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Hurricane season, which starts on June 1st, is fast approaching to the dismay of Florida homeowners. our insurance agency consider those 6 weeks to be one of the more turbulent times of the year. The good news this year is that Florida lawmakers approved a tax holiday that will overlap with the start of hurricane season.

If you have yet to hear about this “ tax holiday,” here’s what you should know.

The Sales Tax Free Holiday Starts May 31st

At the end of the legislative season, Florida lawmakers approved a $121 million tax break package. They also approved a tax holiday that remains in effect through the start of the hurricane season this year. This means that many of the important supplies that are recommended when preparing for a hurricane won’t be subject to a sales tax.

Do you need to buy a new generator? How’s your supply of batteries or tarps? Even with comprehensive home insurance and a great flood insurance policy, you don’t want to be unprepared during this time of year.

If you have them thinking about stocking up on these types of supplies for this year’s hurricane season, then this is great news. From May 31st until midnight on June 6th, you won’t have to pay a sales tax when purchasing any of these items. This tax-free holiday is only going to last for a week, so don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Which Hurricane Supplies Will Be Included?

Here is a comprehensive list of the various hurricane supplies that are included in this sales tax free holiday:

  • Flashlights and other portable self-powered light sources (as long as they cost $20 or less)
  • Portable self-powered radios like two-way and weather-band radios ($50 or less)
  • Gas or diesel fuel tanks ($25 or less)
  • Waterproof sheets like tarps, plus ties and ground anchors ($50 or less)
  • Batteries including AA, AAA, C, D, 6-volt and 9-volt batteries ($30 or less)
  • Note that sales tax will still be applied for car and boat batteries during this tax holiday
  • Portable generators ($750 or less)
  • Non-electric coolers ($30 or less)
  • Reusable ice ($10 or less)

Conclusion

With the amount storms we have seen threatening the Tampa Bay area over the last few years, it’s nice to see that this type of tax break was approved. Additionally, Florida lawmakers have approved a back to school sales tax holiday which will be in effect in early August. If you are a parent, then you’ll be happy to know that there will be no sales tax for the purchase of important items like computers, new shoes, clothes and other various school supplies.

Have questions about your insurance that you’d like answered BEFORE hurricane season? Speak to one of our insurance experts by calling (813) 685-9393.

Are you doing everything you can to prevent potential fires in your home? Our Insurance expert Adam Talley goes on Tampa Home Talk to discuss fire safety tips With Pasco County fire rescue officers, Corey Deirdrorff and Lisa Negron. Make sure that you don’t miss any of these important tips that can protect your home and your family in the coming year.

How Do You Handle a Grease Fire in Your Kitchen?

Unfortunately, this type of fire is quite common. people are cooking something on the stove and they get distracted; they go sit down, they get on their phone, or they even fall asleep. All of a sudden they’re dealing with a serious situation. it’s a grease fire! What do you do?

As both Cory and Lisa note, the one thing you should not do is try to douse the fire with water. This is not going to produce the desired effect and it can make the matter even worse. remember that a fire needs oxygen in order to survive, so what you need to do is stifle the grease fire. These Pasco County fire rescue officers recommend covering the fire with a sheet pan or a lid in order to take the oxygen out of that fire.

Fire Safety Tips for Your Holiday Lights

Do you like to dazzle your family and neighbors with an extravagant light display during the holidays? If you’re planning on putting up a bunch of holiday lights, there are some fire safety tips that you should keep in mind in order to protect your family and your home.

Review the UL Recommendations for Your Lights

On the end of the light chords you are going to be able to see what is called the UL recommendations. What does tells you is how many strands of lights can be safely strung together. Essentially, you need to read the tag!

The outlets that you will be plugging these lights into on the outside of your home should be GFCI outlets. If you come home and noticed that your lights are continuously popping, that’s because there’s just too much voltage running through them. You really don’t want to let things get to this point. This becomes a potential fire hazard for your home in Tampa.

According to the Pasco County fire rescue officers, this is what you want to do. First, make sure that you are not connecting more than four to five strands of lights to one single outlet. Next get wind of those safety covers that you can use for electrical outlets and slide them on the end in order to prevent any moisture from getting up into the back side of your lights.

If you are concerned about how many strands of lights that you can string together safely after reading the UL recommendations then do a Google search for more information. Also Lisa notes that you need to be careful about how many extension cords you are connecting to a single power outlet. this is another common mistake that many people make during this time of year and it could have disastrous results for your home.

