Home Insurance

family in front of their home

Insurance St. Johns, Florida

home insurance

 

Insurance Coverage in St. Johns is Unique

The 32259 area code as well as all of St Johns County is one of the fastest growing areas in Florida. In fact, it’s grown by over 22% since the year 2000. Many parts of this area are expected to grow even more in the years to come. Insuring your home, auto or anything else has some unique aspects when you live in this area. Some of those factors are:

Insurance Credit Score

When insurance companies give you a quote on your home or other type of insurance, they use an Insurance Score to help determine the cost. This rating is computed by factors such as the probability of an individual filing an insurance claim while under coverage and their credit rating. Many home owners and residents of the 32259, 32081/32082 area codes have favorable ratings in these areas which translates into a favorable insurance score. Each insurer has their own method for calculating this score and we continually monitor a range of insurance carriers to find the best insurance for our customers.

Preferred Risk

Many residents of St. Johns and surrounding area also fall into a category insurers call “Preferred Risk”. Put simply, this means that we can find them better rates than other categories of customers generally referred to as Standard, Non-Standard, or Assigned Risk.

Newer Homes

Because this area has grown so much in recent years, many homes are generally newer construction than in other areas of Jacksonville. This can also help translate to lower rates on home insurance.

Let Us Help

We’ve worked with residents of St. Johns, Durbin Crossing, Switzerland Point, Fruit Cover and throughout this region in finding the right insurance coverage and just the right price. Contact us and we’d be happy to provide a free quote.

 

home maintenance

Escrow Analysis, Home Insurance, & Home Maintenance – Oh My!

It's that time of year again - the annual escrow analysis! Most lenders complete an escrow analysis once a year, typically near the end of year to ensure enough funds are being collected for upcoming home insurance premiums and property taxes.

We usually see an influx of requests to shop insurance policies due to the escrow analysis report. How does this affect home insurance? In our October Newsletter, we talked about major changes in home insurance underwriting. Insurance carriers have strict guidelines for new policies - including the condition of the home and property. Home maintenance is very important to all insurance carriers!

We want to make sure you are in the best possible position if you need to shop your insurance. Below are just some examples of home maintenance issues that insurance carriers have sent cancellation notices out for. If you are in the market to shop, please make sure to review this list and make a checklist for your home!

Roof Condition

Insurance carriers not only have an age requirement for roofs - they also have a condition requirement. Granular loss is a sign of an aging roof that is in poor condition or needs replacement. This may not be seen from the ground, but can be seen upon closer inspection. Lifting and curling shingles, as well as roof patches, are also signs of a roof being at the end of its life span. These are major red flags to insurance carriers and can lead to cancellation or non-renewal.

Rolled roofing is typically used on flat roof areas or patios. This type of roofing usually has a much lower life span than shingle roofing, so it should also be inspected routinely.

Stucco Cracks / Siding Damage

Your home's exterior siding acts as a shield to outside elements. Damage to the siding - like cracks in the stucco, wood rot, and cracks in the vinyl siding - can lead to major issues. These maintenance issues are very important to keep an eye on and repair as needed.

Trees

While trees add wonderful shade and landscaping to your property, it can also damage your roof if not properly maintained. Please make sure tree branches and tree limbs are cut back and not touching the home.
Mold

Mold

Mold is another indication of poor maintenance to home insurance carriers. With Florida's wild weather and plants, it can quickly be a problem if not removed. Cleaning routines will depend on the exterior siding material, so please be sure to research the proper method based on your type of siding.

Damaged Fencing

Damaged fencing can add an unintended risk to property owners. It is imperative that all damaged fencing be repaired to avoid causing potential injury.

Driveway / Walkway Cracks

Driveway and walkway cracks can be a major tripping hazard due to the uneven pavement and can lead to potential injury. Depending on how extensive the cracks are, they may be repairable or it may be time to have the driveway or walkway redone.

Plumbing Corrosion

Another maintenance item on your checklist should be evaluating the plumbing fixtures under your bathroom and kitchen sinks, behind your toilets, and your water heater connections. Corrosion can have a white or green color to it. This can lead to a water leak and water damage. It may be time to have a plumber come out to replace the valves or supply lines.

Roof Debris / Gutter Debris

Roof debris and gutter debris can affect the integrity of the roof and potentially cause water intrusion into your home. The middle photo, especially, shows a clogged gutter filled with water. The water overflow could become a huge issue causing potential water damage.

Yard Debris

Yard debris, like abandoned appliances or excess garbage, is not acceptable for insurance carriers. Local city services often have special large item pick up days or free service for scheduled pick up of appliances.

Handrails

While this will vary by carrier, most insurance carriers require any steps that have 3 or more stairs to have a handrail. The first photo here would fail the requirement. The second photo is an excellent example of a safety handrail installed.

Broken Windows

Broken windows can be a potential safety issue and allow weather elements into the home to cause damage.

In Summary -

Since all insurance carriers have tightened up their underwriting guidelines, we want to make sure that you are in the best possible position if you need to shop your policy. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us - we will be happy to assist!

home insurance costs

Why Home Insurance Premiums are Rising in Florida

Cause and Effect

As the saying goes – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. One of the most popular questions we get is: Why?

Why:

  • is my premium so high?
  • am I being non-renewed/cancelled?
  • did my renewal increase so much?

