Homeowners Insurance Blog

November 6, 2012 - 23:30

Homeowners insurance quotes online are a fact of commercial life. Any adult who is paying attention knows that getting free, relatively detailed insurance quotes online—and comparing them with others gotten online—is a wonderful and relatively recent addition to a consumer’s toolbag.

Quick internet access saves time. Think how many minutes are consumed looking up an insurance agent, calling and making an appointment, climbing in the car to keep the appointment, and then meeting and discussing possible premium options. Now think how long it takes to enter the name of an insurer in an internet search engine, get a quote from the company, and look up the address of a local independent or company agent to talk about the quote. No comparison.

The online quote also saves a homeowner from embarrassment. Industry jargon can be confusing. When an agent—even one trying his best not to confuse—drops in elementary terms that nonetheless mean nothing to a homeowner who is reluctant to ask for an explanation, a breakdown in communication has begun. Better that a property owner gets preliminary homeowners insurance quotes online and tackles the jargon later when he is refining the quotes.

Perhaps the biggest boon to home buyers is the ability to quickly compare online quotes. The key to doing so effectively is to be certain that the same coverage is sought from each insurer so that the comparison is apples and apples. Independent agents are ready to help with policy comparisons, perhaps after a rough determination of value is made by an insurance customer.

Agents are vital in explaining the vital details of a policy. Online quotes are based on good, general information, but every house and every homeowner are a different combination. All of the possible variables in a policy affect the final premium and a knowledgeable agent becomes a homeowner’s best friend in the refinement of a quote.

Homeowners insurance quotes online are a marvelous way to explore insurance policies and get a feel for what is out there. Only a foolish homeownerwould buy a policy with no more information than is given in such a quote. For the rest, insurance agents are available to turn the quote into a perfect policy option.

October 31, 2012 - 01:10

Hurricane Sandy is causing devastation for the majority of homeowners across the eastern seaboard.  Many people in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut will have to negotiate claims with home insurance carriers.  We will see wind and water damage that will exceed $15 billion.  Was your house hit by Hurricane Sandy?

Homeowners' insurance companies have gotten tougher as weather is almost certainly more cataclysmic. They've raised rates, carved out some coverage and tucked in new wind and hurricane exclusions and deductibles.

Homeowners have to have to participate in the game right if he or she need claims paid quickly and thoroughly. Start early - some tips about what in order to complete now and soon after.

If you your flashlights loaded with fresh batteries along with your water bottles in a very row, dig out your homeowner's insurance policy and see type coverage you actually have. You could potentially be unpleasantly surprised: After Hurricane Irene hit in August 2011, more insurers tucked hefty wind and hurricane deductibles regularly in their policies. They run 2 percent to 5 percent that belong to the insured property value of your private home, says Charles Hahn, an insurance coverage agent in Little Falls, New Jersey , where "we're known for flooding a lot."

Needless to say many insurers have "anti-concurrent causation clauses" in policies now that say people damage from multiple causes, say wind and flooding, where wind is covered but flooding is not actually - they won't cover some items.

A new flood insurance law passed come July 1st requires insurers which you may use federal data to allocate the actual expense if a home is totally destroyed by flooding and wind damage.

Homeowners who live close to the shoreline do most likely to have federal flood insurance; their mortgage lenders require it. But Hahn says he saw an uptick in inland purchasers after Irene. Nationally, some 5.65 million federal flood insurance policies were put in place when they get home of 2011 - that represents a 17 percent increase over the previous year, in keeping with data coming from the Insurance Information Institute.

That's good, because a great deal of rain fell during Irene that basements flooded in neighborhoods a long way away from rivers and streams. The same identical - or worse - is expected now.

In case you do not need flood insurance, you may have extra protection from water damage and mold as well as insurance policy covers failure of your sump pump, says Richard Cohen, a property loss consultant at Clarke & Cohen in Bala-Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. This coverage is generally included a number of high-end homeowners' policies, although other policies may offer limited coverage.

One silver lining: More often than not water rises really at high point locally it floods car or truck, more than likely covered because of your comprehensive auto policy, reports the insurance coverage Information Institute.

October 24, 2012 - 08:05

The best homeowners insurance provider is a matter of, well, opinion. Facts can be assembled to demonstrate superior service or rates or coverage. However, in the end, an insurance customer often lauds one company over another because of immeasurable attributes like “friendliness” and “caring.” Neither of those qualities is measurable on a rational scale, yet they honestly reflect how a homeowner has ultimately evaluated his insurance provider.

So “best” is subjective. Yet every homeowners insurance company can be judged according to industry criteria that are purely objective. Pricing is one such criterion. The bottom line is the bottom line and every homeowner looks there first in evaluating an insurance policy quote. A company striving to be the best homeowners insurance provider in an area must be price competitive. The price of a policy can be a little higher than the competitors’ prices, but only if there is perceived extra value in a policy.

