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Chris Black Insurance is now proud to offer Nationwide Insurance Products “Nationwide is on your side!”

By Chris Black

January 19, 2015

Recently, Chris Black Insurance was appointed by Nationwide Insurance to offer their wide range of products to our customers.  The partnership means that CBI will now have an even more diverse set of product offerings for our customers.  Nationwide specializes in Automobile, Renters, Commercial, Life and Financial Products.  Nationwide is one of the only carriers in FL who can offer a business a comprehensive Business Owners Package (BOP) with wind coverage.  Nationwide’s appetite for BOP’s includes: Various styles of Restaurants (Including Franchise operations), Auto Service,  Professional Offices, and Veterinarians just to name a few.  The policies are very competitively priced and offer a more comprehensive policy for the business owner than a policy that’s written as a package.  This partnership will undoubtedly to be a great one, and will allow CBI to better protect their customers.  “Nationwide is on your side!”.

 

 

Florida Home Carriers Now Offering Coverage Enhancement for Identity Theft Recovery

By Chris Black

November 18, 2014

Florida homeowner's insurance carriers are beginning to recognize the dangers posed to consumers with the recent rash of cyber security attacks. Several of our carrier partners have begun offering Identity Recovery coverage that provides restoration case management services from a licensed private investigator and/or case manager with expense reimbursement up of up to $25,000. This coverage protects policyholders from the growing number of data breaches in the U.S. The recent cyber attack on JPMorgan Chase, which compromised the customer information of 76 million households, is just another example of how clever cyber terrorists have become in hacking into America's most secure organizations.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida leads the nation with the most identity theft breaches per capita. We have a large population of senior citizens in Florida and we know that demographic has a higher propensity for having their information stolen. Most carriers now offer some type of identity theft protection coverage in their policy forms. This coverage not only helps to quickly restore your life to normal, but provides case management so that you won't have to spend the many hours it takes to get your identity back! Most carrier's endorsements for Identity Recovery coverage also provide legal fee reimbursement, credit report monitoring, lost wages for time spent away from work to rectify the situation, mental health counseling, and more! The best part about the coverage is that it's relatively inexpensive to add to the policy. In most cases the coverage will only cost about $25 per year.

Our society revolves around computers and in the future, I believe the frequency and severity of Identity Thefts will continue to trend upward. If you have questions about whether or not your policy protects you against identity theft or if you'd like to talk about obtaining a policy which has the coverage, contact our agency and we'll be glad to discuss this with you in more detail.

 

 

Pasco County Flood Boundary Map Revision

By Chris Black

October 8, 2014

Late last month the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) released the newly drawn flood insurance boundary maps for parts of central and eastern Pasco county. If you live in this area you may have a new flood zone that would require you to obtain a flood insurance policy. Pasco county released the new digital flood boundary maps which seems to have an impact on over 12,000 homeowners. It’s not all bad news however, some 4000 homeowners will no longer be required to carry flood insurance, but as many as 8600 homes have been changed to an “A” flood zone.  The homes that are switched to an A zone which have a federally backed mortgage loan would now be required by the lender to carry a flood insurance policy.  

This is the first major update to the Pasco county flood boundary map in over 20 years. There will be another update in about 5 years for everything west of the suncoast parkway. Hillsborough updated there flood maps in 2008.

You can view the new flood maps online at http://pascoview.pascocountyfl.net/FEMA_Viewer/

If you have questions about the remapping and are wondering if your home is affected feel free to contact our office an speak with an agent who will be able to assist you.

 

 

Chris Black Insurance Tampa Location Now Open

By Chris Black

September 2, 2014

We're very pleased to announce that we've opened our third location in New Tampa!  Our new office is located within the Keller Williams New Tampa Realty office off of Highwoods Preserve near Bruce B. Downs and I75: 18302 Highwoods Preserve Parkway #110 Tampa, FL 33647.  We're excited for the opportunity and look forward building some great new relationships!

 

 

Dwindling Tampa Bay Area Flood Insurance Options

By Chris Black

August 30, 2014

The Tampa Bay area's choices for flood insurance have recently shrunk.  After nearly a year of having a private flood insurance option, the Lloyds of London program that was available to our agency via the Gainesville based MGA, will no longer be offering NEW flood insurance policies in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Manatee, or Sarasota counties.  The move is a result of two factors 1) Of $250 million worth of exposure throughout Florida, these 5 counties had the highest concentration of risks thus the need to spread that risk throughout the rest of the state and 2) After Congress passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013 (HFIAA), which nullified many of the provisions of the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012 (BW-12), the demand for the private market flood insurance option was not as great.  Had the HFIAA not been passed and BW-12 remained the law, we likely would have seen more private flood market capitalization and the formation of new carriers offering similar products.  Until FEMA decides to "stir the pot" again we'll continue issuing National Flood Insurance Program policies in the Tampa Bay area.  If you have questions about flood insurance feel free to reach out to us and we'll be glad to assist you!

