If My Garage Burns Down and My Classic Car Is Destroyed, Am I Covered?

Classic Car Policy

You might think that if your classic car is damaged or destroyed by fire while locked in your garage that your homeowners insurance would cover the loss.

Think again. Your homeowners insurance will not cover your classic car, because it doesn’t provide coverage for motor vehicles. The good news? It’s simple to make sure your classic car is covered in the event of a fire or other catastrophic event by purchasing a classic car insurance policy that includes comprehensive coverage.

Classic car coverage—your best option

You could simply add your classic car to your conventional car insurance, but it likely will not cover the true value of your classic car. Unlike the car you drive every day, classic cars don’t depreciate over time—often they go up in value. Conventional car insurance covers your car up to actual cash value, but classic car insurance covers your vehicle up to a guaranteed amount agreed upon by you and your classic car insurance company. This amount is determined by appraisal, documentation, and/or consultation with a collectible car value guide such as the Old Cars Report Price Guide or the value guide at www.buyclassiccars.com.

What coverage is included in a classic car policy?

While there are a few differences among insurance companies, a basic classic car policy will typically include the same coverage for liability, property damage, comprehensive and collision that a conventional policy does. However, since you don’t drive your classic car every day, you’ll probably pay less for equivalent coverage. Also, classic car policies often include coverage specific to classic cars, such as specialized repair or restoration, or special towing and spare parts. If you don’t plan to drive your classic at all, you may be able to purchase a comprehensive only classic car insurance policy.

While there is no single definition of a “classic car,” vehicles that may qualify for classic status include cars that are at least 25 to 30 years old, certain hotrods or modified vehicles, exotic luxury vehicles, muscle cars, or classic trucks. To be eligible for a classic car policy, your classic car cannot be used as a primary vehicle, and your insurance company may restrict the number of miles you can drive it each year. You must also store your classic car in a locked, covered enclosure, such as a garage or storage unit.

If you need a classic car policy, please give Lakewood Financial a call at 941-747-4600 or contact us online. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about covering your classic vehicle. We’re a locally-owned, independent agency serving Sarasota, Bradenton, Ellenton, Lakewood Ranch, and nearby communities, and our agents are experts in finding you the best coverage at a competitive price.

Should You Carry Dog Bite Liability?

dog bite liability

Most of us consider our dogs members of the family. They share our lives and our homes—but unfortunately, they may also leave us open to lawsuits. Even though it’s unlikely that your family pet will bite someone, it might be a good idea for you to make sure you have dog bite liability coverage, otherwise known as dog or animal liability.

 

In addition to dog bite claims, dog liability will also protect you if your dog knocks someone over, causes them to trip and fall, or damages their property. It will also protect you if your dog hurts another animal.

 

It used to be that your homeowners insurance policy covered you in the event that your dog injured someone. However, because of the rise in claims and litigation surrounding dog bites this is no longer a given. Florida ranks second behind California for the largest number of dog bite claims, and has the highest average cost per claim at $44,700. In fact, in 2017 dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost almost $700 million dollars and accounted for more than one third of all homeowners liability claim dollars paid out, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Some insurance companies exclude certain dog breeds, some exclude all animal liability, and others place limits on the amount they will cover. If you have a dog and are concerned about your liability, you should check with your homeowners insurance company or your Lakewood Financial agent to make sure you have the coverage you need.

 

And it’s not only homeowners who should be aware of the necessity for this coverage. If you’re a renter, some landlords now require dog liability insurance before they will rent to you.

 

Please call your Lakewood Financial agent at 941-747-4600 (or contact us by email) if you have any questions about whether or not your homeowners or renters insurance policy covers dog liability—or if you have any other questions about your insurance needs.

 

If You Need an FR-44, We Can Help

FR-44

If you’re in the difficult position of putting your life back together after a DUI conviction, we can help. 

Since 2008, Florida has required that drivers who’ve been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs carry an FR-44.

 

What is an FR-44?

