Have You Considered Adding A Water Shut-Off Device To Your Water Damage Action Plan?

Picture this. You’ve just arrived home, and as you pull into the driveway, you see water seeping out the garage. You open the door and discover the painful truth: a plumbing leak has occurred, and water is everywhere. Cue the panic questions:

Do you have insurance coverage? How much coverage do you have for water damage losses? Don’t let the above scenario happen.

Thanks to leak detectors and water shutoff devices, protecting your property from water damage losses has become much easier. From leaky pipes to water heater malfunctions and everything in between, these water damage culprits that lead to property insurance claims are preventable.

Avoid costly repairs and potential insurance claims by installing a preventative device. Some devices could even lead to a policy discount with some insurance companies. Take some time to research and discover more about the various types of leak detectors and water shutoff devices. An initial investment can save you time, money, and aggravation in the long run.

Check out what one of our clients recently told us about their experience with a water shut-off device:

“I wanted to report firsthand about water shutoff devices you recently mentioned. Like you my insurance carrier here in Cincinnati the Cincinnati insurance Co. recommended the installation of a water flow control device. They mentioned four different brands. I researched them and chose Flo by Moen.

When I purchased it online they had a special deal with a plumber for the installation cost of $150 I booked it several weeks out it was installed without a hitch. It was then connected to AC power and Wi-Fi and is now providing daily reports on water usage and every night it performs a system check for leaks.

If I leave the home for any extended period of time I put it in away mode so that it is much more sensitive to shutting off the water supply in the event of what is deemed to be a leak. So for the total cost including installation of about $550 I’m also saving $200 per year on my homeowners policy here.”

It is important for you to review the policy limits for water damage coverage within your insurance contract. If you have questions, contact W3 at 727-522-7777. A great place to begin is a water damage action plan. Find advice regarding crafting one here: https://w3ins.com/category/homeowners.

Your Home: A Water Damage Time Bomb

Keep Dry With This Action Plan

Water damage can be a real drain. Protect your home and your pocketbook by opting for the right water damage coverage and addressing potential threats. Proactive “waterproofers” save themselves the expense and headache that comes with an unwelcome deluge. Keep the wet away from your Welcome mat by completing essential home maintenance essential to loss prevention. Below, we’ll examine the common sources for home water damage and how you can prevent excess H20.

  • Roofing: Plenty of water damage risks don’t involve torrential rainfall or wind. Homeowners are often surprised to learn that maintaining their roof is only one element of protection – but it is of course an important one. Give yours a birthday present by having a professional roof inspector examine it every year. This professional will spot suspect shingles, crumbling flashing and other elements that can put you at risk for leaks.
  • Plumbing: Plumbing in general should be treated as a valuable home element. If you see corrosion, condensation or leaks emanating from plumbing anywhere in your home, act immediately. Here’s a hint: If your water bill suddenly spikes, you may well have a malfunctioning plumbing element.
  • Sump Pump: Heading out on vacation? Avoid a surprise ‘gift’ upon your return home by turning off your main water supply line. Since sump pumps can fail for a variety of reasons, it’s a solid strategy. Take the time to inspect those. Clogged inlet screens and float switches can yield problems. Remember to take a look at the outside pipes and watch for that water flow – it should occur away from the home.
  • Water Heater: Five years is the magic number for these home elements. After age five, water heaters are much more likely to burst. Flush yours of sediment twice annually. And once a year after that five year point, ask a professional plumber to take a look at the anode rod, which will inevitably eventually deteriorate. And remember: no hot shower is worth the amount of damage that water heaters can cause if compromised.
  • Toilet: Anyone who has ever experienced a toilet overflow will tell you that it’s not a pleasant experience. It’s also unfortunately a common one. A backed-up toilet can wreak plenty of havoc on wood floors and baseboards; plus, it’s downright gross. How’s that flush mechanism working? Ask that question and answer it every six months. If you need to replace the flapper or film valve, do so. Also, giving the supply line some TLC every six months or so will keep that water flowing where it’s supposed to.
  • Sink: Faulty plumbing lines, thou art evil. When they deteriorate, these lines and the damage they cause can cost a homeowner approximately $7,000. Faulty plumbing lines are the big risk factor in a sink. Inspect it every six months, and if you don’t know where the water supply shutoff line is, go find it immediately.
  • Washing Machine: This one’s an obvious risk. After all, it has ‘water’ in the name! What you should really be on the lookout for here is water supply lines. Every six months, take a look at it. Is it secured correctly? Is it looking worse for the wear?
  • Ice Maker: That supply line can really be a doozy. If an icemaker is not properly installed, that supply line hose can fail. The result of such an incident is a watery mess and inevitable damage. Again, every six months should be a good adage for inspection.

