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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Read This Before You Vacay: Don’t Make Your Home and Possessions a Target

Do your vacation plans include making your home the worst on the block (for thieves)? If not, update that timeline to make anti-theft measures the first stop on your travel itinerary. After all, there’s nothing like returning from an epic adventure to discover that home sweet home is exactly as you’ve left it. Here’s how to keep your home and possessions protected while you’re gone.

  • Cool it with the social media posts – All those gorgeous pictures can wait until your return. A good tactic to quell this urge is to make albums on devices as you go – and then release them to the world with great fanfare upon your return.
  • Leave old-school GPS devices behind – Should someone steal your vehicle at the airport, it’s likely they’ve hit a double win. Your address is almost definitely listed in that little computer, and it’s obvious that you are not home to stop an invasion.
  • Secure that boat – Boat owners, repeat the following mantra: thou shall not leave keys in the vessel. If you do choose to install an alarm, give it a try before you leave – and update your contact list should it go off. You likely won’t be able to address the situation wherever your adventure is taking you. Whether the boat is on a lift or not, make it as difficult as possible for a thief to move. Robbers don’t like to stick around; they enjoy an easy target. Make it close to impossible for them to take your possessions.
  • Stop the mail (and more) – You have kind neighbors who will pick up unread papers and mail for you? That’s great! Still, if you’re going to be gone for more than a few days, do them a favor and just place a hold on it. Elect a designated ‘house checker’ who removes those pesky door hanger advertisements for pizza and sea wall construction. A buildup of these is a likely sign of home vacancy. If your pet isn’t a fan of dog boarding chaos, consider hiring a sitter who watches after Fido and your home. It’s not cheap, but you’ll have total peace of mind.
  • Consider the small details – Lights on 24/7 means you are either always having a party – or, more likely, that no one is home. The same holds true for a dormant air conditioner. Put your thermostat on a timer and give the appearance that home occupants are indeed enjoying cold air. Thieves won’t know that the cold air you’re enjoying is blowing through the fjords of Norway, which you’re exploring with your clan for two weeks.
  • Understand your homeowners insurance and update if needed – Are your contents covered? What about your flood policy? Ensure the highest protection possible by contacting your W3 Insurance agent. For boat-related questions, the W3 marine insurance advisors are a great resource.

With a bit of preparation, your vacation can end on a positive note. Bon voyage!

Flood Insurance on the Eve of Hurricane Season: We’ve Got You Covered.

We’ll say a reluctant “hello” to hurricane season June 1. Are you ready? Cross an item off your “Hurricane Preparation To Do” list by calling Wallace Welch and Willingham for advice. We offer multiple types of Private Flood and NFIP policies. Which one is right for you – and do you really need flood insurance? Let’s talk.

What is a flood, exactly?

Generally, insurance carriers define flooding as a “rising and overflowing of a body of water onto normally dry land.” For insurance purposes, the word “rising” in this definition is the key to distinguishing flood damage from water damage.

How are Flood Zones determined?

Developing a flood map is a complicated process done by the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) under the strict supervision of the Federal government. The development of flood maps is crucial for communities to plan infrastructure and to prepare for the worst-case scenario Mother Nature may bring.

Who is at risk for a flood?

Everyone! Don’t think you are only at risk for a flood if you are located within a flood zone. More than 20% of flood claims come from homeowners living in low to moderate flood zones. Flood is one of the most common natural disasters, and Florida homes are frequently at or below sea level. No one is truly exempt from the possibly extensive damage a flood may cause.

How do I find a flood policy?

This part is easy. Protection is a quick phone call away. Contact Wallace Welch and Willingham at 727-522-7777.

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Assignment of Benefits Causing Increases to Florida Homeowner’s Premiums

In 2016, the term Assignment of Benefits (AOB) became a hot topic in the Florida Homeowner’s insurance industry.  If a contractor has a property owner sign an Assignment of Benefits agreement/contract, the policyholder has agreed to give up their rights pertaining to the handling of the claim and transferred that right to the contractor.  The contractor now has permission to act on the behalf of the insured to resolve any and all claim issues.

