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All Posts in Category: Insurance News

Is Your Sarasota Home Based Business at Risk Without Coverage

Do you operate a home-based business?  If you do, you may need specific insurance coverages to protect yourself and your business.   Simply having a homeowner’s policy isn’t sufficient if you are also a business owner as these are not the same thing.

“Many home-based entrepreneurs incorrectly assume their business assets are covered by personal insurance policies,” says NAIC President Monica Lindeen and Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. “Unfortunately, business owners often don’t discover this mistake until after a major incident puts their business and personal finances at risk. When it comes to insurance, what you don’t know definitely can hurt you.”

If you are working from home in any capacity, consider how these personal insurance policies affect your business:

Home. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies seldom have coverages that are appropriate for a business.  In the alternative, owners of home-based businesses will want to get information on a business owner’s policy, general liability insurance, business property insurance, and business interruption/continuation insurance.

Auto. If the vehicle that you are driving is being used in whole or in part for business use, you can list the business as the principal insured on your auto policy.  If you have any permanently attached items used for the business, such as a storage unit or generator, you can cover these as well.

Health. Health insurance is much easier for small business owners and the self-employed to acquire than in the past.  Now you can investigate ways to purchase a health insurance policy in an HMO, PPO, or EPO through a popular health insurance plan and possibly at discounted group rates.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows business owners and the self-employed who purchase coverage through the new marketplace to claim tax credits on their annual returns.

Life. If your home-based business is also a partnership, you have an insurable interest in the other partner, and vice versa.  A key person life insurance policy, which names each partner as the other’s beneficiary, can protect each of your interests in the partnership should the other pass away.

Too many business owners mistakenly believe that they are covered by their homeowners insurance for business that takes place at home.  This isn’t the case.  If you are sued for doing something wrong in your business and have to defend yourself in court, you would need business insurance to cover your defense. Here is what a home business insurance policy will cover:

  • Liability from clients visiting your home on business
  • Theft, loss, or damage to equipment or property used by the business
  • Liability while on another’s property
  • Medical payments coverage if someone is hurt
  • Loss of income because of fire or natural disaster
  • Company vehicle coverage
  • Optional coverage for other securities

Speak with your state department of insurance for more information on the various types of policies available in your area.  Some companies, such as The Harford Company, many combine business insurance and business liability into one policy.  Others will tailor coverages to your particular needs.

Any business is open to risk, whether home-based or not.  It only takes one unhappy customer or one unfortunate injury to threaten your livelihood.  Be sure that you are properly protected with the right coverages for you and your business.  If you are looking for more information on how to cover your Sarasota home-based business, please contact us.

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Trusted Benefits of Medical Insurance for Your Sarasota Cats and Dogs

Trupanion, Inc. was recently selected by MWI Veterinary Supply, Inc. (MWIV on NASDAQ) as a leading distributor of products for animal health throughout the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Medical insurance coverage for your dogs and cats through the Distinct Advantage Program allows you to have priority access to a network of trusted animal health providers of services and healthcare. This program was designed to reward and support the best customers of MWI and it includes a network of more than 300 Territory Managers to choose from for your services.


Darryl Rawlings, the CEO and Founder of Trupanion states, ““MWI is the nation’s premier distributor of animal health product and services, serving more than 20,000 customers in North America.  Since its founding in 1976, MWI has developed deep relationships with thousands of the nation’s leading animal hospitals.  We’re honored to be selected as their preferred provider of medical insurance for cats and dogs and look forward to leveraging MWI’s extensive network to deepen our relationships with Distinct Advantage Program members.  Our Territory Partners and Regional Directors will be working side by side with more than 300 MWI Territory Managers to educate member hospitals on the benefits of Trupanion’s medical insurance for cats and dogs.”


John Yamagata, the Director of National Accounts at MWI ascertains, “After our internal review of the leading companies in the space, we selected Trupanion as the best-in-class of the products on the market.  Helping our veterinary customers better understand the value proposition of proactively educating pet owners about medical insurance for their pets will benefit not only pets and veterinary hospitals, but also all companies that sell products and services to the profession.”


Trupanion’s founder is very casual and an ordinary person who wears t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops while his office dogs inspire him in providing pets to live a healthy and long life through excellent healthcare for them. The entire office has a pet-friendly theme where all employees are encouraged to take their pets to work with them and allow them to play in the lobby or lie in their cubicle on pet beds and blankets.

Pet owners can have peace of mind when purchasing pet insurance for their four-legged family members in knowing that they are covered for illnesses or accidents that may happen. It is of the utmost importance to ask the correct questions before securing a pet insurance policy.