How to Spot a Loose or Worn Bulb

Lisa notes that it is extremely important to inspect your holiday lights before you plug them in. Keep an eye out for any loose wires, missing rubber on the outside of the string, or any other noticeable defects. The fire rescue officers also recommend watching out for any of those classic lights that bubble in the middle. These tend to be a significant fire risk. Do you know which ones we’re talking about? Here is a picture:

Old Christmas lights in a home in Brandon

Recommendations for a Christmas Tree & Space Heaters

Corey recommends placing your Christmas tree and decorations at least three feet from any significant heat source. If you plan on using a space heater when the temperature gets a little colder, you need to be very careful. Corey and Lisa see a lot of home fires get started during this time of year due to space heaters.

Make sure that you take extra caution when using space heaters and that you have purchased one that is up to date. The latest models have extra safety features built-in. For instance, they will shut off if they tip over or if they become too overheated. And you also never want to use an extension cord with a space heater. This is extremely important!

What Should You Do if There is a Fire in Your Tampa Home?

Not surprisingly, the Pasco County fire rescue officers recommend that you call them as soon as you notice a fire in your home. Corey notes that it takes his fire team about 5 to 7 minutes to get to your home. After the 911 call has been processed, his team is dispatched and they make their way to the source of the fire rapidly.

Granted that in those five to seven minutes, a fire can grow exponentially. So that is why they recommend having a plan of action in place within your family in case of a house fire. Once the Flames have been seen, have someone call 911 and have another person help family members out of the home immediately. Do not wait to act even in the case of a fairly simple cooking fire. in action during this situation can lead to significant damage to your home and put yourself and your loved ones in danger.

Don’t ever hesitate to call 911 and get in touch with the local fire department. They would much rather have to cancel on route to a home then not be called at all and have that home burn down.

Insurance Risks If You Don’t Have Central AC in Florida

Furman Insurance perspective, it is pretty important to have a central AC system for your home. So for instance let’s say someone has a wall unit instead of central AC. This type of situation represents a significant risk and can be really difficult for insurance agents to ensure on your home insurance policy. During the warmer summer months, not having a central AC unit can also lead to significant mold growth in your home.

Smoke Detectors and Carbon Dioxide

Volume might not be able to get a discount on your home insurance for ensuring that you have smoke detectors in the most critical places of your home, however you can get a discount for having smoke alarms that will alert the fire department in the case of a detected fire.

Corey also recommends that you should be checking your smoke detectors every 6 months. Make sure that you are replacing the batteries and not waiting until it’s chirping at you.

Conclusion

Well, we hope that you learned a thing or two today from this discussion on fire safety tips for your home during the holidays and beyond. This is an extremely important topic and one that’s not talked about enough. if you have any questions about the fire safety tips that were discussed here or how certain factors might impact your homeowners insurance policy please don’t hesitate to contact the insurance experts at Charles D. Talley Jr Insurance Inc.

Most homeowners insurance policies have a sub-limit for jewelry items, usually somewhere between $1,500-$2,500. So if you are planning to buy your loved one an expensive piece of jewelry for Christmas, you will want talk with an agent about scheduled personal property, or a rider as it is commonly referred to.

Engagement ring covered by scheduled personal property in Tampa

What’s Scheduled Personal Property?

Ask any insurance agent, and they will tell you that personal property insurance coverage is an essential aspect of homeowner’s insurance. However, a good agent will also tell you to take a close look at what is protected under your policy.  You may discover that an additional coverage (aka scheduled personal property) can provide better protection for your most valuable possessions.

What’s the Difference Between Standard Personal Property & Scheduled Personal Property?

Your standard homeowner’s policy usually provides coverage for your personal property. However, there it may also apply a dollar limit to how much will be paid out for specific possessions, such as jewelry. Some policies have a per-item limit applied for these types of valuables.

So for instance, there could be a $1,500 sub-limit applied to what your insurance will pay for jewelry following a theft. This would be upheld even if your overall personal property limit is significantly higher that.

Continuing with this example, let’s say you or your spouse has an engagement ring that is worth $3,000. It is stolen during a break-in. If you haven’t asked your insurance agent about scheduled personal property, your policy will likely only cover up to the $1,500 (maybe up to $2,500) sub-limit. This isn’t a situation we want you to find yourself if, especially with the holidays coming up.

Scheduled Personal Property for the Win

Scheduled personal property is an optional add-on to your homeowner’s insurance policy that provides increased coverage limits for specific, valuable possessions like that expensive engagement ring. Experiencing a break-in is terrible, but this coverage can be extremely helpful.

What types of possessions are covered by scheduled personal property?

