State Farm Reverses Course, Stays In Florida

February 2, 2010

The Office of Insurance Regulation of the State of Florida released a statement about State Farm Insurance Company’s intent to leave the State of Florida. Commissioner Kevin McCarthy issued a consent order that ends the pending litigation between State Farm and the Insurance Commissioner’s office concerning State Farm’s plan to leave Florida’ property insurance market. State Farm will now continue writing business in Florida’s residential insurance market, and Citizens Property Insurance dodges a bullet that could have been fatal.

The Florida legislature established Citizens Property Insurance, the high risk pool, in 2002, in response to insurance companies that either went bankrupt, cancelled or pulled out of Florida because of repeated hurricanes. So, Citizens Property Insurance places the Florida taxpayers at risk for residential losses. Since 2002, storm after storm have struck Florida, nearly bankrupting Citizens. And Citizens is only one big storm away from ruin. So, when State Farm, the largest residential property insurer in Florida announced that they were leaving the state, the Insurance Commissioner’s office panicked.

This allowed State Farm to figuratively bend the Commissioner over the couch and have its way with him. Prior to State Farm’s announcement that they were leaving Florida, the company requested a rate increase of over 65% which was denied by the Commissioner. But rather than wave goodbye to Florida’s largest insurer, the Commissioner has granted the smaller…yet generous…rate increase of 14.8%. And, it is allowing State Farm to get rid of 125,000 policies that are arguably the highest risk policies they have on the books.

So, not only does State Farm get a rate increase on all policies, but it gets to keep its most profitable business and shove the riskier business off onto the taxpayers of the State of Florida. And for Citizens, 125,000 risky policies is better than 860,000.

You’ve got to admire that kind of moxy. State Farm, being the largest insurer in Florida, took full advantage of their market position and finally showed the State of Florida who is the boss. The regulators and the Florida legislature had little choice and no options but to give in to State Farm’s demands. The press release issued by the Commissioner’s office was a pitiful attempt to save face and spin the story to look like the Commish’s office was protecting Florida’s property owners.

Don’t you wonder if the terms of the consent order was what State Farm wanted all along?

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Best P&C Insurance Companies: How Do You Find The Best?

October 14, 2009

In 2008, The Department of Insurance of the State of New York released a report showing the 40 P&C insurance companies that had the most complaints. We did an article about this previously. We showed the ten worst companies, the ones that got the most complaints. But we did not feature the ones that got the least number of complaints in New York, a tough insurance market.

Here is the list of New York’s best P&C insurance companies as determined by the least number of complaints, higher number of complaints as you go down the list:

1. Long Island Insurance
2. Infinity Property & Casualty
3. Interboro Mutual
4. Tri-State Consumer Ins. Group
5. American International Group (AIG)
6. Safeco Insurance Group
7. Countrywide Insurance
8. White Mountains Group, OneBeacon, Esurance, Auto One Ins.
9. State Wide Insurance
10. Hannover RE Group, Clarendon National (no longer writing business)

You may find that some of these companies are only local or regional and that you cannot do business with them where you live. But notice that AIG, Safeco, OneBeacon and Esurance are national companies that got fewer complaints.

It’s not as easy to list a Top Ten Best P&C Insurance companies for America. We would have to contact all 50 state Departments of Insurance and find out which insurers had the least complaints. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners presently does not have any such report. In addition, complaints are not the only criteria that should be used to evaluate an insurance company.

Think about this statement, my friends.

The only thing that truly matters about your insurance is what happens when you submit a claim. It doesn’t matter how good your agent is…or if the company sends you a calendar every year…or buys you dinner. It really doesn’t matter if you pay a low premium or a higher premium. Claims handling is EVERYTHING!!

    Claims are about KEEPING PROMISES.

When the insurance companies don’t keep their promises, the complaints pile up!

Lowest premiums are not the only criterion you should use, either. Shopping for insurance is confusing and complicated. Determining if your quotes are “apples and apples” comparisons takes strict attention to detail.

You may need the help of a dedicated, experienced agent to determine your insurance needs and buy the right policy. Still, my recommendation is to shop widely for your insurance needs. Get quotes from captive agents (who only write for one company) and independent agents (who write for multiple companies).