The following questions can help you choose a pet insurance policy:

  • What are the available policy terms?
  • What is the maximum enrollment age of pets?
  • Are there waiting periods before coverage?
  • Is this program available if I am traveling out of state?
  • Do premiums increase as a pet ages or if I file a claim?
  • Can I use my veterinarian and does this cover checkups?
  • What is the monthly cost and deductibles for treatments?
  • Does routine care cover dental cleanings and vaccines?
  • How are referrals to a specialist handled?
  • Does this cover chronic illnesses?
  • What is the cancelation and renewal terms?

Trupanion is the 2nd largest pet medical insurance provider in North America with over 200,000 pets enrolled in the program. The revenue of Trupanion is expected to be approximately $117 million for the year of 2014.


Your veterinarian, family and friends with pets are excellent sources to ask their opinions on which is the best pet policy available to you and your pets.

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How Your Credit History Impacts Your Sarasota Auto Insurance Rates

Did you know that having bad credit can affect more than just your ability to get a loan? It’s also a measure that over 90 percent of insurance companies use to determine what your auto policy rates should be. This practice is used by insurance agencies in every state except Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts.

Rather than focusing on a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, income, or marital status, a credit-based insurance score is determined solely on how good or bad your credit is. Therefore, a bad credit score means higher car insurance premiums and deductibles. Insurance companies enforce this policy because credit is an indication of how financially stable a person is. Bad credit means that the person might not be trustworthy, especially when it comes to paying a monthly premium on time.

Additionally, insurance experts have crunched the numbers over the years and found a negative correlation between having bad credit and filing claims. People with poor credit scores typically file more claims than those who have a good credit history.

Having a bad credit score can be attributed to a number of different factors. If you’re curious about why your score is so low, it could be because you:

  • Have a high level of debt
  • Had a collection agency contact you
  • Have a lot of payments that are past-due
  • Don’t have a lot of credit history
  • Have applied for a lot of credit cards

While a lender might use your credit score to determine your likelihood of repaying a loan, the insurance company uses it to compute your chance of filing a claim (and therefore costing them money). Because of that, your rates will spike the lower your score is.

In fact, according to a study by Quadrant Information Services, insurance rates for those with fair credit will increase by an average 17 percent compared to those with good credit. For those with poor credit, your rates increase by an average of 67 percent.

Insurance companies also typically increase the amount of down payment required for those with poor credit, as well as limit the different payment options used to pay your bill.

The best way to keep your insurance rates low and affordable is simply to have good credit. People with good credit usually:

  • Pay their bills on time
  • Have a long credit history
  • Maintain good standing with all of their credit accounts

If your credit score isn’t where you want it to be and you are paying more as a result, there is hope. There are a number of things you can do to improve your score. While none of them are quick fixes, over time they will help build your score to where it needs to be. Start the process by:

  • Keeping the balance on your credit cards low
  • Checking your credit report for accuracy
  • Keeping the number of credit cards you have to a minimum
  • Paying bills on time
  • Establishing credit early in life
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Protecting Your Belongings While Renting in Sarasota

If you have recently moved into a rental property, you should think about contacting an insurance agent about renter’s insurance. Your lease might cover damages to the actual property due to things like fire and natural disasters, but as far as your personal belongings go, you are responsible.

What is renter’s insurance?

Renters insurance is designed to help tenants of rental properties have coverage on their personal property. This includes liability coverage in case someone is injured on the property, and also damage coverage, in case personal property is either damaged or lost.

While it is a sound decision to take steps to protect your property, renters insurance might not necessarily be in your best interest. If you are a dependent of someone else, like a college student, your parent’s homeowner insurance might cover some of your belongings as well. So if you are a dependent, check with your parent or guardian to see what kind of insurance they have.

Why purchase renter’s insurance?

If you were to look at your lease, you will find provisions that cover what would happen due to damage to the property through no fault of your own. What you won’t find is financial relief due to damage of your own personal belongings. Landlords are only responsible for what you are renting from them, everything else is your responsibility. This is where renter’s insurance can help fill that gap. Premiums can run somewhere between $15 and $30 a month, depending on the amount of coverage you desire, where you live, your loss history and other factors. Some plans even include covering the expenses of having to find somewhere else to live in case your rental becomes uninhabitable for some time.

What are your options?

There are two types of renter’s insurance: personal property and liability. Personal property covers the replacement of your items in case of damage or loss, and liability will cover you if you are sued or someone makes a claim against you because they suffered injury or property damage at your rental.

There are also different policy types:

Broad Form covers your property from specific events, such as fires and natural disasters. This is the most common type of insurance.