  • Art and antiques
  • Expensive cameras and technical equipment
  • Firearms
  • Jewelry and furs
  • Musical instruments
  • Extensive and unique collections

Please note that your insurance agent will usually need to see a recent receipt or professional appraisal for the item(s) you want covered.

Call one of our agents at 813-685-9393 to discuss your options, and make sure you and your loved ones are properly protected. Charles D. Talley Jr. Insurance Inc., serving the Tampa Bay Area since 1983.

Your home has sustained damage from a hurricane. It’s a horrible situation, so what should you do first? Adam Talley provides expert advice you can follow in this situation.

If you’re home has sustained damage during a hurricane, here’s what your insurance agent recommends doing. First you should take pictures of the damage. After that, the next thing you need to do is contact your insurance carrier.

Flood Zones & Wind Zones in Florida

In Citrus County, most people are going to have flood insurance. Most homeowners that are along the waterway are in a mandatory flood zone. They more than likely have flood insurance. That’s a good thing! The further north you get, that will more than likely be your wind insurance policies. Remember that both wind and flood insurance are covered under your home insurance policy.

Along the coast, you get higher velocity wind zones. In Florida, the normal homeowners policy has to offer wind protection. In those high velocity winds zones, carriers can decline this coverage. This means you might have to get a third policy that is specific to wind. This means that if you live along the coast, your homeowners insurance policy might not cover wind.

Can You Get Coverage If You’re in a High Risk Zone?

If you didn’t already have the appropriate coverage, you will likely will be out of luck if the storm is bearing down on you. When it comes to flood insurance, unless it’s for a closing and it’s mandatory by your mortgage company there’s a 30-day waiting period.

If you recently closed on a home in this area then you should be okay. if you were in a A flood zone or V flood zone, Your mortgage company more than likely already made you get the appropriate flood insurance.

The Difference Between Flood and Hurricane Coverage

This is a question we get all the time at Charles D. Talley Jr. Insurance Inc. Since many of our clients live within these potentially hazardous zones, we want to make sure that they have the full understanding of where they’re covered and where they aren’t in the event of a hurricane. So in this instance, there is a distinct difference that you should know.

Florida homes sustain flood damage from hurricane surge

Your flood insurance covers against rising water. However that isn’t going to cover against damage from wind-driven rain following a breach in your roof. That is where you’re going to want hurricane coverage for your home in Florida. If you’re wondering if hurricane coverage will protect you from the rising water caused by the storm surge, sadly this would not be the case. Even though that rising water was caused by the hurricane, this type of damage would only be covered by your flood insurance.

What To Do After You’ve Made Your Insurance Claim

First off, if you’re wondering if the hotel that you are going to have to stay in will be covered by your insurance policy, the answer is yes! This is covered under the “loss of use” portion in your home insurance policy. This covers the extra expenses you will incur eating out, staying at hotel, or whatever else is required to get you by while you wait for your home to be repaired. This is a good thing because mortgage companies don’t care about a storm displacing you. They will still expect that mortgage payment to be made on time.

A 4 Point Inspection – What Is That?

Essentially, this is an inspection for insurance eligibility purposes and it’s going to cover the four systems of your home. These four systems are your roof, the plumbing, electricity, and the HVAC system. The specifics of the 4 point inspection will depend on the age of your home and the carrier you have your home insurance policy with.

Our insurance agency works with several carriers that don’t need a 4 point inspection no matter what the age of the home is. Then there are some careers that require this inspection after 30 years others that require it after 40 years. Essentially it depends a great deal on the carrier in question.

What About The New Form For the 4 Point Inspection? Should You Be Concerned?

The new form that just came out is directed by Citizens Property Insurance and the purpose of this form Is to provide even more detail around the essential systems of the home. This provides important insights into potential risk areas for an older home that could lead to a significant claim in the future.

What Happens When An Issue Is Discovered During the Inspection?

These situations can actually differ significantly depending on the carrier involved and the situation that is discovered during the 4 point inspection. Carriers will defer in how they approach various items that might be deficient in the home. However, if it is a small issue and it is for a new home closing, they might let us write the policy with the stipulation that homeowner will fix the issue within a reasonable amount of time after they have moved in.

More significant issues like a roof leak will need to be addressed before we are able to write the policy. In fact, the roof is the number one rating factor when it comes to homeowners insurance in the state of Florida and it is the number one that can cause significant damage to your home. If you have additional questions about what you should do following a hurricane, or if you’d like to talk to an insurance expert about your home insurance policy, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 813-685-9393. You can also request a home insurance quote online here!