The “best” company also will have its act together in providing homeowners billing and processing that is easily accessible, easily understood, and straight forward in its intent. Upsetting small print won’t be found in the policy documents of an insurance provider wanting to be deemed the best. By the same token, a company representative should be easily reached and the company operated transparently. An insurer that operates mysteriously does not inspire confidence and probably will not be forthcoming when disaster strikes a home.

The variety of coverages offered by a company will add to its luster. If choices are few, a provider does not really seem to be in business to benefit homeowners. When customer policies are so rigid as to be intimidating, a company has little hope of winning and keeping the loyalty of homeowners. Only so much flexibility is possible in any financial transaction, but circumstances sometimes require a little more give than take and a “best” company is structured to do just that.

What the best homeowners insurance provider covets is high placement in the category of “Best Overall Satisfaction.” This category of evaluation contains both subjective and objective criteria. It summarizes what customers have concluded about a company—that is, what they think of a company, how well they perceive a company works with them, how they feel—yes, feel—about a company. Good feelings make for good customers, and the best homeowners insurance providers know the feeling.

 

October 18, 2012 - 22:41

Home insurance rates are subjectively determined. They are not neatly listed in a book, each ready to be pulled out and applied to a home. That is the first rule that a homeowner must understand when he is looking for a suitable rate on a policy to protect his home: His rate might differ substantially from his neighbor’s.

Home insurance rates vary greatly from state to state. Straight across the country, North Carolina’s average 12-month home insurance rate is $654, Oklahoma’s is $1,730, and California’s is $803, according to homeinsurance.com. The average premium is $853. The variation is wide and based somewhat on regional factors, including weather hazards, fire protection standards, and construction material and costs. Identical homes in different parts of the country will not have identical rates, just as the homes won’t have identical selling prices.

However, one needn’t travel across the country to find $600 annual home insurance rates and $800 annual rates. The varying rates can be in as close proximity as literally next door. That’s because important distinctions can be made between two houses in a neighborhood. One might be older than the other, and the age of a home is a consideration for an insurer. One might have a new roof and another one a potentially leaky one; insurers are concerned about what that means for a house structure and its contents.

Other variables includes whether the occupants of a home smoke—discarded cigarettes have started many a home blaze—and whether the house is constructed of brick or wood. Obviously, brick is less flammable. How close is the nearest fire department station? A crucial few minutes in response time can mean the difference between a partial loss and a total one. Also in the mix of a rate evaluation are a homeowner’s claims history and credit score.

Home insurance rates are a composite of many factors, in other words, some of which are evident, some of which are not. A larger house is going to have a more expensive rate than a smaller one, it stands to reason, but a larger home constructed of brick on a street a block from a fire station might have a lower rate than a somewhat smaller house located in a more perilous part of town. Buying a house and wondering what home insurance rate it might carry? Look at the house as an insurer does, and the rate will become self-evident.

 

October 17, 2012 - 02:02

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL -- We have been lucky in Florida lately, NO HURRICANES!  The risk is looking better for insurance companies and they are now lining up to purchase many Floridian homeowners insurance policies.   Applications are being filed as we speak to take over policies.  Will your policy be part of the Citizens take out program?

A new plan has been offered by the executive board of Citizens Property Insurance.  This proposal from the Florida insurance company of last resort might cause issues with the industry and taxpayers.

Last month, men and women on the board voted to award over three hundred million in low-interest loans to help small private insurance companies take on some of the risk.  These incentives needed to be large enough for some of the private sector carriers to get interested.  That’s a bunch of money to hand over to the marketplace that is hurting so vastly.  What do you think?

Here are three reasons why this is bad for the state of Florida and home insurance policy holders:

1. First, the incentives aren’t needed. Private insurance companies already plan to consider adopting in excess of 300,000 policies from Citizens the New Year alone - with no incentives. Consequently, handing out this incentive money, Men and women surplus - funds which will be needed in case your major storm hits - will likely be depleted for a bad one reason. Not to mention the policies and this includes proposed plan tend to be attractive to private insurers without incentives, because these are definitely some of Men and women best policies out of a risk perspective.

2. Second, this plan eliminates a level playing field for insurance carriers coming into the state of FL. The men and women on the board came up with the plan with no input by way of Legislature, that is a, or ratepayers, and plans to push it through no matter what public sentiment, and that is overwhelmingly resistant to the idea.

3. And third, virtually no insurance carrier in line to bring into play the policies continues to be audited in multiple years by regulators. Floridians can offer no assurances that these insurers - several of which have had massive underwriting losses during the last five years - are financially healthy enough to face up to storm losses.

Wouldn’t it be better to have open competition, so the healthiest insurers offering the top rated investor business plans to take advantage of policies?

