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Personal Lines How to Prepare for a Wildfire

Each year, thousands of acres of wildland and many homes are destroyed by fires that can erupt at any time of the year from a variety of causes, including arson, lightning, and debris burning. We’ve put together some proactive measures you can take to keep your family and home safe from a wildfire.

Inside your home:

  • Install fire-resistant window treatments. Make sure that your smoke detectors are working and that you have a fire extinguisher in your home.
  • Keep fire-fighting tools handy, such as a ladder, shovel, rake, axe, water bucket, and a hose that is long enough to reach your home and other structures.
  • Install a back-up generator in case electrical power is shut off.
  • Store valuable documents in a fire-resistant safe or bank safety deposit box.

 

Outside your home:

  • Make sure your house address is visible from the street.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches at least 15 feet off the ground or 1/3 of the total crown height, whichever is less. Remove branches that hang over the roof or chimney.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs, and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, and swing sets.
  • Maintain adequately watered ground at least 100 feet from the house if the ground is level and 200 feet from the house if the ground is sloped. Keep grass cut down to a maximum of 4 inches high.
  • Clear a 10-foot area around propane or oil tanks and around your barbeque area.
  • If a wildfire is approaching, clear driveways to accommodate large fire equipment. Make sure no flammable vegetation is within 10 feet on both sides of the driveway and there are no overhanging obstructions within 15 feet. If your property is gated, open the gate to allow fire personnel to access your property.

 

Make sure you have an established emergency evacuation plan for your family and pets in the event that a wildfire begins to endanger your home. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help.

Ron Lazarto, CPRIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Ron specializes in offering customized property and casualty insurance solutions for successful individuals and their families. Comments and questions are welcome at rlazarto@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Personal Lines Preparing for Hurricane Season During COVID 19

Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1, and this year’s hurricane season is predicted to be more active than normal, with a higher likelihood of a major hurricane touching down on the U.S. coastline. These predictions compound potential issues for homeowners already stressed and sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Given indications that the outbreak will continue into the hurricane season, this situation requires a new kind of planning. Among the many issues to be considered:

Evacuation will have extra complications

There is much we still do not know about how officials will handle evacuations considering the pandemic. Florida officials are considering adjusting the state’s hurricane-response plans to prepare for the possibility of an early storm season intersecting with the COVID-19 pandemic. With the dramatic decrease in airline schedules, getting out of the way in case a hurricane is headed your way is set to become even more difficult. Staying at a hotel or with friends or family who live farther inland will likely be better options than relying on a large emergency shelter.

Stocking up on supplies and food

Since shortages of various items are increasingly common these days, experts are urging homeowners to proactively line-up defenses and be ready for heightened storm activity, before the rush that occurs when hurricane and tropical storm forecasts threaten our area. Household stocking of supplies may be even more critical than normal to get through the hurricane season. Stock up early on items such as batteries, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, fully charged back up cell phone chargers, first aid kits, nonperishable food and medicine.

Protecting valuable property 

Once personal safety is addressed, your plan should also consider protecting property. Who is going to be responsible for installing storm shutters or testing sump pumps and making sure there’s sufficient battery backup? In addition, valuable collections that previously were able to wait until a warning had been issued to call a service to pick up and store may no longer be a feasible option. Consider preemptively removing some property out of harm’s way while you have the resources available.

While there are many questions that remain about how this hurricane season will play out, we will continue to provide information and updates to keep you in the know. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Andrea Pelletier, CPRIA, CPIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Andrea works with successful individuals and their families on creating and customizing package insurance solutions in the areas of luxury homes, car collections, jewelry, fine arts, watercraft, and personal excess liability. Comments and questions are welcome at apelletier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Personal Lines Protect Your Home Before Hurricane Season V2

With the start of hurricane season approaching, now is the best time to take a look at your properties’ vulnerability to extreme spring and summer weather like storm surge, flooding, and wind.

