The Top 5 Things You Need To Know This Hurricane Season

1. Trim your trees! Branches hanging over or that could break off easily are a major threat in a storm. Check for any signs of trees being dead or weak as well. Heavy winds or the weight of rain water can make even healthy trees fall or drop limbs so keep all of the area around your house and fencing as clear as possible.

2. Understand your “Other Structures” coverage. This is the part of your homeowner’s insurance policy that covers things like fences, sheds, detached garages, gazebos, swimming pools (if not attached to the home), etc. Anything that is not attached to the home itself would fall under this category of coverage. However, there are often times exclusions for hurricane loss to awnings, aluminum framed screen enclosures/carports, solar panels, solar water heaters not attached to the dwelling unless it is constructed with the same material as the main home. Typically, Other Structures coverage is 2% of the dwelling amount but it can be increased by endorsement with most companies to be sure you have enough. Evaluate these things on your property as sometimes they can be overlooked but also the things that commonly sustain damage in storms. “Other Structures” may also be referred to as Coverage B on your policy.

3. What’s your hurricane deductible? There is a difference between your typical All Peril deductible and a hurricane deductible. When a named storm (or spinoff weather) causes damage, the hurricane deductible will apply. Usually, this deductible is 2%. It can go up to 10% and also some companies allow you to have it as low as $500. If your carrier does not offer lower than a 2% hurricane deductible, there are options for a separate hurricane deductible buy-down policy that can get your deductible all the way to $0 if you wish. At the most common 2%, a home insured for $100,000 would have a hurricane deductible of $2,000, which would be their out-of-pocket responsibility before coverage from the policy kicks in.

4. Water vs. Wind: there’s a difference! Typically, homeowner’s insurance policies cover damage caused by water but with very specific limitations. Examples of water damage that are usually covered would be a leaking roof or busted pipe. However, it generally does not cover damage from water that has seeped in or risen up from the ground. This would be covered by a separate flood policy, if there is one. If the home is not in a flood zone that requires flood insurance, the separate flood policy would be elective. Wind damage is typically covered by HO-3 policies for things like a fallen tree, lifted or missing shingles, broken windows from debris, etc. Wind driven rain can get confusing since it’s a mix of wind and water. Usually, damage from the water that comes in with wind driven rain is not covered but damage from the wind is.

5. Be prepared to document and mitigate. If you sustain damage from a storm, it is best to take as many photos or videos as possible to document before making any changes to the condition of your property. Then, it is your responsibility as a homeowner to mitigate your home and belongings from further damage. This could mean boarding up, putting out tarps, removing debris, or whatever needs to be done to prevent more damage from occurring. This is only recommended within what is safe for you and your family. If any temporary repairs need to be done before a claims adjuster can view the damage, all receipts or invoices should be saved as well as photos of before and after repair.

Hurricane season can be a stressful time but being prepared will help alleviate that and will also assist in the claims process, in the event of damage. As always, we are happy to answer any questions during the preparation process and/or get involved if you should need to file a claim. Stay safe!

Benefits of Auto Pay for Your Insurance Premiums

We currently happen to be in a time of uncertainty with some businesses temporarily closing or being short staffed due to Covid-19 social distancing recommendations. One of the concerns that has developed is people still being able to pay their bills, such as insurance premiums.

Thankfully, most insurance carriers accept payment either online or via an automated phone system but Auto Pay could alleviate any worry or doubt you might have about these payments being processed correctly and on time. There are several benefits to Auto Pay, depending on what type of policy it is.


• When it comes to life or disability insurance, a lapse without timely reinstatement could mean that you will now require an underwriting review, sometimes involving medical evidence… or you could even have to secure new coverage at your current, older age and possibly lesser health.


• For a health insurance policy that cancels due to late or non-payment, it cannot be reinstated at all and you would be left without coverage until the next open enrollment period for the following year. Scary, right?!


• For auto or home insurance, it would depend on the company if they were willing to reinstate or rewrite the coverage. The biggest risk here is that something detrimental and very expensive could happen in that lapse period where you would have no coverage at all.


Auto Pay is convenient, yes. It saves paper and printing costs, yes. It’s peace of mind and one less thing to worry about, yes. But it’s also imperative for maintaining some pretty important coverage. This is coverage that you may not be able to get back if you elect to receive a paper bill that gets lost or doesn’t get paid. An Added bonus is cost savings as well… you can almost always save on installment fees by going this route.


If you’re able to arrange Auto Pay either through EFT (electronic funds transfer from a checking account), recurring credit card, online bill pay with your bank, or whatever options there are… it’s definitely the safest way to ensure that your coverage will not be interrupted or affected.


If you have questions about a specific policy or company that we work with, please let us know anytime at info@mcgriffwilliams.com or (352) 371-7977.

Hurricane Dorian claims information

As a precaution for the upcoming storm, Hurricane Dorian, we have created a comprehensive list of phone numbers you should call in the event that you need to file a claim. During this time, we will be checking our emails and main phone line messages as often as possible to be available to all of our clients.

