Who Covers Your Hazards?
There are many companies writing homeowners insurance in Florida. Some are for specific groups – such as USAA for military service members – and some are your standard national insurers – such as All State. Not all of them are going to work for you.
In fact, as a Florida homeowner, you’re faced with the task of narrowing the field to one insurer to cover hazards to your home. So which one do you pick? Well, that depends on a lot of factors.
Not all insurance companies are the same. That seems to go without saying, however, you’d be surprised how many people think of them as being the same dog with different fleas.
A good starting point for comparison is size. Is bigger better? Or do you want to go with a small, Florida insurer?
Smaller companies can give you that Mom and Pop feel many consumers really love. However, smaller companies may not have the financial resources to pay out on big claims from a hurricane or other natural disaster. Many are backed by large reinsurance companies – reinsurance is a fancy way of saying your insurer has insurance – but having an insurer go belly-up right after a major storm is not a pleasant thought.
Bigger companies may have lots of layers of red tape or hoops to jump through for claims, but let’s face it, they have the money to pay. And that is, in the long run, what it’s about, getting money when you need it.
Who You Know and What They Know
The best way to get the Mom and Pop feel from a big company is to develop a relationship with your local agent. He or she should have ties to the community and be someone you can get ahold of should you need them. There’s nothing worse than not being able to reach your agent should the need arise. Well, not getting the claim paid at all would be worse, but having to chase down your agent is a close second.
Another thing to keep in mind is how much insurance you need. Many insurers have limits on who or what they will insure. For example, USAA only insures active duty military members assigned to a duty station in the state of Florida. Other insurers have limits on flood and hurricane insurance. If you have expensive jewelry, you’ll need a rider for that.
Make sure you ask the right questions and read the fine print. Don’t be the person who picks whatever policy sounds like it has the lowest premium and the lowest deductible. That is a sure-fire way to get paid next to nothing on a big claim. A higher deductible will mean a lower premium and better coverage.
Don’t go on blind faith, either. Do your own research. Check with the Better Business Bureau and the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Make sure you understand their rating systems and check into complaints.
With the amount of companies writing homeowners insurance in the state of Florida, you need to do your homework. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be persistent about getting the answers. If you don’t understand something, ask follow up questions until you do. You are your own best advocate in finding the best policy for your home and possessions.