Assignment of Benefits

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Does Your Current Homeowners Policy Protect You?

Know the difference between being protected and cheap homeowners insurance.

Does Your Current Homeowner's Policy Really Protect You?

Do you want a homeowner’s insurance policy that provides basic coverage, one that “satisfies mortgage requirements,” or do you want a policy that gives you the additional coverage you may need in the event of a loss? Don’t be caught by surprise when the unexpected occurs. Be an informed consumer and know what you’re buying. When comparing your homeowner’s insurance quotes and policies, ask yourself if the following coverages are important to you:

  • Dog Liability – Coverage if your dog injures another person(s). Most homeowners policies exclude dog liability but will allow you to buy-back a specific dollar amount by endorsement for certain breeds of dogs. Vicious breeds, mixes of vicious breeds and dogs with a prior bite or attack history are ineligible for coverage.
  • Identity Theft – Identity theft happens when a criminal wrongfully obtains and uses personal information belonging to someone else. The average cost of restoring your identity after a loss is $8,000. This coverage reimburses you for expenses you might incur in restoring your identity and credit.
  • Ordinance or Law – This coverage provides for the cost associated with the enforcement of any ordinance or law regulating the construction, repair or demolition of a building or structure. Most policies provide some coverage automatically. It’s important to remember that the older the home, the more coverage you may need.
  • Personal injury – Injury, other than bodily injury, arising from intentional torts such as libel, slander, or invasion of privacy. This coverage is crucial in this age of social media.
  • Replacement cost on contents (RCC) – The cost to replace a covered item (same like kind and quality) without depreciation. Example: If you have a 5-year-old TV, 10-year-old washer and dryer, and 15-year-old refrigerator that are all struck by lighting, without replacement cost on contents, you will get the depreciated value of these items; with RCC you will get the same like kind and quality items at today’s prices.
  • Water backup of sewers and drains – Provides $5,000 of coverage for back up through a sewer or drain or overflow or discharge of a sump, sump pump or related equipment, even if the equipment suffers a mechanical breakdown.
  • Water damage – Provides coverage for water damage that is the result of a discharge or overflow of plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or household appliance. If you have an HO8 policy form, you do not have this coverage. Some HO-3 policies provide full water damage limits and some exclude coverage for homes over 40 years old. If the coverage is excluded, you may have the option to buy-back limited water damage coverage (usually limited to $10,000).

As consumers, we understand the premium does matter, but more importantly knowing that there is coverage at claim time is why we are buying insurance. When you make that decision to purchase your homeowners insurance, you may decide to keep your premiums lower and not to buy certain coverages. Consult with a licensed agent to discuss your options before the loss occurs.

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Protect Your Home From Water Damage

Water damage can be a nightmare!

The reality is water damage claims are the most common type of homeowner’s loss. The inconvenience of cleanup, repair and potential out of pocket costs are just not worth the aggravation.

Up to 22 gallons of water are lost daily due to leaks from dripping faucets or malfunctioning toilets. Water damage is one of the most common losses to your property. How can you prevent a water damage loss?

Water Damage Prevention

There are no single ways to prevent a water damage loss, but there are ways to minimize your loss from occurring. As a homeowner, there are many things that you are a responsible for in the maintenance of your home. There are 9 places where water damage can occur: plumbing, roof, sump pump, water heaters, shower, toilet, sink, washing machine, and the ice maker.

Age of Your Home

Homes that are thirty years old or older are three times more likely to have a plumbing or drainage problem. It is highly important that the plumbing of your home is inspected annually. If you pay close attention to your monthly water bill, you will be able to quickly spot a plumbing issue.

Are You Covered?

Being a homeowner takes great responsibility, but there are some simple precautions that can be done to prevent a water damage loss, and keep you from paying thousands in damage to your property. Make sure to check with your insurance agent to review your coverage, as many carriers can limit or exclude water damage coverage for older homes. Most carriers only offer $10,000 as a buy back option, which can be minimal if serious damage occurs, and it may not be suitable to repair all of the damage.

