Home Insurance

Great Homeowners Insurance Coverage At Lower Rates Than The Competition

Unlike a captive agency that writes through only one company, Southern Insurance Group is an independent agency that offers Home Insurance from over 35 of the areas top insurance carriers. Because we sell the best that the insurance marketplace has to offer, we have a huge advantage over the competition.

Not every insurance company writes or specializes in every risk out there. Some carriers write only newer homes while other can write homes up to 100 years of age. Some give big discounts or credits for various home features while other do not.

For example, we recently wrote a House Insurance policy for a client who owns a 2 story home. Although the first floor is block, most of the industry has to rate a 2 story home as frame construction because the top floor is frame. Because of this, the rate is 35% more expensive right off the bat. We will shop this risk and find the best carriers who can rate the entire structure as block which saves our customers more money than the competition.

Keep in mind that if a carrier has restrictive guidelines this usually equates to higher insurance premiums because it doesn't fall in the carrier's niche.

How Much Coverage Does Your Home Need?

How much should you insure your home for? Many people don't really understand or know what they should insure their home for. If you called 10 insurance agents you may get 10 different values for what your coverage needs to be. I liken it to getting your taxes done. Although CPAs all use the same tax code, it is strictly subjective as to how much you end up paying.

Most people desire aggressive CPAs as a result. Having your Homeowners Insurance agent be aggressive on the low side of your coverage is not the best recommendation as this usually means losing valuable coverage. The good news is that most carriers have cost estimators that they use to help the agent get as close as possible when determining the proper coverage. The bad news is that each carrier has different criteria for how they determine replacement cost value so these figures could be different from carrier to carrier. So what do you do?

The rule of thumb is usually between $100 to $120 a square foot for homes with square footage between 1500-3000. So if your home has 2000 square feet then you should insure it between 200,000 to 240,000 in coverage. Most carriers will usually have a swing of 10-20% that you can increase or decrease your coverage. The main thing you have to realize is that your policy will only pay replacement cost up to that value so you need to make sure you are insured properly.

When in doubt, you can always contact some builders to find out what the current cost per square foot is to replace your home. Keep in mind that this value is usually different than the real estate or market value. In addition, the value does not include your land value. If your home burns down or blows away your property will still be there to rebuild upon. With our 24 years experience in determining the proper values, our experienced insurance agents can help you insure your home properly

Five Protections To Make Sure You Have On Your Homeowner Policy

Since the '04 hurricanes, the majority of insurance companies have restructured their policies to a more basic form with the option to add various coverage to customize your policy. This is a good thing as long as your agent lets you know what additional coverage can be added to your policy.

When obtaining a quote for Home Insurance in Clermont, keep in mind that not every company is going to offer the same basic form of coverage. This is where the buyer has to be aware. Because insurance agencies offer different companies with various levels of competitiveness, some agencies delete valuable coverage to lower their premiums.

Here is a list of options of coverage that you need to review to make sure you have on your policy. Most of these endorsements can be added to your policy for an additional premium.

  1. Replacement cost for contents - this endorsement changes your claim payout for your contents from actual cash value (depreciation) to reimbursing you for full replacement cost.
  2. Sewer Backup - this endorsement will provide coverage if your plumbing or toilets back up into your home.
  3. Screened pool cage coverage - most policies either exclude this coverage or limit the coverage to 10,000. If you own a pool screen you have to make sure you have adequate coverage as your screen is usually the first to go when a hurricane occurs.
  4. Animal liability - Some of the largest liability claims that occur under a homeowner policy pertain to animal issues, with dogs leading the pack. If you own an animal, please make sure your policy offers coverage for this exposure.
  5. Sinkhole coverage - Believe it or not, with a lot of companies, this coverage has to be endorsed back on the policy to provide coverage. 

Some agents don't offer these coverage options when quoting, so you may think an agency offers a competitive price; however, at the time of application the agent will ask if you want to amend your policy by adding these coverage options. Some people, under stress, just tell the agent to write it with or without the additional features because they are out of time to change to another agency.

Of course this is not the norm, but it occurs more than you might think. Don't panic, just be aware that you have to understand your policy. The best time to do this is when you are obtaining quotes before the time of application.

Four Hazards That Could Restrict You From Getting Homeowners Insurance

Insurance carriers in Clermont, FL strongly frown upon you owning a diving board,slide, trampoline, or a vicious dog breed. In fact, these hazards are so much of a concern that most preferred carriers won't even offer you a policy if you possess any of these.