Getting quotes on the internet makes shopping for insurance very easy these days. But look for an insurance quote service that can give you competitive quotes PLUS strategies on submitting insurance claims that will help you collect thousands of dollars more in your claim settlements.

So, which insurance company should you do business with?

1. Choose a company that has an A+ or A rating from the insurance rating services like A.M. Best.
2. Get multiple insurance quotes at least every two years, then choose the company whose policies give you the most coverage for the least money. Don’t worry about company loyalty. The companies don’t care and neither should you.

If you are one of the unfortunate people who experience a loss of any kind, you’ll need to know how to handle your insurance claim so that you maximize your recovery. You will need to know how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, check out:

www.ClaimSecrets.com

For the only online insurance quote service that provides you competitive quotes and claims strategies, check out:

www.InsuranceQuoteHQ.com

You can win the insurance game if you have the right information. So go and win!


Insurance Quotes: Save Hundreds Of Dollars, Prevent Financial Disaster

June 22, 2009

Insurance quotes are a terrific way to help lower your monthly expenditures. I used a quote service earlier this year and saved $590 on my homeowners and car insurance package.

In today’s economy millions of people have lost their jobs. Millions more will lose jobs as the economy worsens. Millions of unemployed persons have stopped looking for new jobs, which skews the national unemployment figures, and makes the unemployment rate appear smaller than it actually is.

Some people have had to accept pay cuts just to keep their jobs. Add to that the number of unemployed people who just closed an economy-sensitive business.

I have a good friend who is a home designer. She has been in business for over 25 years, and was a nationally-renowned designer. In 2008, her business stopped like turning off a water faucet. She has just gone out of business. Will her business ever come back? No one knows.

Colleges and universities across America just finished commencement ceremonies, where tens of thousands of young graduates got their degree and a handshake. However, job prospects look bleak for this graduating class. According to an ABC News story, last year over 51% of graduates had a job when they left school. This year, the number is only 20%. But they still live in homes and drive cars every day.

An increasing number of people are allowing their insurance policies to lapse, or they are cancelling them outright. They simply made a decision that they cannot pay the premiums anymore.

What a horrible and tragic decision! Cancel your cell phone…your cable TV…your internet connection…your gym membership…your electrical service. But don’t go without insurance!

“Cancel my home’s electrical service??” I hear you sputter. “Have you lost your mind?”

Listen to me. You could temporarily live without electrical service in your home and your life would not be destroyed. But just have ONE insurance loss without coverage, and your financial life could easily be destroyed for the rest of your life.

A fire, windstorm or flood could wipe out your home or business. An auto accident could destroy your vehicle. If the accident is your fault, the claimant could sue you for damages, which could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In every example shown above, those people have homes, cars and businesses. In the area of auto ownership, every state in the USA and every Canadian province requires auto insurance by law. So, if you cancel your auto insurance, not only are you without coverage, but you are also committing a misdemeanor in most jurisdictions.

In addition, if your home, business or vehicle is financed, your lender requires you keep Property coverage on the property at all times. If the lender finds out that you have cancelled your coverage, they likely have the right to declare you in default on your loan, and require payment of the balance. They could repossess your car, home or business. At the very least, they could purchase coverage on your car, home or business property for the loan balance and charge you for it. This is called “forced-placed coverage,” and is very expensive, inferior coverage.

Before you make a choice to cancel your insurance policy, stop and consider getting insurance quotes that could lower your insurance premiums.

The process of getting insurance quotes is simple and IT COSTS YOU NOTHING! All you have to do is go online and use the search term “Insurance Quotes.” You’ll find hundreds of quote websites, all eager to get that quote for you.

Simply fill out an easy information form, giving the quote services details about what you want to insure and submit the form. Within minutes, you’ll begin receiving contacts from agents and insurance companies who want to compete for your business. Make sure that the coverage quoted are the same, and choose which vendor offers the best deal. Most times, the agent will do all the paperwork for you if you are switching from one company to another. Then, choose your new insurance company and breath easier with YOUR SAVINGS!!

My Insurance Quote website will get you great insurance quotes and also give you valuable claim strategies if you have a loss. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Think like a claims adjuster! No other insurance quote website can give you great rates AND claim strategies that WORK EVERY TIME!!

