Tag insurance

With insurance, the devil is in the details.  With so many abbreviations and industry specific terminology, shopping for the right coverage can often seem daunting.  One of the most important things to know about your homeowner’s insurance policy is the policy’s loss settlement method.  Loss settlement types refer to the way the insurance company will settle your loss and value your property in the event of a claim.  There are two types of loss settlements: ACV (Actual Cash Value) and RCV (Replacement Cash Value).  Knowing the type of loss settlement method your policy includes is incredibly important as it determines what you will, or often won’t, receive in the event of a loss.

 

Roof

Let’s review by using the example of a roof with a 20-year life that is 10 years old and that would cost approximately $10,000 to replace.

 

In the event the roof is damaged and must be replaced, an ACV (Actual Cash Value) settlement method will consider the cost of depreciation of the roof before settling the claim for a dollar amount.  For example:

  • Cost to replace the roof = $10,000
  • Roof is 10 Years old x 5% Depreciation per Year = 50% Depreciation
  • Settlement from Insurance Company = $5,000 (after applicable deductible)

 

Seems a little unfair, right?  This settlement type will leave the insured with a $5,000 out of pocket expense in addition to his or her deductible.

 

Now let’s look at the same loss situation under an RCV (Replacement Cash Value) settlement method.  In the event of a loss, an RCV settlement type will NOT consider deprecation as part of the settlement in the event of a claim.  For example:

  • Cost to replace the roof = $10,000
  • No Depreciation subtracted
  • Settlement from Insurance Company = $10,000 (after applicable deductible)
Appliances
Appliances depreciate 15% per year
Clothing
Clothing depreciates 50% per year
Home Electronics
Home Electronics depreciate 25-50% per year

For many insureds who either do not understand, or were not properly informed about their policy’s settlement method, this can be a rude awakening at the time of a loss.  At SSIA, we recommend RCV settlement types for all homeowner and dwelling policies.  Please don’t forget that the contents in your home depreciate too! Depreciation is based on the lifespan of the item. For example:

Remember, it’s not just about the deductible at the time of a loss, but also the settlement method.  If you need assistance reviewing your policy for these details, feel free to give us a call.  Don’t allow the devilish details cost you more than you anticipate!

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SSIA's 2013 Homeowners Policies Map

In less than a year, we’ve been fortunate enough to assist over 600 families find affordable solutions for their homeowner’s insurance.  Considering that we have been able to help over 50% of our callers, we feel it is well worth the ten minute phone call it takes to see if we can do the same for you. SSIA has been successful when competing against ASI, Centauri, AIUA, and GeoVera just to name a few. Call the office at 1-251-923-4463 to see what SSIA can do for you! 

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Spotlight shifts away from wind insurance costs, toward home mitigation at forum in Mobile

By Michael Finch II | mfinch@al.com
on December 04, 2013 at 8:50 PM, updated December 05, 2013 at 12:04 AM

MOBILE, Alabama — Much attention has been paid to the cost of property insurance along the Gulf Coast, the sky-high premiums and deductibles most homeowners cannot afford.

Industry leaders met Wednesday to discuss one of the solutions: home fortification.

The concern of property owners, insurance agents and home builders should be focused on an emerging standard for building and upgrading homes called FORTIFIED, a group of speakers said at a symposium at the Battle House Renaissance Hotel and Spa.

“It’s not just about insurance — it’s about making sure that our community is still here in the next storm,” said Alex Cary, executive director of Smart Home America, a nonprofit that promotes building homes to withstand natural disasters. “If you’ve been through Mississippi after Katrina, they don’t have community in some of those places. We don’t want that to happen in Alabama.”

The goal outlined at the forum, which was organized by Smart Home America and the Coastal Alabama Partnership, is to have residents of Mobile and Baldwin Counties improve the quality of their home’s construction to one of three standards — Bronze, Silver and Gold — codified by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

The upgrade, which often costs more money up front, pays off in the long term, officials said. Premium prices could fall by as much as 60 percent for a residence with gold-level certification when a state regulation goes into effect in July 2014. Less lucrative, but significant savings can still be achieved today.

Improving the roof of a home is the surefire way for homeowners to reap savings. But seldom is that the case, Carey said. “Although we have discounts in the state of Alabama — mandated discounts for insurance, a lot of agents are not as familiar with the FORTIFIED program and they should be doing when they get an application.”

