November 2017

Insurance insights for Sun Insurance Services clients

From Our President: Jim Brandt

Dear friends,

Was this a familiar scene at your house this Fall?

At our house, it was all hands on deck–even the little ones–as we recovered from the mess Irma left. How is your clean-up going?

If you filed a hurricane claim, you should have by now been visited by an adjuster. If not, please call me. I have begun seeing settlement letters and checks sent by the carriers.

If you’re still in the process of recovering, let me repeat a few pieces of advice that will keep you from being a victim of unscrupulous contractors.

First, do not sign away your benefits to a contractor, or agree to give up part of your settlement to have your deductible covered.

And second, make sure anyone you hire to do repairs is licensed and has current insurance.

And, finally, I want to reiterate my advice to buy a flood policy for your property NOW. If you agree flood insurance is a good idea, now is the time to act and get beyond the 30-day waiting period. Otherwise, you’ll get busy and forget, and next year you’ll be in the same situation.

And remember, floods don’t just happen during hurricane season, and everyone in Florida is in a flood zone.

Are you planning to host any family or friends’ gatherings this holiday season? If you do, you might want to have an umbrella policy in place to cover expenses of any accidents that happen on your property that your homeowners insurance might not cover. You’ll find more information below, and we can run a quick quote for you if you’d like. I think you’d be surprised at how affordable umbrella insurance is.

Also, keep in mind as you begin your holiday shopping that jewelry, artwork, and some electronics may need to be added to your homeowners policy to be covered.

And finally, if you own a business of any size, take a minute and read our quick tips on workers comp insurance. It can save your business if a worker is injured on the job, even if you have only one or two employees.

November is the month we focus on gratitude, and I am thankful for many blessings, including my two little helpers, Aubrey and Hannah. I am also very grateful for a capable and dedicated staff, and for you, and the confidence and trust you have in Sun Insurance.

Thank you for being a customer of Sun Insurance Services. We appreciate your business and wish you good health and happiness in the days ahead.

Until next month, Jim

 

 

PERSONAL INSURANCE:
Shelter your assets with an umbrella policy

It’s impossible to turn on the radio or drive down the street without being inundated by ads for personal injury attorneys. If someone slips and falls in your home, or if someone is injured in an auto accident deemed your fault, you may be hearing personally from one of these attorneys. Are you covered?

Here is some great information from the Institute of Insurance Information.

Your auto or homeowners insurance will provide you with some liability coverage. If you are sued, those policies will pay up to your policy limits for legal judgments against you, as well as the related attorney’s fees.

However, in our litigious society when a lawsuit settlement could very well wipe out your financial assets, you may want the extra protection for your assets that a personal umbrella liability policy provides.

An umbrella policy kicks in when you reach the limit on the underlying liability coverage in your auto, homeowners or renters policy. It will also cover you for additional types of claims, such as libel and slander.

You can buy a $1 million personal umbrella liability policy for about $150 to $300 per year. The amount you pay decreases for each million dollars of coverage beyond that.

Because the personal umbrella policy pays out after the underlying coverage is exhausted, most insurers will want you to have about $250,000 of liability insurance on your auto policy and $300,000 of liability insurance on your homeowners policy before they will sell you an umbrella policy.

If you have any questions about your coverage, or you’d like a quote, please let us know. We can run a quote in just a few minutes.

COMMERCIAL INSURANCE:
Do I need terrorism insurance?

Terrorism insurance is offered as an endorsement or  addition to standard commercial property insurance policies. A standard business policy alone will not cover losses caused by terrorism.

Terrorism coverage is offered through a program that allows the federal government and the insurance industry to share losses in the event of a major terrorist attack so adequate resources are available for businesses to recover and rebuild if they are the victims of a terrorist attack.

A commercial terrorism policy covers damaged or destroyed property—including buildings, equipment, furnishings and inventory. It may also cover losses associated with the interruption of your business. Terrorism insurance may also cover liability claims against your business associated with a terrorist attack.

Losses are only covered by a terrorism insurance policy if the U.S. Department of the Treasury officially certifies an event as an act of terrorism. The act must also cause at least $100 million in damage to be considered a terrorist attack.

About 60 percent of U.S. businesses have terrorism insurance.

The cost for terrorism coverage ranges from $19 to $49 per million of insured value.

Want more information? Call us at 407-781-1600.

September 2017

Insurance insights for Sun Insurance Services clients

From Our President: Jim Brandt

Dear friends,

Today is National College Colors Day, and as you can see, we are a blended family!

