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What to Consider When Selecting an Insurance Agent

What to Consider When Selecting an Insurance Agent

Turn on the TV, scroll through your social media account, or open almost any media publication and you will see advertisements from insurance agents who claim to be able to save you money, name your own price, or represent “all types” of insurance coverages. With so many available options to choose from, how can you make an informed decision regarding the person or agency that you will eventually select to protect your home, life, health, or business?

–         Experience

It’s important to verify an agent’s credentials, including when they were originally licensed by the state and the types of coverages that they can legally represent. Simply having an agent’s license does not equate to qualified experience in homeowners, life, health, or commercial insurance, so it’s important to identify the agent’s “niche” clientele and determine whether they have the ability to meet your specific needs.

–         Market Access / Carrier Appointments

An independent agency should be able to represent more than just a handful of insurance carriers. Open market access to multiple insurers allows the agent to “shop” your policies internally, which provides more cost and coverage options at renewal. Conversely, agents who have fewer carrier appointments are less likely to offer as many products and services to their clients. Ask your agent to provide a list of active carrier appointments prior to obtaining insurance quotes for your home or business.

–         Referrals

Request local client referrals, and contact each of them directly to discuss the agent’s industry knowledge, responsiveness, and customer service. Does the agent respond quickly to emails and/or voicemails? Do they provide evidence of coverage requests in a timely manner, and are they established in the local community as a reliable industry expert? Were they immediately accessible to file an insurance claim after a fire, auto accident, or hurricane event, and was the agent proactive throughout the adjustment process?

–         Complaints

While researching the agent’s license credentials, you should also determine whether any complaints have been filed with the state’s insurance department. You may also check with the Better Business Bureau or online social media pages to review public comments and/or complaints. Complaints can range from customer service issues to ethics violations, so it’s important to review the agent’s prior history before moving forward.

–         Personality

Your insurance agent should not be selected because of catchy gimmicks, colorful mascots, or corporate bravado. This will be the industry professional that you will rely upon to create a unique insurance program which protects your home or business, so it’s important to maintain a level of comfort and trust at all times.

An insurance agent should be more than a vendor that simply forwards premium invoices and reacts “as needed” to service requests. They should perform as your trusted advocate when claims occur, and assist with the navigation through a very complicated industry through proactive and effective communication.

Joseph R. Chiarella is a Senior Risk Mitigation Specialist at Vero Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company. He specializes in corporate risk programs and can be reached by phone at (772)473-1100, or email at Joe@VeroInsurance.com              

Are You Prepared For Hurricane Season?

Hurricane season begins June 1st and lasts until November 30th. Storm predictions change each year, but the 2017 season was the costliest year in US history with total damages close to $202.6 Billion. For the 2018 season we are expected to have 14 Named Storms, 7 Hurricanes of which 3 will be Major Hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). Here are some tips to better prepare you.

Does your insurance policy provide adequate coverage? There are several considerations when answering this question. First, does your policy cover your home for the actual rebuilding cost in today’s market? Remember the rebuilding cost can be VERY different from the market value of your home. Secondly, what is your deductible? Most homeowner’s policies in coastal regions provide a Hurricane or Windstorm deductible which is a % of the Dwelling value. Make sure you fully understand the dollar value of this deductible. Many times you can request a lower or higher deductible for a change in premium.

Do you have a Flood Insurance Policy? Most homeowner’s insurance policies strictly exclude any flood coverage as it must be purchased separately. You will want to understand the flood zone your home is located and determine the likelihood of flooding to occur.

Do not forget your personal property inside your home. It is recommended that you maintain an inventory of your belongings with any pictures, video footage and receipts. This is always helpful in the event of a loss in proving the value of your possessions.

What happens when you can no longer occupy your home after a loss? Your homeowner’s policy should provide Additional Living Expenses which would cover hotel, restaurant, etc. A typical policy will provide a limit that is 20% of your Dwelling value, however many times you can change this amount to better meet your needs.

In addition to being prepared with adequate insurance coverage, each household should have a plan for potential evacuation and/or power outages in the event of a major storm. Remember to keep necessary supplies on hand such as batteries, flashlights, prescriptions, water, non-perishable food items, and a First Aid Kit just to name a few. Now is the time to prepare!