 

 

Sunshine State Insurance Company Forced Into Receivership

By Chris Black

June 8, 2014

With the 2014 Hurricane season upon us, another FL domestic home insurer “Bites the Dust”.  Sunshine State Insurance Company (SSIC) was a Jacksonville, FL based homeowner’s carrier with about 36,000 policies in force throughout the state.  Just a few days ago on June 3rd, the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Leon County (Tallahassee) FL ordered them into receivership for purposes of liquidation.  Earlier this year in March, the FL Office of Insurance Regulation put Sunshine State on notice that they had to either sell their book of business to another Florida domestic insurer or make a capital infusion to their policyholder surplus (which is a carriers’ fund which is designed to pay initial claims prior to reinsurance kicking in) to bring it up to the minimum required $15,000,000 mark.  They weren’t able to do either and have therefore been forced into receivership status. 

When something like this happens to a FL insurer it causes an adverse chain reaction of events that have a negative impact on the policyholder, servicing agent and agency, and industry as a whole.  Let’s suppose you’re a policyholder of SSIC and on June 2nd experienced a water damage loss.  Because the carrier has been forced into receivership, you’re claim is now going to be handled by the Florida Insurance Guarantee Association (FIGA) which is responsible for adjusting and administering the claim payment according to the limits and coverage specified in the policy.  Because FIGA is a governmental agency you can expect delays in getting you’re claim settled!  Let’s imagine that our agency represented SSIC (which we did NOT!) and we had 350 policyholders insured with them.  When we get the “bad” news that the company has fallen into financial ruin, our staff is immediately thrust into a frenzy.  We would now need to contact, quote, rewrite, and issue new policies for as many policy holders as we can possibly get in touch with.  It would be nearly impossible for most agencies to handle that many policies in a month or two let alone right away when it really needs to occur!  Lastly, this type of event has a negative impact on the industry as whole.  Each year prior to Hurricane season, FL domestic carrier’s purchase reinsurance and subsequently all the FL carriers have already secured those reinsurance “treaties” as they’re referred to for the upcoming term.  When these treaties are entered into, carriers make an educated guess of an approximate number of policies they’ll have in any given area.  When you have 36,000 policies back on the market, and didn’t forecast for that in your reinsurance projections, it’s safe to assume that some of the carriers set to take on this risk may not be adequately reinsured for it.  Hopefully, they’ll go back to their reinsurers and make the necessary adjustments based on the situation.

All in all this type of situation isn’t a good one for anyone concerned.  It’s important that your agency monitor not only the financial rating indicators of either AM Best or Demotech, but also look more closely at factors like surplus to risk ratios, exposure management, carrier philosophy, claims management and more.  At Chris Black Insurance, we take pride in placing our policy holders with the most financially stable carriers, with sound management that spread their exposure throughout the state.  Claims management is important to us, which is why we have a dedicated claims management specialist on staff to assist you in filing a claim, working with the adjuster, hiring contractors, and getting you and your property back in pre loss condition!  If you or anyone you know has been affected by the Sunshine State Insurance Company notice of receivership, please don’t hesitate to contact our agency.  We can replace the policy with a new more financially stable carrier.

 

 

Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 amending BW-12 is signed into law!

By Chris Black

April 7, 2014

Late last month, President Obama signed the Homeowner Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HR3370).  This bill modifies and/or repeals many of the provisions that were implemented as a result of the passage of the Bigger-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012 (BW-12).  The passage of HR3370 comes as a welcomed relief to many realtors in and around our area because BW-12 threatened to severely devalue real estate and ultimately hinder the ability of families to sale their homes.  BW-12 contained several unintended consequences for flood policy holders.  Pinellas was the #1 most affected county in the United States with over 40,000 structures primed to see a rate increase.  Some of these rate changes as a result of BW-12 were very steep and HR3370 will give some relief to many of the family’s that faced skyrocketing premiums. 

The #1 thing that we must understand about the new law is that although it was signed by President Obama and it technically is the new law, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) governs what happens with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  FEMA has to issue “guidance” on the new law which basically means they’re in charge of deciding when the changes in the new law will take effect.  As of now, FEMA has not issued any guidance and it’s debatable as to when they’ll offer that.  In the case of BW-12, it took FEMA 9 months to issue their guidance on when those changes would be phased in, so buckle up…because it could be a while before we find out when the changes in HR3370 will go into effect!