Laboring under the Citizens Property loan program, private insurers could borrow as high as $50 million for 20 years any kind of low interest rate of 2 percent. In return, Citizens obligates the insurers to take the policies for only 10 years, and enables them to raise rates beyond 10 percent a year, after three years. Additionally, the diet plan fails to add in provisions for what happens in case your insurers encounter financial difficulties that hopefully will prevent them from repaying a loan.

What are your thoughts residing over this program?  Do you think this is good for the state of Florida and our taxpayers?  We would like you to give us your take on these low interest loans to private insurance companies already doing business in the Sunshine state. 

October 11, 2012 - 08:38

Getting an increase in your homeowners insurance rates is no fun.  We know that our clients need options when they receive a renewal with higher premiums.  Everyone knows that it is necessary for insurance companies to increase rates to maintain the ability to pay claims after a large catastrophic event occurs.  Are you looking for alternatives to large rate increases?  Call us at 800-554-9142 !

Insurance carriers that offer home coverage do not like to increases rates either, but it is a necessary evil that they must.  Premiums are affected by a variety of complex dynamics based in different geographic areas.  For example, rates might be going up in Florida due to a high number of sink hole claims, but California’s reason for rate increases might be due to earthquakes. 

Whatever the catastrophic event, hurricane, tornado, or an earthquake, it is great to understand in more detail why and how rates increase.  Check out what Joel Curran, from Tower Hill has to say, he offers the hows and whys of the “premium rate increase”.  See Tower Hill Insurance Company Video below:

 

October 9, 2012 - 20:39

Jacksonville, Florida -- Did you see the latest release of www.PremierHomeownersInsurance.com?  Our leading Florida online insurance agency launched our new portal with a committment to our Internet customers.  Check out our new site today!

The upgrade is a response to requests by Premier customers for a more interactive experience in their evaluation of home insurance needs and purchase of insurance products. The end result is a site that goes beyond the fundamental online-quote function and gives homeowner insurance some practical context.

For example, besides offering Florida homeowners the latest insurance industry news across the state, it gives site visitors a state-by-state look at insurance issues. This can be important information for Floridians who are planning a move from The Sunshine State—or recently have moved to Florida and still have property elsewhere.

Read More at Yahoo News Today:  http://news.yahoo.com/premier-homeowners-insurance-extends-commitment-online-customers-070337307.html;_ylt=A2KJ3CRyPXRQvV8AJE7QtDMD

 

October 8, 2012 - 21:08

Jacksonville, Florida -- Like lots and lots of other South Florida policy holders covered by state-run Citizens Property, I got a letter a while back because of a private insurance carrier informing me make use of them be taking over my policy in 30 days - unless I opt out.  Have other Florida homeowners had this same issue?

Sounds great, I thought, when I received the letter from Tampa-based Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty. Especially after hearing that Citizens ended up being approved for rate hikes averaging above 10 percent next year.

Florida Consumers can't make a confident decision, because these carriers won't answer the actual largest question - about all of the cost of contracts every time they renew next year.

When I called Homeowners Choice, a customer service representative explained my current Citizens policy would remain in force until it lapses next July. She said the business enterprise would mail me a renewal offer in May, but that she couldn't say exactly what the premium might possibly be. Nor could she necessary under some company's current rates to find a policy comparable to my Citizens coverage. And he or she didn't know but if your company has put setting yourself up for a rate increase for next year.

What type system is that? Do you really want to try and find a car or a home with no knowledge of the actual going rate?

My answer: Thanks, but I’ll have to pass on this option.

On Saturday I spoke to company CEO Paresh Patel, asking how consumers should decide with such limited information. He said he understood the concerns, but there is much uncertainty for next year and the carriers aren’t going to try and mislead consumers. The way in which, he was quoted saying, "Our rates are on the same as Citizens." He was quoted saying the company has asked to have an average 6 percent rate increase, but state regulators could require more.

Are you frustrated with the way Citizens conducts business in Florida?  Remember, they are the carrier that is a last resort, and they seem to do the best they can under the circumstances.  If you received this infamous letter from Citizens, comment on our Blog today and let us know how you really feel about this situation.

October 6, 2012 - 01:48

JACKSONVILLE, FL - Looks like home insurance rates are going up again for Universal Property, along with Allstate Insurance. 

Government regulators have approved rate increases topping 7 percent for just two more home insurers: Universal and Allstate.

That's from some 5 percent increase on home insurance policies for State Farm and another hike expected this week for state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Florida's largest home insurance carrier.

Universal, the state's second-largest insurance carrier associated home owners, was granted an average of 23 percent in rate increase, bringing the vast majority of the cost due to the homeowner policies to $2,170, said the DOI.