1) Depopulation Home insurance tailored to your needs

The Citizens Take-Out program is also referred to as Depopulation. It is required by Florida law for Citizens to create programs to return policies back to the private market. For an insurance company to qualify as a take-out company it must first be approved by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

2) Carriers

There are currently over 20 insurance carriers approved as take-out companies. These companies have wide range of experience level in the marketplace, ranging from several years (Avatar Insurance) to well over twenty years (Universal North America) of service.

3) Opt-out Letter

If your policy has been selected by one of these companies you will be notified in writing that your policy has been assumed. That letter will also provide instructions on how you can “opt-out” and stay with Citizens. It is important to read your assumption letter carefully, as there is a limited timeframe in which you can elect to opt-out.

4) Policy Assumption

If you do not respond during the designated timeframe you will receive documents from Citizens and your new company advising you of the non-renewal of your current Citizens policy and the assumption and creation of your new policy with the take-out company.

5) Know Your Options

If you receive an opt-out letter the most important thing is to call your insurance agent. Here at Charles D. Talley Jr. Insurance Inc. we are dedicated to providing you with the knowledge and service to allow you to make the right decision regarding your insurance policy. If you choose to opt-out of the assumption, it is our pleasure to fax, email, or mail the letter to the prospective company for you, to give you peace of mind.

Bonus For You!

Due to the current state of the insurance market in Florida many homes that could previously only be insured by Citizens can now be insured through the private market. At Charles D. Talley Jr. Insurance Inc. we have over 10 homeowners insurance carriers that we can quote you with to ensure you are receiving the best coverage that fits your needs.

You’re a homeowner and you have homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance has you covered for any unforeseen circumstances, so you’re basically good to go! Right…? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not the simple “yes” that most people assume it is.

While homeowners insurance does cover a variety of important potential damages, there are certain things that most policies exclude. It is imperative to be aware of these exceptions, rather than assuming any homeowners policy has you 100% covered. That way, you can evaluate whether or not your current policy suits you. Remember, the agents at Charles D. Talley Jr. Insurance are always more than happy to answer any questions you have or provide their expert opinion on your specific situation!

Some of the most common things left uncovered by many insurance agencies are as follows:

1) Pets

Little dog in front of a Florida homeDogs might be a man’s best friend, but as any dog owner knows, they are not exactly predictable pals. Unfortunately, dog bites accounted for over one third of homeowners insurance liability claims in 2013, amounting to $483 million in payouts. While most injuries caused by pets are covered by home insurance, some policies name specific breeds or sizes of animal that are excluded from coverage. Of course, an animal that was originally covered by your insurance will likely lose this coverage, should they bite or injure someone.

(Feeling underinsured? We can get you a personalized home insurance quote today!)

2) Mold

While this may seem like a commonplace issue that a little bit of mold spray should knock out, try not to underestimate this insidious destructor. Mold can sometimes grow for years within walls or ceilings without being discovered, causing significant damage to your home. It is best to choose an insurance policy that includes protection against mold, and that it isn’t limited to a $10,000 payout (as many policies are.) It may seem like a lot of money at first glance, but fixing mold damage often costs far more.

3) Earthquakes

Though many natural disasters are covered in a standard homeowners insurance policy, earthquakes are not one of them. You must purchase a separate earthquake insurance policy in order to be protected from an event that could be, quite literally, earth shattering. The good news is that most major insurers offer earthquake insurance, and our experienced agents can help you choose the best one.

4) Floods

Like earthquakes, floods are a topic that many homeowners may assume is covered in their main insurance policy, but actually are not. If you live in Florida, this is one insurance topic you really want to get right! Please be aware that there is typically a 30-day waiting period on new flood insurance; you won’t want to wait until a flood warning to seek protection.

5) Trampoline Injuries

Child jumping on trampoline in FloridaThese springy playthings are actually far more dangerous than most people realize. In 2012, a whopping 94,900 people were treated in emergency rooms for trampoline-sustained injuries. If your child or your child’s friends (or even you and your friends) get injured while on a trampoline on your property, you are responsible. In fact, some insurance companies will not even insure a residence that has a trampoline on the premises.

(We recommend parents check out this page before they purchase a trampoline for their family.)

As with many topics, knowledge is power when it comes to insurance. Life is far from predictable, and proper coverage helps keep your protected in even the worst potential circumstances. Knowing exactly what your insurance policy covers—and what it doesn’t—places you in the best possible position as a homeowner.

After examining your current insurance policy, we’ll help you get additional coverage if you need it. Or maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to realize that you already have all the protection you need. Either way, our helpful and knowledgeable team will help you through the entire process!