Comprehensive Form will cover your property from a range of events, notwithstanding those that the policy specifically doesn’t cover. The premiums for this can be slightly higher because it can cover a larger amount of potential damages.

What’s actual cash value and replacement cost?

When looking for a plan, look at the replacement cost vs. the actual cash value coverage. The premiums might be similar, but the coverage value might not be.

Actual cash value will cover your property minus depreciation, while replacement costs will reimburse you the cost of replacing the property.

When purchasing insurance, make sure you have a complete list of inventory of what you own, so when you have to actually make a claim, you can prove you owned it before the loss.

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Two States Issue Statements About Deceptive Travel Insurance – Sarasota, FL

Insurance regulators in Florida and California have issued guidance against using opt-out sales practices to sell travel insurance, citing the behavior is contradictory to state law and is bad for consumers.


This prohibited practice involves automatically charging consumers for ancillary travel insurance, without giving consumers the opportunity to decline purchasing it. Both the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and the California Department of Insurance can enforce pre-sale travel insurance requirements through the suspension or revocation of travel insurance agent licenses.


While purchasing travel insurance is often advisable, especially for long distance journeys, it’s not mandatory. This point can easily be misrepresented online. Buying insurance over the Internet is convenient and has the potential to fit your needs. However, it’s often advisable to work with an insurance specialist to tailor a plan to meet your requirements. When opt-out sales tactics are used, you’re robbed of your choice to get the specific insurance you need.


It’s important to remember that booking sites located outside of the U.S. may not have to comply with U.S. regulations, creating potential pitfalls for consumers booking travel online. Many people have made the mistake of paying for insurance they don’t want or need, because they’ve purchased insurance bundled together with lodging and air flight charges.


As a general rule, it’s prudent to review all purchase invoices and supporting documentation when you book a trip through an agent, or over the Internet. Reporting opt-out sales tactics is also important not only to protect yourself, but also to make it easier and more cost-effective for fellow travelers to book trips and get where they need to go.


Purchasing travel insurance is a process that requires careful scrutiny, whether you purchase it online or through traditional means. While state agencies are trying to protect the public and punish those breaking the law, opt-out sales tactics are still a very real threat to the public.

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Vegetarian Diet May be Linked to Reducing Colon Cancer Sarasota

A good, healthy meat-free diet has been found to help reduce the risks of getting colon cancer. According to the American Cancer Society there is a direct relationship between diet and risks of getting cancer.

A recent study done by researchers at the California Loma Linda University Adventist Health Studies focused on diet and foods consumed by the participants.  The study took over 7 years to complete, costing millions of dollars, and included more than 75,000 people. During the 7-year study 490 of the study’s participants developed some type of colorectal cancer. It was discovered that people involved in the study who were vegetarians were 22 percent less likely to be diagnosed with rectal or colon cancers than their carnivorous study participant counterparts.  It was also found that those who followed a vegetarian diet that included the eating of fish, known as a pesco-vegetarian diet, had a 43 percent lower chance of developing colorectal cancers.  The vegan, who consumed a diet free of all meat, dairy and eggs, was found to be 16% less likely to get colon cancer.

New studies found that calcium, Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, milk, cheese, salmon, sardines and dark leafy vegetables, help greatly to reduce the risk of contracting colon cancer.  Fish is one of the few foods that contain vitamin D in its natural form.  The other way to get some vitamin D is to get outside in the sun for at least 20 minutes a day. It is also thought that including foods that are high in fiber, including vegetables, whole grains, fruits and legumes, will help reduce the risks of getting colorectal cancers. These high fiber foods clean the digestive tract and remove the toxic contents of the stomach before those toxins have time to make contact with the intestine.

The best way to combat colorectal cancer is to make sure to get a cancer screening around the age of 50 or as suggested by your physician. A colonoscopy can find polyps before they have a chance to develop into cancer.

Other preventive measures that should be taken to reduce the risk of getting colon cancer are to get some exercise. This could be as simple as taking a daily walk. If you have not exercised in a while talk to your doctor to get his recommendations. Maintaining a healthy weight also helps to prevent this type of cancer.  If you smoke, stop, limit how much alcohol you consume, eat good fresh foods and fish, cut down or cut out red meat, processed meats, and foods that are high in fat.

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Staying Safe in a Sarasota Tornado

Tornadoes are truly terrifying due to their ferocity and erratic travel paths. Even if you live within a sound structure, there is still a chance a freak storm can level and destroy your home. Every area, including Sarasota County, is at risk for tornadoes suddenly touching down and wreaking havoc. Since spring and summer is the most common for tornado strikes, these are the timeframes you should be most diligent about protecting yourself and your family.

