“Why did my insurance premium increase? I haven’t been in an accident, gotten any tickets, or made changes to my policy.”
Sound familiar? This question is one insurance agents receive all the time. When the cost of your car insurance goes up at renewal, the increase can feel unjustified — especially if you’ve been insured with the company for a long time and haven’t had any tickets or accidents. I felt the same way when the cost of my auto insurance increased by 28% last year (yes, insurance agents are impacted by premium increases, too!).
But before switching insurance companies, there are two important things to keep in mind. First, rate increases aren’t unique to any one insurance company or geographic area. Premium increases are impacting drivers across the country for a variety of reasons. Second, and more importantly, there are things you can do to off-set any premium increase you receive.
(Watch: ABC News Report “Auto insurance costs rise, in part due to texting by drivers”)
Why are insurance companies raising rates?
At its most basic form, the premise of insurance is sharing risk and shouldering costs with others. Although your individual circumstances or driving behaviors may not have changed, all of us are impacted by the following:
How Can You Lower Your Car Insurance Premium?
Most importantly, drive carefully. Observing traffic rules and speed limits and avoiding moving violations and accidents is the best way to reduce your insurance costs over time. There are also many immediate solutions to lowering your auto insurance premium:
Emerge Insurance Agency Can Help
As independent insurance agents, we represent the Pacific Northwest’s best insurance companies, including Safeco, Travelers, Progressive and other top-rated companies.
We can advise you on your insurance options and ensure you’re still receiving the combination of value and protection that is right for your family.
Not a Emerge Insurance Agency client yet? Click here to request an insurance review by one of our agents, or call our office at 904-677-5884.
Florida has the worst drivers in the United States
A study released last year has confirmed that Florida is the worst place to drive in America.
The study, released by the website SmartAsset, studied every state's propensity for driving tickets, traffic deaths, DUI arrests, and uninsured drivers, and ranked them all from worst to best. Florida was ranked the worst place to drive in the nation.
The study revealed that Florida has the second-lowest rate of insured drivers in America, likely due to the high number of recent immigrants in the state. Perhaps surprisingly, there are actually fewer DUI arrests per capita here than in most states.
The study confirms what anyone with eyes in Florida already knows: Everyone here drives like a maniac. Of the 25 worst states in the nation, Floridians Google the words "speeding tickets" and "traffic tickets" significantly more than any other state. (Granted, this isn't an actual count of traffic tickets issued, but it does hint at the overall number.) Florida outpaced the next-highest state, Alabama, by 15 points.
So the next time you wonder why your auto insurance premium continues to increase while you haven’t had an accident or ticket, remember you live in Florida.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
First and most importantly you need General Liability Insurance. Every business, even if home-based, needs to have liability insurance. The policy provides both legal defense costs and damages if you, your employees or your products or services cause or are alleged to have caused Bodily Injury or Property Damage to a third party. If your company primarily is engaged in business-to-business transactions, you will probably be asked for proof of general liability insurance. And if your business is a tenant in building, the build owner may require proof of a general liability policy.
Next you need to consider Property Insurance, If you own your building or have business personal property, including office equipment, computers, and inventory or tools you should consider purchasing a policy that will protect you if you have a fire, vandalism, theft, smoke damage etc. You may also want to consider business interruption/loss of earning insurance as part of the policy (especially if you own a restaurant) to protect your earnings if the business is unable to operate.
There is a single policy that combines both general liability and property insurance. It is a Business owner’s policy or (BOP). A business owner policy packages all required coverage a business owner would need. Often, BOP’s will include business interruption insurance, property insurance, vehicle coverage, liability insurance, and crime insurance . Based on your company’s specific needs, you can alter what is included in a BOP. Typically, a business owner will save money by choosing a BOP because the bundle of services often costs less than the total cost of all the individual coverage’s.
You may also need Commercial Auto Insurance. Commercial auto insurance protects a company’s vehicles. You can protect vehicles that carry employees, products or equipment. With commercial auto insurance you can insure your work cars, SUVs, vans and trucks from damage and collisions. If you do not have company vehicles, but employees drive their own cars on company business you should have non-owned auto liability to protect the company in case the employee does not have insurance or has inadequate coverage. Many times the non-owned can be added to the BOP policy.