Hannah is rocking UCF colors for her dad, Kevin, Aubrey is representing her mom Jamie’s school, and Dee and I are wearing our beloved purple and gold. In fact, we were scheduled to be in Houston this weekend to watch our LSU Tigers take on BYU, but Harvey had other ideas.

And that brings us to the important topic of the day: flood insurance.

It’s heart wrenching to see the people of Texas and South Louisiana struggling to pick up their lives after one of the biggest natural disasters we’ve ever seen. And it’s also heartbreaking to learn that FEMA estimates more than 80% of the people flooded by Harvey do not have flood insurance.

It’s important to understand three things about flood protection.

1. Flooding is defined as rising ground water, and it is NEVER covered under your homeowners policy.

2. There are two types of flood zones: mandatory and preferred. If you live in a mandatory zone, your mortgage company will require you have flood insurance as a condition of your loan. If you are in a preferred zone, you are eligible to purchase flood insurance inexpensively, typically about $500 a year.  You may even get a discount on your homeowners insurance for having a flood policy.

DO NOT EVER LET SOMEONE TELL YOU THAT YOU ARE NOT IN A FLOOD ZONE!

3. You can purchase flood insurance any time, but unless you buy it when you close on a new home, there is a 30-day waiting period before it goes into effect.

We’ve been getting calls all week from our clients asking to add flood insurance, but I won’t be happy until everyone is protected. Please, please, please, call us or email us to talk flood.

I came across an excellent article this week in the Washington Post about what is happening to those in Harvey’s path who don’t have flood insurance. I highly recommend it if you are still on the fence about adding flood insurance.

This month’s Bright Ideas offers insight into two other timely topics: a cool new health insurance program our agency recently took advantage of (we’re going to save almost $8,000 a year on our group health plan), and a reminder about our mobile app, which puts all of your personal insurance information at your fingertips.

Thank you again for being a customer of Sun Insurance Services. We appreciate your business!

And, I hope you and yours have a safe, restful Labor Day.

Until next month,

Jim

 

 

Small business owner struggling with rising healthcare costs?
We have good news!

Like every small business owner in America, we at Sun Insurance Services have struggled with the rising costs of our employee healthcare plan. If this is a concern for you, you’ll be interested in what we learned recently when our group plan was up for renewal.

Our current provider offered a renewal at a 10% increase. We began to look for alternatives and discovered the All Savers Traditional Alternate. Our premium is about 10% less than our renewal offer.

The plan is a self-funded health plan designed specifically for small businesses. It includes three parts:

1. Your self-funded medical plan, which pays covered medical expenses of your covered employees and their dependents.

2. A third-party administration agreement between you and your carrier for claims processing, billing, customer service and other administrative services.

3. A stop-loss insurance policy by All Savers Insurance Company. Stop-loss insurance protects the plan from large catastrophic claims by a covered individual, and provides overall protection in the event that all claim payments made under the medical plan exceed a certain dollar limit.

With a self-funded health plan, you’ll pay lower premium taxes throughout the year, your plan won’t be subject to state mandates and you’ll have the chance to get some money back at the end of the year.

Want to learn more? Contact Jim Brandt, 407-781-1602 or jim@suninsuranceservices.com.

Have you downloaded our mobile app?

Easy, Quick, Secure.

One touch access let you connect, manage, update and protect your family, your business and your property right from your smartphone. Anytime, anywhere access to E-IDs, bill-pay, claims, one click home inventory, auto info and more. We’re here to help before, during and after something happens.

Our app is the easiest way to connect with us to share & update information to ensure customized coverage to fit your needs. Use our app to view your E-ID, create a home inventory in minutes, detail an accident, and capture & store your policy info. Convenience at your fingertips… “I” is YOUR personal insurance icon!

Home Inventory Made Simple

Easy, Quick & Secure – Create & update Home Inventories in minutes. Click and Capture the contents and value of your personal property on your smartphone. Click and Share reports to ensure proper insurance coverage, file a claim, or update estate & tax info. Having a Home Inventory report gives you peace of mind, sharing your report helps us customize your coverage to fit your needs.

Auto & Accident Help on the Spot
Accidents happen. Quickly contact your agent or insurance company. Capture details you need to file a claim with your iPhone. Set-up today and car info automatically loads into accident reports. Share with family drivers so everyone is prepared.

Download it now!

Here are the links for the Apple App Store and the Google Play Story. As always, if you have any questions, give us a call.