Educating the many homeowners, insurance agents and building contractors is key. The state Department of Insurance is administering a program which offers grants for retrofitting homes in the region.

Financially backed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Strengthen Alabama Homes pilot program has already attracted 461 applicants for about 120 slots, Deputy Insurance Commissioner Charles Angell said.

The program does not include condominiums, mobile homes or businesses. “We’re just trying to get to the people that has the most effect in terms of resiliency and being able to stay in their homes after a hurricane first,” Angell said.

But officials expect a $100 million surge in RESTORE Act funding from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to boost that number to 22,000 residences. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has vowed to put funding toward the program.

In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security has launched a program to carry the same message as IBHS called Resilience Star. The project will focus on Alabama, which currently leads the nation in the number of FORTIFIED homes, said Matt Fuchs, deputy director of resilience policy.

The initiative aims to further encourage stakeholders across the country to build according to the IBHS standards.

“The problem is pretty easy to identify; there is a tremendous amount of risk out there,” Fuchs said. One-fifth of the agency’s mission is to “ensure resilience to disasters,” which has mostly focused on prevention.

“That really represents a shift for us from trying to prevent disasters, we still will do that to the extent that we are able to,” Fuchs said. “There is a level of pragmatism that disasters are going to happen; we need to plan for and mitigate against (them) assuming that some are going to happen — especially natural disasters.”

Last month, the Alabama Department of Insurance announced the creation of a wind mitigation grant program that would aid residents of Mobile and Baldwin counties.

The program, which is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is a pilot for a potentially larger initiative Gov. Robert Bentley vowed to support with RESTORE Act money from the BP penalties.

The program that is currently running on FEMA dollars will only provide grants to about 120 homeowners between the two counties.

 

 

Follow up quote from SSIA’s President Taylor Norton, “Personally, I think the fortified program is great way to market and educate the public on better built, more resilient homes.  Insurance companies have always rewarded clients who mitigate their homes by offering discounts to those who built stronger homes.  Smart Home has done a great job working with the Department of Insurance to define the discounts and create regulations forcing the admitted carriers to offer them to customers.  I personally feel insurance pricing is a statewide issue and should be solved on a statewide basis.  Although I love the program, I would rather support the $100M in BP fine money be allocated to educating the public of the benefits associated with building stronger, more resilient homes.  Pushing for the adoption and enforcement of statewide building codes that meet the fortified standard would benefit everyone in Alabama, not just the 20-25,000 homeowners who would qualify for the grant.

 

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Young Agents Spotlight: AIIA Celebrates Taylor Norton, President of South Shore Insurance Agency in Foley, Alabama 

President
Taylor Norton

By: Hayden Wood, Intern

How did you being your insurance career?

Taylor graduated from AuburnUniversity with a degree in Wildlife and Forestry. He started his post­ graduation life with a bang by back­ packing across Europe for six weeks. He then wanted to spend the rest of his summer fishing but, realizing he was penniless, he decided to look for a job instead.

Luckily, a family member who owned an insurance company asked him to help with some technology issues. After helping with a few Excel spreadsheets and attaching a document to an email, he was hired, and from that day forth he has been in the insurance business. During his time there he was fortunate enough to learn both the retail and wholesale sides of insurance. He stayed with Southern Alabama Insurance until he decided to form his own insurance agency.

Tell us about your current position and job responsibilities.

Taylor’s responsibilities at South Shore Insurance include a wide range. He says his role is the same as any small business owners: he underwrites insurance, implements goals and procedures, visualizes potential directions and opportunities and even takes out the trash. He says, “Luckily, my team is so industrious and capable that I have an easy job.”  When asked about how he handles certain situations within the industry, Taylor responded, “Our “marketplace challenges” mainly hinge on whether or not a company has wind capacity, or will continue to provide wind coverage at reasonable rates. Being involved in the local association and AIIA helps our agency stay current on which carriers are “in” and which are “out”. As an agency, we always strive to do the best job we can for carriers so they, in turn, will be able to support us in the long-term.  Independent agencies struggle for brand recognition against the big captives so many people don’t real­ize there are alternatives to the wind pool. It bothers me to know that the majority of AIVA policies are actual cash value when we have alternative markets offering more competitively priced options with replacement cost coverage.”

