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“Call for the generator and kick into business continuity alert mode – a category 5 storm is expected to hit Naples on Thursday.” Word of a Hurricane spread quickly, but did not come from the National Hurricane Center or The Weather Channel. Rather, Gulfshore Insurance announced internally that “a three-day agency-wide disaster preparedness drill designed to simulate a major hurricane in our area” would be held May 24-26.

Life has taught us that practice makes perfect and that it probably is unreasonable to expect everything to be orderly, sane, and fully functioning during or after a disaster. That is why Gulfshore Insurance hosted a multi-day, department-wide, hurricane readiness drill to intensively prepare the agency to deal with the effects of a major storm. The exercise was in preparation for the start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, which began June 1st.

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As your trusted insurance advisors, we would like to remind you during Hurricane Season (June 1 – November 30) that certain requirements apply if you are receiving a premium credit on your Florida or coastal insurance policy for shutters or other opening protection.

Chubb and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. include an “opening protection stipulation” in their policy contract which states if your insurance premium has been reduced for hurricane protection devices that those devices must be closed and secured during a hurricane watch or warning issued by the National Weather Service’s Hurricane Center. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in a reduced loss payment if a claim is submitted for damages due to windstorm or hail during a Hurricane Watch or Warning.

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or concerns.

As private flood insurance options have increasingly become available in some states, consumers should make sure they understand the differences when choosing between a federal and private policy.

Background Today, most residential flood policies are sold through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The program was created in 1968, when it was difficult for private companies to insure flood risk at rates homeowners could afford.

After disastrous storms like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the federal program went into debt. The government has been taking steps to stabilize the program and raise flood policy rates, notably with legislation in 2012 that reduced subsidies that had kept premiums on some properties unrealistically low. Further action by Congress in 2014 slowed the rate increases, but many policyholders are still seeing costs rise.

As a result, some insurers see a market for private flood policies. Private policies are a small portion of flood policies. Florida, which has the largest proportion of properties with federal flood insurance — about 1.8 million of the roughly 5.1 million policies nationally — acted in 2014 to encourage the sale of private policies. The state’s Office of Insurance Regulation estimates there are now 3,000 private flood policies.

What are the main differences between a Federal policy and a private policy?

  • The National Flood Insurance Program policies cover structures up to $250,000 and contents up to $100,000. They do not cover extra living costs, like hotels and restaurant for displaced homeowners. Private options may offer higher limits and include coverage for housing if you have to relocate temporarily.
  • Some mortgage lenders may be reluctant to accept private flood policies for federally backed home loans.
  • With national flood insurance, almost anyone can buy a policy if the community participates in the national program. Private companies, depending on the regulations where they operate, may do more extensive risk analysis on a property and may choose not to offer coverage.
  • Private companies that provide flood insurance are few and far between, and their premiums may not be considered affordable when compared with the federal flood coverage.

If I buy a private flood policy, can I switch back to a federal flood policy later?

  • Yes. But if your property had lower, “grandfathered” rates under federal flood coverage rules, you may lose that protection after changing to a private plan, resulting in higher premiums should you return.

Do private flood policies have a waiting period as federal policies do?

  • Waiting periods for private policies vary, but in some cases are much shorter than the 30 days typically required with federal policies.

With the significant brush fires in eastern Collier County, officials have now prompted mandatory evacuations.  Evacuations have been ordered in the area from the north boundary at Golden Gate Blvd. to the south boundary at I-75.  Also from the west at Collier Blvd. to the east at Wilson Blvd.

As we continue to monitor the wildfire situation in eastern Collier County, we would like to remind clients that in the event you need claims assistance, our Claims Team can be reached at the following:

Email: claims@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Phone: (239) 261-3646, select Option 4

For more information, you can contact the Collier County Emergency Management hotline at (239) 252-8444 or 311 for county residents.

 

Safe Travel TipsEvery activity in which a wealthy individual takes part has potential security risks, including travel. There is no question that traveling is an abiding passion of affluent people of every generation. Unfortunately, consumer safety and protection is poor in the $7.8 trillion travel and tourism industry. No one warns anyone before they buy a trip or board a plane about potential risks to their health and safety in the destination country. There are no trusted critical incident reports on deaths, injuries and missing persons who travel abroad. To stay safe, there are a number of safety precautions that every traveler should employ to ensure that their trip remains a joyous one.

Make Electronic Copies of Your Documents: Create an electronic backup of immunization records, itineraries, medical insurance cards, passports, plane tickets, travel insurance, and visas before leaving.

Leave an Itinerary and Emergency Contact: Unplugging while on vacation can be great, but try not to go too under the radar, especially if you’re traveling alone. Leave your itinerary (even if it’s just as basic as which city you’ll be visiting and when you’ll return) with a trusted friend or family member back home, and try to check in with him or her every day. That way, if something happens, they can alert authorities on your behalf.

Don’t Carry Everything Together: It might be tempting to keep your cash, credit cards, identification, and traveler’s checks in your wallet, but don’t do it. Keep any cash, credit cards, IDs, and checks you won’t be using locked in your hotel room safe. Separate the monetary and identifying items you must carry on you and carry them in different spots on your person. This safety tip prevents you from losing everything should somebody steal your wallet.

Don’t Flash Your Cash or Valuables: Keep your cash separated, with some spending money easily accessible and the rest hidden, so that you’re not showing off a big wad of cash every time you pay. Although it’s tempting to have your smartphone out constantly to look up directions or take photos, be mindful of your surroundings – thieves love to grab cell phones from people using them on trains and run off at the next stop.

Steer Clear of Animals: Cute stray dogs and cats roaming the streets may make for good photo opportunities, but resist the urge to get too close. Wild animals can carry all kinds of not-so-fun diseases (including rabies) that could ruin your trip.

Save Emergency Numbers: Remember, you can’t call 911 everywhere. Find out what the local emergency hotlines are and save them to your phone (preferably on speed dial). Also research the nearest U.S. embassies or consulates and save those addresses and phone numbers as well.

Make sure the US embassy knows where you are and if you have a special need: The US Department of State maintains international travel warnings and advisories. US consulates encourage US citizens to register with them and provide them with a contact number. That way, in case of emergency, the consulate already knows where you are and how to find you.

Remember, travel insurance for independent travelers and families is available. You’d rather not think about all of the things that might go wrong on your trip, but these things can and do happen. Gulfshore Insurance offers several good coverage options that provide for worldwide medical coverage. Contact me to find out more!