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Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Several months ago, I had a new roof put on my house, which I paid for and did not make an insurance claim, and was shocked by the cost estimates. The roofer explained that the cost of shingles had increased substantially over the last year due to production interruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A few weeks later, I was informed that the price of lumber has tripled over the past year.

Hopefully, this is a short-term situation—but it does raise a concern regarding the cost of construction compared to the property limits provided by an insurance policy. Granted, not all property losses are total losses. However, significant increases in construction material could affect a large property loss, possibly exhausting the available amounts of coverage.

What coverage options are available to mitigate rapidly increasing construction costs? Within the homeowners program, there are two options: attach one of the two additional limits endorsements or attach an inflation guard endorsement as well as one of the two additional limits endorsements.

Inflation Guard Endorsement

The inflation guard endorsement (HO 04 46) increases the initial policy limit on a pro-rata basis throughout the policy period. Unfortunately, choosing an inflation percentage is a lagging indicator and a guesstimate that may not predict the increases from an event like a pandemic interrupting the material supply chain.

Depending on the percentage chosen for the inflation guard endorsement, the additional premium can range from a 2%-6% premium increase.

Additional Limits Endorsements

There are two additional limits endorsements available. Significantly, both allow the insured to purchase an additional amount of coverage after a loss occurs. The two endorsements promulgated by Insurance Services Office (ISO) are:

  • Additional Limits of Liability for Coverages A, B, C and D (HO 04 11). This endorsement allows the policyholder to purchase the necessary amount of additional limit for Coverage A to equal the property’s replacement costs after the loss. Any increase in Coverage A automatically increases Coverages B, C and D when this endorsement is attached.
  • Specified Additional Amount of Insurance for Coverage A (HO 04 20). This endorsement allows the policyholder to buy additional Coverage A limits up to a specified percentage. For example if the specified limit is 25% and the Coverage A limit of insurance is $300,000, the policyholder would have up to an additional $75,000 in the event of inadequate Coverage A after a loss.

Two percentage options are available—25% and 50%—but some carriers may not allow use of the 50% option.

Of the two, the Additional Limits of Liability for Coverages A, B, C and D is the preferred option because it allows the insured to purchase whatever additional amount is necessary, and all other property coverage limits increase in relation to the new Coverage A limit. However, some homeowners insurance carriers will not use the HO 04 11, limiting the insured to only the HO 04 20.

One major advantage of both additional limits endorsements is the removal of the insurance-to-value—often referred to as the coinsurance—provision in the homeowners policy. When either of these endorsements is attached, the insured is not subject to the provision.

As expected, attaching either of these endorsements increases the premium. Use of the HO 32 11 increases the premium approximately 15% and attaching the HO 32 20 increases the premium 3%-6% depending on whether the 25% or 50% option is chosen.

A Gotcha Provision?

Both additional limits endorsements contain a key provision that agents must understand and manage. The HO 04 11 and the HO 04 20 require the insured to report even minor changes in value. The endorsements state:

To the extent that coverage is provided, we agree to amend the present limits of liability in accordance with the following provisions:

A. If you have:

2. Notified us, within 30 days of completion, of any improvements, alterations or additions to the building insured under Coverage A which increase the replacement cost of the building by 5% or more; the provisions of this endorsement will apply after a loss, provided you elect to repair or replace the damaged building.

If the insured fails to notify the insurance carrier of improvements made to the dwelling that increases its replacement cost by 5% or more, the insured loses the benefits of the endorsements. During the pandemic, home improvement and renovation activity has been unprecedented, which is a contributing factor to building material shortages and rising costs.

If an insured undertook a major kitchen renovation or addition during the policy term and if the renovation or addition increased the replacement cost—not the market value—of the dwelling more than 5%, which equates to $15,000 on a $300,000 house, the insured must notify the insurance carrier to maintain the benefits of either of the additional limits endorsements.

Insureds are often unaware of this requirement and may have neglected to tell either the agent or the carrier of any changes to their home in the past 18 months. Agents may want to consider notifying all homeowners customers that these endorsements are available and the requirements of both. Doing so protects the agent from a potential errors & omissions issue where an insured may argue that “you didn’t tell me about this.” Plus, it’s good marketing for the agency and the insured will realize their agent is looking out for them.

What About Commercial Property?

For commercial property exposures, there is no option to purchase an additional limits type of endorsement. However, blanket coverage for multiple buildings and business personal property does allow coverage to expand beyond the building limit scheduled on the Statement of Values. In theory, the entire blanket limit could be expended on one component of covered property.

While the use of the blanket option does not automatically avoid a coinsurance problem, coinsurance can be suspended by using an agreed value provision. Blanket agreed value is a favored approach to both the limits problem and the coinsurance problem.

Around 2007, insurers began attaching an endorsement that diminishes the value of blanket coverage—the Limitation on Loss Settlement-Blanket Insurance (margin clause). This endorsement limits the amount available for a building to a percentage of the amount scheduled in the Statement of Values.

For example, a building scheduled in the Statement of Values at $500,000 is damaged by a covered cause of loss and the actual replacement cost at the time of the loss is $650,000. If the damaged building is included on a policy providing a blanket limit of $1 million, then, in theory, the full $650,000 replacement cost would be recoverable. However, if the blanket policy is subject to the margin clause applying a 120% maximum limit, the recovery would be limited to $500,000 plus 20%, which only raises the limit to $600,000.

