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Now that Hurricane Irma has passed and normalcy has returned to much of our area, it’s time to take stock. Boards of Directors and Managers of Community Associations throughout Florida were confronted with a variety of issues during and after Hurricane Irma. Here are our top 10 lessons learned:

1. Understand Hurricane & Wind Deductibles – Often, one of the most frequently misunderstood policy provisions of the Condominium insurance policy is the wind deductible. Here are five things every condominium association must understand about their hurricane deductible.

2. Know Your Coverage – Some of the most common questions we receive concern coverage, and whether the association or unit owner is responsible. This helpful checklist highlights what’s covered and what’s not.

3. Know Your Exclusions – It is important to understand that insurance policies may have specific exclusions and conditions for each type of coverage. A property insurance policy exclusion is a provision contained within your policy language that explicitly declares that certain types of loss will not be covered by your policy. Essentially, the “exclusions” contained within your policy are the exceptions to the general statement of property insurance coverage. Of course, property insurance policies vary considerably. So, there may be many different types of loss that are excluded within your specific policy. Some examples of losses that are frequently subject to policy exclusions in Florida include:

  • Wind Driven Rain – Most insurance policies contain an exclusion for water damage to the interior of a building unless a windstorm damages the roof or exterior walls of a structure through which water enters. This policy exclusion is known as the wind-driven rain exclusion.
  • Landscaping – The vast majority of policies contain coverage for landscape, however they only provide coverage for fire, lightning, explosion, riot or aircraft.  Windstorm damage is not a covered peril.
  • Debris Removal – Typically, removal of debris from trees blown by a windstorm is not covered unless the blown trees damage other covered property insured against windstorm.
  • Other Property Not Listed – If the exact property in not listed on the policy, then the policy will not provide coverage for the item. It is important to be sure that all property owned by the association is listed on the policy, this includes perimeter walls, fences, trash enclosures etc.

4. Evaluate the Need for Excess Flood Insurance – Experiencing a flood can be overwhelming for condo associations because they must deal with a wide range of damage—from property to common area to individual units—and multiple owners. All residents that live in special flood hazard areas are typically required to purchase flood insurance as a stipulation of their mortgage. However, sometimes this coverage is not enough. So, what can you do to get excess flood coverage?

5. Evaluate Need to Levy Special Assessment  – There has been some very heavy Hurricane Irma cleanup and repair costs for many condominiums and neighborhoods. Of course, none of these unexpected costs were in the association’s budget for this year. So, how are associations going to pay the Irma damage and repair bills coming due? There are basically three ways to pay these bills: Borrow from the bank, raise the regular assessments in the 2018 budget, or levy special assessments. As most associations don’t want to pay bank interest unless necessary, and they also don’t want to raise regular assessments that much year to year, the most chosen method is levying special assessments. Here’s what you need to know about special assessments.

6. Consider a Line of Credit – We have seen several communities take out a line of credit with a lending institution to obtain the funds necessary to make any repairs suffered from Hurricane damage. The association has the right and duty to manage, maintain, and operate the common areas, and a loan is a proper way to meet this obligation under Florida law. Many banks will consider making a loan or extending a line of credit to your association as it is primarily secured and collateralized by the assessments paid by the unit owners, and thus it is a relatively safe loan for the lender.

7. Review Subcontractor Requirements – Following a disaster, there is typically a need to hire subcontractors to handle repairs. Hiring an unqualified contractor and potentially squandering your insurance proceeds exposes board members to potential personal liability. While accidents and claims cannot always be avoided, to some degree, they can be transferred to reduce the impact on costs associated with claims. It can all be confusing, but it is critical to ensure your association is transferring all third party risk and only retaining what is appropriate. Here is a list of recommendations to include in a subcontractor or vendor agreement that can be used to protect your association from the negligence of others.

8. Get Prepared Before the Next Hurricane – Two critical components to weather safety are to 1) prepare for the risks and 2) to act on those preparations when alerted by emergency officials. Our Hurricane Preparedness Guide is designed to assist Community Association Boards of Directors and Property Managers on how to be best prepared in the event of a serious storm or other disaster.

9. Ensure Adequate Reserves – What happens when an association encounters large or unexpected expenses as a result of a hurricane? Where does the association get the money to repair or replace these? At those times, the association’s reserve fund comes into play. Adding money to your Association’s reserves is a tough sell to members. However, the reality is that many associations (upward of 70%) are woefully undercapitalized. They can pay the day-to-day bills as long as nothing unexpected happens, but something always comes up. Continue reading…

10. Handling Claims in the Aftermath of a Disaster – It is critical to work with agents who have experienced Claims Advocates on their team in the event of a hurricane. Gulfshore Insurance’s disaster recovery team, satellite office space, and backup equipment allow us to immediately resume operations after a storm/disaster. Learn more.

The Office of Insurance Regulation has received the 2018 Florida workers’ compensation rate filing by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), which proposes a statewide average premium decrease of 9.6%. This includes a statewide average rate decrease of 9.3% and a reduction of the fixed expense cost applicable to every workers’ compensation policy in Florida from $200 to $160. The new rates would become effective January 1, 2018.

As always, the Office will review the filing to ensure the proposed changes are not excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory and evaluate its potential effects on the insurance marketplace and employers, who are required by law to carry this insurance on their employees. A public rate hearing will be conducted in October.

NCCI is a licensed rating organization authorized to make rate filings on behalf of workers’ compensation insurance companies in Florida. For more information about the filing, read the NCCI press statement.