When asked what he learned from the insurance companies he has done business with, Taylor said, “Over the years we have learned each company has their own niche in the market, and we feel as agents it is important to understand what type of risk each company is looking to capture.   Coming from an underwriting background, I understand the mindset of carriers and encourage our agency’s team to stay informed on the specifics of each company’s underwriting philosophy.  I feel this outlook enables us to better serve our companies, which therefore helps us better serve our clients.”

Share with us your involvement with AIIA.

Taylor’s involvement in AIIA and Young Agents includes participation in the Young Agents Clay Shoot, serving as local board member secretary, as vice president and currently as president of the Alabama Gulf Coast Association of Independent Insurance Agents (AGCAIIA). He also attended the national convention in Washington and he recommends this to all members.

What do you see in the future for Young Agents in our changing business environment?

Taylor said he sees endless possibilities for the future of Young Agents who are willing to learn the skill and work hard. He says regardless of changes in the industry, insurance agents should be ok as long as they stick to the fundamentals. Although technology has changed the business, it has also given the young agents an advantage by leveling the playing field. Seasoned agents who have acquired more knowledge may not have much technological experience, whereas young agents are more experienced with technology, but may still be learning the insurance industry. It creates opportunities for the agents to work together and learn from each other.

What tips do you have for new agents beginning their career?

“Go to ABA’s convention in Washington.” He adds, “DC is a great town and you can’t help but embrace the patriotism. It was the first time I was able to truly interact with our state executives and really enjoyed the fellowship we all shared as representatives of Alabama.  It was incredibly inspirational to see agents from all over the country join together to accomplish some common goals with our legislatures.” He also said to get involved all around, be accountable, treat people like human beings not dollar signs, find a mentor in the industry and make a point to learn from them, and lastly and most importantly, when some­ one says or promises something always get it in writing. No matter how well you think you know the person.

 

This article was shared from page 17, Volume 34, of The Alabama Independent and was written by Hayden Wood. The Alabama Independent is the official magazine of the Alabama Independent Insurance Agents.

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It’s obvious that a budget or a debt snowball need to be checked frequently to make sure that you’re sticking to them. If stuff like that gets away from you, it can turn bad quickly. Make sure to refresh yourself on these four insurances:

1. Life Insurance
If you die with no life insurance, your family will most likely be stuck in a dire situation and have to make drastic changes, all the while grieving you. You should have eight to 10 times your yearly income set aside in a term life policy. That way, if you pass on, your family can invest the money and, at a 10% return, replace your income.

This is something that shifts more often than you think. Every time you get a raise, have a child, buy a house or have some other significant life event happen, you need to make sure that you have enough insurance to cover it. Don’t take this lightly; one-third of adults in the United States carry no life insurance, and more than half a million in the prime of their lives die prematurely each year. Ask any ECI Agent about life insurance quotes.

 

2. Long-Term Disability Insurance
If you die, your life insurance will take care of your family. But if you are permanently disabled, you will be unable to produce an income and yet still need to be cared for. In that case, you need long-term disability insurance that will provide about 70% of your income for an extended time period, usually until death or age 65.

You can usually get it the cheapest through your workplace. And you need to. About 49 Americans become disabled every minute and three in 10 in the workforce today will become disabled before they retire. With the average monthly benefit from Social Security disability being $1,004 a month, you can’t afford to not have this type of insurance. Find out more about disability coverage.

In the past hour, almost 3,000 Americans became disabled. That’s 49 every 60 seconds.

 

3. Long-Term Care Insurance
This isn’t necessary until you hit age 60. After that it becomes vital. A nursing home can cost about $50,000 a year per person. If you and your spouse go into an assisted living facility with $300,000 in life savings, you’ll have it used up so fast you won’t believe it.

If you are approaching 60, start looking at long-term care insurance. Don’t buy it before then (it’s not necessary enough at that point) or after (it can get too expensive).

 

4. Homeowner’s/Renter’s Insurance
You should never own or rent property without having yourself covered in the case of a fire, flood, burglary or some other disaster. Renter’s insurance is relatively cheap to get, so make sure to have some.

When buying homeowner’s insurance, get one that has guaranteed replacement costs. If something happens to your home and you have a policy without guaranteed replacement costs, you will only be covered for the value of your home at the time you took out the policy. That’s bad news if your house has increased in value. Make sure to have your full emergency fund in place so you can take the lower premium and higher deductible on it.