Get Insurance Quotes and Claim Strategies at:
InsuranceQuoteHQ.com


Property Damage Attorneys: How To Choose The Right Property Damage Attorney

June 20, 2009

Property Damage Attorneys are lawyers that assist policyholders in their property claims. Customarily, they are not Personal Injury attorneys, who represent policyholders and claimants who are seeking recovery from damages or injury.

In my hot-selling book, “Insurance Claim Secrets REVEALED!” I have a chapter entitled “Should I Get A Lawyer?” I recommend that anyone who is preparing a claim should consult an attorney.

When I say “consult an attorney,” I don’t necessarily mean retain an attorney. But you should consult an attorney at every step of the claims process. You do not want to give up any of your rights just because you are unfamiliar with the law. Such an incident could bar you from recovery of your full claim.

You should have your attorney present, or on a conference call, when the adjuster asks for a recorded statement. You should also have your attorney review every document that the insurance company requests that you sign, such as a Sworn Statement in Proof of Loss or a Release Form.

So, here is how to choose the right property damage attorney:

1. Using your computer’s search engine, look for “Property Damage Law” and your zip code or name of your state. That search should give you names of attorneys in your area.
2. Contact at least two Personal Injury attorneys in your area and ask them for referrals to attorneys practicing Property Damage Law.

Once you’ve found Property Damage Attorneys in your area, interview them with the following questions:

1. Are you licensed in your state?
2. How many years have you been a Property Damage Attorney?
3. Do you have a specialty?
4. Can you provide a list of at least ten satisfied customers with phone numbers?
5. Do you have documentation of your success in insurance settlements?
6. Have you ever had a complaint filed against you with the Department of Insurance or the State Bar Association?
7. Please explain your fees and how you are paid.
8. Please provide a copy of your retainer contract.

Based upon the information you glean from your interviews, you can make a choice of the best Property Damage Attorney to consult.


Restoration Contractors: Liability Issues That Can Affect YOU!

June 16, 2009

If you are the victim of an insured loss, such as a fire, flood, tornado or hurricane, you will likely have to hire a restoration contractor to complete repairs on your home. However, here is an issue that most property owners never consider…until it’s too late.

That issue is the liability insurance of the restoration contractor. No matter if you are the owner of residential or commercial property, you could have major liability issues in the process of the restoration.

Restoration contractors are customarily general contractors. That means that they manage the work of sub-contractors. They may hire plumbers, framing crews, roofers, electricians, drywall crews, painters and other artisans to complete the work on your property. Many times, the restoration contractor has a crew of workers on his payroll. But, there are some restoration contractors that only act as construction managers.

There’s nothing wrong with that arrangement if the job gets done on time and on budget.

You’ll be entering into a contract with the contractor you choose. In addition, you will be granting authority for your contractor to work on your premises, as well as his sub-contractors. Here is where you must take care to protect yourself.

In the pre-contract process of verifying your chosen contractor’s credentials, you will have required the contractor to provide you with a current copy of his insurance certificate. Take a few minutes and phone the insurance company and confirm that the coverage is in effect, and that the policy dates are correct.

You must insist that the restoration contractor carry General Liability, Completed Operations and Workers Compensation insurance (if he has employees). In addition, you must insist that each sub-contractor furnish the same insurance certificates. The only exception would be a contractor who worked alone and had no employees. That fellow would not need Workers Compensation insurance.

Another very important strategy is to insist that ALL the contractors place you on their insurance policies as an “Additional Named Insured.” That way, if anything were to happen in the course of repairs, such as a worker injury or some other liability issue for which they are liable, THEIR insurance policy would defend and indemnify on your behalf.

This one strategy could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in a lawsuit award, and thousands in legal fees defending the suit.

Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to liability and lawsuits. Use this strategy!


Personal Property Claims: The Depreciation Trap

June 10, 2009

Personal property claims can be some of the most frustrating claims in the insurance claims process. The deck is stacked against you if you have any kind of insurance policy that insures your personal property. This is true for property owned by homeowners and renters as well as the personal property owned by businesses and other commercial entities.

Personal property, also commonly known as “Contents,” is usually described as any property in or on the insured premises not permanently attached to the building. Naturally, your policy will give you a definition that is more exact that this one, and will also have exclusions about some property that is not covered.

Many property insurance policies have the Replacement Cost (RC) Endorsement on the policy that covers the contents. The claims process for your Contents is the trap laid by the insurance companies. Don’t think that your insurer wouldn’t do that to you…they ALL do it.