Gulfshore Insurance is pleased to bring you this eye-opening series that explores the rise in commercial auto insurance costs; factors impacting the rise in claims; and solutions you can implement to help combat the situation. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact one of our trusted advisors. Click below to read previous articles in this series:

 

With commercial auto insurance rates continuing to rise and no end to this trend in the near future, it is important that companies understand the solutions and best practices available to help alleviate the bumpy road auto insurance has become. These four best practices can help you keep your commercial auto insurance expenses under control.

  1. Focus on Fleet Safety
    • The drivers and the fleet you put on the road are key considerations when an insurer assesses your commercial auto risk. Implementing a proactive Fleet Safety Program will create a strong foundation for controlling your risks and exposures from potential fleet auto accidents. A Fleet Safety Program will help establish standard safe driving procedures and expectations, thereby reducing your risk of liability, and will also communicate management’s commitment to the safety of your drivers and other motorists.

Read more

Gulfshore Insurance is pleased to bring you this eye-opening series that explores the rise in commercial auto insurance costs; factors impacting the rise in claims; and solutions you can implement to help combat the situation. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact one of our trusted advisors. Click below to read previous articles in this series:

 


 

After investigating the factors contributing to auto loss, it’s clear that more accidents, means more claims. Rising claims costs typically stem from either increased frequency or severity — but in the case of commercial auto, it’s both. Across the nation, the frequency of collision claims continues to rise, and in addition to increased frequency, a variety of other factors are driving up claim severity, resulting in higher payments for both bodily injury and property damage. Treating those injured in a commercial auto accident is more expensive than ever as medical costs rise at a faster rate than the overall Consumer Price Index.

This increasing trend in the industry is showing no signs of slowing or reversing. Here are three examples of recent claims that highlight how the “collision” of claims frequency and severity is impacting the auto insurance industry: Read more

Gulfshore Insurance is pleased to bring you this eye-opening series that explores the rise in commercial auto insurance costs; factors impacting the rise in claims; and solutions you can implement to help combat the situation. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact one of our trusted advisors. Click below to read previous articles in this series:


Commercial auto insurance rates are on the rise, and you can expect this trend to continue. Why is this happening? Right now, there are industry-wide challenges with increasing loss costs in commercial auto insurance. In a recent Insurance Journal article, insurance carrier annual statement data revealed a loss ratio of 109 percent, meaning that for every $1 of premium charged, carriers were paying $1.09 in claims costs and underwriting expenses.

While the exact cause of this troubling spike is not clear, there are potential contributing factors to the increase in auto loss:

Density: We’ve entered uncharted territory in terms of the number of miles driven. Not only does exposure to accidents increase as people drive more, the exposure of more vehicles in proximity to one another also rises. Florida is the third most populated state in the U.S., with the most populated areas being Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa/St. Pete, and Orlando.

Driver Experience: A severe shortage of experienced commercial drivers —50,000 in 2015, according to the American Trucking Association — means a limited pool to choose from. Drivers completing unfamiliar routes or lacking practice behind the wheel translate into more accidents, but companies facing intense competition for experienced drivers with good driving records may be tempted to let risk management best practices slip, like proper driver screening and training.

Distracted Driving: Distracted driving has also contributed to the rise in auto losses, with mobile devices accounting for 64% of all the road accidents in the United States in 2016. One out of four car accidents in the U.S. are caused by texting while driving, and new data shows 71% of drivers are using text messaging or email in their vehicles.  In 2015 alone, there were more than 45,700 distracted driving crashes in Florida; they resulted in more than 39,000 injuries and 200-plus fatalities. As interactive technology pervades our society, the distraction it brings behind the wheel may be leading to increased frequency and severity for insurers, with a potentially greater toll for society.

Underinsured/Uninsured Motorists: Many people today are driving without enough insurance, or simply don’t have insurance altogether. When an uninsured motorist gets into an accident, the result is the insured driver ends up paying for damages even if they are not at-fault. Florida, in particular, is ranked second in the nation for uninsured motorists at nearly 25%. And although Florida requires drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 for liability coverage, this is often not enough coverage to take care of commercial automobiles.

Increasing severity and frequency: Rising claims costs typically stem from either increased frequency or severity — but in the case of commercial auto, it’s both. Treating those injured in a commercial auto accident is more expensive than ever as medical costs rise at a faster rate than the overall Consumer Price Index. The average cost per paid bodily injury claim increased 32.1% from 2005 to 2013, and medical costs are on the rise. Vehicle damage-related losses are up nearly 17% since 2013, including vehicle repairs and medical claim costs. Concern over increased claim frequency and severity has recently prompted many insurance companies to raise prices in order to maintain margins and offset low returns on investments.

None of these trends show signs of slowing or reversing. Now is the time to reign in auto exposure, before the cost of claims balloons even further.

For companies with transportation exposure, costly auto losses can hinder continued growth. Organizations who partner closely with their insurance and risk management professionals to understand these risks – and the consultative support and tools available to manage them – will be better positioned to protect their employees, fleets, and businesses. Bottom line: your commercial vehicles are a growing liability to your business. At Gulfshore Insurance, we strive to share information with you to help you keep on top of important issues that may impact your business. As we continue our series on Commercial Auto, stay tuned for our next two articles where we highlight:

  • More Accidents, More Dollars – We will take a closer look at recent auto claims and the costs associated.
  • Just a Bump in the Road: Solutions & Best Practices Companies Can Use – We will discuss solutions available to you and risk management practices companies can put in place.