It doesn’t take a lot of time or energy to do quick checkups on water hoses and the like. Schedule these ‘visits’ in your calendar and adhere to them. Putting off inspection of potential water damage sources can prove a costly mistake. Additionally, contact your insurance advisor to discuss whether you need increased water damage coverage. Different elements such as age of the home can increase your risk.

Remember: Your insurance policy is designed to cover you for sudden and accidental loss not otherwise excluded in the policy form. It is not a home maintenance policy. By understanding your coverage and doing your part to maintain your home, you’ll earn an A+ in water damage prevention.

Request a review of your current coverage

At W3, our advisors are committed to helping you understand the protection provided by your policy and making sure that it works for you. Contact us! We’ll review your options and put a watertight plan in place.

Homeowners Insurance and Hurricanes: What Is (and Isn’t) Covered

home with approaching hurricane

Hurricane insurance coverage is as vital to the Florida homeowner as storm shutters that withstand gale-force winds. Those sandbags, batteries, and shutters are must-haves in the emergency preparedness kit, but hurricane insurance coverage alone possesses the power of rebuild. If the worst happens, and that storm demolishes a home, the right coverage can make all the difference. Here’s what to expect as you consider coverage options:

Florida Hurricane Insurance Requirements

It may surprise you to learn that many homeowners policies consider coverage for hurricanes to be standard. However, as a Floridian, beware: a separate windstorm deductible applies to covered losses. When one speaks of ‘hurricane coverage,’ that is actually what they are referring to – the combination of coverages that add up to full protection. This a la carte coverage aspect means that it is important to talk with an insurance professional before choosing coverage. Whatever policy you select, know that the best options cover both the exterior of the home as well as the contents. That takes into account those valuables you hold dear.

Hurricane Damage Covered by Homeowners Insurance

If a tree pushes a divot through your rooftop or the windows shatter (where were those shutters when you needed them)? Your homeowners insurance should cover the damage. Remember, though, that some areas require an extra oomph of coverage––whether that be through increased contents coverage or a replacement-cost endorsement for your contents. This provides you the money to replace your damaged or destroyed possessions with the same, or similarly valued, items.

Possible Damage Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance

Even though hurricanes often bring flooding along for the trip, homeowners insurance does not cover damage from rising surface water. Mold is also not covered by homeowners insurance unless it was added by endorsement and the result of a covered loss. Excess moisture in the air can cause mold, and this is a very real concern when a hurricane hits. 

Flood Damage (Even Resulting from a Hurricane) is Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance

You read that correctly. Even though it’s rather counterintuitive, flood insurance is a completely different coverage. Living in Florida, with shrinking shorelines and neighborhoods surrounded by water, it’s essential for your total home protection to elect for flood insurance.

If a hurricane results in flooding, those who elected to purchase flood insurance can rest easy knowing their home and property will be protected.

Every Florida Home Should Have Flood Insurance

We can’t drive this home enough. Did you know that it doesn’t take a major storm for flooding to occur? Homeowners who state that they don’t need flood insurance because they don’t live in a flood zone miss the mark. In Florida, we know that when it rains, it pours. Heavy Florida showers present a very real flood risk.

Protect yourself. Prepare your home against hurricanes and know what your policy covers. Speak with one of our experienced advisors long before that storm system appears on the radar. We will break down the intricacies of insurance and make sure you understand what you’re paying for. We’re here to help you weather the storm.

