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!

Additional auto insurance carriers are issuing premium refunds

Some people may think insurance companies are only there for them when they need to file a claim. Well, we are pleased to share some good news that shows how much auto insurance carriers across the board really do care.

These are challenging times and your insurance company wants to help! Many drivers are using their vehicles less as they abide by our current stay-at-home orders. Therefore, the following companies will all be issuing a one-time premium refund for personal auto policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each company is handling it slightly different so we’ve included the details below. This only applies to motor vehicle policies (not including golf cart, motorcycle, ATV or boat). This is still awaiting final regulatory approval but is headed in the right direction.

The best part about this is that policyholders don’t need to do anything! Refunds will automatically be either credited to their policy account or refunded.

*Nationwide: $50 per policy active as of March 31, 2020

*Safeco: 15% of premium as of April 7, 2020 for 2 months

*Auto Owners: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*Mercury: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*Progressive: 20% of April premium (refunded in May) and 20% of May premium (refunded in June)

*Chubb: 35% of premium for April and May, 2020 upon annual renewal

*Travelers: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*MetLife: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*AAA: 20% of auto premium for April and May, 2020

Geico: 15% of premium as the policy comes up for renewal between April 8-October 7, 2020. The credit will also apply to any new policies purchased during this period.

Allstate: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

USAA: 20% of premium as of March 31, 2020 for 2 months

State Farm: 25% of premium for policies in-force between March 20-May 31, 2020

Hartford: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

Liberty Mutual: 15% of premium as of April 7, 2020 for 2 months

Florida Fam Bureau: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*The companies with an * are the carriers in which we, at McGriff-Williams, represent and received this data directly from. Information regarding the other companies listed here was collected from their individual websites.

What does “furlough” mean anyway?

Furlough. It’s a rare term to hear in the workplace until something like a government shut down or pandemic such as Covid-19 happens. There’s a difference between a furlough and a layoff and it’s extremely important for both employers and employees to understand them fully.


A “furlough” is when the employment is maintained but hours are reduced or the employee is placed on unpaid leave. This would make sense if an employer wanted to keep the employee and thought a temporary hardship would be better than terminating them completely. With a furlough, the employee may still qualify for unemployment as well.


Exempt employees (those not eligible for overtime) have to be paid their normal weekly salary if they do any work at all so it is usually, in a situation like our current Covid-19 quarantine, employers would encourage employees to NOT work at all. Non-exempt employees can be paid for actual hours worked without any further pay implications.


Typically, the furloughed employee can keep their health insurance but will be responsible to pay their portion of the premiums throughout the furlough. Often times, companies will restore employment following a furlough and provide back the following:


• Retention of seniority
• Maintained benefits such as health insurance with no lapse in coverage
• The ability to use any PTO/vacation time/sick leave as accrued


A “layoff” is less promising as it’s usually permanent… but a temporary layoff could be an option if it’s just due to a short period of time where there is no work for that employee. A layoff does include actual termination of employment, whereas the above mentioned benefits would not apply.


In an ideal world, neither furloughs or layoffs would happen. However, as we’ve quickly learned, they can become reality and we all need to be prepared to make appropriate arrangements in the event something like this occurs.

Auto Insurance Relief Refunds pending approval

Our agency is proud to partner with several companies that not only provide great coverage for our clients but also keep their best interest at heart. Our goal is to help protect our clients and their families during these challenging times and we are excited to share some good news!

Many drivers are using their vehicles less as they abide by our current stay-at-home orders. Therefore, Nationwide, Safeco, Auto Owners, Mercury, Progressive, Chubb and AAA will all be issuing a one-time premium refund for personal auto policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each company is handling it slightly different so we’ve included the details below. This only applies to motor vehicle policies (not including golf cart, motorcycle, ATV or boat). This is still awaiting final regulatory approval but is headed in the right direction.

The best part about this is that policyholders don’t need to do anything! Refunds will automatically be either credited to their policy account or refunded to the most recent method of payment (for example: automatic withdrawal, credit card, personal check), likely within the next 30 days.

Nationwide:
$50 per policy active as of March 31, 2020

Safeco:
15% of premium as of April 7, 2020 for 2 months

Auto Owners:
15% of premium for April and May, 2020

Mercury:
15% of premium for April and May, 2020

Progressive:
20% of April premium (refunded in May) and 20% of May premium (refunded in June)

Chubb:
35% of premium for April and May, 2020 upon annual renewal

AAA:
20% of auto premium for April and May, 2020

Again, we are honored and grateful to do business with companies like these that really look out for their clients and do what’s right in times of need. Please reach out to us any time you have questions regarding auto insurance. You can call us at (352) 371-7977 or email info@mcgriffwilliams.com. Stay well and safe!

Health insurance options during COVID-19

Unfortunately during the current pandemic we’re experiencing, some people are losing their jobs. While there’s hope to be rehired once this has passed, one of the immediate concerns is the benefits that go along with that job. Here are some options that may relieve a little bit of the worry and fear surrounding this.

Current Options for Health Insurance:

  1. Purchase Individual Health Insurance Plan – Losing a job with employer-provided coverage qualifies for the Special Enrollment Period (“SEP”) exception outside of Open Enrollment. Some may even be eligible for subsidies based on their income, which would offer premium assistance.
  2. Temporary Plans – These are also available if someone is only interested in more catastrophic coverage for a short period of time.
  3. Cobra – One’s employer (if they have 20 or more full-time employees) may offer this to extend coverage for up to 18 months after employment ends. It is recommended that anyone eligible for Medicare avoid this option but details can be discussed further on a case-by-case basis.
  4. Direct Primary Care – These are membership based clinics that focus on proactive, preventive care by establishing a relationship and individualized plan of care. They do not accept or file with health insurance companies and don’t include coverage for major health needs or hospitalization. However, it may be worth a conversation to see what they offer since it could be a lower cost option during tough times. Here is a map that shows where DPC’s can be located: https://mapper.dpcfrontier.com/
  5. If 65 years old and Medicare eligible – It’s most important to be timely in applying and seek guidance on Advantage Plans, Supplements, and Prescription Drug coverage. It’s best to start this process around 64.5 to avoid any potential penalties financially.

We are happy to help navigate these options to see which is the best fit for your needs, whether it’s temporary or long-term. Please reach out anytime at (352) 371-7977 or info@mcgriffwilliams.com. Stay safe!