must be clear on how much cover you want even before taking out a policy. This way you can approach insurance providers with your requirements and ask them to quote on a policy closest to your list of specifications.

To calculate your premium, auto insurance providers will look at your risk portfolio and the extent of cover you want to purchase. If you have a low risk portfolio and you’re taking out minimum cover, your premiums will be low. People with a high risk portfolio applying for a lot of additional cover, will pay the highest premiums.

The reason why premiums are calculated this way is because insurance providers run a higher risk of claims from a person in a high-risk portfolio as opposed to a low one. This often means that the insurer will insure some of its highest risk customers at a loss – as their claims amount to a higher cost than all their premiums combined.

Most Important Factors for Calculating Your Risk Portfolio

Your insurance company will look at several things when deciding what to charge you for insurance. Most of the factors will remain the same from one insurer to another. Some of the most important factors in calculating car insurance premiums include:

  • The make, model and age of your car
  • The neighborhood where you currently live
  • Where you park your car at night and during the day
  • Your personal profile (age, gender, driving record etc.)

Other factors can also play a big role in how much you pay every month. For example, the number of regular drivers you have registered on your auto insurance policy can play a role, as well as your estimated annual mileage.

How Your Personal Profile Affects Your Car Insurance?

Your personal profile has a large impact on your monthly premiums – more so than a lot of other considerations. Although you can’t change many of things regarding your personal profile, it’s still good to know what information insurance companies will look at when considering your risk portfolio.

Age

Unfortunately, age and risk are closely correlated. While it seems unfair that some people must pay higher premiums based on their age, there’s statistical data to support charging people in certain age groups higher premiums.

Insurance companies charge older drivers less than younger ones. Drivers younger than 25 are hit hardest by the age profiling that insurance companies adhere to. But when you think about it logically, it makes sense. Older drivers have more experience, which is one of the reasons they statistically fall in a lower risk category.

The disparity between what young and old drivers pay is often astounding – with some estimating that drivers younger than 18 can pay up to $4500 per year more in auto insurance premiums than drivers older than 56.

The optimal age group, where premiums tend to be the lowest is between 26 and 45. While you can’t control your age, you can take comfort in knowing that your car insurance premiums will be the one thing that gets better as you age.

Occupation

Once again, it seems discriminating that insurance providers would base premiums on your occupation, but as with age, they use verified data to derive their conclusions.

For instance, your risk of getting in an accident will be much higher if you’re an ambulance driver, or you operate emergency vehicles. Even though the vehicles you drive don’t belong to you, your insurance provider is legally obligated to pay out your personal injury protection benefits when you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident – even if your vehicle wasn’t involved.

Your insurance provider will also consider how much, on average, a person in your occupation must drive around for work.

Driving Record

Your driving record is the one part of your risk portfolio you have more control over. Although you can’t change your driving record overnight, you can improve it over time.

The most important things insurers look at for your driving record is whether you’ve been involved in an accident recently, as well as your past claims and traffic offenses. If you’ve claimed from your auto insurance in the past few years – even if it was for an incident where you weren’t at fault – your premiums will probably be a bit higher.

Past traffic offenses will add points to your license. Your auto insurer will consider the points on your license to evaluate whether you’re a responsible.

How Your Car and Environment Affect Your Car Insurance?

Luckily your car insurance premiums aren’t based solely on your profile. While you can’t change easily change your occupation or driving record, you have more control over your vehicle and environment.

Your Car: Model and Features

Car insurance providers categorize almost all different car models in various risk categories. To calculate the risk category of each different car model, insurers will look at how secure and safe it is.

Some cars run a higher risk of theft than others, for instance. A car model that runs a higher risk for theft will be categorized as being less secure, even if it’s fitted with more security features.

Safety is also a concern. A car with ABS and airbags will get a better score than one without built-in safety mechanisms.

Some important features to reduce your premiums include an alarm system, immobilizer and ABS. Regularly servicing your car is also vital to ensure you can claim your benefits when you need to.

Lastly, the price of your car will affect your premiums. More expensive cars are generally cost more to insure as opposed to ones that are mid-range in price. This means trading in your luxury car for a more modest one could save you a lot on insurance.

Environmental Factors

The area where you stay has an impact on your premiums. Insurance providers have crime statistics for different neighborhoods. If you live in a neighborhood where the risk of auto theft is higher, you’ll pay more in premiums.

Another environmental factor which is completely out of your control is weather. If you stay in an area where there’s a higher risk of hail storms, your premiums will be higher.

But you don’t necessarily have move town to get lower premiums. Parking your car in a secure, locked garage can work to your benefit. Not only will this keep thieves away, but your car is also protected from the elements, such as harsh sun, hail and snow.

While the different factors that insurers use to calculate your car insurance premium seem largely out of your control, there’s still one thing you can do to lower your premium. If you up your excess, your premiums will lower accordingly. However, upping your excess means you’ll be liable to pay a larger amount of damage yourself whenever you claim. If you have expendable savings that you could use to supplement claims, upping your excess is a viable way to save, but without a savings pool to tap into, upping your excess could lead to a dilemma where you can’t claim from your insurance because you don’t have funds available to pay the excess.

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Florida Life Insurance: Policy Options Worth Considering

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Life insurance is important to ensure the financial well-being of your loved ones when you’re no longer around. Although it isn’t the first type of cover most people take out, it’s certainly one of the most important. It’s easy to neglect your life insurance and assume that having a policy is enough. Most people never need to claim life insurance, so many aren’t even aware of the extent of their cover. Don’t fall into this thinking trap, where you simply assume your cover is sufficient. Doing a proper evaluation of your life insurance cover could make an immense difference to your family’s quality of life one day. When shopping around for Florida life insurance policies, there are a few things that are helpful to know.

