When It Rains, It Floods!

It seems like we just made it through “flood season”, and yet, here it is, creeping up on us again! Although there are certainly times in the year where flood is more prevalent, the reality is that there is no true “flood season”. If it rains, it can flood.  Flooding can happen anywhere and at any time. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, of all the natural disasters that the U.S. faces, 90% of them involve some type of flooding. Flooding is too important to not talk about! Most people think of flooding as an overflow of inland or tidal waters or a backup of storm drainage systems. While this is correct, flooding also occurs from over saturation of the ground after excessive rain buildup.

flood insurance

Did you know that approximately 25% of all flood claims come from people who “don’t live in a flood zone”?  That’s right, the “no flood zone” properties are actually in a low to moderate flood zone, but are still very susceptible to flood damage. At a time when the value of every purchase is being weighed, it’s important to recognize the financial security a flood insurance policy provides.   

Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. If you have a mortgage, your lender will require you to secure flood insurance only if your home is in a Special Flood Hazard Area, as determined by FEMA. Again, 25% of all flood claims come from NON-Special Flood Hazard Areas.  Flood waters do not recognize or stop at a line on a flood map

Up until recently, the National Flood Insurance Program was the primary source for purchasing flood insurance. With the help of technology, private companies have been able to get a better handle on the risks and costs of flooding, so there are now several options outside of the NFIP.

Private companies have made the process easy. For example, oftentimes, there is no need for an Elevation Certificate. There is also not the typical 30 day waiting period that exists with securing NFIP coverage. In addition, most mortgage companies have gotten over the hurdle of accepting coverage outside of the NFIP.  And, the best part - you may be able to buy flood insurance for less than you think!  Private market coverage is often less expensive and much broader than the NFIP.

Aside from the NFIP and Private Market options, more and more property insurance companies are creating the option to add “Flood” as an endorsement on your existing homeowner policy. This can be a good option for the right property for several reasons. 

  1. It eliminates a policy.

  2. The coverage is generally much broader.

  3. In the event of a catastrophic event that involves both wind and flood damage, for example, Hurricane Irma or Michael, you would be dealing with only 1 insurance company and 1 adjuster. This could simplify the process considerably.

While no one option is best for every property, it’s important to understand the flood insurance world is changing and there are options that did not exist in the past. Regardless of what your flood zone is, flood insurance should be a consideration when evaluating the protection on your home.  

Our team is here to help!  Call us today to discuss options. Stay dry out there!   And if you can’t stay dry, be covered and protected!  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Kristie Pauly is the Vice President of Personal Lines at Bouchard Insurance. Kristie's team focuses on protecting individual's assets through all lines of personal insurance. | Connect on LinkedIn

5 Tips for Boating Safely this Summer

The weather is warming up and it’s time to hit the water.  With nearly 12 million registered recreational boats in the U.S., the waterways become a very busy destination.  Before you set sail with your friends and family, here are a few tips to keep everyone safe and enjoy your time on the water.

Life Jackets

When boating, it is required by law that you carry proper and enough life vests for all persons aboard your vessel.  Drowning is the cause of nearly 80% of fatalities in boating accidents. Of that, nearly 90% were not wearing a life jacket.  Insist that your crew accompanying you wear a life jacket that fits them properly.  Wearing a life jacket greatly increases your chance of survival if find yourself overboard.

Boating Safety Course

Taking a boater safety course is a great way to learn the finer details of safe boating.  Most courses can now be done online and for free.  They will cover everything from rules of the road and navigation, to proper life jackets and other required safety equipment.  Out of all boating fatalities, only 13% occurred on vessels where the skipper received a nationally recognized boating safety certificate.  Completing a safety course can also qualify you for discounts with most boat insurance carriers.

Free Vessel Safety Check

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost.  Their certified vessel examiners check your boat’s equipment and provide you information on where your vessel may be lacking.  Most local marinas and yacht clubs will have the information for your local Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron.