Allstate's Castle Key Insurance was given an average 14.9 portion increase, and also also of which Fortress Key Indemnity some kind of typical 8.2 percent increase, bringing their average policy premiums to about $1,400 a year. Allstate's units combined rank mainly because the state's No. 4 insurer after State Farm, Florida data shows.

Amounts paid upon individual policies will fluctuate in all geographic areas.  Southern area Fla homeowners generally pay a lot more money as a result higher hurricane risk than many other parts of the state, experts say.

Increases also vary based on the type of policy you have. As an illustration, Castle Key Insurance was granted a 12.9 increase on insurance for homes along with a 34.1 percent raise on policies for condominiums.

Insurers assume increases tend to be needed, because companies are having to pay out a lot more in claims and costs when compared to they how much they are collecting in premiums. One reason: a rise in fees for re-insurance, the insurance that the companies buy from global firms.

Re-insurers tend to be charging more soon after costly catastrophes globally, such has last year's tsunami in Japan, based in the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade  group.

Allstate's Insurance coverage had sought for a 32.7 percent increase, all the while Castle Major point Indemnity had asked to enjoyment in a 21.9 percent raise.

Allstate's units also had been given rate increases on home insurance coverage final 12 months as effectively because in 2010. Castle Major point Insurance received a 14.5 percent raise last year and 18.7 percent in 2010. Castle Key Indemnity was approved with regard to 35.7 percent hike not too long ago and 17.8 percent raise in 2010.

Meanwhile, Residents is now asking as for an eleven percent raise, plus affirmation to shed some 300,000 policyholders to slash its risk.

However Residents' plans are to cut out nearly one out of four existing customers and trigger questions Monday from The boy wonder Wescott, the state insurance consumer advocate.

Inside related with a letter to Residents' chief, she asked for specifics in how People evolved its figures on shedding existing customers and requested some alternate scenarios.

October 5, 2012 - 20:19

MIAMI, FLORIDA - Lenders who allow their home insurance to lapse will often get stuck with a bill for much more expensive coverage, courtesy of their mortgage holders.

Called force-placed or lender-placed insurance, these policies protect banks’ interests when borrowers fail to follow through on the standard loan requirement that they maintain continuous coverage on their home.

The use of these policies soared during the recession, as homeowners who fell behind on their mortgages effectively stopped paying their insurance as well, since premiums are typically included in the monthly payment. From 2006 to 2011, direct earned premiums for lender-placed insurance more than tripled, to $3.1 billion from $954 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute. “It’s a privately run, high-risk market of last resort,” said Robert P. Hartwig, the institute’s president.

But state and federal regulators have begun to question whether mortgage servicers have been too quick to slap these high-priced policies into place, possibly because of financial incentives. At hearings held this spring by the New York State Department of Financial Services, a representative for American Home Mortgage Servicing acknowledged that a company affiliate receives 15 percent commissions from QBE First, a major provider of lender-placed insurance, for policies placed on its loans.

Because the premiums for lender-placed policies are 2 to 10 times as expensive as standard homeowner policies, these policies impose a considerable burden on already distressed homeowners, said Alexis, a research and policy analyst for New York’s Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project. In some cases, the cost more or less ensures foreclosure for a household on the brink; it can also hurt a borrower’s chances for a loan modification.

Fannie Mae has adopted new mortgage servicer guidelines aimed at reducing the likelihood that borrowers will get stuck with a high-priced policy unnecessarily. The guidelines require the servicer to keep the borrower’s own homeowner policy in force if at all possible, even if that means advancing money to cover the past-due premium.

The servicer is required to contact the borrower by letter at least twice before putting a lender policy in place. Such disclosures must explain that lender-placed insurance costs more, and that it covers only the structure of a house, not its contents.

Once a lender policy is in place, homeowners can still buy their own insurance and ask to have the lender policy canceled. Fannie Mae wants servicers to refund the premiums on canceled policies within 15 days of receiving evidence of other coverage.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed similar guidelines, as part of the mortgage servicer rules it is writing to implement the Dodd-Frank Act.

“The new rules would require the servicer to continue advancing the money to keep the homeowner’s policy in effect rather than letting it lapse, so the forced-place insurance would never even come up,” said Andrew Pizor, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

Consumer advocates like Mr. Pizor are concerned that, under the bureau’s proposal, the requirement does not apply if a borrower doesn’t have an escrow account. The bureau is accepting public comment on the rules through Oct. 9; comments may be registered on its Web site.

Mr. Hartwig of the insurance institute defends the rates as a reflection of the risk of insuring the homes on a lender’s books in bulk, “sight unseen, irrespective of their condition.”

But Birny Birnbaum, a former insurance regulator and the executive director of the Center for Economic Justice in Texas, says losses on lender-placed policies amount to less than on standard policies. “The responsibility comes down to regulators to do their job and say rates need to be reasonable and not excessive,” he said.

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