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Is Flood Damage Covered By Homeowners Insurance?

flooded house

Water, water everywhere: Unless you’re lounging on a boat or swimming laps, it’s not a good scenario––especially in your home. Insurance to protect against flooding is a specific coverage election and that’s why the policy is specifically labeled ‘flood insurance.’ So, why do you need it? Reason number one is that water can wreak havoc upon a home, and all are susceptible. 

Water Damage from Rising Surface Water

If excess rising surface water makes its way indoors, that means homeowners’ insurance will take care of the damage, right? This is a common misconception. Water damage from rising surface water will not be covered by homeowner’s insurance. Rising surface water constitutes a flood and therefore is covered by flood insurance only.

Forget the part-tsunami, part-tidal wave catastrophic flood image. Just an inch of water inside your home will do major damage. It doesn’t take a dramatic event to douse the savings you’ll need to access to repair that floor, built-in cabinetry, baseboards, etc. Often, water damage from rising surface water comes not from a rush, but a continuous flow. 

We all Live in a Flood Zone

You read that correctly: We’re all in this together. The sooner homeowners realize that they, too, live in a flood zone, the sooner they’ll realize purchasing Florida flood insurance is non-negotiable. Sure, some of us are more at risk than others. The house on the shore of Anna Maria Island is, of course, going to be located in a higher potential flood zone than the Pinellas Park bungalow. However, a well-placed storm can do major damage anywhere.

Flood Insurance at a Glance

How do you know what your Florida flood insurance covers? For the quick and comprehensive answer, contact your W3 insurance advisor. Our staff is trained to assess your exact flood insurance needs and suggest the policy that fits. Remember: The question is not whether you need to purchase a flood insurance policy – it’s which policy you should select. 

Basic flood insurance is likely going to cover the actual façade of the home. The prior example of permanent flooring damaged due to flood is covered with this type of policy in effect. The architectural integrity of the residence and more are protected as defined in the actual flood policy.  

Dwelling and Contents Coverage

Concerned about valuables being damaged because of a flood? Comprehensive Florida flood insurance coverage may be your best election. This ‘upgraded’ coverage means that should the couch be harmed by a flood, you’ll be compensated. Homeowners with valuable possessions such as antiques find these policies to be a vital part of their insurance plan. It’s important to purchase dwelling and contents coverage for flood protection. 

Flood insurance is most frequently purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private market company. The insurance company underwriting your home insurance may offer it as an endorsement to your home policy.

While being fully covered is the optimal solution, some flood coverage is better than none at all. 

Are You Covered?

If you aren’t sure, it’s time to ask the experts. Our advisors will review your policy at no charge to ensure you are fully covered. 

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New Year, New Exposures – The Importance of Holiday Gift Insurance

importance-of-holiday-gift-insuranceEveryone who fit a trampoline, puppy, drone or diamond under the tree, listen up: you are not only popular in your home right now, but you also likely need to adjust your personal lines insurance. For many of us, the New Year came with new exposures. Here’s how to back some of those fun and precious gifts from Santa with the proper holiday gift insurance protection.