Different Kinds of Life Insurance

Not all life insurance policies are the same. Policies differ depending on your personal needs. Some of the most common life insurance policy options include:

  • Term life insurance
  • Variable life insurance
  • Universal life insurance

It’s imperative that you understand the differences between the above mentioned policy types. Knowing the difference will help you make a choice that’s right for you and your family.

Term Insurance

Term insurance is a type of life insurance cover that will pay out within a set period. For instance, your policy might be valid for 10, 20 or 30 yeas from the date of purchase. This means that a term policy will only pay out if the policy holder dies within a set amount of time.

For example, if someone takes out term life insurance at the age of 25 and the term of their policy is 30 years, the life insurance policy will only pay out if the 25-year-old policy holder dies before the age of 55.

The benefit of term insurance is that will cover almost any death if the insured dies before the policy expires. Illness, car accidents and other accidental deaths are usually all covered by the policy. The only exception is certain cases where the insured’s death is found not to have been accidental. This means that death by suicide won’t be paid out by a policy. Homicide cases where the insured’s death was related to claiming the insured’s death benefit also won’t be paid out.

As an added benefit, term insurance plans often (although not always) have a fixed premium. This means that the monthly cost of the policy will remain the same throughout the duration of cover. If the 25-year-old policy holder mentioned above paid $50 monthly when he/she took out their cover, the premium will still be $50 even 30 years later until the day the policy expires.

Variable Insurance

Variable insurance is a form of permanent life insurance. What this means is that, unlike term insurance, your policy won’t expire after a set number of years. The benefit of a policy that doesn’t expire is that you’ll never lose your death benefit.

Another benefit of variable insurance is its investment component. Most people don’t think of life insurance as a form of investment, but it can be. The investment component of a variable insurance policy is like a mutual fund – where the money from policy holders is combined and invested in the market. As a result, your policy investment can grow in value. Keep in mind, that negative market growth can also pose a risk, causing your investment to diminish in value at times.

After years of owning your variable insurance policy, you’ll typically see good returns on your lifelong investment. The benefit of the investment account on your variable insurance policy is that you can take out a loan using your policy as collateral as a way to access your funds with minimal taxation.

One of the disadvantages of variable insurance is that your monthly premiums usually aren’t fixed as with term insurance. Most permanent insurance policies also have higher premiums when compared to term insurance.

Universal Insurance

Universal insurance is another form of permanent life insurance, meaning your benefits won’t expire. As with variable insurance, you also get an investment and savings benefit with your policy.

Thus, the main difference between a variable and universal policy isn’t based on the duration of the policy, as both are lifelong. Both policies also include an investment benefit. However, the main difference lies in the nature of the investment. Whereas variable insurance operates with a mutual fund investment benefit, the investment component of a universal policy is based on a set interest rate. The interest rate at which a universal policy’s investment grows is determined by the insurer.

It goes without saying that a universal life policy promises more stability in terms of growth. The lifetime gains from a universal policy are generally more predictable. As is custom in financial affairs, less risk does impose somewhat on potential gains, however.

Money invested into the market has far more potential to grow and isn’t restricted by a predetermined interest rate. The trade-off with variable versus universal insurance is risk. Investors who choose variable insurance stand to both lose or gain more from investing money in the market rather than receiving a flat interest rate.

Which Life Insurance Cover is Best?

No single form of life insurance cover is better than another. When choosing life insurance, your personal needs should take preference to help you decide.

Who Needs Term Insurance?

When looking at the life insurance policies listed above it’s easy to dismiss term insurance as less advantageous than permanent options. But keep in mind that term insurance does offer some benefits. Mainly, the premiums on term insurance are generally much cheaper than that of permanent policies.

This allows a young individual in need of cover to take out life insurance at an affordable rate, only for the required time. For instance, the insured may base the duration of his/her cover on how long they’ll be paying off their mortgage, or when their children will reach adulthood.

A major disadvantage of term insurance is that it comes with an expiry date. By the very nature of term insurance, the insured individual will be older when his or her cover expires. Age related ailments can make it more difficult or even impossible to renew cover after expiry.

It should also be noted that insurance companies will base premium cost on an individual’s risk profile. This means that younger individuals who follow a healthy lifestyle tend to pay lower premiums than older persons with riskier lifestyles. A company can penalize you for smoking or pre-existing health ailments.

Who Needs Variable or Universal Insurance?

Both forms of permanent insurance are suitable for anyone who’s looking for more assurance than offered by term insurance. However, permanent insurance policies do come at a higher price and affordability might be a concern for many people.

The benefit of permanent insurance is that companies aren’t as strict about health background checks. This makes permanent life insurance a good option if you’re older or if you suffer from a life-threatening condition. The assurance that comes with permanent insurance means you’ll have a definite death benefit, as well as an investment to assist your loved ones.

One of the disadvantages of permanent insurance, however, is that your investment might not grow as much as you would hope. There are better investment options available that you could take advantage of. If you financially invest in a life policy, you’ll be sacrificing money you could invest elsewhere at a better return rate.

The catch is that other investments won’t include a death benefit, so if caring for loved ones is your priority, permanent insurance can still be a good investment for you.

Alternatively, you can apply for term insurance to obtain a death benefit and invest any capital you have on hand separately. The drawback of this option is that you’ll need to be skilled in finances and investing to ascertain financial gain from your investments.

Conclusion

Different kinds of life insurance policies are tailored according to individual needs. The best option for you will depend on your age, current health and what you’re willing to spend on monthly premiums.