Here’s a synopsis of HR3370 and how it changes the provisions in BW-12.

 TOPIC: Subsidized Rates for Pre-FIRM (FIRM=Flood Insurance Rate Map) Homes which are homes built prior to the first FIRM in 1974. 

BW-12’s Stance: Basically, this law restricted the use of the subsidized rates for Pre-FIRM homes and mandated that any policy purchased on or after 7/6/12 for Pre-FIRM structures would have to obtain an Elevation Certificate (EC) and pay the “full risk rate” from the onset.  Subsequently, if a homeowner lapsed a subsidized rate policy, they too would be required to obtain an EC and pay the “full risk rate”.  Additionally, all existing Pre-Firm subsidized rate policyholders would begin to see annual increases in their policy to the tune of 25% until their policy reached the “full risk rate”. 

HR3370’s Amendments: Subsidized rate structures for Pre-FIRM primary homes have been reinstated with no 25% mandatory rate increases for primary homes.  If a policyholder with a subsidized rate policy decides to lapse the policy, or the lender which was paying the premium for such a policy doesn’t pay the premium and the policy lapses, then the customer may not be eligible for a subsidized rate policy again and may be required to obtain an EC and pay the full risk rate.  The 25% annual increase for non-primary and non-residential homes remains in place. **There are several variables that could occur with this portion of the bill and specific guidance from FEMA is still forthcoming to clean some of the speculation up** 

 

TOPIC:  Grandfathering of policies when flood zones change due to FEMA Flood Map Amendments or base flood elevation changes.

BW-12’s Stance:  Eliminated grandfathering of policies all together. 

HR3370’s Amendments: Grandfathering was reinstated on the model prior to BW-12

 

TOPIC: Annual Rate Increases

BW-12’s Stance: Prior to this legislation the statutory cap on flood policies was 10%.  BW-12 changed the ceiling on rate increases to 20% annually.

HR3370’s Amendments:  This change is slightly confusion but the amendment now basically states that the rate increases will be between 15-18% and capped at that 18% level. 

 

TOPIC:  Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) Eligibillity Extension (PRPEE)

BW-12 & HR3370:  Both laws keep the exiting language in place.  The PRP policy is designed for a home that’s located in a non-mandatory “lower risk” structure located in a B,C, or X flood plain.  In 2010 FEMA allowed for policy holders that were mapped out of this zone to keep their preferred rate policy if it meets a certain set of criteria.  These provisions will be left alone and will not be changed in either law.  

 

TOPIC: Annual Premium Surcharges

BW-12’s Stance: This topic was not contained in BW-12 and is new to HR3370.  Please note that this “surcharge” is different than the above mentioned Annual Rate Increases

HR3370 Amendments: $25 surcharge will be applied to all primary residential policies and $250 applied to all non-residential and non-primary residential policies. 

 

TOPIC: Installment Premium Payments

BW-12’s Stance: Installment payments were authorized but no specifics were provided “guidance” on.

HR3370 Amendments: Monthly Installment payments are specifically mentioned.

 

TOPIC: Deductibles

BW-12’s Stance: Deductibles for Pre-FIRM structures with building coverage over $100,000 was changed from $1,500 to $2,000.  For Post-FIRM risk the deductibles were changed from $1,000 to $1,250

HR3370 Amendments: BW-12 amendments remain however a deductible of $10,000 must be offered for residential properties. 

 

TOPIC: Detached Structures  **Note-Except for limited coverage for a detached garage, there is no “other structures” coverage in the NFIP, and each building requires a separate policy.

BW-12’s Stance: No Changes were made.

HR3370 Amendments: States that all detached structures are NOT required to carry flood insurance.  The bill goes on to state that the requirement to carry the coverage on a “detached structure” may be imposed by a lender to protect their collateral.  **Very ambiguous wording So we’ll see how this provision plays out in the future!**

 

TOPIC: Multi-Family Residential Properties

BW-12’s Stance: Increased the maximum limit of coverage for 5 or more family residential structures from $250,000 per unit to $500,000 per unit.  Effective date for this implementation is set for 6/1/14

HR3370 Amendments: None.

 

TOPIC: Private Flood Insurance

BW-12’s Stance: Required lenders to accept private flood insurance as satisfaction of flood coverage provided the coverage in the private market met certain requirements, most notably that the policy be “at least as good as the NFIP policy”. 

HR3370 Amendments: None.  **Insurers likely will continue to be reluctant to accept coverage from private insurers.**

 

There are a handful of other topics discussed in the new legislation however they’re not as noteworthy.  It’s important to remember that the FEMA has not issued any “guidance” on the new legislation and all the HR3370 Amendments listed above will not go into effect until that happens. If you have any questions about the affects of the legislation and would like an update on when the HR3370 amendments go into effect please feel free to reach out to our agency and we’ll be glad to assist. 