An FR-44 is a financial responsibility insurance certificate, similar to an SR-22. You’ll need to carry an FR-44 if you’ve been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because of this, you’re considered a “high risk” driver and the state of Florida requires you to show financial responsibility by purchasing a car insurance policy with  high limit bodily injury and property damage liability, in this case, limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 bodily injury per person/$300,000 per accident, plus $50,000 property damage). In most cases, you must carry an FR-44 for three years.

As you can imagine, combining high limits with a driver considered high risk can make this type of coverage costly.

We can help

Lakewood Financial is an independent agency, serving Ellenton, Bradenton, Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, and surrounding communities. We have many quality insurance companies to choose from, including companies who can provide you with a car insurance policy with the higher limits required for an FR-44 filing at a competitive rate. Please give us a call at 941-747-4600, or contact us for a free, no-obligation quote. We’d love to help you make a difficult situation a little easier.

 

Buyer Beware—Could That Car Be Flood Damaged?

flood damagedIf you’re in the market for a used car, be aware that hundreds of thousands of flood damaged vehicles were left behind by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. And many of these vehicles may have hit the used car market. These vehicles, often sold at auction, or on Craigslist or via private ad, should be avoided, even if they appear to run fine. Damage from floodwater can be unpredictable and your new-to-you car could prove extremely unreliable.

 

Don’t be sandbagged—watch for these signs of a flood damaged vehicle:

  • Unusually low price compared with similar models. (Check out a vehicle’s fair market value at kbb.com.)
  • A damp, mildew-y smell, or conversely, a strong smell of cleaning products—used to cover up a musty smell
  • Water damage or marks on carpets, upholstery, seat belts, or ceiling fabric
  • Brand new carpets or other fabrics in an older model car
  • Visible water lines on the headlights or taillights
  • Sand or silt under floor mats or under the spare tire
  • Rust on the inside of the car where water would not normally reach
  • Mud or debris in hard-to-clean areas
  • Electrical components that don’t work, such as windows, blinkers, or the radio

 

Your best protection with any used car purchase is still to have a trusted mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle. In addition, if you have the vehicle’s VIN, use CARFAX’s free flood check tool, or check its flood history at the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINcheck. Flood history is usually a part of the information you receive in any complete vehicle history report you purchase as well.

 

Be sure to give Lakewood Financial a call at 941-747-4600 (or contact us via email) whenever you buy a new or used car. We’ve been serving the insurance needs of Sarasota/Bradenton, Ellenton, Palmetto, Lakewood Ranch, and surrounding areas since 2003. As an independent agency, we specialize in providing quality insurance coverage at competitive prices.

No Welcome Mat for Burglars—Try These Simple Home Security Tips

 home security

While you want your home to be welcoming to your family and friends, you also want it to be unattractive to burglars. A few simple home security measures can decrease the chance that your home will be broken into.

Burglars target homes that look like they’ll be easy to get in and out of quickly without being seen. If it takes a thief more than four or five minutes to break in, he’s likely to move on. In fact, “Time, sound, and visibility” are the three main factors you need to keep in mind when securing your home, according to safehome.org.

Time

Make it hard for a burglar to enter your home. Locks, doors, and windows are your first line of defense against intruders. To help keep a thief from kicking in a door, make sure all exterior doors are solid hardwood or metal, and that your locks are grade 1 or grade 2 deadbolts. Security experts also recommend installing a heavy-duty strike plate—the metal plate attached to the doorjamb that the bolt extends into—with three-inch screws that will penetrate to the doorframe stud.

If you have a sliding glass door, place a wooden dowel, stick, or safety bar in the interior track, or add a floor bolt.

Also be sure you close and lock every door and window when you leave home, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Sound

Burglars don’t want any attention drawn to their presence, so if you have a dog that barks when a stranger is around, you already have one method of deterring intruders. If you don’t have a dog, or the family pet is likely to welcome a burglar as a long-lost friend, you may want to invest in an alarm system. Be sure to display the alarm company’s sign and decals to notify thieves of the presence of an alarm.