 

Contact the office about attaining a quote for any of the above at admin@sshoresins.com or 251-923-4463.
(Source: DaveRamsey.com)

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This weekend was a big ONE for SSIA…

Surprise… Coastal Alabama Business Chamber

Friday morning started off with a boom, and we aren’t referring to the thunderstorm. The SSIA team started their day at the First Friday Forum breakfast hosted at LuLu’s. Team SSIA didn’t know that they were in for their first treat of the day, as one of their own would assist in the reveal of the freshly branded Coastal Alabama Business Chamber.  As the brand was revealed, selected members of the chamber stood flash mob style making powerful statements starting with, “I AM” stating the many inherent qualities of the chamber’s members and services. Before an eruption of applause, SSIA’s Director of First Impressions, Anne Norton, stood as the grand finale enthusiastically stated, “I AM THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS.” What a way to start the day! For more information of the new brand, click here.

One Year Later, That’s A Lot of Oysters

After Breakfast, the SSIA team headed back to the office. Opening the office that morning meant a little something more than just being a Friday. Friday marked SSIA’s one-year anniversary of officially opening its doors for business. The Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program honored SSIA with a plaque naming them as Sponsors. The latest contribution will support 76 gardens that will generate an estimated 57,375 oysters for restoration over the next three years; bringing SSIA’s total to an estimated 71,250 oysters produced over 3 years for restoration. A portion of every homeowner’s policy sold by SSIA is donated to the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program. All of this was celebrated with a lunch (not oysters) where the ladies in the Red Hats serenaded team SSIA.

HOT SHOT = TOP GUN

While most of us were enjoying the lovely fall weekend on Saturday morning, SSIA’s President, Taylor Norton, had only one thing in mind. Taylor and his team compiled of local businessmen were competing in the Experienced Class of Gulf Shores Kiwanis Club Clay Shoot in Perdido, AL. The goal was easy, blow the competition away. So after 100 shots, Taylor, only missing eight clays (92% hit ratio), hauled away the trophy for Top Kiawanian. His team was obviously just as talented as they also brought home the Top Team Award for the Experienced Class.

With all that being said, your insurance team at SSIA would like to thank you; our customers, our families, and our friends for making it all possible. Happy One-Year Anniversary SSIA!

The men behind the dream on the one-year anniversary of SSIA
The men behind the dream on the one-year anniversary of SSIA
Lance Niel, Sherri Davis, and Taylor Norton the original SSIA Team.
Lance Niel, Sherri Davis, and Taylor Norton the original SSIA Team.
Gulf Shores Kiwanis Club Clay Shoot 2013
Gulf Shores Kiwanis Club Clay Shoot 2013
SSIA is honored to be a sponsor of the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program.
SSIA is honored to be a sponsor of the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program.
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Photo of Lloyds Building taken by Taylor Norton

Lloyds of London

I recently ran into a fellow insurance professional who asked me why our insurance agency was still selling Lloyds of London products.  He touted they were overpriced and went on to tell me how great his new carrier was and how they had a fancy online rater and gave clients discounts for having a document proving the house was built like the building code says it should be built.  So I felt like responding publicly because if he is asking maybe someone else is wondering the same thing.

Why Lloyds- Because I want a carrier who is going to be there when I need them most.  No amount of state regulation or comfort of the *state guaranty fund * can compete with a track record of being the oldest insurance provider in the world.

If you start the insurance industry (which they did in 1688), you can’t get much more seasoned than that? To put it in perspective, Lloyds has been through the economic turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars, the American Revolution, the Civil War,  WWI, WWII, the Great Depression and recently survived the credit crisis caused by other large insurance companies (AIG) investing in sub prime mortgages.  They were writing insurance during the Enlightment Period (remember that in school, I like to pretend I do, but really don’t).  They settled claims for the Titanic, the World Trade Center, and are the leaders in aviation, space, and marine cargo insurance.

So when you ask me if they are a good company or will pay claims don’t be surprised when if I smirk just a little before I regain my composure and explain that in my opinion “they are one of the best”.

*AL State guaranty fund provides 150K for each homeowner should an admitted carrier become insolvent. It does not apply to Surplus Lines Carriers like Lloyd’s. (LLoyds have their own fund called the Central Fund which they can use at their discretion)

Click the link to learn a little bit more.

Welcome to Lloyds US version

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