Being proactive in maintaining your home and preserving your claims/loss history for catastrophic loss is in your best overall interest from an insurance perspective. Your history for all locations owned follows you for 3-5 years depending on the insurance company.

We offer a free review of your home insurance policy.  If you have concerns about water damage and what you are covered for please call us at 727-522-7777.  Wallace Welch & Willingham represents many insurance companies that have policies that can be customized to fit your particular need.


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Homeowners Insurance Replacement Cost

What is replacement cost?
Replacement cost represents the amount needed to fix or repair your house. Your insurance carrier will reimburse you for the cost of rebuilding your home when you insure your home for its replacement value. This is based on the size and structure of the house that was destroyed or damaged.

It is important to insure your home for at least 100% of its estimated replacement cost. Your building coverage limit is based upon estimates only. The replacement cost is established by using information provided by you, industry standard software, county records and/or other property sites. The actual cost to rebuild your structure or replace your personal property may exceed the policy limits, especially in circumstances where a catastrophic event has disrupted the normal supply of materials, labor, and resources.

When should I update my homes replacement cost?
• Recently made upgrades to bathrooms or kitchens
• Have added rooms or living space
• Added custom windows, molding, or other unique features
• Feel that improvements, rising construction costs or economic factors make your coverage limit outdated.

Replacement cost is NOT:
• The market value of the home
• Your purchase price or the cost of the land
• What you owe on your mortgage loan

We appreciate your time to consider the importance of estimating your home’s replacement cost. Our agency makes no assurances or guarantees that the policy limits provided will be adequate to rebuild the structure or replace your personal property. If there are any questions about the adequacy of the policy limits, contact us to review your current home features.

On another note, it is most common to insure your personal property (contents) for Replacement Cost coverage. This means like kind and quality without a deduction for depreciation. In contrast, Actual Cash Value coverage is also available for a reduced premium. However, in this claim scenario, you would only be reimbursed for the replacement item after depreciation for age, condition and other factors were taken into consideration. We will gladly discuss with you coverage features and options.

Our staff of personal insurance advisors specialize in obtaining competitive rates and versatile coverage options which can be tailored to fit your needs. It is also recommended that you review your policy limits and deductibles each year as your home insurance renews.

Do you have questions about the coverage on your current homeowners policy? Contact us, we are here to help.

Don’t pay your flood insurance renewal payments late!

Flood Payment DueNow it is more important than ever that your NFIP flood policy renewal payment is received on time*.  If your payment is late, your premium could be adversely affected.

For all renewals effective April 1, 2016, the following rules have been added by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP):

  • For properties in special flood hazard areas (flood zones beginning with an A or V) that are currently rated with subsidized rates (no elevation certificate is used for rating), OR being rated under the Newly Mapped Program may lose their subsidized rates or Newly Mapped rates when the renewal payments are received as follows:
  • If the premium payment is received after the 30-day grace period, but within 90 days following the expiration date on or after April 1, 2016:
      • 1st time, the policy will be reinstated and the effective date will be 30 days from the date the insurer receives the payment (no change to rating).
      • 2nd time, the policy will no longer be eligible for subsidized rates or the Newly Mapped rates.  The effective date will be 30 days from the date the insurer receives the payment and a new application and/or an elevation certificate may be required to rate the policy.
  • If the premium payment is received more than 90 days after the policy expiration date, the policy will no longer be rated eligible for subsidized rates or with the Newly Mapped rates and a new application and elevation certificate will be required and the standard waiting period for new business will apply.

The above rules apply to flood premiums whether paid by you or your lender. Therefore, it is important that your renewal payments are made timely. If your lender pays your renewal premium, verify that your loan number and lender are correct and your payment has been processed.

Keep on top of flood insurance renewal payments—we want to help you stay safe and pay less.


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The Importance of a Home Inventory

Florida HomeSpring is in the air! Time to clean, get your home in order and take inventory! Wait… take inventory?

That’s right! How will you ever know what you have to lose if you don’t track it? And really, do any of us know what is in our homes? It’s amazing how quickly all that “stuff” accumulates.

What is a Home Inventory?