(Before you invest in a home security system, call your Lakewood Financial agent at 941-747-4600 about what features your system needs to qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance.)

Visibility

Trim or remove plants or shrubs that offer a place for a criminal to hide. If you have a two-story home, make sure no tree limbs offer a way for a burglar to break into an upstairs window.

Make sure all entries to your home have good lighting, and consider installing motion-activated lights to illuminate the perimeter of your home.

Don’t leave easily stolen items like bikes or even that expensive grill out in the yard or driveway. And if you’ve recently bought a pricey new item, be discreet about how you dispose of the packaging. If a thief sees the box from a new big screen TV in your trash, he might decide to pay you a visit!

A few more tips

  • Keep your garage door closed unless you’re in the garage or nearby where you can keep an eye on it.
  • Don’t hide a spare house key outside your home. Leave one with a trusted neighbor, or invest in a combination lock box you can put in an out-of-the-way place.
  • If you park on the street or in your driveway, take all valuables inside with you, and lock the doors and roll up the windows. Don’t forget to take your garage door opener inside!
  • Get to know your neighbors. Even if you don’t participate in an official neighborhood watch program, you can still watch out for each other on an informal basis.
  • Walk around the outside of your home looking for possible modes of entry for a thief. Is that window always open a little bit? Does that door look like it could be easily forced? Think like a burglar—then take the home security measures to keep him out!

If you have any questions about your homeowners insurance, be sure to give us a call at  941-747-4600 or contact us via email.

 

 

 

Need Car Insurance and Have Personal Injury Protection Claims? Lakewood Financial Has You Covered!

personal injury protection

Let’s say you’ve been hurt in a car accident, and the other driver is at fault. Under current Florida requirements, all drivers must carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, and even though you weren’t at fault in the accident, in order to have your injuries covered, you make a claim on your PIP. (PIP pays for your injuries if you’re hurt in an accident, no matter who is at fault.) You make the PIP claim and think no more about it.

 

But then later, you may find yourself in a predicament: your car insurance company non-renews you, and other insurance companies don’t want to insure you. If you have more than one PIP claim, you may find it nearly impossible to get car insurance.

 

Why?

 

Unfortunately, Personal Injury Protection claims are associated with insurance fraud: “While PIP premium represents roughly two percent of Florida’s collected insurance premium, this issue accounts for nearly 50 percent of fraud referrals,” according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Because of the high rate of fraud, many insurance companies now consider clients with PIP claims high risk—even if they were not at fault in an accident. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for clients with PIP claims on their records to buy car insurance.

 

Until recently, clients with one or more PIP claims have been forced to rely on the Florida Auto Joint Underwriters Association (FAJUA). We’re happy to say that Lakewood Financial now has an alternative to the high rates of the FAJUA. If you’ve had one or more PIP claims, please call us at 941-747-4600, or contact us via email for a free, no-obligation quote. We’ve been serving the Sarasota/Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch areas since 2003, and we’re here to help. 

Tips for First-time Home Buyers

first-time home buyers

Thinking of buying your first home?  Buying a home is a big investment, so you want to make sure you understand the process and you’re ready to take the plunge before joining the mass of first-time home buyers.Doing your homework before starting to look for your dream home is one way to make sure you make a good decision rather than one entirely based on emotion.

Here are some tips to make your home-buying experience more enjoyable and less stressful:

Get pre-qualified for a loan before you begin house hunting—but carefully consider how much you actually want to spend for your mortgage each month. How do you know how much house you can afford? When figuring costs per month for your new home, remember you’ll be responsible for more than just a mortgage. Consider property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association dues, maintenance, and possibly higher utilities.

Also take a hard look at your finances and consider your personal goals and the lifestyle you want to maintain. Do you want to travel? Have children? Pursue hobbies? Make sure you’ll still have the discretionary income to do those things after you buy your home.