If you’re looking for life insurance in Florida and you’re not sure where to start, contact Pini for help. We’ll guide you in choosing the best life policy for your needs. At Pini, we understand that you’re an individual with unique needs. Our staff are dedicated to helping you get the cover that will benefit you and your family most in times of need. Talk to us about all your life, home and car insurance requirements and we’ll help you choose a policy that you can trust. Your peace of mind matters to us, which is why we’ll do our best to educate you on exactly what your policy covers.

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Business Insurance Requirements: What You Need to Know

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Owning a business means a lot of your revenue will go to business-related expenses. With so many expenses already, it’s easy to feel tempted to cut corners when taking out insurance. While saving on insurance seems tempting, it’s not worth the risk. Firstly, there are some business insurance requirements in Florida that you’ll need to know about before cutting back on your policy. Secondly, you need to make sure that your business insurance covers any high-risk areas for your specific industry.

An Overview of Business Insurance Requirements

Business insurance covers various aspects of running a business. From your property, to equipment and theft – your policy should cover your losses in case if an unfortunate event. There are different types of business insurance cover that can apply to you:

  • General liability insurance
  • Commercial property insurance
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Commercial auto insurance

All of these types of cover play in important part in managing the risk of your business so that you’ll be covered if an incident occurs. While it might not be essential for you to take out cover in all of these areas, you’ll need cover in at least some.

If your business has no vehicles, for instance, you won’t need commercial auto insurance and if you don’t employ anyone you won’t need worker’s compensation cover.

General Liability Insurance

For businesses, general liability insurance covers a broad range of incidents where your business causes harm (or is alleged to have caused harm) to any third party. Cover should include both bodily injury liability and damages to property caused to a third party. The cover is valid for claims made against you, your employees or your products and services. General liability insurance cover should pay out for legal disputes when claims against your business arise.

If any of your business operations cause bodily injury or property damage to a third party, your general liability should pay out according to your policy for the financial loss.

Even the smallest home-based businesses can benefit from general liability insurance, so this form is business insurance is highly recommended. Whatever legal accusations made against your business should be automatically covered by general liability insurance.

Commercial Property Insurance

If you run your business from a physical location, commercial property insurance can benefit you. Regardless of whether you own or rent your business premises, you need to insure it so that you’ll be covered if an incident occurs. Commercial property can pay out in the case of the following losses:

  • Fire and smoke damage
  • Acts of vandalism
  • Loss due to theft

Your property insurance will cover damage to your commercial building if you own it. For instance, you should be able to claim for damage such as burst geyser or building damage from a tree that fell over.

If you don’t own your building, your insurance shouldn’t typically be responsible for building damage. Instead, your landlord should have a building insurance policy on the business property where you rent. When renting, the benefit of commercial property insurance is that it covers your office equipment, like computers and other necessities to run your business.

Worker’s Compensation Cover

In Florida, you are required to have worker’s compensation cover if your business employs more than 4 people. For some industries, such as construction, you must have worker’s compensation coverage to employ even a single person. This includes yourself, the business owner.

Worker’s compensation insurance covers medical bills for employees who are injured on the job. Cover should also include wage replacement for the duration that an employee is unable to return to work.

Being covered for worker’s compensation is important – especially if you work within an industry that could be dangerous. If work in your industry is potentially dangerous, such as electrician work, construction or demolition, your business will be legally required to take out worker’s compensation insurance.

Even if you don’t operate in a high-risk industry, it’s still important to have cover, as you never know what could happen. If workers get injured while on the job, your business can be liable for compensating losses. This applies even in some cases where the injury isn’t directly linked to an occupational hazard. Although there may be legal disputes, an employee that slips on the bathroom floors at work and suffers injuries could try to claim damages from you.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance (also commonly referred to as errors and omissions insurance) is similar to general liability insurance, but they shouldn’t be confused. Whereas general liability insurance covers damage your business causes to a third party, professional liability insurance covers damage to your clients or customers as a direct result of your products or services.

Both direct damage as a result of your product or service as well as failure to properly complete work is covered by professional liability insurance.

For example, let’s say you own a construction company and you’re busy building a house for a client. A few months after completing the project, your client comes back to you and complains that the house you built has multiple cracks and other issues that have cost a sizable amount to fix. Your client wishes to claim this amount from you as he/she believes you didn’t provide an adequate service as promised. In this case, you could rely on professional liability insurance to cover the cost of damages to your client.

Professional liability insurance is especially applicable to medical professionals and lawyers, in which case it’s often called malpractice insurance. Other businesses that could benefit from professional liability insurance includes veterinarians, accountants, electricians and more.

Commercial Auto Insurance

If your company runs any vehicles, commercial auto insurance is a must. Commercial auto insurance covers accidents for vehicles that you use for the following purposes:

  • To transport goods and equipment for your business
  • Transporting employees and/or clients
  • Vehicles used for delivery and commute services
  • Vehicles towing a trailer for business purposes
  • Heavy-duty trucks

In case of an accident, your commercial auto insurance policy should cover the following:

  • Medical expenses for all employees
  • Legal coverage in case a third party wants to claim damages
  • Vehicle repairs or replacement costs
  • Third party liability costs

Even if you don’t own any company vehicles, you can benefit from commercial auto insurance. If you have employees that travel for business in their own vehicles, your auto insurance will pay out for damages in the event of an accident.

To claim for your damages, you must be adequately covered. Ask your insurance provider what the maximum amounts are your can claim for different benefits. This is a good way to know the full extent of your coverage so you can revise it if necessary.