A home inventory is a complete list of your belongings. The list should include photos and information on the worth of your contents. If you do not have one now, don’t fret. You are not the only one out there that hasn’t started this process yet. A recent Allstate Insurance survey of Atlanta homeowners found that while than more than 90 percent of homeowners are concerned about protecting their homes, only 41 percent had ever documented or valued their contents. Knowing and cataloging these items can be time-consuming, but may save you a lot of time and frustration later on.

Why It’s Important?

If your home is damaged by a storm or other peril, a printout of all your damaged valuables could be quite useful. Documenting your home inventory in advance can help save time and reduce frustration after a disaster. In the event of a loss, an accurate home inventory can make filing a claim much easier. It is also a great way to discover your true net worth and ensure that you have adequate coverage for your belongings.

Working Smarter – Not Harder

Luckily, technology has come a long way. The “legal pad” inventory is a thing of the past! Home inventory programs now help you organize and track your valuables. Smart phones and advanced programming have made it easier to be organized and prepared. There are many programs and applications available. Here are some top-rated options:

Top Home Inventory Apps:

Know Your Stuff by Insurance Information Institute, Free

MyStuff2 by Rick Maddy Productivity, Free – $4.99

Top Home Inventory Programs:

Delicious Library 3, Mac Program, $25.00

Collectify Home Inventory, PC Program, $30.00

These are just a few of the programs and apps available for purchase or use. Please take the time to find what works best for you and your family.


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6 Steps to Reduce Your Risks when Entertaining

Reducing Risks when Entertaining - W3ins.co,Tis’ the season for entertaining! The fall season begins a slew of gatherings with friends and family. Unfortunately, it can also open you up to risks. As a homeowner, you are responsible for anyone on your property, invited or not. Injuries that could be caused due to your negligence will put you and your family at risk. Your homeowners policy does protect you from liability, but only up to a certain dollar amount. Additional insurance can and should be purchased to offer more protection.

Steps To Take To Reduce Risk

Mitigating risk is something we talk about a lot in the insurance industry. It’s important to know your risks and how to reduce them. While accidents do happen, there are certain things you can do to help lessen them. Here are five ways to help your party goes off without a hitch (or claim).

  1. Check your home for possible safety hazards. Before guests arrive, do a walk-through of your entire property and look for potential hazards. Do you have a step on your porch that is hard to see? Consider adding more light in that area to help light the way. Maybe you had left a garden hose out in the yard where a guest taking a short cut might trip. Make sure all tripping hazards are put away. What about guest seating? Do you have a piece of furniture that you’ve been meaning to get fixed? Bring that item to the garage or other out-of-the-way area to ensure that it is not used. As a homeowner, it‘s your responsibility to provide a safe environment for your guests.
  2. Hire a professional bartender to serve alcohol. Professional bartenders are relatively inexpensive and often carry their own liquor liability. They have been trained to spot when someone has had too much to drink. They know when to stop serving and inform the host of concerning situations. Be aware that larger events that will need to have event insurance as homeowners insurance will likely not cover personal liability. Special Events Coverage through your insurance agent. This coverage provides General Liability coverage for events over one day in duration, up to 100 attendees, such as weddings or New Year’s Eve parties at your home.
  3. Offer Taxi or Uber rides for your guests. Serving alcohol opens you to a whole host of liability. Your guests driving home while under the influence is a big no-no. Having the number handy of several taxi or Uber drivers will help keep your guests safe. Consider having everyone put their keys in a bowl and attach a card with the taxi phone number right to their car keys.
  4. Have plenty of food and water available for guests. Staying hydrated throughout the day/night will help your guests more than you think. Stage several areas throughout your home for easy access to non-alcoholic beverages. Water, lemonade, and seasonal hot cider are all good choices.
  5. Check your homeowner’s insurance policy limits and restrictions. Umbrella polices that offer additional coverage/higher limits and special event insurance are the best ways to help mitigate your risk. There are many instances where your homeowners insurance will not cover you at all if an accident occurs because of a party on your premise. It’s important to establish a good relationship with your insurance agent and to verify if additional coverage is needed for a special event.

Please contact your Personal Insurance Advisor if you have any questions about your homeowners policy.