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.

Fifty Shades of Sun

sun-photo

It’s Valentine’s Week, and the week of the premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey. We thought it was the perfect time to update our blog series “Fifty Shades of Sun,” and list 50 all the things we love about Sun Insurance Services. We’ll spotlight 10 every day this week.

 

11.  We’re big on technology, but we only invest in products that help our business run more smoothly, and, in turn, enhance our customers’ experience. You won’t find any big, clunky PC towers on our agents’ desks: we use sleek, elegant Mac Minis for our hardware. And QQ Catalyst for our agency management system, which we can reach from our smart phones or iPads.

12.  We share our lakefront office with some real animals; alligators.

13.  We are innovative with our business partnerships. If you have a business, ask us how we can help you build it!

14.  We made our very own “Songs of The Sun” mix CD.  How many songs can you name that feature the sun?

15.  We embrace and encourage diversity within our team! We represent 4 different cultures and speak three languages.

16.  Jim sends out a “Daily Sun” internal email every morning to keep the whole team up to date and connected!.

17.  All of our files are securely in the cloud, so we can access them from anywhere, any time. When the hurricanes hit in 2003 and 2004, we were working remotely responding to customers and helping get the claims process started.

18.  When you call/visit us regarding your insurance needs, we will give you the straight scoop. No fluff or sales language. Our goal is not to sell you a policy but to make sure you have the coverage you need to deal with the unexpected. We want you to be a customer for life.

19.  There are 120 feet of windows in our offices, offering plenty of opportunity for the sun to shine.

20.  Fun fact: there are over 643 Pez dispensers in Jim’s office. We even made a video of them loading onto the shelves. Want to take a look? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbVhI5ymRgs

 

Fifty Shades of Sun

 

sun-photo

It’s Valentine’s Week, and the week of the premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey. We thought it was the perfect time to update our blog series “Fifty Shades of Sun,” and list 50 all the things we love about Sun Insurance Services. We’ll spotlight 10 every day this week.   Some are big, some are small, but they all translate to a unique approach to finding our clients the best possible insurance solutions for all of their needs.

  1. We’re not your father’s insurance agency. While we take our work seriously, we have a fresh approach to the way we do business. We don’t think you have to be stodgy to be a great insurance agency.
  2. You won’t find a metal file cabinet or a beige wall in our office. You will see wall colors with names like brave purple, sunrise, tanager, clematis, gardenia, afterglow, enticing red, & Poseidon, and a purple and gold checkerboard floor.
  3. We don’t have any lizards, cavemen or pigs selling insurance. Just real, experienced, knowledgeable, creative insurance professionals, eager to help.
  4. We love the flexibility of being independent. We represent Florida’s most stable, prestigious insurance carriers for homeowners, auto, business, life and health insurance. We shop your insurance with all of our carriers to find the perfect fit.
  5. We love it when our customers visit our office, but we can easily work with anyone, anywhere. We have customers all over Florida and can complete every process by phone, e-mail, and mail.
  6. We’re always available to our customers through our mobile app. Download the free app and your policy information is always at your fingertips.
  7. Can you believe we just hired a consultant named Fear? We’re always looking for better ways to do things and John Fear is one of the most respected insurance experts in the business.
  8. Our use of color in our office and in our brand is not just a gimmick to help us stand out. It’s a reflection of our bright, cheerful, innovative outlook.
  9. We treasure referrals from current clients and just developed a program to reward them. We donate $10 for each referral to four charities we love: Furever Friendz Animal Rescue, Women Playing for T.I.M.E (breast cancer research), Emmy’s Heart (support for children fighting cancer), and United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida.
  10. We recycle everything, from office paper to cans and bottles. We even give the shredded office paper to one of our clients, who uses it to ship her products worldwide.