Watch the Weather

A smooth day on the water can quickly turn rough when the wind kicks up.  Always check the weather forecast before setting sail and keep a watchful eye for ever changing conditions.  If possible, operate your vessel on the leeward side of the bay, lake, or river in high wind situations.

File a Float Plan

A float plan is a detailed outline of your destination is for the day and your estimated return time.  Letting a friend or family member know where you will be boating and your estimated time of return is often overlooked safety item.  In emergency situations, this allows that person to notify the authorities of your expected location.  Remember to plan your float and float your plan.

With an ever-increasing number of boaters, these few tips will help assure that you have a safe and fun trip on the water.  To assure your vessel is not only inured, but insured correctly, reach out to office  and our team will guide you through the process.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

As Spring is setting in, we start hearing the birds chirping and the trees are starting to bud with their blooms, we start thinking about preparing for what comes with every Spring and Summer in Florida… rain. Lots and lots of rain. As much as we need (and want!) the rain, if you have damage to your home that is caused by rain, it can be confusing if you needed to file a claim to repair that damage. In fact, many Florida homeowners have never heard of the term, “wind-driven rain” until they had damage to their home and found out their home insurance doesn’t cover it. So, what is wind-driven rain and how do you know if your policy has it covered?

Wind-driven rain can be very confusing when you’re unfamiliar with the concept. For the sake of being brief, wind-driven rain damage is caused when there is no hole or entry point for the rainwater to come in from, but is still pushed inside your home by wind. For example, if wind caused rain to enter through the window seals, soffits, or siding and then caused damage. The best way to look at it is, if the wind wasn’t there, the rain itself probably wouldn’t have caused damage.

Particularly in the state of Florida, this coverage is very important. However, because of the high likelihood of exposure, many insurance companies have put an exclusion on policies for this type of loss. As you can imagine, this could be very frustrating for someone to find out, usually after a storm… when it’s too late. There are a few things that you can do to help prevent this issue before it starts. You can do a series of proper maintenance steps to your home to ensure the seals around the windows and doors are tight, replace any broken window panes, replace missing or damaged siding, and keep your roof structure and soffits maintained.

Here at Bouchard, we have surrounded ourselves (and our clients) with some of the best companies available. Therefore, we have several carriers that include wind-driven rain in their policies and some companies may allow the coverage to be added back onto the policy for an additional premium charge.  So, if you are concerned about wind-driven rain or want to see if your policy includes it, please reach out to one of our team members to review your coverages with you! And if you know of a friend or family member that you think would be interested in protecting their home from wind-driven rain, share this article to increase awareness to such a common issue in Florida!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Christin Snow is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Christin is experienced in all lines of personal insurance. | Connect on LinkedIn

Going Green for St. Patrick's Day

If you’re anything like me, you love any reason to celebrate your heritage. With mine being Irish, I have St. Patrick’s Day festivities lined up every year. However, even if you’re not Irish, you can still take the opportunity to be green and get a little “Luck of the Irish” during this St. Patty’s Day! At my home, we don’t just wear green, we try our best to “Go Green”! Here are some tips for going green at your home to take your St. Patty’s day to the next level.  

Adjust your heating system.

If you are able to handle your temperature at a few degrees warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter, your system won’t have to work as hard and will be more energy efficient.

Upgrade windows and doors.

This is where a lot of heat and air can easily escape. Even if your windows are still in good shape, you can still do an upgrade by checking your window seals. They can wear down over time and replacing your seals can be an easier (and less expensive) alternative.

Fill your dishes and laundry with a full load.

This will do wonders to save on water consumption and save some green in your pocket!

Keep your air conditioning and heating system maintained and start thinking about replacing it after 15 years and about 10 years for your water heater.

When you are upgrading your system, check out the most energy efficient models. They can save you money over the long run and it’s a great way to “Go Green”.

Turn off electronics, lights, and appliances when you are not using them.

This will help save the planet and money.

Add more insulation to your home.

Your HVAC system may be working harder than necessary because of lack of insulation. You can always improve efficiency by adding some extra insulation to your home.