Tornado Preparation

First and foremost, you should develop a disaster plan in order to prepare for a tornado. Look at a Sarasota disaster map to determine whether you live in an evacuation and flood zone. In the case of a tornado, you should have a meeting place for your family inside and outside of your home. Many local Sarasota County schools are designated shelters. Practice tornado drills on a regularly basis. Keep emergency cards with updated contact information on your person at all times and store any valuable documents in a secured spot. Any valuables you have inside your home should have coverage through your homeowner’s insurance policy. Make a disaster supply kit to keep on hand in case of an emergency. Supplies within the kit should include fresh drinking water, non-perishable food items, flashlights, batteries, medicine, first aid items, and a portable radio. During storm season, it’s a good idea to secure any outdoor furniture or any other object that can turn into a projectile to prevent it from blowing around during severe weather.

Listen to the radio and TV broadcasts to stay informed about tornado warnings and watches. Choose a safe room within your house in the case of a tornado. Pick a room on the lowest floor of your home, ideally without windows and one that can be reinforced. Look for outdoor weather signs that indicate the possibility of a tornado forming. This can include a rotating cloud base, whirling debris on the ground under a cloud formation, large hail, roaring noise, and a funnel.

During a Tornado

Get to your safe room as soon as possible or pick an alternate with no windows, such as a closet or bathroom. Get under a sturdy structure like a table and cover your body with pillows and blankets if possible. If you are outdoors during a tornado, head to the closest structure or car. In the case you’re driving and flying debris occurs, park the car and keep your seat belt on. Duck down below the windows and cover your head with your hands.

After a Tornado

Stay together with your family and wait for emergency personnel to arrive on the scene. Check everyone for injuries and use the first aid kit for emergency treatment. If you smell any chemicals or natural gas, open a window and then evacuate the premises. Beware of any fallen power lines as well.

If you’re not at your home, wait until officials tell you that it’s safe to return. Wear safety gear while examining your home for damage, such as a hard hat, sturdy boots, goggles, long sleeve pants and shirt. Take photos in order to help expedite insurance claims.

Insurance Claims

Annually, hundreds of tornadoes devastate communities nationwide. Your homeowner’s policy may only cover a certain portion of the damage depending on the coverage limit set. Keep in mind that certain insurance companies in states like Florida may exclude windstorm and flood damage from their policies due to the high incidence of storms in the state.





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10 Things That May Not Be Covered By Homeowner Insurance

Responsible homeowners get insurance to protect themselves if their house is hit by catastrophe beyond what they can pay from their savings.  Unfortunately, that insurance typically excludes many of the costs that can spring up with home ownership, from legally necessary upgrades to the devastation caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding.  Here are 10 expenses, from A to (almost) Z, that insurance may not cover:

A total rebuild
How much does the home insurance actually cover?  Thanks to the caps written into most policies, it’s unlikely to be enough to completely rebuild the house.  If the home is leveled by a fire, owners will likely pay the excess expenses out-of-pocket.

Burst pipes
Does the insurance policy cover water damage due to burst pipes?  In many cases, it depends.  If the pipe bursts due to negligence, for example not draining them before leaving on a winter vacation, the homeowner is likely on the hook for repairs.

Most of these policies have a deductible that must be paid out-of-pocket before they will carry the excess.  The Consumer Federation of America reports that these are going up by 2 to 5 percent.

Home insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage.  In some parts of the country, this is a non-issue.  In earthquake-prone areas such as along the West Coast, homeowners need to pursue a separate policy.  

A house hit by a flood is in the same boat as one that was damaged by an earthquake.  Private insurance policies rarely cover flood damage, as many policy holders are unpleasantly surprised to discover all-too-late.  Concerned homeowners need to contact the National Flood Insurance Program, run by FEMA.

Lost wages
Even with a straightforward case of damage and a cooperative insurance company, filing for coverage can be a lengthy, complex process which is only exacerbated by the day-to-day challenges of living without a functional house.  Insurance rarely covers wages lost while struggling for days with these issues.  

Multiple bids
The contractors that insurance companies recommend to repair home damage may not be the most competent or reasonably priced.  A savvy homeowner will contact a variety of contractor companies for bids.

Post-traumatic emotional support
Losing a home is one of the must difficult, upsetting things a homeowner can go through.  Many people turn to therapy or reach out to online support groups to help them get their lives back on track.  These expenses, though vital for the person, are rarely covered by insurance.  

Required upgrades
Laws and zoning requirements change every year.  These can require changes to any area of the house, even those in excellent condition.  Standard insurance policies won’t touch these expenses.  However, homeowners can look for additional ‘ordinance law’ coverage.