 

  • Melissa Shine, CIC – Vero Insurance Risk Advisor
Marsh & McLennan Agency Acquires Vero Insurance | Florida Agency Expands Private Client Expertise

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC (MMA), the middle market agency subsidiary of Marsh, today announced that it has acquired Vero Insurance, Inc., a Vero Beach, Florida-based independent agency specializing in private client insurance services. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1960, Vero Insurance specializes in providing high net worth individuals, families, and small businesses along Florida’s Central Atlantic coast with a wide range of insurance products and services. All of Vero Insurance’s 24 employees will join MMA and continue to operate out of the agency’s existing office under the leadership of its President Jonathan Schwiering.

“Vero Insurance is a well-run and respected high-net-worth private client agency whose local talent and expertise will complement and expand MMA’s capabilities in this important segment,” said Dave Eslick, chairman and CEO of Marsh & McLennan Agency. “We welcome Jonathan Schwiering and his team to MMA.”

“Joining MMA is an excellent opportunity for Vero Insurance to build upon its success over the last five decades,” said Mr. Schwiering. “With access to MMA’s additional expertise and resources, our clients will benefit from a wider range of solutions to address their needs, while continuing to enjoy the same signature personal service they’ve come to expect from Vero.”

About Marsh & McLennan Agency

Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC is a subsidiary of Marsh established in 2008 to serve as a platform for the middle market. In 2015, it expanded its national footprint into Canada. MMA offers commercial property, casualty, personal lines, and employee benefits to midsize businesses and individuals across North America.

About Marsh

Marsh is a global leader in insurance broking and risk management. Marsh helps clients succeed by defining, designing, and delivering innovative industry-specific solutions that help them effectively manage risk. Marsh’s approximately 30,000 colleagues work together to serve clients in more than 130 countries. Marsh is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy, and people. With annual revenue of US$13 billion and approximately 60,000 colleagues worldwide, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Guy Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; Mercer, a leader in talent, health, retirement, and investment consulting; and Oliver Wyman, a leader in management consulting. Follow Marsh on Twitter, @MarshGlobal; LinkedIn; Facebook; and YouTube.

Windstorm Coverage

Having the proper Windstorm coverage for your property is very important during the hurricane season. Both residential and commercial properties in coastal areas exposed to beachfronts and low areas along the coast are highly susceptible to damage from heavy winds and high tides. With the past couple of weeks rain and wind storms is your property correctly covered? Contact Vero Insurance today for your complementary quote.

Flooding Hits Boynton Beach

Flooding in Boynton Beach: ‘Thank God the rain stopped’

Flood insurance is important here in Florida. Some people may think it is not necessary to carry the coverage to protect their belongings. Read the article below from January 10, 2014 regarding flooding in Boynton Beach.

Boynton Beach was among the hardest hit by the overnight downpours. This is what people are seeing and saying:

Vanessa and Ward Barlow, who live in Building 12 at Bent Tree Gardens West off Boynton Beach Boulevard and Military Trail, said there is about three feet of water in the neighborhood.

They had to walk out to the front of the neighborhood and saw several card stranded because of the flooding.

“Tow trucks have been out all morning removing cars,” Ward Barlow said.

Vanessa Barlow saw some residents using towels, and even vacuum cleaners, to get the water out of their cars. And the community’s clubhouse is inaccessible because of the water accumulation.

“We were lucky. We have a Jeep Grand Cherokee,” she added.

The drains at the community were cleared about a month ago, Wars Barlow said. Otherwise, he said, things could have been worse.

Boynton Beach Commissioner Joe Casello lives on Lawrence Road, which is under about 6-8 inches of water between Gateway and Hypoluxo roads. Casello said he started getting concerned when he saw the water from these starting to creep into some of the villas in his neighborhood.

“Thank God the rain stopped,” he said.

Casello spoke with city officials this morning, who said the areas worst affected were on Gateway west of Interstate 95. He said sanitation crews were already heading out to start clearing streets.

Palm Beach Post staff writer Ana Valdes

Storm season approaching

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the “Big Four” of 2004, when four hurricanes affected Florida for the first time in recorded history.

Heavy rains, flash floods, and storm surge all increase the risk of flooding during hurricane season, whether you live on the coast or hundreds of miles inland. Now is the time to make sure that you are properly covered.

Vero Insurance would like to make sure that our new clients and current clients are covered before the storm season begins. Contact our experienced team at Vero Insurance for a complimentary quote.