Here is a checklist to make sure you’re prepared:

  1. Plan Your Evacuation Route. Start by figuring out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area. Contact your local government/emergency management office or by check the evacuation site website. In the event of a major storm, you may be asked to evacuate, so it’s  wise to create your evacuation plan well before a disaster strikes. Don’t forget to take your pets into account.
  2. Organize a Basic Supply Kit. Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm shutters.
  3. Write or Review a Family Emergency Plan: Before an emergency happens, sit down with family or close friends and decide how to get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what to do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in an emergency supplies kit or another safe place where it can easily be accessible in the event of a disaster.
  4. Review Your Insurance Policies. Take a moment to review your policies and ensure that there is adequate coverage for your home and personal property. If you are unsure, send me a message and I will be happy to review your current policies.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help.

Ron Lazarto, CPRIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Ron specializes in offering customized property and casualty insurance solutions for successful individuals and their families. Comments and questions are welcome at rlazarto@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Insurance Considerations During the COVID-19 CrisisAcross the world, COVID-19 is upending daily life. Below are two important insurance updates to keep you in the know.

COVID-19 and Auto Rate Relief

Americans who are suffering financially due to COVID-19 may have relief coming for insurance payments. Many insurers have announced auto insurance premium discounts to recognize that insureds are driving less during the coronavirus crisis. According to the Insurance Information Institute, these discounts, refunds, dividends and credits total $8.1 billion. It is estimated that this total will reach $10.5 billion as more auto insurers announce their offers. In addition to offering discounts, many carriers are also relaxing payment terms, and some are adding free coverages for identity theft, delivery services, and other needs. Many states have asked or ordered auto insurance companies to provide flexibility to customers who are financially affected by COVID-19. Specifically, Florida has encouraged insurers to be flexible with premium payments in order to avoid lapses in coverage.

 

COVID-19 and Teleworking: Coverage Issues

With many “shelter in place” municipal orders in place, it logically follows that more business operations and activities are now occurring in the home. You might be wondering, what are the insurance implications of this? Homeowners policies contain various property restrictions for business property and liability exclusions for business activities occurring in the home. Such restricted coverage reinforces the policy’s intent to cover only personal-related loss exposures and not business-related ones. This approach thus encourages individuals to cover their business loss exposures with commercial insurance policies or home business endorsements. Courts have generally held that a business must contain two elements: (a) continuity of the business activity, and (b) a profitability goal. Thus, for traditional employees who previously worked in an office Monday through Friday and now telework those same days on a temporary basis, they are likely not to encounter any new coverage gaps. Conversely, a business owner who operated his or her business outside the home and now operates this business in the home should reach out to his or her insurance agent to properly insure any emerging and uncovered loss exposure gaps from this ever-evolving COVID-19 phenomenon.

We will continue to provide updates on emerging insurance issues amidst the COVID-19 crisis. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Gulfshore Insurance.

Andrea Pelletier, CPRIA, CPIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Andrea works with successful individuals and their families on creating and customizing package insurance solutions in the areas of luxury homes, car collections, jewelry, fine arts, watercraft, and personal excess liability. Comments and questions are welcome at apelletier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Allstate to Forgive 15% of Monthly Auto Premiums, Provide Free ID Theft CoverageInsurance carriers are continuing to step forward with offers of help for customers and communities affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Allstate announced that its Allstate, Esurance and Encompass personal auto insurance customers will receive a Shelter-in-Place Payback, a premium credit that recognizes that people are driving less during this emergency. Most customers will receive 15% of their monthly premium in April and May, totaling more than $600 million. Customers will receive the money back through a credit to their bank account, credit card or Allstate account.

Allstate is also offering free identity protection to all Americans in recognition of the heightened exposure to cybercrime likely as more people work, take classes and visit with friends virtually. Allstate is making the Allstate Identity Protection product free for the rest of the year with no opt-out-requirement. This product helps protect people from identity theft and financial fraud and provides more control over information shared digitally. U.S. residents can get the free identity protection product through Dec. 31, 2020, regardless of whether they are already Allstate customers, by signing up in April or May.