Another coverage that has become essential for businesses is Cyber Liability Insurance. Cyber insurance generally covers your business' liability for a data breach involving sensitive customer information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, account numbers, driver's license numbers and health records. Remember this type of loss is not covered under a company’s general liability policy.
If you are a lawyer, accountant, consultant, notary, real estate agent, printer, own a hair salon, therapist, or a technology provider you will need Professional Liability Insurance. This type of insurance is also known as Errors and Omissions Insurance. The policy provides defense and damages for failure to or improperly rendering professional services. Your general liability policy does not provide this protection, so it is important to understand the difference.
These may be the only coverage needs your business has, or you may have others. As an independent insurance agency Emerge Insurance Agency will work with you to assess all the risks that may impact your business. We will then work on your behalf to mitigate those risks with insurance policies the cover your risk at the lowest premiums we can find.
Call us and let us get to work earning you as a client.
What to Do If You Are Sued
“You’ve been served” is a phrase no one ever wants to hear. While lawsuits against board members are usually unsuccessful, it’s still important to protect yourself and your board from the threat. Since we hate legal speak as much as the next guy, we’ve boiled down the must-know things when dealing with lawsuits into five pointers.
1. These lawsuits happen and are usually unsuccessful. A disgruntled homeowner may attempt to even the score by suing the board or by targeting individual board members. Usually, the homeowner is hoping the HOA will rescind their policy and in return the homeowner will drop the case. Here are two examples – one of a lawsuit with merit and one the judge would likely dismiss.
If the board member, Jimmy, decides to shut off the outdoor water to his neighbor (Peter) because he doesn’t like the new flowers/shrubs that Peter planted, the judge will likely rule in favor of Peter.
If, however, Peter didn’t get approval on his new landscaping and has ignored the HOA’s attempts to rectify the situation though proper channels, then Peter’s lawsuit against the board and any individual members will likely be dismissed.
2. Good Insurance can make for a good defense. Individual members of the board are protected by the association’s directors and officers insurance (D&O insurance), and while legitimate lawsuits against individual board members are unusual, D&O insurance is necessary to protect them. In some cases, the association’s general liability coverage will also protect board members. Before you just assume officers are protected under your association’s current insurance, review your policy.
3. Don’t stick your head in the sand. No matter how “out there” a lawsuit sounds, don’t ignore it. Immediately contact your insurance provider and lawyer if you or the board is being sued. Quick attention to these issues is often the best way to diffuse and solve the problem(s). Ignoring it NEVER makes it go away.
4. You may need your own lawyer. While the HOA’s insurance will likely provide an attorney for a board member, an individual member will need his or her own lawyer when/if it becomes obvious that their interests are not the same as those of the board.
If you do need your own lawyer, make sure you review the HOA’s insurance policy because it may or may not cover separate counsel. If it doesn’t, your individual umbrella liability policy might offer coverage for lawsuits stemming from a nonprofit capacity. Or, as another option, you can hire your own attorney and based on the indemnity provision in your association’s bylaws, insist the association indemnify.
5. Protect yourself down the road. Take the time to make sure your insurance has D&O coverage, that your bylaws contain an indemnity provision, and always strive to conduct work in good faith and within the set boundaries of your HOA and its legal documents.
Hopefully these five tips help you navigate any lawsuits your HOA encounters. However, this is not intended as legal advice and the circumstances of your case may vary. Remember, often the best way to protect yourself is to be proactive and cover your bases.
Make sure you’re properly insured and conduct all business within the scope of your authority and inside the parameters outlined in your governing documents.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Prior to July 1 2013 HOA's were not required to carry Crime Insurance or a Fidelity bond.
Florida Statute 720.3033 section 5 reads:
The association shall maintain insurance or a fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the association. The insurance policy or fidelity bond must cover the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association or its management agent at any one time. As used in this subsection, the term “persons who control or disburse funds of the association” includes, but is not limited to, persons authorized to sign checks on behalf of the association, and the president, secretary, and treasurer of the association. The association shall bear the cost of any insurance or bond. If annually approved by a majority of the voting interests present at a properly called meeting of the association, an association may waive the requirement of obtaining an insurance policy or fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the association.
There are still many HOA's out there that have not caught up with this Law. Do your self a favor let us take a look at your policy to make sure you are covered and compliant with the law!
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Cecil Williams -