 

 

New Parents + New Responsibilities = Life Insurance Review!

By Chris Black

January 14, 2014

Surely, any newly expecting family has heard the chatter about how much the little "bundle if joy" is going to change their lives.  Then, when the time finally comes the light bulb goes off and they realize exactly what those words meant!  This feeling has hit home for me in the last few weeks as my wife Morgan and I welcomed our first child into the world!  Suddenly, (well...after nine months of preparation) our lives were turned upside down and the realization set in that we're parents and now responsible for the health and well-being of our little guy.  One aspect of the well-being of a child that I suspect many new parents overlook is the financial future of the family in the event that something happens to either parent.  As an insurance professional one of the first things I thought after having some time to reflect on things was 'Do my wife and I have enough life insurance in place in the event that something happens to either of us?'.  Believe it or not, the answer for us was "No".  Unfortunately, for most people (including ourselves) life insurance is one thing that seemed to always get pushed to the back burner and isn't viewed as a priority.  After being in that delivery room and experiencing the miracle that we created, it struck me that it's imperative to have this in place right away.  Life is very fragile, and many of us take that for granted on a regular basis.  Unless your Walt Disney and the rumors of being cryogenically frozen under the magic kingdom are true...we're all going to "assume room temperature" at some point in time.

      For us, as in most families the husbands and/or wives likely take some time after the birth for maternity leave.  This is a perfect time to begin the process of obtaining adequate life insurance for your new or growing family. I personally have taken advantage of this time to make sure we have enough insurance in place and I would highly encourage all new parents or parents with new children to do the same.  For us, it's as easy as me logging into our life insurance brokerage website and submitting the applications.  For anyone else it would be as easy as picking up the phone and calling me!

      Seriously, if you're anything like me and truly care for the well-being of your family...and I suspect you do...do yourself a favor and make sure your family is protected with an adequate amount of life insurance! 

 

 

Upcoming Flood Insurance Changes and What You Need To Know

By Chris Black

September 21, 2013

Recently, there’s been a lot of publicity surrounding the upcoming changes to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.  As you may have read or seen on the news, last year Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act (BW-12) with the intention of closing the gap on the massive budget deficit the program has racked up since its inception in 1974.  Many of the articles I’ve read and news clips I’ve seen, have been highly polarizing and in my opinion intended to create a “Shock and Awe” appeal to the reader or viewer.  Although, the consequences of the bill will certainly have an effect on flood insurance premiums for homeowners and businesses, it may not be the “doomsday” scenario that many reporters have suggested. 

In order to understand how the new law will affect policyholders, we should understand a few key things first.  The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was developed in 1974 when the first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) was drawn.  Since that time, homeowners and businesses who owned (or leased) buildings located in Special Flood Hazard Area’s (SFHA) built PRIOR to the first FIRM (Pre-FIRM) were given preferential treatment.  Prior to BW-12, these policyholders have been allowed to pay a subsidized rate for their flood insurance policies.  Another important item to understand is the idea of the Full Risk Rate for flood insurance policies.  A Full Risk Rate is an actuarially sound rate which is determined with the use of an Elevation Certificate (EC).  The EC provides data about the properties height relative to the base flood area.  The data contained on an EC allows flood insurers to determine the true cost for flood insurance aka the Full Risk Rate.  Lastly, it’s important to note that all buildings built AFTER 1974 which are in a SFHA and require flood insurance, are NOT eligible for subsidized rates in any way and have been and will continue to be required to obtain an EC and pay a Full Risk Rate on their policies.

On October 1st 2013, the BW-12 law will begin affecting the following policy holders:

  • Business’, Rental/ Secondary Homes, and Severe Repetitive Loss properties in mandatory flood zones which are currently paying subsidized Pre-FIRM flood insurance rates.  These policyholders will be impacted with a 25% annual rate increase year over year until their policy reaches its Full Risk Rate.
  • Primary and/or non-primary homes purchased after 7/6/12 (BW-12 inception date) which are paying a subsidized Pre-FIRM rate will also be impacted.  These policyholders, upon their first renewal after the October 1st 2013 BW-12 implementation, will be required to obtain an Elevation Certificate (EC) and renew their policy at the Full Risk Rate. 
  •  Owner occupied primary homeowners in Pre-Firm zones who are currently paying a subsidized rate will only see a 5% rate increase from the law as long as they maintain coverage with NO LAPSE.  If this type of policyholder happens to lapse their policy however, they’ll immediately be required to obtain an EC and pay the Full Risk Rate. 
  • Newly written flood insurance policies for any property regardless of whether the structure is pre or post FIRM will now be required to have an EC and pay the Full Risk Rate.
  • Policyholders who are not in SFHA’s who currently have a Preferred Risk Policy will not be affected by the changes at this time.