Why are these so much of a concern for the insurance company? In a word, lawsuits. The state of FL unfortunately is a sue happy state with attorneys chomping at the bit, bringing lawsuits for injuries against negligent parties. Insurance carriers pay some of their largest claims from injuries sustained on their client's property.

Just because you may own one or more of these hazards doesn't necessarily mean you are destined to have a claim.  It does, however, greatly increase the probability of a claim occurring. It's very simple, kids naturally congregate at the home where they can have the most fun. If you own a slide, diving board, or a trampoline chances are all the neighborhood kids will end up playing at your home. Kids being kids, they usually try to see who can do the craziest dive, flip or jump. If it results in a serious injury, that's when someone contacts an attorney.

Dog bites are usually instantaneous claim payouts. Usually the insurance carrier will try to settle the claim by paying a reasonable amount for the injury and pain and suffering, thus avoiding additional court costs. The dogs on the vicious breed list have a track record of a biting history. Some of these breeds include Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and Chows.

Whether you are buying a home or live in an existing home, having one or more of these four hazards could restrict or cause your insurance to be canceled.

Reducing Your House Insurance Rates & How To Make It Happen

When shopping for your Homeowners coverage, make sure you understand what kind of discounts are available so you can maximize your savings on your policy. Below are a list of some of these very important areas that will save you money.

The first is a big one, it pertains to mitigation credits. Mitigation discounts relate to various roof tie down features like straps, how many nails per roof board or how old your roof is. Some of these credits can reduce your premiums 30-45%. The mitigation rules or guidelines for new construction changed March of 2001 so items like a new roof put on after this point are now eligible for a wind mitigation credit. These discounts are not automatic, so you will need to contact your insurance agent to receive your credits.

Your insurance carrier will usually require a mitigation inspection from a qualified inspector for you to receive these discounts. If you are in the market to buy a home, newer construction homes will have substantially lower rates than homes older than 10 years. In fact, most insurance companies will say their rating niches are the newer construction homes mainly because these homes have the latest wind mitigation features and will have lower wind related claims issues as a result.

Some other discounts will include masonry construction vs. frame, being within 1000 feet of a hydrant, and being within 5 miles of a fire station. Also, having a monitored fire and theft alarm will usually save an additional 10% with most carriers. I hope this helps you understand what discounts you may be eligible for. Let us set up your policy today!

Five Tips To Help You Avoid Filing Home Insurance Claims

Usually, insurance claims are something that can't be prevented; however, below are some tips that can help you minimize some of the claims that are avoidable.

  1. Inspect Your Roof: The weather in FL can take its toll on your roof so it is always a good idea to inspect your roof for possible worn areas. Leaks often tend to occur around skylights and vents. As a result, it is a good idea to place additional roof tar and caulking around these areas to prevent future leaking.  It is also good to inspect your roof after a major storm to make sure no damage has occurred. If you are near trees, make sure no branches have fallen and pierced the roofing membrane. It is always best before a storm to make sure any branches are cut back to avoid this problem. Also make sure the wind hasn't lifted up or separated any of your shingles.
  2. Motion Sensor Outdoor Lighting: The last thing a prowler wants when sneaking up to your home to break in is to have your outdoor flood lights turn on to expose his intentions. This lighting is very inexpensive and can be obtained at your local home improvement store. Make sure when adding motion sensors that you address all sides of your home, entry ways and drives.  Because a good percentage of criminals case a potential home before they break in, adding this simple motion lighting may be cause enough to avoid breaking into your home.
  3. Plumbing and Electrical Updates: As homes age, plumbing and electrical issues become more prevalent. For instance, older homes with copper plumbing will tend to develop pinhole leaks that keep forming until you eventually have to replace your piping. In addition, toilets, showers, and refrigerator hoses also have a high tendency to wear out over time. If you notice any changes, a thorough inspection should be made to make sure there isn't a further issue.  Outdated electrical systems can sometimes cause fire problems in a home. Every few months do a thorough check of your home. If you notice any faulty electrical outlets or wiring, get it repaired right away. One small fix could save you a lot of grief in the future.
  4. Inspect Fire Extinguishers and Smoke Alarms: Fire Extinguishers are something we all buy with good intentions but then store in some cupboard that we would have to search for when we really need it. Regarding inspecting your fire extinguisher, who does that? How do you even inspect it to make sure it works? My suggestion is that you own several that are kept in strategic locations throughout the house. Hopefully they will work when you need them most.  Smoke alarms should be inspected 2-4 times per year to make sure the batteries are still good and the actual alarm still works. Some ideas for keeping track of these inspections are the first day of each new season for 4 times a year or when daylight savings time occurs if you want to check them twice a year. Having smoke alarms and fire extinguishers that are working and are in an accessible location could make the difference between life and death.
  5. Monitored Fire and Theft Alarms: If someone gets past your lighted motion detectors, a monitored alarm system is your next level of protection to deter the intruder. Not only does the alarm go off when they break in, but the authorities are called so intruders know they have to get out quickly. Also keep in mind that not all burglary claims occur at night. A lot of criminals will break in during the day while you are at work. Motion detectors won't help in this situation. The same holds true for the monitored smoke alarm. If you can't locate your fire extinguisher and the fire gets out of control, the smoke alarm will automatically call the authorities to hopefully minimize the damage.