Hire a buyer’s agent to protect your interests. Ask family and friends for recommendations to find a reputable agent. He or she should take the time to answer your questions, and help you understand the process of buying a home, as well as represent you in negotiations for your new home. If you can find an agent that specializes in first-time home buyers

Don’t rush. Take time to research the real estate market in your desired area. Make a list of features you want and features that are deal-breakers. Be sure to communicate these to your agent so you don’t waste time looking at unsuitable properties.

Don’t spend all your savings on the down payment. There may be unexpected expenses once you close on your home, or you may want or need to make some changes or improvements to it. Also, now more than ever, you’ll need to keep funds on hand for emergencies.

Shop around for homeowners insurance. You can start with the company that carries your car insurance, but don’t stop there. They might not have the most competitive rate for you. Get several quotes, and be sure that each quote contains the same coverage types and limits. We recommend that you carry replacement cost coverage. (At Lakewood Financial, we represent multiple homeowners companies, and we’d love the chance to give you a free, no-obligation quote on homeowners insurance.)

Be realistic in your expectations. Your new home doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should be aware of what repairs or cosmetic changes you’ll want to make. Be sure to have a home inspection so you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into.

Buying that first home can be one of the most exciting milestones in your life. Once you’ve found your dream home, be sure to protect your investment with the appropriate homeowners insurance coverage. We are independent agents with multiple homeowners insurance companies to choose from, as well as the expertise to find you the most cost effective policy while still insuring your home and its contents for the proper value. Call us at 941-747-4600, or contact us for a homeowners insurance quote. 

Business Owner Policy (BOP) Basics

business owner policy

If you’re starting a small business, you have many decisions to make—including what sort of insurance coverage your new business needs to safeguard your assets and income. Don’t worry—at Lakewood Financial, we’re here to help!

 

Let us introduce you to the insurance package with the catchy name “BOP”—which stands for Business Owner Policy. A BOP combines property and liability insurance into one policy, and can protect your business from the most common risks, such as fire, theft, lawsuits, or even the loss of income associated with an interruption to your business. It’s a convenient—and cost effective—way to protect your business.

 

You can also add additional coverages (see below) to customize insurance coverage for your particular needs. BOPs are great for any small to medium-sized business (100 employees or fewer) with a storefront and any business personal property.

 

Typically, a BOP (Business Owner Policy) includes:

Property insurance—protects the physical location of your business, whether you own or rent. Also provides coverage for your inventory, customer data, equipment, furnishings, and records and documents.

Liability insurance—provides coverage if you’re sued for an injury or property damage, even if you did nothing wrong. Also protects you from lawsuits if you injure someone’s reputation or infringe on someone’s copyright.

Business interruption insurance—provides coverage to replace lost income if you’re unable to do business due to a covered loss. It may also contain coverage for the expense of having to operate out of a temporary location.

 

Depending on your business, you may also need additional coverages not contained in a BOP—such as Worker’s Compensation, Professional Liability (Errors and Omissions), Data Breach, or Commercial Auto. (We can help you with those, too—just give us a call.)

 

Every business is different and has different needs. Let your Lakewood Financial insurance specialist help you with your business insurance needs. We’ve been serving the Sarasota/Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch areas since 2003, and we’re here to help. Please call us at 941-747-4600, or contact us online. 

New to Florida? Here’s What You Need to Know About Car Insurance

car insurance

If you’ve just relocated to the Sarasota/Bradenton area, welcome! We’re glad to have you here. While you’re unpacking and checking out the beaches, remember that you’ll need to purchase car insurance and tag your car in your new state—and Florida car insurance can be a little confusing. Here are some things to be mindful of:

 

Minimum requirements

Florida is currently a no-fault state, though lawmakers are attempting to change this. 

What this means for you: Your car insurance policy will need to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP). If you’re injured in an accident, no matter whose fault it was, the first $10,000 of medical coverage will come from your own car insurance policy.

