By: Crystal Callahan-Estes
CLC Insurance Agency, Inc.
Crystal, a native of St. Petersburg, Florida, started her insurance career by obtaining her Life License and Series 6 in 2001. She then transitioned into a Customer Service role at a captive Nationwide Agency in Largo, FL and obtained her 440 license shortly after joining the agency. After the acquisition of the Nationwide agency in 2007, she pursued her 220 and moved through various roles in the agency such as Commercial Lines Service Representative, Commercial Lines Producer & Director of Operations. To further her insurance knowledge, she obtained her CIC designation in 2016. Most recently she opened an independent agency in Largo, FL focusing on Personal Lines and Commercial Insurance.
Throughout your life you will make many purchases, but few will be as substantial as buying a home. During the excitement of choosing the perfect home, I have noticed insurance is typically a last-minute thought which results in a rush to secure insurance coverage before closing. In my last blog, “Preparation is Key to Save on Your Auto Insurance” I wrote about being prepared; the same goes for homeowner’s insurance, especially in Florida.
Florida Insurance is unique due to our Hurricane Season from June 1st to November 30th. During these months, hurricanes and tropical storms are a threat to property and lives and can also disrupt the normal process of purchasing insurance. As a Florida Insurance agent, I have seen several homeowners have their closing delayed due to impending named storms. This is because once a storm is within what our industry calls, “The Box”, no coverage can be obtained. If you are purchasing a home during hurricane season, having that knowledge will keep you better prepared to make insurance one of your first priorities when buying a new home.
Hurricanes are not the only hurdle during the insurance buying process. If you are purchasing an older home, most carriers typically will require a 4 Point Inspection. This short one- or two-page inspection will inform the agent and company important information about your home. Such as updates and other details regarding your roof, heating, plumbing and electrical system (these are the “4 Points”). This will guide the agent to choose the best company for your home. Without this information, most standard companies will not write the business.
Another valuable document you want to secure before closing is a wind mitigation form. This form will list the roof features on your home to protect it during a hurricane. For example, your home may have clips or straps on your roof trusses which help secure the roof to the structure during a storm. A wind mitigation form may cost around $100 but could save you thousands in the long run.
When you have selected your home and the offer has been accepted, make selecting your insurance a priority. Finding the proper insurance for your home takes time and knowing what to expect will help the process along. Hopefully now you have a better idea of what to expect, but what do the coverages mean?
Below, I have created an easy reference guide for the main coverages you will find on a typical homeowner’s policy.
Dwelling Coverage (Coverage A) – The amount of coverage estimated to replace your home due to a covered loss. This does not include land and is different from the sales price.
Other Structures (Coverage B) – Detached structures on your property such as a detached garage, fence, shed, etc.
Personal Property (Coverage C) – Personal belongings inside of your home such as furniture, electronics, clothes, etc. Think about the items you would take when moving from one home to the next.
Loss of Use (Coverage D) – In the event there is a covered loss on your policy and your home is not habitable, this coverage will pay for additional living expenses such as a hotel stay or renting another home while your home is being repaired.
Personal Liability (Coverage E) –If a claim or a suit is brought against an insured for damages because of bodily injury or property damage this coverage will provide a defense and pay up to the limit for legally liable losses.
Medical Payments (Coverage F) – Think of this coverage as “keep your friends” coverage. Medical payments can cover expenses for the injured party for expenses such as x-rays, dental or ambulance. Unlike Personal Liability, you do not have to be proven legally liability for this coverage to apply.
Replacement Cost Contents – The cost to replace your contents without deduction for depreciation. Without this endorsement, your contents will be settled at Actual Cash Value. Think about it this way, if you do not add Replacement Cost on your contents, you will receive a garage sale payout.
Limited Fungi, Rot Bacteria – Coverage for spread or any activity of fungi, wet or dry rot, or bacteria.
Animal Liability –Liability protection for bodily injury or property damage to another party if your dog causes injury.
Refrigerated Property Coverage – Coverage for property stored in freezers or refrigerators.
Water Back Up and Sump Overflow – Water, water-borne material or sewage which backs up through sewers or drains.
Personal Injury Coverage – Adds personal liability for accusation such as false arrest, detention or imprisonment, malicious prosecution, libel, slander, defamation of character, invasion of privacy, wrongful eviction or wrongful entry.
Disclosure: Information provided above is basic information. Each company and policy have their own definitions, rules, limits, and guidelines. It is always best to read your individual policy and contact your agent for any questions.