The most controversial piece of BW-12 is the 25% year over year increase that Business’, Rental/ Secondary homes, and severe repetitive loss Pre-FIRM properties in SFHA’s will have to pay.  Pinellas County has the highest concentration of properties affected of any county in the United States with over 40,000 in total.  Hillsborough County is close behind with over 26,000 properties!  Although these figures are staggering and will definitely have an impact on many homes and businesses, many of them could see rate decreases in their flood insurance if they take the necessary action.  Subsidized rates are “generic” and aren’t based on any specific risk characteristics for a particular home. Many times, subsidized rates can be much higher that what the actual Full Risk Rate is.  For example, this week we quoted a Pre-FIRM risk in Hillsborough County using the subsidized rate structure and the rate was over $8,000.  We recommended that the homeowner obtain an EC (which typically cost about $125 and can be completed by most surveying companies).  When we quoted the home with the specific data from the EC the rate was just over $2,000!  Needless to say the insured was thrilled!  By obtaining an EC and getting the Full Risk Rate specific to the home it can, in many cases be less expensive for the policyholder.  

So what’s the takeaway from all this?  Our recommendation to anyone that’s affected by BW-12 would be to immediately obtain an EC.  Once it’s complete, send a copy of it to us or your insurance agent and ask them to provide a quote based on the specific data from the EC.  If the Full Risk Rate is lower than what they were paying under the subsidized rate structure, you can change it upon renewal.  If the Full Risk Rate is higher (which will indeed happen as well) the customer isn’t required to rewrite the policy at that time.  They can simply let the 25% increase take effect until it catches up with what the Full Risk Rate is over time.  If you have additional questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to give any of our agents a call and we’ll be glad to help answer them. 

 

 

Hurricane Preparation and Your Homeowners Insurance

By Kim Young

August 10, 2013

 

Currently, we're midway through the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Until now, Florida has been spared from any major storms once again!  In the last several years, Florida has seen relatively little hurricane activity which may suggest Floridians have forgotten about the potential severity and may be less prepared for a storm now than ever before.  Last week, one of our carrier partners, Tower Hill Insurance, asked me to be on ABC Action News with them to talk about hurricane preparedness. 

Anytime a person or family experiences a property loss it's an emotional experience.  In many instances the home is severely damaged and even uninhabitable.  A hurricane loss can exacerbate that emotion because the severity of the loss often entails total devastation.  Imagine, having to evacuate your town or city and leave everything behind.  When you return to  the site where your home, your life, your family “used to be” you find nothing but ruble.  This undoubtedly can be a traumatic experience.  After a hurricane loss your insurance carrier's claims adjuster will work with you to make you "whole" again and replace your home and belongings (provided the coverage on the policy covered such a loss).  At this point, the claims adjuster will ask you for a detailed listing of what was actually lost in the home.  As you can imagine, after such a devastating experience it may be difficult to remember what you actually owned but no longer have.  Based on this scenario, it would be much less taxing to already have the list of belongings available to you.  Almost everyone these days has a smartphone or tablet and as the case with most things, there’s an app for this too!  If you search your application store on your iPhone or Android device you’ll see several ‘Home Inventory’ applications.  Most of these apps are free however you can pay up to about $4.99 for some increased functionality.  These apps allow you to go room by room and chronicle the items you actually own.  You can take a photograph and even place a value on the item.  As you accumulate more things the list can easily be updated and stored on the app.  Once complete, you can easily send an email to your insurance agent from within the app and the information can be stored electronically in your file.  Take my advice, spend a little time and document your belongings.  It will save you time and a tremendous amount of headache after a major loss. 

For more information on how to create a list of belongings please give our office a call at 813-782-1777 and one of our agents will be glad to discuss how!

 

 

FL Legislature Passes Bill that will Drastically Change Citizen's

By Chris Black

May 26, 2013

Recently, the Florida Legislature wrapped up its 2013 session by passing another meaningful insurance bill.  Senate Bill 1770 which was sponsored by David Simmons-Naples was signed into law. The Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA) worked closely with lawmakers to make sure the passage of the bill was in the best interest of Florida's financial future as a whole.  As with most bills that become law, there were several "Add On’s"  or “Pork” that are of less notable, however, the major component of this legislation is the creation of the "Clearinghouse" for all homeowner’s policies that are submitted to Citizen's. 

