News & Press

Flood Insurance Fight Intensifies

February 22, 2014

WASHINGTON — Efforts in the House to delay increases in federal flood insurance premiums face determined opposition from watchdog groups that say taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize coverage for homeowners who build or buy in high-risk areas.

Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said if the final language in the House bill ends up similar to a bill the Senate passed, “we’d come out swinging.”

House leaders plan to bring a bill up for a vote this week.

“We would work to try to stop the bill if it’s not a responsible approach,” Ellis said. “You would have an irresponsible approach from the Senate trying to marry with a separate, but equally irresponsible approach in the House.”

The Senate measure proposed by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia — and backed by Mississippi Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker — would benefit some homeowners with policies through the National Flood Insurance Program by delaying their premium increases for four years. During the delay, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would complete a study of how to make the higher rates affordable.

Efforts to pass the legislation in the House have gained more support in recent weeks.

The rate increases were created under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The reforms, overwhelmingly supported by lawmakers, were intended to help make the government’s flood insurance program financially solvent by bringing rates in line with true flooding risks.

The program, which is $24 billion in debt, insures more than 5.5 million residential and commercial policyholders, according to FEMA.

Some House Republicans say the rate increases are needed to move the National Flood Insurance Program closer to solvency.

Watchdog groups say more fiscally responsible solutions include providing mitigation assistance, phasing in rate increases, offering temporary premium assistance for low-income homeowners and fixing errors in flood maps.

The groups oppose what they call “unjustifiable relief” for vacation homeowners and those living in areas that repeatedly flood.

“We would oppose such a scheme strongly,” said Andrew Moylan, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, which describes itself as a libertarian think tank. “What that does is effectively gut a bill (Biggert/Waters) that over 400 members of the House of Representatives voted for 18 months ago.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said earlier this month the House will consider a “modified” version of the Senate bill when lawmakers return to Washington this week.

“The Senate bill irresponsibly removes much-needed reforms and imposes additional costs on taxpayers,” he said in a statement. “The House will act to protect the flood insurance program but also protect homeowners from unreasonable and unrealistic premium increases.”

By Friday, lawmakers had not finalized language in the House bill.

“We need a Goldilocks solution — one that is just right and provides both relief and reforms for primary homeowners and real estate markets in communities across the country,” said GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, vice chairman of the Home Protection Caucus.

House lawmakers are weighing whether to introduce stand-alone legislation or amend a bill by Reps. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., that is similar to the Senate measure.

Under the Senate measure and the Grimm-Waters bill, the delay in premium increases would be retroactive to Oct. 1, although neither bill specifies how or when that would be implemented, and neither contains a provision to issue refunds.

Lawmakers are considering a number of options, including repealing a provision in the Biggert-Waters law that increases premiums when FEMA adopts new flood maps. The provision increases premiums up to the full-risk rate over five years.

Last summer, the House approved a measure proposed by Cassidy that would delay rate hikes by a year. FEMA recently announced delays for nearly two years through 2016.

Another proposal would allow homeowners buying a house already covered under the National Flood Insurance Program to receive the subsidized rate.

The bill would be paid for through small assessments on all policy holders. The money would go into a reserve fund for FEMA to pay future claims.

Administration officials have raised concerns about delaying rate increases, saying that would erode the flood program’s finances and make it more difficult for FEMA to pay future claims. But they’ve said they will work with Congress to make sure “economically distressed policyholders” aren’t “unduly burdened.”

A White House official confirmed last month that President Barack Obama would sign legislation to delay the increases.

It’s an issue that resonates in states where several lawmakers, including Landrieu and Cochran, are running for re-election. Cassidy hopes to unseat Landrieu. Cochran faces a challenge from GOP state Rep. Chris McDaniel.


Vero Insurance and AIG sponsor event for United Way

UW eventVero Insurance and AIG sponsored a cocktail party at the Orchid Island Beach Club on Jan. 22.

The event was to celebrate the work of the United Way of Indian River County.  Leadership Investment Society members and Loyal Contributors from residential community campaigns were those in attendance, some having given to their community through United Way for 65-plus years!


Vero Insurance Sponsors Indian River Impact 100

Impact 100 evenyVero Insurance was glad to support Indian River Impact 100, “Women and Philanthropy making a Difference”.

