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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

We are closely monitoring the global COVID-19 outbreak and adapting Gulfshore Insurance’s operations and business to accommodate and respond to your needs. We are addressing the current situation and taking proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of our teammates and their families, while providing uninterrupted support to our clients.

At this time, we have made the difficult decision to restrict visitors at our physical location. Although we truly enjoy meeting with our clients face to face, we are acting with our clients’ best interests in mind. Our utmost priority is to take all responsible action to help stop the virus spreading further and maintain the health of our clients and associates.

To that end, we would prefer that all visitors refrain from visiting our office for the time being, and we will be recommending that our associates refrain from attending any outside meetings as well. While we are disappointed we will not be able to see our clients in person for the moment, we remain committed to serving them and answering any questions they may have about their insurance.

In addition, many of our dedicated associates are now working from home per CDC guidelines. As such, all insurance processing will occur electronically for the foreseeable future. Our service teams are more than happy to speak with over the phone or via email about insurance needs.

We will continue to adapt and implement appropriate measures in line with the situation in our area. There is no mistaking the challenge of these unprecedented times; however, Gulfshore will continue to be here when you need us the most. If you have any questions, please let us know.  

We have entered unprecedented times as we all respond to COVID-19. We want to assure you that we are closely monitoring the situation and are working to ensure we meet the needs of our clients as well as provide for the health and safety of our employees. Our goal is to be in a position to serve our clients and even more so in times of uncertainty and confusion.

As such, we have implemented proactive steps to ensure that the continuity of our service is not impacted. We will remain fully operational with all offices open; however, beginning March 16th, a portion of our workforce will begin working from home. All of our colleagues will have access to their direct phone lines and email. In addition, our main phone lines will remain open.

The next few weeks may bring additional unexpected developments and disruption. We are committed to staying focused on those factors that remain within our control including our commitment to supporting our clients needs. Please take comfort in knowing that we are well positioned to weather this storm. 

We will remain vigilant in the face of this adversity and hope that our community remains safe and healthy. Please feel free to contact a member of our service team should you have any concerns or needs.

Florida insurance can be complicated. With so many new or seasonal residents purchasing additional properties in the sunshine state, it is critical to provide proper insight on the potential challenges of insuring a Florida home. The Florida property insurance market is drastically different than anywhere else, and the state’s vulnerability to high winds and flooding makes securing proper coverage from a reliable company a must for Florida residents.

Here are the top 5 reasons why having a local trusted professional guide you through the insurance process is critically important:

  1. We know the area. Local Florida agents are keenly aware of conditions that impact market availability, such as building codes, distance to water, and exposure to flooding, wind, and fire. Always rely on the expertise of a local insurance agent when purchasing a Florida property.
  2.  We’ve weathered the storm. No area in the country, or arguably the world, has a stretch of coastline as expansive and hurricane-prone as Florida. This susceptibility to hurricanes puts homeowners and insurance companies in a risky situation. Just as insurance companies have different contracts by state, the contracts can also vary greatly within a state. A local agent will be able to help navigate through these differences and identify the bigger gaps in coverage/contracts.
  3. We will be here when you need us most. When ‘you know what’ hits the fan, it’s critical to have a local advocate ready to help. Gulfshore Insurance clients feel confident knowing they have dedicated and licensed Claims Advocates on staff locally who will provide the best advice in the event of a loss. A hurricane or major tropical storm can create havoc in our area, but Gulfshore Insurance has developed a comprehensive disaster preparation plan to ensure we will be there for our clients in the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster. Having a trusted professional who works and lives nearby, knows the community, and can be available when a crisis strikes is critically important.
  4. We know the market. Home insurance in Florida has changed a lot over the years: vital coverages are now optional, have been limited, or are eliminated altogether depending on the company. Because of these changes, it is crucial to do business with experienced agents and a company you can trust.While most states across the country are dominated by household brands we’ve come to recognize from their advertising, you’ve likely only heard of one or two of the top writers of home insurance in Florida. Gulfshore Insurance represents the top-rated insurance companies that specialize in insurance protection for successful individuals and families in Florida, including AIG, Berkley One, Chubb, Cincinnati, PURE, and Vault.
  5. We know the coverages you need. And don’t need. There are several unique issues to Florida homeowners that require the advice of a local professional insurance agent, including:
    1. Special Deductibles – Nearly every Florida homeowners policy includes a separate deductible for Wind or Hurricane Damage in addition to the All Other Peril Deductible on your policy. Deductible options vary and have a large impact on your out of pocket expense and insurance premium.
    2. Wind Mitigation Inspections – Florida law requires insurance companies to give discounts for specific construction techniques that reduce wind damage caused by storms such as roof type, roof covering, roof attachment methods, and opening protection. In order to verify these credits, a Wind Mitigation Inspection Form is required.
    3. Wind Coverage – Depending on distance to coastline, a Florida homeowners insurance policy may exclude damage by Windstorm. As a result, a separate Wind Policy is required. Markets are limited for this coverage and, as your local agent, we can guide you to ensure you are fully informed about wind coverage options including providing you with information on how to help protect your home from damage, potentially reducing the costs of this portion of the insurance in the first place.
    4. Flood Coverage – All properties are located in a flood zone. We can assist by providing a flood zone determination to confirm if your property is located within a Special Flood Hazard Area. In the past few years, there have been numerous legislative and rate changes for flood policies by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Even information from the current seller of a property may not be applicable due to flood zone changes. It is best to consult an experienced Florida insurance professional at the very start of the due diligence process with any property, to get an accurate flood insurance quote and explanation of flood zones.

For over 50 years, Gulfshore Insurance has weathered the storms and we know how to protect homeowners against the perils of living in paradise. As the premier source and largest broker of personal insurance in Southwest Florida, no one can beat our expertise. We would love to collaborate with you to help protect you and your buyers from the unexpected.