Simultaneous events
The fine print of the insurance document may contain a loophole called “anti-concurrent causation.”  In simple terms, if two calamities strike the house at once (for example, an earthquake and wind damage) and one does not fall under insurance coverage, it’s possible the other won’t be covered either.

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Finding the Right Insurance Company

Insurance is a must for anyone that wants to be safe and covered on the road. That being said, it is also 100% necessary if you want to be in compliance with federal law. There are a few different tips that you can follow that can help you determine what insurance is going to be right for you and what insurance you need to be legal. Here are five tips to choosing your perfect insurance.

  1. Find out the minimum coverage for your state- this can be done by a quick visit to your state’s department of insurance website. You should do this prior to even starting your search for a few different reasons. You can then use the information that has been posted there. One piece of information that is very helpful is consumer complaint ratios. This tells you how many total complaints a car insurance company has received per 1,000 claims that were filed. This will help you determine how well a company handles the claims that they deal with.
  2. Body shop references- another great tip is to go to the people that deal with insurance companies on a daily basis. Body shops have to work through claims every day and they know which companies pay out quickly, which companies have trouble paying claims, and any other issues that may pop up. They also know which companies are going to offer the smoothest claims process and which companies are going to get you back on the road fastest.
  3. J.D. Power and Associates Ratings- J.D. Power and Associates are a very trusted resource and they offer data that has been collected by policyholders from across the country. This means that they are going to have a very in depth look at the companies in question. Visiting their site will give you a look at what the major companies have to offer and how well they work with their clients in regards to overall coverage and to the claims process.
  4. Financial Strength Ratings- another tip is to check out the financial strength rating for the company you are considering. The A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s ratings can let you know the ability of each company to pay out claims. This is best for those that are more concerned with the way that the company pays out rather than the way that the company treats their customers.
  5. Work with an Agent- if you are afraid that you still do not have any real idea of what you need, you can always work with an agent directly. They will take your information and work with you to find a policy that is going to work with you and that is going to fit all your needs. It is in the best interest of your agent to keep you happy, so they will work to make sure you have what you need to be happy.

No matter how you select your insurance, you can always look for help. Finding the right insurance for you does not have to be impossible. With the right help you can truly find the insurance that is going to work best for you.

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5 Ways to Lower Life Insurance Premiums

A number of factors are considered when a life insurance company sets a premium cost. Such factors include the customer’s age, where they live, existing health conditions, benefit amount desired and lifestyle choices. Lifestyle choices often have the most bearing on determining premium cost. Higher prices are often a probability if a client lives a riskier lifestyle. For example, individuals who participate in sky diving, scuba diving and other extreme activities will have higher premiums than those individuals who prefer playing golf or fishing in their time. Life insurance companies also look at a person’s occupation, obesity and if the client smokes. There are several ways to lower life insurance premiums. Below are five tips to help lower these costs.

1.  Quit Smoking.
The simplest way to reduce life insurance costs is to avoid using tobacco products. Though this is the simplest, it certainly isn’t the easiest.  Besides the many health benefits of quitting smoking, life insurance companies often charge tobacco users much more than non-users. A non- smoker, 30 year old male could pay $20.88 per month while a smoker would being paying $77 a month.  Once a client quits smoking, a new application for insurance is not required. Most companies will lower cost once a person is tobacco free.

 2. Lose Weight
Having an unhealthy body weight is one of the many reasons why individuals have to pay more for life insurance. Being overweight is linked to a number of diseases which can lead to early death and are considered a risk factor for insurance companies. These diseases include diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disorders. Typically, insurance companies will use the body mass index as a guideline even though it is a flawed system as it does not distinguish between gender or consider bone structure, body composition or ratio of muscle to fat.

3. Play it Safe When Driving

A poor driving record can cause for a person’s life insurance premium to go up as it shows that a person is careless and therefore a higher risk. Follow the speed limit, pay attention to traffic laws, look out for other drivers and have a clean driving record if you want to lower your premium costs.

4. Buy Life Insurance Early

The average life expectancy of a person in the United States is 79 years. Higher premiums are given to those individuals who are closer to this age. The younger a person buys, the lower the premium cost for the duration of the policy.

5. Choose Term Life Insurance

There are two types of life insurance: term life insurance and whole life insurance. Term life insurance is typically 10 or 20 years in duration, though some companies do offer one-year increments from three to 30 years.  Most companies do not pay a death benefit with term life insurance as most policies need to be renewed more than once in a person’s life. Companies can charge less for premiums without losing profit.

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