Business Owner’s Policy: All the Business Insurance You Need in One Plan

Like most businesses, your company will likely have broad range of business insurance requirements. A company that employs people while also operating some vehicles, will need both worker’s compensation and commercial vehicle insurance, for instance. The problem is that having a different policy for each form of cover will become difficult to manage. That’s where a business owner’s policy comes in.

A business owner’s policy is often tailored to the unique business insurance requirements of your company. A business owner’s policy will cover all the areas of your business that you need cover for, while omitting forms of cover you don’t.

For instance, if your business doesn’t run any vehicles and you also have no employees traveling in their own vehicles for business purposes, you won’t need commercial auto insurance, so it will be excluded from your policy.

Forms of cover that can be included in your business owner’s policy will depend on your insurance provider, but can include anything from data breach insurance to business interruption insurance and more.

To learn more how business owner’s policies work, as well as how you can benefit from one, contact Pini Insurance. Pini Insurance is a leading insurance provider in Florida. Policies offered vary from business insurance, to personal auto and life insurance. Call Pini Insurance today to learn if you can benefit from our superior products and competitive prices.

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Florida Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

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With great weather all year round, Florida is a wonderful state own a motorcycle. But while Florida has great biking weather, it’s not necessarily the best state to ride a motorcycle. Of all the US states, Florida has the highest number of motorcycle accident deaths. The increased number of motorcycle accident deaths indicates an overall higher amount of motorcycle accidents in the state. Considering the higher risk, it’s important to learn more about Florida motorcycle insurance requirements. Many bikers mistakenly believe no insurance cover is necessary for motorcycles, but there are minimum motorcycle insurance requirements for Florida bikers.

Car Insurance vs Motorcycle Insurance Laws

Some states group car insurance and motorbike insurance under the same laws, but not Florida.

Minimum car insurance requirements in Florida state that car owners must have at least $10,000 cover for personal injury protection (or PIP) – a form of cover intended to pay out for the insured’s own injuries from a car accident.

In Florida, PIP insurance isn’t a legal requirement for bikers, but some insurance companies will include PIP cover as an option in their policies. Talk to your insurance specialists to learn more about how you can get PIP cover for your motorcycle, as this will allow you to claim for personal injuries in the event of a motorbike accident.

Because PIP is a form of no-fault insurance, your policy will payout your medical expenses in the case of a car accident to the maximum limit of your policy.

Unfortunately, no fault laws regarding PIP insurance don’t apply to motorbikes in Florida. Your PIP cover that you have on your car insurance policy won’t pay out for a motorcycle accident. PIP isn’t available for bikers in Florida unless you specifically take out a policy with PIP coverage for your bike.

In the event of an accident where another person is at fault, however, you could possibly claim from their bodily injury liability (or BIL) insurance for your injuries, but this isn’t a reliable course of action. BIL cover isn’t a legal requirement in Florida, so many motorists don’t have it.

If an uninsured driver (one without BIL cover) was at fault in an accident and you wish to get paid out for injuries, the only course of action is to go to court and sue for damages.

Florida Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

No PIP insurance is required for Florida bikers, but there are still legal requirements. Should an accident occur where you’re at fault, Florida motorcycle insurance requirements are as follows:

  • $10,000 cover is required for single person bodily injury liability
  • $20,000 cover for bodily injury liability if two or more persons are injured
  • $10,000 cover for property damage liability per crash

When an accident occurs, failure to prove you’re covered according to the above guidelines could result in harsh consequences. Your license may be suspended is it’s found you aren’t insured adequately.

Registering a Bike in Florida: Do You Need Insurance?

Unlike with cars, it isn’t a legal requirement to have insurance if you want to register a bike. This is why many bike owners believe that insurance isn’t mandatory. While you could technically ride a bike in Florida without taking out any insurance, you’ll still be liable for minimum cover if you’re involved in an accident.

The fact that bike owners can register bikes in Florida without taking out insurance is misleading. Legally speaking, having no insurance could land you in a lot of trouble – especially after an accident.

What Forms of Motorcycle Insurance to Take out?

The minimum insurance requirements for Florida bikers only covers damages that you may cause to other persons if you’re at fault. Your own financial loss in the event of an accident isn’t accounted for if you have the minimum cover according to Florida motorcycle insurance requirements

To make sure your own damages are covered, you should take out the following types of insurance.

Collision and Comprehensive Insurance

Collision and comprehensive insurance will cover your own bike in the event of an accident or theft. If you’re involved in an accident where you’re at fault, this form of cover will also payout for damage you caused to another vehicle.

In short, collision and comprehensive insurance policies are the best for covering all the expenses involved in an accident. Choosing a comprehensive policy with a low deductible means your co-payment will be affordable, but low deductibles can also raise your premiums. When choosing the deductible amount on your policy, stick to an amount you can afford to pay should the need arise for a claim.

Guest Passenger Liability

Guest passenger liability is intended to payout if an accident occurs and your passenger is injured. If a passenger is injured, guest passenger liability will payout for hospital bills and medical expenses. The amount your policy will payout depends on how much insurance your carry for passenger liability. This form of cover is best if you regularly carry passengers on your bike.

Personal Injury Protection

Personal injury protection pays out for your own injuries after a motorcycle accident. To have PIP cover for bike accidents, your motorcycle insurance policy must include PIP cover.

Because car and motorbikes don’t fall under the same laws in Florida, the PIP you have on your car won’t cover your medical expenses after motorcycle accident.

Even if a motorcycle accident isn’t your fault, claiming from the other party’s insurance for your injuries and medical bills will be a much more complicated process than claiming for PIP.

Filing a Claim Against an At-Fault Driver

Because motorcycles don’t qualify for no-fault insurance in Florida, the rules for filing a claim against another driver also differ. This is especially true if you want to claim from another person for injuries you sustain in an accident.