Currently, Citizen's insures over 1.5 million properties in the state and approximately 8,000 new policies a week are flowing into the "Insurer of Last Resort".  As Citizen's continues to grow, the state of Florida, and all taxpayers living here, have more and more financial risk to bail Citizen's policyholders out and pay claims if Citizen’s doesn't have enough in the kitty after a major catastrophe (which is a well-documented concern).  Currently, there's a law on the books which states, “An insurance agent CAN NOT offer a policy with Citizen's if there's an offer of coverage from a standard market carrier with comparable coverage's if the standard carriers' policy premium is within 15% of the Citizen's price.”  This law was enacted about 6 years ago and was aimed at limiting the growing number of policies going into Citizen's at that time.  The inherent flaw in the law was that there was no mechanism created to police it.  Many insurance agencies only have one or two homeowner's insurance carrier options and subsequently Citizen’s is offered when there may be a better option in the standard market.  If the customer doesn't shop around, they’re often left with a substandard Citizen’s policy and liable for the lack of coverage and potential assessments that are now part of Citizen’s policy form.  I will note that our agency represents 19 of the finest carriers currently offering coverage in FL and only offer Citizen’s when none of the other carriers are able to offer coverage. The establishment of the "Clearinghouse" will be a mechanism to police this law and hopefully reduce the overall growth of Citizens.  Here's how it will work:

1) Policies written with Citizen's starting in January 2014 will be placed into an insurance "Purgatory" for 48 hours where all available standard carriers will have the opportunity to look over the risk and determine if it meets underwriting guidelines.  If that carrier’s offer of coverage is comparable in coverage and within 15% of the Citizen’s premium it becomes eligible for that carrier to take it and automatically becomes ineligible for the Citizen’s policy.  

2) At this point the agent who has offered the Citizen's policy will enter into a limited service agreement with that carrier offering coverage and write the policy for the individual. 

3) If the policy doesn't qualify for any standard carrier, after the 48 hour wait the policy will be released from the "Clearinghouse" and bound with Citizens. 

Lawmakers and the FAIA believe this process will slow the amount of policies entering Citizens and potentially provide more comprehensive coverage to consumers.  From an implementation standpoint I'm sure it will have it challenges, as most things revolving around Citizen's do!  Overall, I feel it's a step in the right direction and the right thing to do for the financial future of our state.

For more information about this legislation or any other insurance related questions please feel free to contact us and we’ll be glad to help!

 

 

Feb 28th 2013 Seffner FL Catastrophic Ground Collapse Event

By Chris Black

March 04, 2013

If you've recently been watching the local and/ or national news you've likely seen coverage on the "Sinkhole" that opened on Thursday February 28th in Seffner, FL taking the life of a man in his early 30's.  The circumstances surrounding the story are extremely sad and we feel terribly for the family who lost their loved one. 

Since this occurrence, we've experienced several inquiries from customers wondering what the likelihood of these types of events are and if their homes are covered for such an occurrence.  First, these events are categorized as Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse's (CGCC) because the event met the following four characteristics: 1) Sudden 2) Catastrophic in nature with damage to the dwelling 3) A visible depression (or hole) opened on the property & 4) The home is deemed uninhabitable by a local code enforcement official.  All homeowners and dwelling fire policies in the state of FL automatically provide coverage for these types of events so your home is covered for these types of catastrophe's.  Many people commonly refer to these types of events as "sinkholes" however the actual definition is CGCC. 

This CGCC occurrence was definitely one of the saddest case's that I've seen since beginning in the insurance industry several years ago and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the victim.  The likelihood of this type of event happening to you and your family are extremely low however. Although these types of losses can occur, they are extremely rare. A homeowner is far more likely to experience a loss from a broken pipe or a fire than they are from a catastrophic ground collapse. 

If you have questions or would like to discuss your policy please feel free to contact our office and myself or one of our very knowledgeable agents will be glad to discuss things with you!

Thank you,
Chris Black

 

 

All Insurance policies and carriers aren't created equal...Sometimes, you get what you pay for!

By Chris Black

April 17, 2012

Insurance customers are price sensitive customers, and the struggling economy has made consumers even more price sensitive.

Observers are worried that insurance coverage is becoming so standard that customers do not even keep their needs and their necessary insurance coverage in mind. Instead customers are just picking the cheapest policy or given coverage without regard of brand, the reputation of the company, the insurance coverage and insurance coverage features. Agent are starting to notice that it used to be easier to sell better insurance coverage at a high cost, but because of the down turn in the economy most consumers only care about cost. 25% of independent agents reported that their customer almost always go with the cheapest policy, at least 90% of the time. One agent said companies are so impressed with themselves and their coverage that they have lost touch of what the consumer really wants and that is the lowest price. Unfortunately, the name, coverage's, and the service make no difference to the customer.