Here’s the method of settlement found in all policies with the Replacement Cost Endorsement.

You submit your contents claim inventory. On that inventory you will have listed all of your contents, item by item, and the replacement cost. The insurance company will apply depreciation to each item of your contents, based upon its age and condition. Subtracting the depreciation amount from the replacement cost gives you the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your property, whether business or personal.

The insurance company settles RC claims by issuing two separate checks. The first check will be for the ACV amount. According to the Loss Conditions in the policy, the insurer only pays you the RC of your contents once the replacement has been made.

For example, if you had an item with an RC value of $1000, and the depreciation amount was 30%, or $300, you would receive the first payment of $700. But, $700 does not replace the item. In order to receive the RC amount you will have to use $300 of your own money plus the $700 paid by the insurance company to make the replacement purchase. Then you are eligible for the second check, the $300 reimbursement.

Now…think about the same example if your entire contents claim is $100,000.

The insurance company “holds back” $30,000. In order for you to make the replacement purchases, you will have to find $30,000 of your own money, make the purchases, and then get reimbursed by the insurance company.

Where are you going to get that $30,000? Savings? Credit Card? Get a loan? Or perhaps you’re like many people that don’t have those cash resources available to them. They cannot make the replacements at all.

Do you see the trap?

Here is a strategy of three things you can do to minimize the effects of the Depreciation Trap.

1. Demand that the insurance company provide you a copy of the Depreciation Tables that they used to calculate your loss.

2. Compare each item, line by line, to be certain that the proper amount of depreciation was assessed by the adjuster.

3. Challenge any and all incorrect depreciation amounts.

By using this three-step strategy, you will maximize your Contents claim amount.

There is another Contents strategy that you MUST use when documenting your Personal Property claim. It relates to the personal property you won’t be replacing.

I knew a family that had a major fire loss. The wife was an attorney for many years. Then, when she had her first child, she decided to leave the business world and be a full-time mom. She had a closet full of expensive business suits, blouses, shoes and accessories. She was not going to replace them, since she was not using them any more for work clothing. So, we worked hard at establishing the highest possible value on her wardrobe. The ACV money that the family was paid for her wardrobe was used to make RC purchases of other items that did need replacing.

You can use this strategy in your Contents claim. Your home, condo, apartment or business is full of personal property that you’ve purchased over the years that (a) is obsolete or (b) you’re not using anymore. A business could have inventory items or office equipment that is unsold or obsolete. In each case, you have every right to be paid the correctly calculated ACV for those items. Then, you can use those dollars to offset the “holdback” amount when you are making your replacement purchases.

Don’t be a pushover! Don’t allow the insurance company to depreciate your Contents without a fight!

Fight back and WIN!


Hurricane Preparedness: Prune Your Losses

June 8, 2009

Hurricane preparedness goes beyond making sure your insurance policies are up to date. There are some practical things you can do around your property, whether home or business, that can lower the risk of storm damage.

The National Climactic Data Center published statistics for 2007 that showed property damage from storms at over $7.4 billion. 2008 totals were higher with the Texas hurricanes. I imagine that you do not want to be part of the 2009 storm statistics.

Let’s concentrate on the simplest remedies. When storms arise, the exterior of your home can be damaged by those high winds and heavy rain. So, roofs, siding and windows are the first line of defense in a storm scenario.

Here are some tips for lowering your risk exposure:

• Make sure that your roofing is in good repair. Well-installed roofs are less susceptible to damage.
• Make sure that your siding is tightly attached to the building.
• If a storm is heading your way, consider boarding up your windows to protect them from being broken by flying debris.
• Caulk windows and doors to prevent wind-driven rain from entering around the openings.
• Cut down unhealthy trees on your property.
• Prune tree limbs that overhang your home or power lines, or overhang your neighbor’s property.
• Clean out roof gutters so rain doesn’t back up and cause interior water damage.
• Move your outside furniture and other personal property into inside storage so it is not blown against your building or a neighbor’s building.

With these tips accomplished, your property has much less exposure to damage from wind and rain. Of course, if your area is struck by a Category 4 or 5 hurricane, missing shingles and siding will be the least of your worries.

At that point, you’ll be glad you updated your insurance policy.

You DID update your policy, didn’t you?