  • Puppy owners – Congratulations on your new addition! Along with new bowls and chew toys, it may be time to purchase an umbrella policy. No, not because cuteness is now raining down upon your family, though it most certainly is. Many a Florida homeowners policy excludes animal liability. If protection is available through homeowners insurance, it usually offers a lower limit of liability coverage. A personal lines umbrella can extend your limit or close that coverage gap. Also consider purchasing pet health insurance, especially if your fuzzy bundle of joy is of a breed known to develop health problems.
  • Drones – These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are classified by the FAA as bonafide aircraft. That leaves your Florida homeowners insurance carrier to decide whether you receive personal liability protection under your current policy. There’s a reason for this. Plenty of accidents have been attributed to drone use. UAVs have been reported to literally fall out of the sky and damage people and/or property. They’re not just ‘remote control cars in the wide blue yonder.’ Check your residential insurance policy with your agent and gauge any additional coverage needs.
  • Golf cart – We’ll ignore for the moment that you obviously purchased that vehicle for yourself. But know this: that cart and your liability arising out of its ownership and operation is likely unprotected. Specific insurance policies or endorsements for golf carts exist precisely for this reason.  Note: When you call your insurance agent for options, be prepared to say, “This sounds like auto insurance!”  Florida golf cart insurance is really very similar, with coverage offered for elements such as bodily injury, collision and property damage.  It’s also important to note – if your golf cart or low speed vehicle has a 17 digit vehicle identification number (VIN), you are then required by the state to have an auto policy with PIP coverage in place at all times.
  • Baubles and other bling – Jewelry may be insured under your Florida homeowners policy – or it may not be. Get an appraisal and work with an insurance expert to properly protect your investment.
  • Additions to existing policies – So you went for the whole bow-on-the-car Christmas morning shock factor? Good for you! Make sure to call your insurance agent and add that SUV to your auto policy. The same goes for a new boat or home expansions.

For all these new exposures and more, you can trust W3 Insurance to offer solid guidance and comprehensive personal lines insurance. Call us today at 727-522-7777. We’ll insure your New Year treasures with peace of mind protection.

Christmas Tree Fire Safety

Every year for the holidays we gather with friends and family to celebrate. We spend quality time with family and cherish what we’re grateful for. Leading up to the holidays there are rituals of putting up your favorite holiday ornaments, lights, knick-knacks, and more. One of these holiday rituals can present a risk in your home when it comes to causing fires; a Christmas tree.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments in the United States responded to an average of 200 home fires per year that began with Christmas trees, both real and artificial. These fires caused an annual average of 6 civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage.

Tips for preventing a Christmas tree fire:

  • Dry Christmas trees are the biggest reason for why a tree fire starts. When picking out your tree, look for fresh green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Add water to your tree daily.
  • Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from any heat source.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Make sure you clean up any needles that do fall off the tree on a regular basis.
  • Check your holiday lights for split or fraying wires.
  • Always turn off the lights on a tree when leaving your home or going to bed.
  • Check that your smoke alarm is working correctly.
  • Have a fire extinguisher close by and know how to use it.
  • Remove your tree immediately after Christmas. A tree will dry out and the longer the tree is in your home the more at risk you are for a fire.

Of course, these tips may not completely remove the risk of having a Christmas tree fire, but they will lower your risk. Want to see what happens when a Christmas Tree is not properly maintained? Watch this video:

A Letter from Michael to Floridians

Dear People of Florida:

Excuse me for being a tourist. I don’t understand why you’re shocked at my visit; doesn’t everyone want to vacay in Florida? Those of you without adequate insurance coverage didn’t seem happy to see me at all. Honestly, I’m hurt. If everyone would just understand the Flood + Home Insurance = HURRICANE PROTECTION equation, we’d all be better off – and I could sweep down to Orlando for a little R&R at Disney World.

But no. Here we are, fashionably late in hurricane season, and fortifications are still not the norm. We’re not talking sandbags, bottled water and nonperishable stockpiles of corned beef hash. I mean insurance. Here’s a tip: my friends might be coming over after I tell them how great this state is, so you’d better consider coverage. Your self-declared ‘hurricane season’ dictates that all of us (and by ‘us,’ I mean hurricanes) have until November 30 to plan an unforgettable Florida trek.

It’s too late to roll out the Welcome mat for me. Here’s how to prepare for the arrival of other potential 2018 storms:

  • Understand and act upon this equation: Flood + Home Insurance = HURRICANE PROTECTION. If you only carry homeowners’ insurance, waste no time in purchasing a flood policy. Most flood coverage does not become active until thirty days after purchase. Just a few inches of water in a residence can cause severe damage. That goes for more than just homes in coastal areas. My girlfriend Florence proved that in North Carolina. She’s such an overachiever.
  • Be thankful for the ‘hurricane deductible,’ which decreases the total cost of damages based on unwelcome visits from storms like me. It’s really important to talk with a knowledgeable insurance advisor about what to expect in the aftermath of a hurricane. To give yourself the best possible outcome in the worst possible scenario, plan, plan, plan. And go one step further: actually purchase coverage.