New research is showing that cases of the consumer picking the cheapest insurance are becoming less common. Carriers can compete with other companies effectively on other factors other than price. Customers and independent agents are more willing to choose more expensive insurance because it will better suit their needs of coverage and other certain factors, according to preliminary findings in a study by Channel Harvest Research. More than 30% of all independent agents reported that they and their customer end up selecting more expensive carriers 25% of the time or more. Others report show that 50% of their clients go with higher-priced policies for various reasons.

With that said, all insurance policies are not created and furthermore all carriers area not created equal either! Part of our job as your independent agent is to make sure the products and policies we offer you  are not only competitively price but have the right coverage's for you with carriers that will provide excellent service when the time comes. You want to rest assured that if you are paying for coverage on a home, vehicle, or business coverage please do not hesitate to contact one of our professional agents. The carriers will come through with efficient claims payments and excellent service. If you have questions about your carrier or the coverage's on your existing policy please feel free to contact one of our professional agents today!

 

 

BILL ALLOWING CITIZEN'S POLICIES TO BE ASSUMED BY UNREGULATED INSURERS ADVANCES IN FL LEGISLATURE

By Chris Black

February 7, 2012

Citizen's Property Insurance Corporation was founded 10 years ago to be Florida's property insurance carrier of last resort.  Since that time, many carriers in FL have vacated the marketplace and currently Citizen's is the largest property insurance carrier in the state with over 1.5 Million policies in force and growing at a rate of 1,000 new policies per day.  Governor Scott and FL lawmakers have recently made a substantial push to limit the size of Citizen's by reducing coverage's on the policy such as removing screened enclosure coverage, and limiting the dwelling coverage amount to $1M (which is drastic reduction from the previous $2M cap). 

Another way for the size of Citizen's to be reduced is by a method known as "Depopulation" in which standard insurance carriers like Florida Peninsula Insurance Company, or Southern Fidelity Insurance Company (just to name two) petition Citizen's to assume some of the policies from the insurer of last resort.  Typically, this is a good thing from a consumer standpoint because the standard carrier’s policy form includes more coverage and is usually at or below that of what Citizen's charges.  This depopulation method has been completed successfully in the past by dozens of carriers representing hundreds of thousands of policies.

Many consumers may not know that there are several insurance companies that write coverage in FL (typically for higher value homes) that are not approved by the FL OIR (Office of Insurance Regulation) and aren't backed by the FL Guarantee Association.  These companies are known as Surplus Lines Carrier or E&S carriers.  Because they're basically unregulated by the state, carriers in the Surplus Lines arena can charge any rate they'd like, and in the event they go bankrupt there's no recourse for the policyholder if they have a pending claim.  Standard carriers policyholder's are part of FL Guarantee fund and would step in to assist and pay a claim for a homeowner that may have an open claim from an insolvent insurer.

Most recently House Bill 245 made its way through and essentially allows carriers in Florida's Surplus Lines market to step in and begin to depopulate the Citizen's book of business much like the process that standard carriers have done for the past several years.  Similar legislation is currently in FL Senate and if passed would be another piece of groundbreaking legislation pertaining to the Insurance Industry under Gov. Scott.  Proponents of the bill say that the ability for a carrier to charge any rate will promote natural economic factors of supply and demand to take hold ultimately producing a healthy market place for all the carriers doing business in FL.  Despite an opt out clause that's in the bill opponents are saying that allowing these unregulated companies access to depopulate and the ability to charge any rate they choose will have negative implications on the market and put one more strain on the consumer in these tough economic times. 

Hopefully, we'll know more soon and we will keep you informed in upcoming blog posts as to the outcome of the proposed bill.  One of our specialties at Chris Black Insurance is Homeowner's insurance and we represent over a dozen A rated standard carriers.  Many of these carriers are writing new coverage in the various parts of the state so I'd encourage you to contact our office for more information. 

 

 

More Coverage Limitations on the Horizion for Citizen's in 2012

By Chris Black

December 11, 2011

Currently, Citzen's Property Insurance Corp is FL's largest property insurance carrier with over 1.5 million policies and it continues to grow by about 1,000 policies a day.   It's total exposure is estimated at $500 BILLION and as we stand currently, Citizen's only has the capability to pay roughly $16.7 Billion in the event of a major catastrophic storm.   In May 2011 Senate Bill 408 was made law which was the most sweeping insurance regulation in FL in over 20 years.  One of the provisions of the bill mandated that Citizen's take a closer look at their ever growing business model with the intention to reduce it's overall size and exposure.  These steps have begun to be put into action and in a recent proposal to Governor Scott and other state leaders, Citizen's laid out some of the strategies for limiting coverage and shrinking their exposure.  The following are a few highlights of the 31 proposed changes:

  • Adding a 10% (of the Dwelling value) sinkhole deductible.
  • Capping Dwelling coverage on high value homes to $1Million. 
  • Reducing Personal Liability coverage from $300,000 to $100,000
  • Removing Ordinance and Law Coverage from all policies.
  • Removing coverage for almost all "Other Structures" including Carports, Screened Rooms, Pool Enclosures, Gazebo's ect.
  •  Placing a cap of $10,000 for cosmetic damages on specialty flooring that's less than 5% of the total square footage of the home. 
  • Raising the cap on the legislative ceiling for annual rate increases of 10%.

Also starting in 2012 for new business is an affidavit that will require a policy holders signature which states that they may be subject to significant assessments in the event of a major catastrophe in which Citizen's can't pay all claims. 

If all recommendations are passed Citizens could see their total exposure shrink to around $313 Billion which is much better than the current number but still doesn't totally alleviate the problem. 

Chris Black Insurance represents several Admitted A rated carriers and may have a solution to anyone that may currently be insured with Citizen's or may be considering purchasing a Citizen's Homeowner's policy.  Please contact our agency and we'll be glad to discuss what we can do for you!

 

 

MAJOR UPCOMING CITIZEN'S POLICY EXCLUSIONS EFFECTIVE 1/1/12

By Chris Black

November 3, 2011

Today Citizen's announced a major change to it's policy that will take effect January 1, 2012.th  Several policy limitations and/or exclusions will be added to renewals after this date.  The following are a list of the changes:

  • Screened enclosures that are aluminum framed or not covered by the same or substantially the same materials as that of the primary dwelling
  • Carports that are aluminum or not covered by the same or substantially the same materials as that of the primary dwelling
  • Patios that have a roof covering not constructed of the same or substantially the same materials as that of the primary dwelling
  • Awnings
  • Structures with a roof or wall covering that are thatch, lattice, slats or a similar material
  • Slat houses, chickees, tiki huts, gazebos, cabanas, canopies, pergolas or similar structures constructed to be open to the weather

This move by Citizens is an attempt to detract policyholders from maintaining coverage with the carrier, limit Citizen's "Maximum Probable Loss" and hopefully shed some of the policies that Citizen's has recently taken on.  Citizen's is currently adding slightly more than 1,000 policies each business day and will continue to grow into an even larger problem if that growth continues. I would expect to see many more changes with the Carrier over the next 12-18 months.  For more info on this topic or any other insurance related question you may have don't hesitate to contact our office and speak with one of our knowledgeable agents.

 

 

Commissioner McCarthy Limits Citizen's Sinkhole Rate Increase

By Chris Black

September 23, 2011

This week Commissioner McCarthy of the FL Office of Insurance Regulation ruled that the proposed Citizen's rate hike for sinkhole coverage of over 400% was unwarranted and they failed to provide a valid argument of why these rates needed to rise so drastically.  Mccarthy pointed out that Citizen's failed to acknowledge how the newly passed legislation pertaining to sinkhole claims would impact the amount of claims that come into the carrier.  McCarthy didn't feel the proposed rate increase was valid and he in turned granted an average statewide increase of 32.8%.  Residents here in the Pasco county area should see an increase of roughly 10% (of the previously sinkhole premium attributed to the policy).  Residents and homeowner's can breath a sigh of relief that the proposed rate hike isn't going to be taking place!

 

 

***Citizen's Sinkhole Rate Hike***

By Chris Black

August 11, 2011

The latest blow in the local "Sinkhole Saga" was delivered on August 4th when Citizen's sent their rate revisions to the Office of Insurance Regulation for review.  Within the rate revision, Citizen's asked for a 447% rate increase in Sinkhole coverage premium on existing policy holders.  The reasoning behind the increase was cited in a recent report which shows that Citizen's collected $32 Million in premium for sinkhole coverage in 2010 and paid over $245 Million in claims in that same time period.  These numbers are up from the 2009 reports of $19.6 Million collected and $96 Million in sinkhole payouts.  Sinkhole claims are continuing to roll in at a staggering rate and continue to threaten the financial stability of the state's second largest property insurance company.  Many industry insider's speculate that Citizen's may not have enough funding to pay claims should we have a series of major storm events, which I believe is why Citizen's is trying to get the Sinkhole Issue under control with these drestic changes.  If approved, the new rate structure would go into effect in Jan/ Feb 2012.  The Office of Insurance Regulation has 45 days from the date of submittal to approve, deny, or modify the rate increase requests.  We'll continue to monitor the situation and keep you abreast of the outcome...

 

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