Vero Insurance highlighted in Inside Vero Business News

Business News Reply

Vero Insurance: a steady presence for more than 50 years


Vero Insurance C.E.O. Brad Emmons and President Jonathan Schwiering

Vero Insurance C.E.O. Brad Emmons and President Jonathan Schwiering

Insurance shoppers will usually ask an agent why they should do business with their establishment – what makes you different?  Differentiation, or standing above the other options, when a client is searching for meaningful answers can be a challenge in today’s business world.  But if the goal in being different is to instill trust and provide every client with the ability to make informed decisions that protect against loss, there is a local insurance company that has been constant in its commitment and presence in Vero Beach for more than 50 years.

Vero Insurance moved from Ocean Drive to the corner of Beachland and Cardinal in 2006. President Jonathan Schwiering and CEO Brad Emmons purchased the agency in 2009 during a period of financial market turmoil and seized the opportunity to have a greater civic role and leadership responsibility in the community. Establishing their commitment and presence in Vero started first with their employees.  Vero Insurance proudly supports the passions and charities of all 25 employees as well as providing insurance for many non-profit organizations and their non-profit clients.  Emmons says, “It’s important to give back.  Initially they may have thought that we were a bit crazy with all the initiatives that we wanted to embark on.  But over time we earned buy-in from the staff with leadership by example.  It has created a very positive culture internally and it makes the staff appreciate the activities and worthy causes they participate in.”

Community involvement and employee job satisfaction are the backbone to a strong company with meaningful relationships.  And building customer relationships is one of Vero Insurance’s number one priorities.  Schwiering states, “It’s important to get to know the community and your client.  It’s what sets us apart from other agencies – the priority of developing relationships – making sure that it is not transactional so to speak.”   The entire agency has grasped how important it is to listen to their clients.  With client retention being a key indicator of its success or failure, Vero Insurance set goals to improve and establish long-term relationships built on trust and personal care for each and every client.  They steadily plotted a course toward becoming the local trusted advisor.

With an original focus on personal lines, Vero Insurance decided to expand services to commercial, group benefits and life by building on their local community relationships and listening to their clients’ needs.  The goal:  become a one stop shop for customers looking for an independent broker.   Accomplishing this with employee experts focused on high net worth personal lines, property and casualty, and group benefits, Vero Insurance has informed, tenured advisors available to develop personal or commercial plans to meet each client’s unique goals and expectations and to address and educate their clients on hot topics and growing insurance issues.

Flood, for example, is an issue that clients are becoming increasingly aware of.  Vero Insurance is trying to provide good information and advice to clients and prospects by being on the leading edge of how flood insurance will impact residential and business policy premiums in the near future.   Emmons says, “People are more aware of flood than they have been in the past due to all the losses they have seen recently.  We have so many people from the northeast that were affected by Sandy.  We feel like every resident and business property owner in Florida has the potential to be effected by flood insurance.”  Providing knowledge in potential coverage gaps is critical when striving to protect you against loss.

Another compelling reason to do business with this local agency is the service level.  Even if you are already a policy holder, the service doesn’t stop.  Jonathan and Brad’s team constantly work for you by executing a consistent service ethic which includes portfolio reviews, analysis, and out-of-the box thinking.  It is only one of the ways they arm customers with information that will help protect against loss.  “We need to demonstrate on a regular basis that just because we have you as a policy holder, doesn’t mean the business is finished.  It’s an ongoing process that doesn’t stop once you write the policy.  One of the things that we realize here in Florida is that the issues are always changing, it’s a dynamic space and it’s complicated – let us help you navigate thru that space.  The reality is that sometimes we have to remarket and leverage our relationships with over 100 carriers to get you the best terms possible.”

Vero Insurance has multiple touch points in order to closely monitor residential and business customers’ potential issues. This supports their commitment to offering personalized, custom insurance solutions.  That means getting to know you, the individual.  The agent-client bond is of primary importance to the organization as well as their relationships to all of the insurance carriers.  With all the growing challenges homeowners and business owners face in today’s world, personal care and commitment to the individuals’ insurance needs while managing stable relationships with multiple carrier relationships means advocacy and facilitation on a local basis.  Emmons says, “As an agency, we try to place our clients with the best ‘A’ rated companies that we have a comfortable working relationship with – carriers with stability and responsiveness during loss.  An important part of the business relationship is being there when a loss is incurred.  And we do a very good job of recognizing that.”