As a car driver, you’d need to prove significant or permanent injury to claim from the other party’s insurance. As a bike rider, the severity of your injuries won’t matter when filing a claim against another person. Proving that the other person was at fault is the only requirement to claim for your personal injuries.

Although claiming from at-fault drivers in Florida will be easier if you’re a biker, it’s not a reliable form of protection. For you to claim, the person at fault would need to have bodily injury liability insurance, which isn’t a requirement for Florida drivers. To make matters worse, many drivers who have this form of insurance, are only covered up to $10,000. While this could certainly help, it won’t cover your medical expenses and lost wages after a serious injury.

Florida Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Florida has the highest number of annual motorcycle accidents deaths. Motorcycle accidents account for one fifth of all motor accident deaths in Florida state.

Unfortunately, despite the evident danger of riding a bike in Florida, many bikers don’t take adequate safety measures to protect themselves. Wearing a helmet isn’t a legal requirement for bikers older than 21 who have a minimum medical insurance policy of $10,000.

A 2013 AAA consumer pulse survey found that Florida bikers generally wear the following gear when riding:

  • Helmets – 86%
  • Face shield or protective glasses – 81%
  • Biking boots 64%
  • Gloves 63%
  • Protective jacket or vest – 55%

Although this information might be outdated, chances are it’s still represents the reality of biking in Florida.

Another study by the AAA found that most bikers claim to wear helmets, but only 47% are seen wearing helmets when viewed on the roads.

Bike owners in Florida should take note of these statistics and prioritize personal safety more. Taking out proper insurance and fulfilling Florida motorcycle insurance requirements is a good start, but improved safety awareness and cautious driving is also important.

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How to Prevent a Fire at Home? Florida Fire Insurance

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A house fire can start quickly without warning. Even if you believe you know how to prevent a fire at home, there is still a chance that one can break out. Faults in electric wiring and other hazards can come seemingly out of nowhere. It’s always best to learn how to avoid fires at home, as this will significantly reduce your risk. If a fire does break out, you should be prepared. Learning more about Florida fire insurance policies and how fire cover relates to homeowners’ insurance can help you prepare for an incident on your property.

How to Prevent a Fire at Home: Common Fire Hazards to Avoid

Preventing a house fire is better than filing a claim for fire insurance. A lot of items you have on your house hold sentimental value and are irreplaceable. Not to mention the fact that computers, phones and other devices storing important data might also be lost. Even if your whole family manages to escape the house before the fire spreads, the loss will still be big.

Avoiding common fire hazards can help you and your family stay safe by avoiding fires at home. When it comes to avoiding fire hazards, the are a couple of things your can look out for – most importantly, you should know the most common causes of house fires.

Negligence as a Fire Hazard

You’re only human, and so is everyone else, but a lot of common fire hazards come down to forgetfulness and negligence. Whenever working with a potential fire hazard in your home, you should always be extra vigilant. Think twice, or even thrice before doing anything potentially dangerous.

You can’t remove all the potential fire hazards from your home, a lot of everyday things in your home could pose a risk. What you can do, however, is realize that potential fire hazards only have the potential to cause fires if you’re forgetful and negligent. Most of the things in your home that could theoretically start a fire will never get a point where that’s a real risk.

Alcohol consumption is another problem associated with negligence and house fires. When under the influence of alcohol, you should avoid doing anything that could lead to a house fire. Avoid all the fire hazards mentioned below if you are under the influence.

Fires from Cooking

Florida Fire Insurance: Cooking accidents is a leading cause of house firesBe extra vigilant while you cook. It’s easy to forget the stove on. Always check once you’re done cooking that all your stove plates or burners are turned off.

Set timers while you cook so you don’t forget to check up on things in the kitchen. Never leave your house with your stove or oven still on!

Keep flammable things away from your oven and stove top. This is especially important if you have a gas stove, as the open flame can easily set fire to kitchen towels and other flammable objects. Just remember, even cooking oil can start a bad fire.

When deep frying foods on your stove top, never leave the frying oil unattended. If the oil gets too hot, adjust the heat to a lower setting. If a fire does break out, never try to put it out with water! Water won’t help for an oil fire. If possible, try put the lid of the pot, or a non-flammable cutting board on the pot. This will starve the fire of oxygen, which will put it out.

If the fire is too big to safely cover it without injuring yourself, you’ll need to have a fire extinguisher on hand. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby when you deep fry foods. Just don’t keep it right next to the stove.

If you get a fire in your oven, turn the heat off and keep the door closed so the fire will die out from a lack of oxygen. This might damage your over, but it could save your house from a fire.

Caution with Candles

A candle is like a little open flame in your house. This is why it comes as no surprise that the National Fire Protection Association lists candles as one of the top five fire hazards in your home.

While candles do pose a risk, you can still safely use candles in your home. Just be sure practice some caution. Here’s how you can avoid candles from starting a fire in your home:

  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets
  • Never place a candle close to anything flammable
  • Never fall asleep with candles burning anywhere in your home

Flammable objects to keep away from your candles can include books, curtains, paper and any other item that can easily catch fire. While lighting candles can be great for relaxation, you should never light a candle when you’re feeling overly tired. Falling asleep is one of the leading causes of candle fires in homes.

Fires Caused by Heating

We’re in the heart of summer and heating is probably the furthest thing from your mind – but when winter does come around again, make sure you’re prepared.