So, how did we get here? What are the causes behind these current insurance trends? It comes down to a few things: increased claims litigation, hurricane and storm claims steadily rolling in, and rising reinsurance costs.

Litigation is a huge issue in Florida. “According to National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) data mined by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, while Florida homeowners insurance claims accounted for just over 8% of all homeowners claims opened by U.S. insurers in 2019, homeowners insurance lawsuits in Florida accounted for more than 76% of all litigation against insurers nationwide.” Increased claims costs due to litigation is causing rates in the industry to skyrocket.

Reinsurance is basically insurance for insurance companies. With higher claims costs and higher loss ratios (amount of claims filed), the reinsurance rates have increased. These higher operating costs for insurance companies are spread out and passed along to consumers. In order to stay viable, carriers have had to make many, many changes.

NAIC Data: Florida Property Lawsuits Total 76% of Insurer Litigation in U.S.

Policy Cancellations & Non-Renewals

In the last few months, we have seen carriers process massive cancellations in Florida. Three home insurance carriers dropped more than 50,000 policies in Florida alone in the past few months. Along with cancellations, we are seeing many carriers process Non-Renewals for “Exposure Management.”

Carriers are having to re-evaluate their risks and reduce exposure in certain areas. If the carrier issues a cancellation or non-renewal to a policy, they send a notice by mail to the insured – it is vital that any and all mail coming from your insurance carrier is opened and reviewed immediately.

3 companies dropping more than 50,000 Florida home insurance customers

Premium Increases

At every renewal, it is expected that there most likely will be an increase in premium. Unfortunately, we very rarely ever see home insurance premiums decrease or even stay the same. As our homes age, the risks can become greater with older systems like our plumbing, HVAC, roofs, electrical, etc. Home insurance carriers have internal systems and algorithms that rate our risks based on historical data collected.

Recently, we have seen much higher than normal rate increases. We have had many clients whose premiums have tripled or more, which has been unheard of in prior years. The insurance market is trying to balance itself. Many carriers who initially provided very low rates are having to dramatically increase rates due to high claims costs, litigation costs, increased reinsurance costs.

With what we’ve seen happening, along with a few carriers going out of business in the last few years, it is more important than ever to make sure if you are shopping your policy, that you check the financial stability of the carriers you have been quoted with. This is extremely important to Dennis and he makes sure to keep an eye on this for the carriers we write with. We share this information with our clients so they can make an educated and well-informed decision. Your home is likely to be one of your biggest purchases and assets – we want to make sure you are informed and protected!

Got sticker shock from your Florida homeowners insurance? Read this.

Underwriting Changes

Not only have our premiums been affected by what’s going on right now – so has underwriting. Underwriting is basically a process that insurance companies use to determine if they will offer a quote by evaluating different risk factors. These “Underwriting Guidelines” will vary from one insurance carrier to another. They look at many different details like – age of roof, type of plumbing, age of water heater, claims history, occupancy, and much more. Our job as your agent is to verify all of these important details so we can properly match you with insurance carriers to quote.

A big issue right now in the Florida home insurance industry is roofs. A few years ago, many insurance carriers would take roofs up to 20 years old. Most carriers have tightened this requirement- many carriers have limited the accepted age of roof to 10 or 12 years.

They also look at the condition of the home to make sure it is being cared for and maintained. Once a new policy is written, carriers typically conduct an inspection to make sure the home meets their guidelines. They have become a lot more strict about the condition of homes. They will send out requests for repairs for things like peeling paint, wood rot, cracked window, driveway cracks, etc. It is imperative if you are searching for a new policy, that you make sure your home is in tiptop shape!

Carrier Closures and Financial Stability

Gulfstream Insurance was ultimately declared insolvent and shut down at the end of August. Earlier this year, we also saw American Capital Assurance Corporation meet the same fate.

This is why it is vital when choosing an insurance company to make sure that they are strong financially. Not all insurance companies are the same. A $200 difference in premium between quotes may be negligible when comparing the difference in how the companies operate. We have home insurance to protect us in catastrophic events, so we need them to be there when there is a legitimate claims scenario!

When is the best time to shop?

Generally speaking, the best time to shop your policy is at your renewal. Renewal offers are usually sent about a month or two prior to your renewal date – to give you time to review the policy and make any changes, if needed.

Again, it is imperative that any mail or email received from your insurance carrier is opened immediately. Shopping insurance policies takes time, especially in our current market. As an agency, we try to do as much preliminary underwriting as we can to match you with a carrier. Sometimes, inspections are also required. Carriers are also doing underwriting reviews before AND after a policy is written. Time is definitely an important factor as shopping takes more time and effort in this climate, with all of the changes in underwriting.

Please be sure to review your renewal offer when you receive it and reach out to us soon with any questions, concerns, or shopping requests. With massive rate increases, as well as mass cancellations and non-renewals, we are working as quickly as we can to get back to everyone in a timely matter. We are having to date prioritize in order to avoid any lapses. We truly appreciate your patience and understanding as we devote our concentration and time to each client and file that they deserve.

We Are Here for You!

With all of these changes being implemented, we are hoping to see the industry stabilize. We believe there may be some time before we see this still but we are here every step of the way for our clients.

Please remember, not all insurance agencies, insurance quotes, and insurance companies are built the same. We take our responsibility to educate our clients seriously. We want to help guide you as best we can. We want to provide quotes that will meet your budget but also make sure it protects YOU!

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