Looking for a local agency that won’t compromise results and that constantly works for you no matter who you are or what your insurance needs encompass?  An agency offering the sophistication, the pro-activeness and the carrier access of a big city giant …but with home-town care, commitment, and expertise?  Whether you are a seasonal resident or you live in Vero Beach year round, every client matters at Vero Insurance.  The company culture, expert professional staff and high service level combined with a heartfelt involvement in community make Vero Insurance an agency to trust.

Contact Vero Insurance by calling 772-231-2022 or visit them on the web at

Vero Insurance Recognized as Chamber of Commerce Company of Year 2012 – Thanks to our Staff

To Vero Insurance Staff:

Vero Insurance was awarded the Chamber of Commerce “Company of the Year” for companies under 25 employees.  As CEO, I am very proud to receive this award as it measures several important factors that are key to building a successful organization.  These include – corporate culture and work environment, business success and growth, charitable giving, community involvement, role as leaders in the community, as well as overall interest and commitment in making a difference in our community.

It is nice to see others are also noting how hard we have been working over the last several years.  This distinction not only measures our commitment to many of our special causes.  It also recognizes the commitment to serve our clients and as their trusted insurance advisors of choice in the community.

This would not be possible without each and everyone of you.  It is our staff’s dedication, hard work, loyalty and willingness to volunteer their time that I am very appreciate of today.  I believe we have the best team around and trust me I see a lot of retail agents across the country.  I know I have very high standards that have been set for the agency and our goal of becoming the best independent agency is an ongoing process.  Each day we continue to learn and evolve and I am thankful that we have embarked on that journey together as a team.

Thanks for everything you do at Vero Insurance.  Keep telling everyone our story and about the good things that are happening at this agency.

Brad Emmons, CEO Vero Insurance

Florida Lawmakers Seek Ways to Curb Sinkhole Losses

Florida lawmakers are trying to address the cost of sinkhole claims, which state officials and insurers say are driving up property insurance rates and could threaten the solvency of some domestic insurers if not brought under control.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee issued a report recently that reiterated the findings of the Office of Insurance Regulation and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty that found that sinkhole claims have nearly quadrupled between 2006 and 2010 statewide—including in counties that have not in the past been know for having many.

The report recommends a statute of limitations on the filing of property claims, improvements in the state’s building code, a better definition of structural damage for a claim, limiting the scope of sinkhole coverage or making it optional, and putting some restrictions on the advertising and fees of public adjusters.

The report also recommends that the state consider creating a facility to help handle sinkhole claims and repairs.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, held hearings this week on possible legislation.

The insurance industry is encouraged by lawmakers’ attention to the issue.

“The Senate report provides independent support for the alarm which has been raised by Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty before the Cabinet two months ago and by the insurance community over the last year. It is alarm about a crisis in which rates are going up, some insurers are going bankrupt and an already fragile market is facing erosion from claims which do not involve real sinkholes, but produce comparable large insurance settlements, sometimes policy limits,” said Sam Miller, executive director of the insurers’ Florida Insurance Council.

Some of the recommendations to address sinkhole claims were contained in broad property insurance legislation that passed the House and Senate last year but was vetoed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist.

But insurers believe that lawmakers are ready to try again to pass property insurance reforms under new Gov. Rick Scott.

A committee vote on some of statutory recommendations issues regarding sinkholes could come as early as Jan. 24, according to Sam Miller, executive director of the insurers’ Florida Insurance Council.

Miller said insurers thinks lawmakers will “guarantee quick help for a homeowner whose house is swallowed up by a sinkhole, but no longer allow public adjusters, attorneys specializing in sinkholes and uninformed or unscrupulous homeowners to get a windfall of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars over minor cracks in their driveway or a corner of their garage.”

However, it could take longer for another Senate report recommendation—to create a state facility to handle sinkhole claims and repairs— to be considered.

Insurers generally support the legal changes but some have qualms about the state facility idea.

Private insurers told OIR that the sinkhole claims increased from 2,360 in 2006 to 6,694 in 2010, totaling 24,671 claims throughout that period. Total sinkhole claim costs for these insurers amounted to approximately $1.4 billion for the same period.