In addition to PIP, to legally register your vehicle, you must also carry $10,000 Property Damage Liability (PD).

 

Do I need Bodily Injury Liability?

Even though you don’t have to carry Bodily Injury Liability (BI) to register your car, the Florida Financial Responsibility law “requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have in effect at the time of the crash full liability insurance coverage.” If you are at fault in an accident, BI will help to pay for the victims’ injuries, up to the policy limit. Florida’s minimum BI limit is $10,000 per person/$20,000 per accident.

What this means for you: If you are at fault in an accident and you injure someone, you must be carrying at least $10,000 per person BI, in addition to PIP and PD coverage, at the time of the accident. If you don’t have Bodily Injury coverage, you’ll be forced to buy it, and you may have to carry an SR-22 (a certificate of financial responsibility) for three years. 

Florida’s minimum limits are low, considering how much you could be liable for in an accident with serious injuries, or if more than one other vehicle is involved. When the liability limits are reached, you and your assets may be at risk if the injured party chooses to sue for the remainder of the damages. In general, the insurance industry recommends coverage of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident for BI, and at least $50,000 for Property Damage Liability.

 

What about Uninsured Motorist coverage?

Uninsured Motorist (UM) covers your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering after your $10,000 PIP coverage is used up. Even then, it only pays after the other driver has been declared at fault in the accident and it has been determined they are uninsured or underinsured. UM doesn’t pay to have your car fixed. The catch: you can’t buy UM unless you buy BI coverage, and only up to the same policy limits.

What this means for you: You may want to consider UM coverage since unfortunately, many people in Florida are not adequately insured. (In fact, Florida has the highest percentage of uninsured motorists in the country—26.7 percent—according to the latest data available from the Insurance Research Council.)

 

Though some people look for the bare minimum of coverage they must carry to drive legally, that’s not usually a good idea. The purpose of car insurance is to protect you, your assets, and your liability. At Lakewood Financial, we represent more than 40 car insurance companies, and we’ll be happy to help you look at your personal situation and find the best coverage at the best rate. Give us a call at 941-747-4600 or contact us. We’d love to help you—and welcome to the neighborhood!

 

For more information:

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

Insuring Your Pricey Presents

Insuring Your Pricey Presents

When all the wrapping paper has been thrown away, and you bask in the glow of another happy holiday, the last thing you want to think about is whether or not your new gifts are covered by your insurance. We get it. But if Santa’s been extra good to you this year, you may want to put down that eggnog and check to see that you’d be covered if your new goodies were lost, stolen, or destroyed.

Even if you didn’t find a new car with a bow on top in your driveway on Christmas morning, you still might need to think about insuring your pricey presents. For instance:

Jewelry

Jewelry is covered under the contents portion of your homeowners or renters insurance policy, but only up to a certain limit (often $1,500). Items such as engagement rings, high-end watches, and tennis bracelets may go over your policy’s limits, leaving them unprotected. If so, you’ll need to raise your limits, or buy a special “rider” or “floater” policy to cover your new bling. Talk to your Lakewood Financial agent about appropriate coverage, and what steps you’ll need to take to get it.

Stereo/flat-screen TV/computer

These items will likely be covered under the contents portion of your homeowners or renters policy, but you should review your policy to see if your limits are adequate for all your personal property, including your new gifts.

Artwork

If you receive a piece of fine art as a gift, you will likely need specialized fine art insurance. Most standard homeowners policies won’t provide enough coverage for high-value art.

Also remember to:

Make sure you keep receipts if you have them, and add your new property to your home inventory list.

Double check the type of coverage you carry, i.e., replacement cost or actual cash value.  “Replacement cost” covers the amount you would need to replace the item with a new, similar item, and actual cash value will cover the cost of replacing the item minus depreciation for that item. We almost always recommend replacement cost coverage.

Don’t assume your pricey presents are covered. Review your policy, or give your Lakewood Financial agent a call at 941-747-4600 (or contact us) to be sure your holiday gifts are protected.