If you have an iPhone, download the app here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id595397896

If you have an Android phone, download the app here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goinsuranceagent.ia

August 2017

Insurance insights for Sun Insurance Services clients

From Our President: Jim Brandt

Dear friends,

For granddaughters Aubrey and Hannah, it’s back to school time. For me, it’s hurricane season, and flood season. The girls are hoping to take school by storm, but I am hoping for a peaceful, uneventful August and September for our policyholders.

I do take comfort in the fact I think we’ve done all we can to make sure you and your family are protected against whatever nature brings our way the next couple of months. We’ve talked to you about the importance of having enough coverage, we’ve placed you with a responsible carrier, and we’ve told you every home in Florida is in a flood zone–either mandatory or preferred.

If you’d like to have any of these conversations in more depth, or you’d just like to verify your policy details, give us a call. As you know, we’re always ready to talk insurance!

Have you been reading and hearing about the federal government’s challenges to restore stability to the National Flood Insurance Program?

Check out the article below, and see why some people think Florida might be a model for the government to follow as they try to move the program to solid ground.

And, if your kids are heading “straight into college,” our last article contains tips on how to make sure their insurance needs are met while they are away.

Thank you again for being a customer of Sun Insurance Services. We appreciate your business!

Until next month,

Jim

Congress considering changes to National Flood Program

You probably know the basics about the task facing the U.S. Congress this summer.

Until very recently, all flood insurance sold in America was underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program, created in 1968. The program must be re-authorized periodically, and the deadline now is in September.

There are many challenges facing Congress, but the most pressing is that because flood coverage has been issued at below-market rates, it is $25 billion in debt.

Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States, and the past few years have brought massive flood losses, including Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and last summer’s historic floods in South Louisiana.

Congress must find a way to make the program solvent, while keeping premiums affordable.

If you’ve lived in Florida very long, you’ll recognize the parallels with our homeowners market after the storms in 2004 and 2005. Insurance became unaffordable as the legislature mandated artificially low rates, which led to private carriers writing fewer policies and even leaving Florida altogether.

At the same time, Citizens Property Insurance, the state’s insurer of last resort, grew to 1.5 million policies, representing $500 million in risks to the taxpayers. Lawmakers realized there would be no way to pay claims if we had a storm season like 2004 and 2005.

They began taking corrective action in 2010 by unfreezing Citizens rates and gradually raising them to adequate levels. They also began “depopulating” by transferring policies to private carriers.

Private carriers began returning to Florida, and today Citizens is about a third the size it was.

Could this happen with flood insurance?

Allowing for rate adequacy is the beginning of the solution. A few private carriers are already writing flood insurance, and providing a good product.

Tower Hill, for example, now writes coverage up to $5 million through Lloyds. (National Flood only covers up to $250,000) Tower Hill plans to offer flood coverage as an endorsement to homeowners policies (as opposed to a separate policy) at some point.

If you have any questions about your coverage, or you’d like a quote, please let us know.

Does my college student need renters insurance?

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF YOUR STUDENT’S BELONINGS?

You might be surprised when you add up the value of everything your student is taking to school.

Almost everyone arrives on campus these days with an array of expensive electronics: laptops, iPads, video games, televisions, small appliances, clothing and even jewelry.

If these items are destroyed or stolen, you could be facing a financial hardship to replace them at a time when your budget is already stretched.

Renters insurance can put your mind at ease for very little cost. In the event of a covered loss, renters insurance will cover the repair, replacement or reimbursement of a item.

Some policies cover property loss and liability (if the student causes injury or property damage).

Expensive jewelry or art typically needs to be covered separately on the policy, so please be sure and tell us if the student will have those items at school.

Property is typically protected against fire, smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft and water damage (not flooding). It also covers property stolen from your car, or lost or damaged.

You can read a great in-depth article here about this subject, by the Insurance Information Institute.

Want more information? Call us at 407-781-1600.

July 2017

Insurance insights for Sun Insurance Services clients

From Our President: Jim Brandt

Dear friends,
I’ve been in the insurance industry for more than 35 years, and I have never seen a more confusing insurance landscape as the one we have in Florida today.

Changing insurance laws, fluctuating property values, insurance carriers leaving Florida, and new mortgage requirements make things complicated.

Our clients are asking more questions than ever, and we are taking the most common ones and addressing them in our new monthly newsletter.

I hope you can devote a few minutes to the information we’ve prepared, and that it will make you a better insurance consumer. I hope you enjoy it.