Of the total sinkhole claims reported to the OIR, 66 percent of the claims were concentrated in the three sinkhole-alley counties, Hernando, Pasco, and Hillsborough. However, the OIR study found that sinkhole claims have also increased in areas generally not subject to sinkhole activity, like Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The state-backed property insurer, Citizens Property Insurance, has also been hit hard. The sinkhole claims frequency ratio at Citizens more than doubled between 2006 and 2009. In 2009, Citizens reported incurring over $84 million in sinkhole losses and expenses, yet obtained only $19.6 million in earned premium to cover those costs. The losses represent almost four times the amount of premiums collected from the insurers’ policyholders for sinkhole coverage, yet the company’s rates are capped, and cannot be increased by more than approximately 10 percent per year for any policyholder.

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty has called sinkhole claims a major cost driver of insurance rates and, the Senate report notes, has expressed concern that such claims could threaten the solvency of domestic insurers and have a significant destabilizing effect on an already fragile market. McCarty has said he suspects that many sinkhole claims are questionable and that public adjusters and others are gaming the system.

In Florida, every insurer must make sinkhole coverage available, for an additional premium. The report found that the statewide average sinkhole premium charged by Citizens in 2009 was $73 but that figure varies a lot by location. For example, in 2009, the average sinkhole premium in Pasco County was $944; Hernando County, $775; Hillsborough County, $98. The average sinkhole premium for the remainder of the state (excluding Pasco, Hernando and Hillsborough) was only $22.

However, the Senate report notes, that actual premium that Citizens charges is only a “small part “of Citizens’ actual sinkhole costs because Florida law prohibits Citizens from increasing the rate of any policyholder by more than approximately 10 percent, even as losses continue to rise at a much faster pace.

The source of this article is the Insurance Journal.

Florida Lawmakers Seek Ways to Curb Sinkhole Losses

The Importance of Risk Reduction Strategies on 3rd Party Liability

Third Party Liability Exposure

Contractual business agreements typically contain insurance requirements.  A comprehensive review of your contracts, including leases, sub-contractors, Association declarations should be done on a regular basis to be sure you are compliant with the insurance requirements of the agreement.  Without proper transfer of risk agreements in place your policy will act as the primary policy, leaving it up to your carrier to subrogate against the true at fault party. 

All agreements whether between landlord and tenant, contractor and subcontractor, owner and vendor should have requirements that the 3rd party (tenant, sub) include the primary party (landlord, owner, contractor) as additional insured and the 3rd party should carry limits that are equal to, or exceed the limits of liability carried by the primary party.   Further, a hold harmless and indemnification agreement should be in place with wording that requires the 3rd party’s policy be primary and non-contributory.

 It’s about making your business more attractive to the insurance market place, and protecting your insurability.   More carriers are willing to offer competitive quotations knowing strong risk management practices are in place, including proper transfer of risk to 3rd parties.   Your professional insurance agent should have in place a plan of risk reduction strategies that include frequent reviews of lease agreements, contracts and declarations.   A certificate management program should include updates of certificates monthly.  Limits of liability should be confirmed to be equal to or in excess of your liability limits, a hold harmless and indemnification agreement should be required of all 3rd parties that includes primary and non-contributory language.

For a no obligation of your insurance and risk management portfolio contact the experts at Vero Insurance today.

Vero Insurance Recognized by Humane Society

Vero Insurance received the Corporate Award from the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County.  Chairman Jim Schwiering accepted the award at a reception on Wednesday evening.  Vero Insurance is a proud supporter of the Humane Society and its charity events.  For more information, check out their website at

Will Your Insurance Protect you from a Facebook Lawsuit?

Mostly everyone knows that the use of social media has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. What many people don’t realize are the unique risks that come along with social networking. Anyone using Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or other social networking sites should exercise extreme caution in what they decide to say on-line.
read more

Direct relationships with carriers equal better results for clients

Does your agent have direct relationships with carriers?

Vero Insurance offers the advantage of direct relationships with “blue chip” insurance companies that specialize in the Florida marketplace. Our depth of potential options coupled with the meticulous analysis of policy terms and conditions has enabled us to consistently exceed our client’s expectations.

Partners and Producers - Login To Our Pipeline Here