I understand your reticence. Insurance isn’t sexy. You’re not going to zoom around town yelling, “Look at this snazzy coverage!” But still – in the very real possibility that the next hurricane chooses to retire in the land of citrus and palm – I welcome you to hold that policy high and declare “I am the champion!”

Or something like that.

Talk with a W3 Insurance advisor today at 727-522-7777 or visit w3ins.com. The W3 team finds coverage for auto, home, life, flood and more. Most importantly, they insure against damages caused by unwelcome visitors.

Sincerely,

Hurricane Michael

Request a Flood Quote

Suffered a Loss? Here’s What to Do.

Whether you’ve suffered a loss due to storm surge, fender bender or another insurable situation, you can take charge. Begin the recovery process immediately by choosing to act. A Florida insurance remedy for the unfortunate event is in your future. Here’s how to reach it as quickly as possible.

When you suffer a loss, complete the following steps:

  • First, make sure you are in a safe space. Calling your Florida insurance agent in the midst of a hurricane to declare that the roof has just been torn off your residence is not advisable. Instead, exercise caution. Report the devastation as soon as you are able and to the best of your ability. In most cases your insurance policy has a claims hotline accessible 24/7. The most efficient way to report your claim is directly with the insurance company. If you prefer contact with your agent first, you’ll likely need to wait to call during normal business hours.
  • Every insurance policy places the duty to protect property from further damage upon the insured. Become familiar with your duties in the event of a loss as shown in your insurance policy preferably before or right after you suffer a loss.
  • Take pictures. List any and all affected items, and if you must order any immediate repairs, keep all receipts. *Take note that extensive repairs are not advisable until you have spoken with your insurance representative. Often, the carrier will supply you with a ‘preferred list’ of contractors.
  • Get ready to file a claim. You’ll need to provide the following information: policyholder’s name, policy number, address of affected property (if this filing is in response to a homeowner claim), loss date and damage description.
  • Your claim is filed – congratulations! Now what? It’s time for an adjuster examination as to the scope of damage. Answer the professional’s questions fully and completely. Too much information is much better than erring on the side of too little.
  • A claims report will be compiled by the adjuster. No two losses are the same, so your report will be unique. Your agent will monitor the outcome of the claim and be available to assist you.
  • Remember that you may have a deductible to pay before the insurance company takes care of other charges.

Have questions throughout this process? Call your insurance agent. Working with a W3 insurance professional is a great way to ensure that you receive the assistance you deserve. From initial quote through claim fulfillment, our Florida insurance team is with you every step of the way.

Florence Called, Florida: You Need Flood Insurance Now.

The lesson from Florence is clear: Florida residents need flood insurance, and they need it now. Waiting for that tropical system to appear on the radar is not wise; the National Flood Insurance Program usually imposes a 30-day waiting period before issuing coverage. By that time, multiple storms could loom on the horizon. If you didn’t know that a typical homeowners’ policy does not cover flooding, you do now.

Water has yet to recede in North Carolina; adjusters can’t push through the dreaded surge to evaluate the extent of the damage. Flood insurance coverage is not the norm in the affected area, so even cautious damage estimates are in the low billions. The Associated Press reports that a mere 35% of properties located in ‘flood hazard areas’ were insured when Florence hit.

Florida does not have to face the same level of devastation after such a storm. Here’s how to find a flood policy that’s right for you:

  • If you don’t currently have flood insurance, contact an insurance advisor to learn about options. This professional will discuss with you the differences between private flood insurance and flood insurance obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Consider going private. The same waiting period does not usually apply in the private marketplace, and this avenue offers additional benefits.

Contact your W3 Insurance advisor today and cross ‘obtain Florida flood insurance’ off your To Do list. We’ve witnessed the devastation from Florence in the beautiful state of North Carolina. Let us all in the Sunshine State be prepared if such a storm turns our way.

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