Recycle.

Many trash carriers in the area offer recycling service included in the trash service or for a little extra. You can even create bins in your own home for free and take to many area drop-off recycle locations!

Plant trees.

I heard recently that within 5 years of planting trees and plants to add shade the area around your energy bill could see a 3% savings and by 15 years you could see a savings of 12% on energy. Now, that’s saving some green!

Going green can be especially easy this year with these tips! Encourage your friends and family to do it too by sharing this article. It might save you a pinch or two in the future!

As always, reach out to your Bouchard agent if you have any questions about how we can help with your insurance or share more tips on “Going Green”.

Here are a couple of fun little Irish quotes to help guide you into St Patrick’s Day holiday:

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance!” – George Bernard Shaw. 

“God then made man. The Italians for their beauty. The French for their cuisine. The Welsh for their voices. The Germans for their cars. And on and on until He looked at what He had created and said, ‘This is all very well, but no-one is having fun. I'll have to make an Irishman.’" - Unknown.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christin Snow is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Christin is experienced in all lines of personal insurance. | Connect on LinkedIn

Auto Insurance: Easier Than Your March Madness Bracket

2019 is in full swing and we're a few weeks out from the start of March Madness, the three weeks of college basketball glory! Office and neighborhood pool registrations are open and you're gearing up to make your picks and set your bracket. Completing a bracket takes time and careful thought, but completing the perfect bracket is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance. On average, there is an auto accident in the U.S. every 4.6 seconds. Making sure you are covered against these odds is much easier than picking your March Madness bracket.

Your auto insurance breaks down into three major sections: liability coverage if you cause an accident, medical coverage for yourself and passengers, and physical damage for your vehicle.

Bodily Injury Liability coverage protects you for any bodily harm or death of another party involved in an accident that you may be liable for. The average liability cost of an accident with a non-disabling injury is $21,000. The average for an accident resulting in a disabling injury is $61,600, and expenses can climb over $1 million for fatal accidents. These figures include lost wages, medical expense, and vehicle damage.

Property Damage Liability covers you for any damage to another parties' property that you may cause with your covered vehicle. This includes, but is not limited to, another vehicle, personal belongings, bicycles, mailboxes, and telephone poles. The state of Florida requires that you carry Property Damage Liability on any motor vehicle tagged and registered for road use.

There is coverage available on your auto insurance that will cover to pay for medical expenses and lost wages for you. Personal Injury Protection, also commonly referred to as PIP, is that coverage. Like Property Damage Liability, PIP is a required coverage by the state for any registered motor vehicle. PIP is a $10,000 limit that will be the first coverage to pay for your medical expense if you're involved in an accident, no matter who is at fault. PIP claims are required to be filed within 14 days of an accident to receive the full benefit.

Uninsured or Under-Insured Motorist (UM) coverage is one of the most important coverages you can have. This coverage will reimburse you for medical expenses and lost wages you may incur from a not-at-fault accident where the at-fault party does not have liability insurance or enough liability insurance to cover their liable expense. This is crucial as medical insurance plans may have exclusions for injuries caused in an auto accident.

Finally, you have physical damage coverage for your vehicle. This is split into two separate coverages. Collision coverage repairs damage to your vehicle caused by colliding with another object. Whether it be another vehicle, a mailbox, or simply backing out of the garage and scraping the side of the car. Second, is comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage repairs damage to your vehicle caused by anything other than a collision. This includes, but is not limited to, fire, flood, and vandalism. If your car is parked in the garage during a hurricane and the house falls in on it, coverage would be provided by your auto policy and not your homeowner's policy. These two coverages also have deductibles that you may select as out-of-pocket expense for repairs to your vehicle.

That wasn't so bad, was it? Give our office a call and one of our agents will review your policy with you. We will provide an all-around review of your coverage and provide recommendations where your coverage may be lacking. With accidents becoming more frequent with more drivers on the road than ever, make sure you're protecting yourself, your family, and your assets.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.