Fires caused by heating are the top cause of house fires, fire deaths and house fire injuries in America. Here’s what you can do to make sure you don’t become a victim of a heating burn:

  • Keep flammable things away from your heating equipment
  • Don’t allow children near heating equipment
  • If you have a chimney, be sure to have in cleaned out and inspected annually
  • Don’t leave heating equipment unattended
  • Never leave the house with your fireplace burning, or your heaters still on
  • Don’t fall asleep with your heating (fireplaces and heaters) still on

Fireplaces are open fires, so it’s especially important to keep flammable objects away from them. Hanging your Christmas stockings in front of the fireplace might look quaint, but they should always be removed before you make a fire.

Fires Caused by Smoking

Smoking poses a big risk. Always make sure cigarette butts are put out properly. Discard of cigarette butts in deep ashtrays. Alternatively, use outdoor ashtrays that are closed entirely at the top with only a small hole on top to collect cigarette butts in the tray. Don’t keep your ashtrays near flammable objects.

If possible, rather smoke outside the house, but still practice vigilance when discarding of cigarette butts. Never smoke near medical oxygen, as this can cause a rapid fire.

Ideally, smokers should quit. Doing so would improve overall health and eliminate smoking as a fire risk.

Electrical Fire Hazards

Knowing how to prevent a fire at home is more difficult when electrical fires are involved. Electrical fires can be sneaky and can come seemingly out of nowhere. Here’s what you can do to manage the risk:

  • Make sure to only use electrical cords that aren’t damaged
  • Check the cords of all your appliances to make sure they aren’t damaged before you use them
  • Always call in a qualified electrician for your electrical work
  • Only use one heat-producing appliance (heaters, toasters, kettles etc.) plugged into one outlet at a time
  • Always plug big appliances like fridges and washing machines directly into the wall without an extension cord
  • Use light bulbs with the correct wattage for your light sockets

Consider installing Arc-fault circuit interrupters at your home, as they’ll shut off power automatically if a dangerous condition arises.

Florida Fire Insurance Cover: Will Homeowners’ Insurance Pay out?

Fire insurance is often part of standard homeowners’ insurance packages and your homeowners’ insurance will likely pay out in the event of a house fire. However, don’t assume your insurance will definitely pay out in the event of a house fire.

Call your insurance provider to check how much cover you have for fire damage. Some companies will exclude fire insurance from their standard policies, meaning you’ll either need to get new home insurance, or add fire insurance to your current policy as a rider.

Make sure you are familiar with the terms of your homeowners’ insurance provider regarding house fire claims and familiarize yourself with what the terms are for claiming. Your insurance provider might require you to do an annual chimney or electrical inspection at your house to qualify for fire damage claims, for instance.

Most incidents of house fires will be covered by your insurance. The only common exceptions for fire damage cover is nuclear damage (which is an unlikely cause anyway, especially in Florida homes) and acts of war. Your insurance provider also won’t pay out if you intentionally caused a house fire.

Provided you have adequate cover, your homeowner’s insurance should pay out for the following:

  • Damages to your house and property
  • Loss of personal possessions such as furniture, appliances, clothing items etc.
  • Liability costs of damage to other persons if the fire spread beyond your property

Please note, homeowners’ insurance won’t normally pay out for injuries you sustain on your property. If you or your family members are hurt in a housefire, you’ll probably need to rely on your health insurance to pay medical costs. Some items in your house, such as jewelry and cellphones are also excluded from your ordinary house contents, meaning you’ll need to cover some items separately.

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Florida Dog Bite Law: Will Homeowners Insurance Payout?

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Having a dog is a big responsibility. Dogs have a lot of needs in terms of healthcare, exercise and even mental stimulation. Millions of households in the United States own a dog as a pet and Florida is no exception. Unfortunately, Florida dog owners face a unique problems. According to statistics, Florida is the state with the highest occurrence of dog bites. Owning a dog is never as difficult as when you’re dealing with a dog bite. Dog bites often result in court cases. Ultimately, the pet is often ordered to be put down, which is a substantial loss for the bereaved owner.

While dog bite liability insurance might not change court rulings, knowing that the financial liability of a dog bite won’t rest on your shoulders will be a sigh of relief in an otherwise very difficult time. So, here’s what you need to know about dog bite liability in Florida, as well as how to know if you’re covered in case of an incident.

Florida Has a High Occurrence of Dog Bites

Between all the wonderful things about the sunshine state, there are also negative things. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida ranks among the top 10 highest for incidents of dog bites. In fact, the only state with a higher number of annual dog bites is California.

The estimated population of California is 39 million, whereas Florida’s population is almost half of that at approximately 21 million. In 2018, there were 2166 cases of reported dog bites – or 1 incident for every 18,005 residents. Florida had 1281 reported cases of dog bites for 2018 – which translates to 1 for every 16,393 residents. When reported dog bites are viewed in this way, Florida arguably has the higher incidence of dog bites than California.

There are various incidents of dog attacks in Florida circulating in the news. One of the most recent, shocking incidents, a 2-year-old boy was mauled to death by dogs near Gainesville, FL. The dogs who attacked the boy were family pets. In an attempt to save the boy, his grandmother also got seriously injured.

In a separate incident in Brooksville, FL, an elderly woman was hospitalized after being attacked by 3 dogs. The owner of the dogs, who sincerely apologized for the incident, said he never thought his dogs would act out in such a way.

These situations often bring on a lot of heartache and regret for both the victims and dog owners. Sometimes dogs act unpredictably, so it isn’t always possible to prevent dog bites.

Florida Dog Bite Liability Laws

Florida has a special dog bite statute, FLSA 767.04, which states that owners are liable for dog bites under the following terms:

  • The dog bites another person and/or
  • The bite occurs on public property, or private property when victim was lawfully on the premises.