Of course, if you have any questions, we’d love to talk to you.

And, on behalf of my granddaughters Aubrey and Hannah, and our entire staff, we hope you have a wonderful, safe Fourth of July.

Until next month,

 

 

Why are my insurance premiums are going up?

This is a question we hear almost every day in our agency, especially since there haven’t been any major hurricanes in Florida in years.

But it’s true—rates are going up for homeowners insurance. And for auto insurance, too. There’s no single reason for the rate increases, but there is a big one: AOB fraud, or Assignment of Benefits.

A contractor knocks on your door. “Did you realize you have damage to your roof? I’m sure I can get your homeowners insurance to pay for a new roof. Just sign here and I’ll even cover your deductible. It’ll be totally free.”

Or, someone points out a small crack in your windshield or dent in your car door. “I can get that fixed for you and deal directly with your insurance company. No inconvenience on your part at all. Just sign here.”

For many Floridians over the past few years, the temptation has been too great to refuse. What could go wrong?

The problem arises when unscrupulous contractors overcharge for their services, or submit false claims on your behalf.

AOB abuse in Florida has skyrocketed over the past several years and as a result, rates are going up. Insurance companies are paying inflated prices for claims and huge litigation costs when they try to contest the claims.

This is the fifth consecutive year that a bill on curbing AOB has failed in the Florida legislature.

For a more indepth discussion of the AOB crisis, click here to read more on the home page of our web site.

Am I in a flood zone?

The answer is yes…no matter where you live in Florida

If your mortgage company requires you to carry flood insurance, you are in a mandatory flood zone.

Flood damage is NEVER covered by homeowners insurance, and you might be surprised to know how much damage just an inch or two of rising groundwater can do to your home and its contents.

If you’re not in a mandatory zone, you are in a preferred zone, and flood insurance is extremely affordable for you. For example, for $250,000 in building coverage and $100,000 in contents coverage, the price averages just $355 per year.

Flood insurance covers structural damage, appliances, flood debris clean up, and the replacement of any floor surfaces destroyed or damaged. You can also purchase coverage for home contents, such as furniture, collectibles, clothing, jewelry and artwork.

Flood policies may be purchased at closing without a waiting period, but after that, you’ll face a 30-day waiting period for it to take effect.

Want more information? Call us at 407-781-1600.

Fifty Shades of Sun: Part 3

Some reviewers are saying it’s hard to find anything good to say about Fifty Shades of Grey, but we’ve got lots more great things to say about Sun Insurance.

21.  Outside-the-box thinking is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.

22.  We just signed on with one of the most exciting, innovative marketing partners ever: BigEye Creative, and they have especially big things planned for Sun Insurance. Take a look at their web site, bigeyecreative.com, for a preview of the fresh, creative look we’ll soon have.

23.  We have our very own personalized Sun Insurance wine bottles.

24.  We have some clients with very famous names: Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Natalie Woods, Al Green, Drake, Charlie Brown, Mary Kaye, The Adams Family, Michelangelo, John Kennedy, the Waltons, Dave Chapelle, and our favorite, Jack Russell.

25.  We have two monster digital production printers, and we offer discounts for our customers. We print oversize direct mail postcards, handbooks, flyers—whatever our clients need to build their businesses.

26.  We love quotes! Each team member has chosen a meaningful quote and we have stenciled it in vinyl on a wall in their office space.

27.  We are located less than a mile from Universal Studios Florida, and we have a view from our office of the almost-finished Orlando Eye, a 400-foot ferris wheel that will offer a breathtaking view of Central Florida, including the Orlando skyline, theme parks, lakes, and lush landscapes, and views of Cape Canaveral on the east coast.

28.  We work hard to support those in our community working to make life better. We have a number of favorite charities, including the various animal rescue organizations, Emmy’s Heart, the Junior League of Greater Orlando, Give Kids the World, to name just a few.

29. Our client list includes some very talented and interesting people: an animal trainer at SeaWord, the Orlando Predators arena football team, a rocket scientist, several professional athletes, a music promoter, a Cirque du Soleil acrobat, a professional potter, several Fortune 500 executives, and many singers, dancers, actors and artists.

30. So the reviews for Fifty Shades of Grey have not been stellar, the reviews for Sun Insurance are outstanding! Check out this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc1p8mpsWFw to hear about the service we and our carrier partner, Tower Hill Insurance Group, responded to a claim filed by John and Debbie Hoffman.