When Should I Replace The Roof On My Home?

If you are like me you might be puzzled about the phrasing of a 20, 30, 40 year roof shingle. I guess I was naive in thinking that this shingle would actually last the length of time or life expectancy indicated on the description. Well as you know that isn't the case, especially if you live in the state of FL. I built a brand new home back in May of 1998 and put a nice 30 year architectural shingle on my roof. No way did I ever expect that 8 years later I would be replacing my roof. I thought to myself why the heck are they advertising a duration when in reality you end up having a life expectancy at less than half that time. In my case it was almost a quarter of the time. Maybe that duration represents not taking the shingles out of the packaging and storing them in your garage for a while before you actually put them on. Maybe then they could go the distance.

In all fairness to the manufactures of shingles, we do have some pretty crazy weather patterns in FL with heavy rains, extreme heat, hail, and hurricanes that come into play with how these roofs perform. Although you have a 30 or 40 year shingle, keep in mind that if your roof is over 15 years of age, most insurance carriers will not issue you a new policy if you are trying to switch to a new carrier. The reason is that as soon as we have the slightest wind or hail storm, people with the older roofs have more substantial claim issues as far as leaking and will usually end up filing more claims for replacing their roof. Keep in mind that too many leaks from an older roof could very well set your policy up for cancellation.

Because a homeowner policy is a replacement cost policy, the House Insurance company will pay for whatever it costs to replace the roof less your deductible. After the '04 hurricanes there were thousands of people who received money for new roofs when their roof needed to be replaced anyway. Quite a few people saw that storm as a blessing because of getting a new roof. If you end up replacing your roof you will be in for a big surprise when you see your insurance premium reduce. This is because new wind mitigation laws have come into effect. Now any roof replaced from 3/2003 will receive a wind mitigation credit that could amount to 35% reduction of your total premium. Why is this? Because the new shingles are supposed to be more wind resistant and have a longer life expectancy. I guess we will wait and see.

Don't Let Life's Uncertainty Take Away Your Home

Have you ever:

  • Seen a tree limb fall on a roof tearing it apart?
  • Smelled raw sewage that backed up from a septic tank?
  • Had a lawsuit brought against you for a dog bite?
  • Had a Cat 4 hurricane rip off your roof?

Each one is an ugly event.

You not only risk your home and hearth but your health and the well being of your family if you fall victim to one of life's nasty wild cards.

In fact, the life you love could disappear in the aftermath of tragedy that befalls your home.

Contact Southern Insurance Group today, to preserve and protect the loved ones residing in your cozy domicile.

What About The Weather?

If you have lived in Clermont, Florida for any length of time, you know that the weather patterns can change on a dime. We can have clear skies in the morning and then violent storms in the afternoon with driving rain, strong winds, lightning and hail. Scary stuff!

Or how about those hurricanes we Floridians go through every June through the end of Nov. each year? We usually hear predictions of what the season is going to look like and then we hope for the best.

No matter what the peril is that may come your way, making sure your Homeowners Insurance is up to date is our advice to you. We provide specialized policies by vigorously pursuing value added protection for you and your home.

For example, has your home's value changed? If so, you might need a policy adjustment. If you have increased or decreased possessions, that is worth discussing. If you are concerned about that body of water near you home ever flooding, call us 352-243-9000.

Southern Insurance Group: Your Insurance Professionals

Whether you are blind sided by a storm or a lawsuit, thinking afterward about what you should have done before the event is for the reckless. The responsible know better. Remember, we are all just one card shuffle away the devastation of having to start over.

We have protected the citizens of Clermont since 2008. We are friends with the people here. We know House Insurance. We also understand that what would take you 100 years to pay on an annual policy, you could be liable for in a five second tragedy.

Complete the Protection Savings Form today and let our insurance professionals stack the deck in your favor!

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