Florida is a “strict liability” state in terms of dog bites. This means that dog owners will normally be held accountable if an incident occurs, even if there was no reason to suspect that the animal would bite a person.

There’s only one real exception to Florida’s strict liability dog bite laws. If the dog owner can prove that the bite victim was trespassing, the dog owner won’t be held liable for any damages.

Florida also has a comparative negligence rule concerning dog bites. Under the rule, the owner’s liability can be reduced if the bite victim was at least partially responsible for the incident. If, for instance, a dog retaliates by biting a person after the person taunted or injured a him (regardless if injuring the animal was intentional or not), the owner might not be held fully liable. If the court decides that a negligent person carries 50% of the responsibility, the owner will only be liable for the remaining 50% of the damages.

While there are at least some laws protecting dog owners, there’s still a good chance that dog owners in Florida will be help accountable for more than half of the liability in a dog bite or attack.

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bite Liability in Florida?

According to 2018 statistics by the Insurance Information Institute, the average dog bite in America costs approximately $39,000. This money is usually to cover the medical costs of the victim, but often owners also need to pay restitution.

Although $39,000 is understandable, given the rising cost of healthcare, it’s still a hefty amount to pay from your pocket! Most homeowners are unable to afford such a large sum of money if an incident occurs.

If you’re covered for dog bite liability, your homeowners insurance should pay out for dog bite liability in certain circumstances. However, your home insurance provider will only pay out for bites if the incident occurs on your property. Your insurance won’t cover a dog bite if your dog attacks someone while you’re out on a walk.

Not all homeowners insurance policies include dog bite liability insurance, so if you’re unsure if your current home insurance cover dog bites, it’s best to contact your insurance provider and inquire about it. You might need to take out additional cover to get dog bite liability cover.

It’s common for insurance providers to provide a maximum coverage of $100,000-$300,000 to cover expenses due to dog bites. This money can be spent on legal expenses, covering the victim’s medical bills and might also payout restitution if it’s required by the court. Should expenses exceed the amount a homeowner is covered for, any amount over-and-above the policy will have to be paid by the homeowner themselves.

Double Check Your Dog Bite Liability Cover!

Insurance providers have different policies regarding dog bite liability cover. Some insurance providers might penalize certain breeds, or worse yet, they may not cover them at all.

Some insurance providers also require dog owners to train and socialize their pets. To qualify for a claim, you’ll need to prove that your dog was trained well before the incident. Insurance providers might also require a full history on the dog to find out if the dog has ever been aggressive in the past.

If your homeowners has policies regarding dog breed, training and history, you risk carrying full liability in the case of an incident. Always double, and even triple check your cover and claim policies.

How to Prevent Dogs from Biting?

Some dogs have a history of being aggressive, while others bite with no warning. Because of Florida’s strict liability regarding dog bites, the history of a dog will be of little importance if he bites someone.

As with tragedy, it’s always better to enforce preventative measures to avoid dog bites rather than to manage the liability after an incident. There are a few steps owners can take that will reduce the chance of their pet biting someone. While preventative measures can never be 100% foolproof, responsible dog owners are likely to suffer less liability if an incident occurs even despite their caution.

Here are some things you can do to reduce the chance of your dog biting someone:

  • Make sure that dogs are trained well from a young age and reinforce training throughout the dog’s life.
  • If an older dog has not been trained yet, start training the dog as soon as possible.
  • Make sure your dog is socialized well with both people and animals. Often expose your dog to new kinds of people (like children and elderly persons) in calm settings where the dog feels relaxed.
  • See to it that your dog often experiences new things and knows how to cope with unknown environments and situations.
  • Never leave your dog unsupervised with a young child.
  • Teach children how to interact and play with animals. Children should know to refrain from doing things that can hurt dogs, such as pulling ears. Also teach children how to read the animal’s body language to see when he/she is annoyed and doesn’t want to play. Any children that visit your house, regardless of whether they’re your own, should learn about how to treat animals.
  • Always keep dogs in a fenced area on your own property and on a leash when you go out.
  • If your dog tends to be fearful or anxious, warn people not to approach it. In some situations, it can also be best to use a muzzle whenever you go out with your animal, or if there are guests at your home.

There are almost an endless variety of situations where dogs can be provoked to bite. A defensive mother dog might bite to protect her puppies. For this reason, owners should always practice caution around dogs with puppies. Never allow strangers near your dog’s puppies without familiarizing your dog with the new person.

Dogs that have been previously abused might be more fearful, which may cause them to snap at people more easily. If you adopted a dog that was previously abused, it’s important to build a relationship of trust with the dog and teach him/her that they can trust people.

With a combination of proper training and good insurance cover, you’ll be minimizing the risk of an incident while also assuring you’re adequately covered if something does happen.

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How to Save Money on Your Insurance

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Let’s face it, spending hard earned money on insurance isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun time. Despite this, having insurance is an important part of life. There are a lot of risks involved with not having any insurance. It’s illegal to drive a car in Florida without at least some insurance. Furthermore, home and life insurance are important ways to make provision in case of disasters or tragedies. Cancelling isn’t really an option, but there are still many ways you can save money on your insurance policies.

Why You Shouldn’t Cancel Your Insurance

The money you spend on your insurance every month might seem a lot, but if the need to claim ever arises, it might look like a drop in the bucket compared to what you need to claim. A lot of people try to save money by cancelling their insurance, or taking out only the minimum cover, but this isn’t wise.

As stated, there are minimum requirements for car insurance in Florida. However, even the minimum insurance coverage is unlikely to help in some cases. Luckily Florida divers are required to have at least some coverage – so in the event of an accident, you won’t be left completely empty-handed.