Vero Insurance “Never Stops Working for You”

Supporting Relay for Life

Our team at Vero Insurance is a proud sponosr and supporter to the American Cancer Center and the Relay for Life that was held in our community. Our staff did a great job to raise money and help stop the fight against cancer.

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Flood Safety Awareness Week March 16-22

This week is Flood Safety Awareness Week and there is no better time to review your flood insurance coverage—what’s covered, what’s not, and what the latest changes to federal regulations and flood maps might mean for you. Having your home and property covered is just as important as your safety in an event of a flood. Contact our experienced team at Vero Insurance for a complimentary quote.

House Passes Flood Insurance Bill

It took nearly six months, but Congress on Thursday finally passed a bill to undo the mess lawmakers made of the federal flood insurance program by imposing sharply higher premiums for thousands of property owners across the country and Florida, threatening the state’s tenuous housing market.

By a 72-22 vote, the U.S. Senate passed what amounts to a do-over bill that scraps the big rate hikes many primary homeowners faced while still stabilizing the flood insurance program for future disasters, as was Congress’ original intent.

Because Senate passed the same bill approved by the House last week, the legislation now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama’s approval.

 

By Jeremy Wallace , Herald-Tribune

 

 

With Spring Comes Flood Season; Make Sure Your Business Remains Liquid With The Proper Insurance

 

Flooding Not Covered Under Most Commercial Insurance Policies, I.I.I. Warns

NEW YORK, March 4, 2014 — The above average snowfall this year is likely to create optimal conditions for widespread flooding this spring that could wreak havoc on businesses. Without flood insurance, many businesses may soon find themselves under water, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Cash flow is the lifeblood of all businesses. But in the wake of a flood, too many business owners are forced to divert substantial funds to repairing flood-damaged property, instead of growing their business. And just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports.

Even worse, almost 25 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

“Ninety percent of all natural disasters involve flooding,” said Loretta Worters, vice president with the I.I.I. “From 2008 to 2012, the average commercial flood claim was more than $87,000; a substantial amount of money for a business to have to come up with on their own.”

Flood and sewer back-up is excluded under most standard commercial property insurance policies. Sewer back-up can be added to a policy as an endorsement. Coverage for flood-caused damage to a business is available from the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and a few private insurers. When used in tandem with private insurance, NFIP coverage can mitigate or “buy down” large deductibles associated with commercial flood policies or simply provide additional coverage.

A standard commercial flood insurance policy covers direct physical losses caused by flood as well as losses resulting from flood-related erosion caused by heavy or prolonged rain, coastal storm surge, snow melt, blocked storm drainage systems and levee or dam failure.

For small business owners, flood coverage is available as an endorsement to a Business Owners Policy (BOP), available through some private insurance companies, usually if the business is located outside a flood zone. But check with your insurer. Flood insurance for small businesses is also available from the NFIP.

The I.I.I. offers four key strategies for protecting your business during flood season:

1. Find out if your business is located in a flood zone. Your local government office or commercial bank should be able to provide this information. Knowing if a property is in a floodplain is critical in order to keep your employees and property safe during a storm, as well as to properly insure the business. Be aware that the NFIP is rolling out updated flood maps that will expand flood zones in many parts of the country. Do not assume that because you were not in a flood zone last year you will not be in one today!

2. Consider buying flood insurance. Flood insurance premiums are calculated based on a number of factors: flood risk to the structure; the year the building was constructed; building occupancy; number of floors; the location of the contents; the deductible chosen; and the amount of building and contents coverage, among other things. You may buy a policy that covers flood damage to both the structure and contents, or a policy that covers damage to only one. A business may need only one type of coverage if, for example, it does not own the building in which it is located, and the lease agreement does not require it to insure the premises. However, even if the property is leased, you may want to buy flood insurance to cover any improvements to the site. If your property is in a high-risk flood area and you have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender, you will be required to purchase a flood insurance policy. The maximum allowable commercial property limit for a small business is $500,000.

3. Include comprehensive coverage for your commercial vehicles. Flood damage to commercial or fleet vehicles is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of a standard commercial auto insurance policy.

4. Don’t wait until a flood is imminent to buy flood insurance. There is a 30-day waiting period for a new or modified flood insurance policy to become effective, unless the lender requires that flood insurance be purchased in connection with a mortgage loan, in which case there is no waiting period.

“Business owners should talk with their insurance professional about their flood risk and how best to protect against it,” said Worters, adding, “And act now—March 20 is the first day of spring.”

 

 

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