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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!

In the excitement of surprising someone with a gift that makes a big impression, remember that properly insuring expensive gifts can bring peace and joy long after the holiday season is over.

Standard homeowners insurance policies include coverage for personal items such as jewelry. However, valuable items such as jewelry, guns, furs, silverware, watches, and coins for example, usually have coverage limitations to theft.

To make sure jewelry and other expensive gifts are adequately protected, it is important to take the following actions:

Contact your Client Advisor
Let your agent know that you possess expensive items. Find out how much coverage you have under your home insurance policy and if additional insurance is needed.
 
Have the item appraised
It is important that expensive items are properly appraised. Your Client Advisor can recommend a reputable appraiser if necessary. If this is your first time getting an expensive item appraised, have heirlooms and other expensive items that were purchased several years ago appraised as well. Expensive items can go up or down in value.

Keep a copy of the store receipt and add it to your home inventory
You will need to forward a copy of the receipt to your insurer so that the company knows the current retail value of the item. Keep a copy for yourself and update your home inventory.  Get into the habit of keeping a visual record of all of your personal possessions. This helps to document your loss and speed up the claims process, particularly for claims involving antique and unusual pieces of jewelry.

Store valuables in a secure location
No one ever wants their valuables to be stolen, so it is well worth buying a safe to protect many of those irreplaceable items. When choosing a safe, make sure to check that it has good ratings for resistance to burglars, fire, and flooding, since all three of these things pose a potential threat. The safe should be permanently installed and securely bolted into your home.

With a little planning, you can make sure that your holidays – and future – will be merry and bright.

Go ahead and blame Mother Nature for the things that can go terribly wrong at one’s home. Just not all of them. Damage caused by punishing weather — wind, hail, and rain — accounted for more than half of all homeowners insurance claims over the past six years, but there were other culprits as well, such as fire, leaky pipes, and theft.

The findings are contained in a new study which identified the most common and most expensive homeowners insurance claims based on a review of thousands of claims filed with the company from 2009 to 2015. The most common claims were for:

  1. Exterior wind damage – 25% of all losses
  2. Non-weather-related water damage (e.g., plumbing or appliance issues) – 19%
  3. Hail – 15%
  4. Weather-related water damage – 11%
  5. Theft – 6%

Any number of things can go wrong with a home, and it’s impossible to predict them all. However, if homeowners focus on these particularly common risks and take preventive steps and perform routine maintenance, it may help lessen the likelihood of damage.

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Challenge: You have a homeowner that knows the structure has been updated with a new roof, or other pertinent feature, but there is no permit on file to confirm it. The Insurance Company needs confirmation of an update or they will decline coverage on the home.

Solution: Permit by Affidavit
You can apply for a “Permit by Affidavit” through the following process:

  • The property owner would hire an Engineer or Architect at their own expense.
  • The Engineer or Architect would complete the “Permit by Affidavit” after inspecting the property.
  • The Engineer or Architect would then turn in the completed form to the county or city.
  • The permitting department would review the affidavit and inspect the home.
  • If the inspector agrees with the Engineer or Architect, the permit would be filed.
  • The property owner would then pay the permitting fee to the county/city.

 

Now the permit is on file with the county/city. The forms can be found online on the Collier County Government website, or call Gulfshore Insurance and we will happily provide you with a copy.

Uber and Lyft, two of the most widely known ridesharing companies, have transformed the public transportation industry. Riders love the service due to costs that are a fraction of a traditional taxi. Drivers love the ease and flexibility of this part-time job. Cabbies and taxi companies, however, aren’t big fans, using a variety of regulatory maneuvers to try and stop the industry’s phenomenal growth.

After spending $100 dollars on a cab, I can certainly understand the allure of ridesharing. As an insurance and risk management professional, I can also understand the potential liability issues that could arise if a ridesharing driver does not carry the proper insurance.

As these ridesharing services become an increasingly popular way for people to earn money (as drivers) or save money (as passengers), it is important to be aware of potential gaps in insurance coverage. State insurance regulators have grown increasingly concerned about the insurance implications of these services. The main issue is a possible gap in insurance coverage between the driver’s personal automobile insurance policy and the commercial policy maintained by the ridesharing company.

The Coverage Gap Explained
While these ridesharing companies have expanded their own insurance policies to carry $1 million in liability protection, there still remain some gaps in coverage. Their policies only cover drivers once they have been matched with a fare and when they are carrying a passenger.

So what happens during the period of time between fares? This is called a trolling period, or the time when drivers are logged into the Uber/Lyft app, waiting to be matched with a fare. During this time, the Uber or Lyft auto policy does not apply and quite possibly neither does the driver’s personal auto policy. This is what is referred to as the insurance gap.

Most personal auto insurance policies contain standard exclusions to limit exposures related to the commercial use of a vehicle. This exclusion also applies to other coverages, including uninsured motorist and collision. Uber drivers may be in for quite a surprise in the event of an accident that could leave them personally liable following a valid insurance coverage denial. In some states, failure to disclose commercial use of a vehicle would be classified as a material misrepresentation, subjecting the policy to be void ab initio (from the beginning).

Before becoming a driver or passenger with one of these ridesharing companies, you may want to consider the insurance implications if an accident were to occur. Currently, there is a bill in process in Florida that would establish new insurance requirements for rideshare drivers. This policy includes higher death, injury, and property damage coverages, and coverages for the current insurance gap. Currently, 29 states have already created coverage for rideshare drivers.