Seeing as it’s illegal to drive without car insurance, many people attempt to cancel other insurance policies instead. Once again, cancelling isn’t a good idea. Both life and homeowners insurance can be critical in certain condition. Florida often experiences hurricanes and storms, so cancelling these policies can do more harm than good.

How to Save on Car Insurance

The minimum car insurance coverage in Florida isn’t nearly enough. At $10,000 for personal injury protection and an additional $10,00 for property damage liability, Florida drivers with the minimum insurance aren’t truly covered for much.

It goes without saying that better coverage is strongly recommended. Unfortunately, better coverage is also likely to cost more.

Shopping around for the best premiums is a great way to get a good deal on your car insurance. Of course, you should learn more about different kinds of car insurance coverage. Ideally, you’ll want a comprehensive insurance policy that covers the following:

  • Personal injury protection: This coverage is to pay for injuries you and your family sustains in a car accident.
  • Property damage liability: This is to pay out damages to someone else’s property if you’re at fault in an accident. It can cover damage to any property you damage by driving into it, such as buildings and other vehicles.
  • Bodily injury liability: This is to cover injuries you cause to other people in an accident where you were at fault. Money claimed from this form of coverage can also be spent on funeral costs or lost wages as a result of hospitalization.

Lastly, you also want to make sure your own car is adequately covered in the case of an accident. When getting quotes, ask each insurance provider how much the policy will pay out in case of an accident.

If you have money saved up in the bank, opting for an insurance policy with a higher deductible is a great way to save on your monthly installments. Just keep in mind that a higher deductible means you’ll need to pay a larger part of the costs in the case of an accident.

How to Save Money on Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance isn’t a legal requirement in the state of Florida, but this doesn’t mean you can cancel your policy at any time. Most mortgage lenders require you to have some form of homeowners insurance, so if you’re still paying installments on your property, now wouldn’t be a good time to cancel.

On the other hand, if you haven’t bought a house yet, but you’re looking for one, you’re in a great position to get the highest amount of savings on your homeowners insurance. But there are still great ways to save for those who already bought a property.

Some of the main factors that will contribute to the cost of your homeowners insurance include:

  • Location
  • When the home was built
  • Material used to build the home
  • Having tenants
  • Your claim history
  • Your credit score

If you want to pay low premiums, the best location for a home is close to a fire station. It’s also best to opt for an area with a lower crime rate. Homeowners with properties in areas that are at risk for natural disasters will pay more, but buying in areas with high winds or storms isn’t something all homeowners can avoid.

As a general rule, the premiums will be lower on a newly built home than an old one. Old homes have old plumbing and electric wiring, which poses an increased risk for water leaks and electrical fires.

If you’ll be occupying the property yourself with no tenants your premiums should also be lower than if you rented out any part of your property.

The overall condition of your house is also important – the newer your roof, the less you’ll pay in premiums. This is because an old roof is at higher risk for damage in stormy weather and leaks in rainy seasons.

As a last point, wood burning ovens and fireplaces can also increase your insurance costs, as they pose a fire hazard.

Homeowners Insurance Discounts to Ask About

The best way to save money on homeowners insurance is to improve your credit score, shop around for lower quotes and ask about discounts. Some of the discounts you might qualify for include:

  • Claim-free discount
  • Homeowners association discount
  • Nonsmoker discount
  • Water sensor discount

Installing water sensors to detect leaks in your property before they cause too much damage can add a lot to your savings. Getting smoke detectors can also reduce your premiums.

How to Save Money on Life Insurance

If you’re trying to save money on your insurance, chances are life insurance is one of the first things you want to cut. It isn’t a good idea to cut your life insurance coverage too much – especially if you’re young and still paying off a mortgage.

This doesn’t mean you can save on life insurance though. Getting healthy is a great way to save money on your life insurance. As an added benefit, you’ll also feel great when you make these changes. Simply quitting smoking could already lower your life insurance costs.

Another good way to lower your life insurance costs is to have a look at your finances and establish how much cover you really need. You might find that you’re insured for much more than necessary.

There may also be some additional benefits in your policy hiking up its price. For instance, many insurers will add a benefit where there’s an larger payout for accidental death (even as much as double), unfortunately, this benefit can increase the cost of your premiums. Another benefit that can increase premiums – the option to waiver payment of premiums if the insured becomes disabled. Or, the option to get a certain amount of payout if the insured becomes disabled.

Realistically, look at all the benefits offered by different life insurance providers and pick an insurance plan that best suits your need. You might not need benefits such as payout for if you become disabled. A lot of disabled persons are still able to work and earn a living.

When shopping for life insurance quotes, rather choose providers with years of industry experience. Also look at reviews to see if the insurer pays out as promised when necessary. Life insurance is often meant to pay out when you’re no longer around to fight for your benefits, so it’s better to know you’re dealing with a trustworthy insurer from the start.

The Overall Best Way to Save Money on Your Insurance

Bigger deductibles will always lower your premiums, but if you ever need to claim, it will hike up the cost significantly. If you’re confident that you have enough savings and you life a lifestyle that’s responsible enough, you can opt for higher deductibles, but this isn’t the best way to save money of your insurance.

Shopping around for the best quotes is also great, but always make sure your insurance provider will pay out if you need to claim. Also be careful about reading what is included in each policy you get a quote for. Some policies might look cheaper, but that might just be because you’re not getting enough cover.

The best way to pay lower premiums is to live responsibly. Take care of yourself and your assets. Maintain your car and house as needed. Replace your roof or tire when replacement is due and check for details like when you should redo window caulking on your home or top up the oil in your car.

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