 

For personal insurance claims:

AAA: 1-888-929-4222

Allied/Nationwide: 1-800-282-1446

American Integrity: 1-866-277-9871

Auto-Owners: 1-888-252-4626

ASI/Progressive Home: 1-866-274-5677

Avatar: 1-877-233-3237

Bankers: 1-800-627-0000

Capitol Preferred: 1-888-388-2742

Chubb: 1-800-252-4670

Citizens: 1-866-411-2742

Florida Family: 1-888-486-4663

Florida Peninsula: 1-866-549-9672

Florida Specialty: 1-866-554-5896

Geovera: 1-800-631-6478

Hagerty: 1-800-922-4050, ext. 4

Heritage: 1-855-415-7120

Homeowners Choice: 1-888-210-5235

Mercury:  1-800-503-3724

MetLife: 1-800-854-6011

Assurant (Flood): 1-800-423-4403, ext. 3

Olympus: 1-866-281-2242

Progressive Auto: 1-800-776-4737

Safe Harbor: 1-866-482-5246

Safeco: 1-800-332-3226

Security First: 1-877-581-4862

Southern Fidelity: 1-866-874-7342

Stillwater: 1-800-220-1351

St. Johns: 1-877-748-2059

Tower Hill Home: 1-800-342-3407

Travelers: 1-800-252-4633

Universal: 1-866-999-0898

UPC: 1-888-256-3378

Wright Flood: 1-877-270-4329

 

For business insurance claims:

American Capital: 1-866-274-5677

Auto-Owners: 1-800-437-6164

Guard: 1-800-639-2567

Hartford: 1-800-553-1710

Liberty Mutual: 1-844-325-2467

Nationwide: 1-866-322-3214

Old Dominion: 1-877-425-2467

Philadelphia: 1-800-765-9749

Progressive: 1-800-274-4499

Tower Hill: 1-800-342-3407

 

If you do not see a number listed for your personal insurance carrier, please email us at mwi@mcgriffwilliams.com, and we will be happy to assist you in whatever way we can. For business insurance, you can email comm@mcgriffwilliams.com. We hope everyone stays safe during this time. Thank you.

Hurricane season is coming… Are you and your home ready?

The inevitable hurricane season is approaching quickly so we’ve composed some information to help better prepare you for potential damage to your home and belongings. While we hope and believe that this year will have a rather uneventful storm season, we want you to feel ready and as comfortable as possible, should we encounter a hurricane.

Here are a few ways you can prepare your home:

  • Trim any trees or branches, especially those that hang over your roof or fence.
  • Tidy up any loose debris in the yard or equipment parked around the house.
  • Secure windows with shutters or boards.
  • Have your roof inspected to ensure no missing shingles, nails, or clips.
  • Stock up on water, non-perishable food, batteries, flashlights, generator, cooler of ice, etc.
  • Be sure any required medication is purchased or prescriptions filled.

In addition, here are some tips to think about regarding your homeowners insurance policy:

  • Read through your declarations page to be sure you understand what coverage you have and what each limit is.
  • Pay attention to your All Peril deductible and Hurricane deductible, which are almost always very different. Any named storm or spinoff damage will have the Hurricane deductible applied.
  • Remember that flood insurance cannot be purchased and used immediately. Unless it is a requirement for loan closing, there is a 30 day wait for the coverage to be effective.
  • Other Structures coverage can add up quick. Typically, that limit is 2% of the dwelling amount. Evaluate this amount if you have fencing, a shed or workshop, screen enclosure, etc. There are usually endorsements available to increase that coverage if need be.

We would be happy to review your policy with you anytime. Please feel free to contact us at (352)371-7977 or info@mcgriffwilliams.com. Thank you.

Are you prepared for hurricane season?

Hurricane season making you nervous? Many people may have post-Irma jitters after the storm we had in the fall. Worry no more with these tips on how to prepare and understand the protection you have.

  • Storm deductible vs All Peril deductible…. There is a difference. Most home insurance policies have a standard “AOP” (All Other Peril) deductible of $500, $1000 or even $2,500. This would apply for damage such as fire, theft, water, etc. The storm or “hurricane” deductible applies to damage directly caused by any named storm. Even if the damage can be proven to be from a spinoff tornado, wind or lightning, the storm deductible applies if it was a result of a named storm. This is typically 2% (but sometimes can be offered at $500), which is calculated from the dwelling coverage amount on the policy. Example: $200k dwelling, hurricane deductible: $4k.

 

  • Flood insurance isn’t always available right away so you have to plan ahead. Most times, there is a 30 day waiting period for flood coverage to be effective. Damage from rising water is covered by a separate flood policy, rather than the home insurance policy. Some may think they only need flood insurance if they’re in a designated flood zone or low lying area but flooding can still happen with heavy rain. If you are not located in a flood zone (per FEMA: https://msc.fema.gov/portal), you can still purchase elective flood coverage and simply wait 30 days for the coverage to be effective.

 

  • Other Structures can add up. This coverage on your home policy is usually 2% of the dwelling amount, automatically included on the policy. This covers things like a fence, shed, workshop, and sometimes a screen enclosure. There are typically endorsements you can add if you need more than the provided coverage. These items are commonly damaged by wind so it’s imperative to be sure you the coverage you need for repair or replacement.

 

  • Storm damage to a vehicle is covered under Comprehensive coverage on the auto policy. This applies for falling/flying objects, wind, rain, water as well as vandalism, theft, fire, glass, contact with an animal, etc. Comprehensive is exactly that… it covers a lot. If you have a lien holder on your car, your lender requires this coverage. Double check to be sure you have it as it’s an important one.

 

  • Helpful hints to prepare your home before a storm approaches: trim any trees or branches hanging over or posing as a threat for damage, tidy up any loose debris in the yard or equipment parked around the house, secure windows with shutters or boards, have your roof inspected to ensure no missing shingles, nails or clips. You can also be certain to have plenty of water, nonperishable food, batteries, flashlights or even a generator and coolers of ice in the event of a power outage.

Follow these steps and rest assured that you’ve done all you can for whatever mother nature sends our way. Contact us at 352-371-7977 or info@mcgriffwilliams.com anytime you have further questions.