There are some proprietary versions of this type of endorsement that apply a limit per location. But be vigilant when reviewing commercial property policies written on a blanket basis. Look for endorsements that can cap the recovery for a given item in the Statement of Values.

Replacement Costs vs. Reconstruction Costs

One other issue that is not strictly related to the rising cost of building material but was central to a lawsuit against an agent is ordinance or law coverage. Unfortunately, what the insurance industry understands about the term replacement cost is not the same as what the typical policyholder understands by the term.

Technically, replacement cost, as used in most property insurance policies, replaces the damaged structure with new materials. Essentially, the insured gets their old building back constructed with new materials. But most policyholders do not want their old building back. Rather, they want a new building constructed with new materials. This sounds semantic but the difference in the old building and a new building are the changes in building codes.

The property insurance policy is designed to pay for things that are damaged by a covered cause of loss. If replacing the damaged building requires building features mandated by new building codes that were not included in the old building, then the property insurance policy does not respond.

Additionally, if the undamaged part of the building must be demolished, the demolition of the undamaged part is caused by the mandate of the building inspector not by the covered cause of loss.

What most policyholders want after a loss is reconstruction costs, not just replacement cost. If the insurance policy does not pay the full reconstruction cost of the damaged building, the policyholder may be unhappy with the settlement and think that replacement costs as defined by the insurance policy is not what they thought they were getting.

The dichotomy between replacement cost and reconstruction cost is becoming an issue of growing concern. To protect themselves, agents should make sure that policyholders understand what replacement cost means and its limitations. Additionally, agents should initiate a discussion about ordinance or law coverage. Some property policies are beginning to include some coverage for ordinance or law as additional coverages, but these may not be adequate. Forewarned is forearmed.

A Warning for Contractor Risks

Construction activity can cycle between commercial and residential construction depending on economic and other factors. This can lead many contractors that are generally focused on commercial construction to venture into residential construction to supplement their income.

Here are three warnings for contractor risks:

1) Exclusions. Many commercial contractors have a residential exclusion endorsement attached to their commercial general liability policy. If such an endorsement is attached, the contractor has no liability coverage for any work done on residential properties. Query your commercial construction contractors regarding any work on the residential side. Remind them of the exclusion and, if possible, have the exclusion removed if the insured is performing residential work.

2) Completed operations. Once commercial construction returns to previous levels, the insured may cease residential operations. However, they still have a completed operations exposure. Make sure you understand the state’s statutes of limitation and repose on residential construction and keep any exclusionary endorsement off the policy until those periods lapse.

COVID-19 has created many unexpected insurance issues. Completed operations may be one that has a high potential of slipping through the cracks. Avoid potential problems by notifying affected clients.

3) Cost of building materials. COVID-19 has created issues across the country. One key insurance issue agents must be aware of is how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the cost of building materials. Supply chain interruptions and increased demand have caused the price of common building materials to increase dramatically.

Agents must be prepared to address these issues with the available insurance options beyond updated replacement cost estimators. Offer and use the endorsements available.

Stuart Powell is an independent insurance and risk management consultant and executive vice president with Northport Affiliates LLC.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

The collapse of a condominium tower near Miami will set off years of litigation as victims and their families look to find fault among the building’s management as well as engineers, architects and others, according to legal experts.

Disaster struck in Surfside, Florida, on June 24 as a major repair project was beginning, although the cause of one of the worst residential construction failures in the United States is likely to have many contributing factors stretching back years.

“Whether it be architects, engineers or contractors that had any involvement in this building, we’ll be looking at everybody to hold each party responsible for their negligence,” said Daniel Wagner, a real estate lawyer in south Florida, who declined to say if he was representing anyone involved in the collapse.

But it will be a process complicated by finger-pointing and a trend in recent years in Florida law that has made it increasingly difficult to hold parties accountable for construction defects, lawyers said.

Liability in complex disasters often gets parceled out among defendants, with a certain percentage being apportioned to each, legal experts said.

“It’s my professional opinion that everyone is going to blame everybody else,” Wagner said.

The death toll on Monday climbed to 28, and 117 were unaccounted for.

Less than 24 hours after the collapse, the first of at least three lawsuits was filed against Champlain Towers South Condominium Association Inc, run by a volunteer board comprised of owners, for failing to ensure the building’s safety.

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Bob McKee, a lawyer who brought a case on behalf of Steven Rosenthal, a resident who survived the collapse, said until another cause can be identified, the presumption is failed maintenance was to blame.

The condo association president warned residents in an April letter that the situation had “gotten significantly worse” since “major structural damage” was identified in a 2018 inspection. The president urged them to support a $15 million assessment for repairs while acknowledging the work “could have been done or planned for in years gone by.”

McKee said plaintiffs will identify other potentially liable parties through the discovery process.

One lawsuit by the family of missing resident Harold Rosenberg also named as defendants Morabito Consultants and SD Architects for failing to warn residents of the danger of collapse.

The lawsuit blamed the Morabito engineering firm, which conducted the 2018 inspection, for allegedly failing to warn the condo association of the need to evacuate the building. The firm was retained again in 2020 and did not warn residents the damage it uncovered two years earlier had not been repaired, the lawsuit said.

Morabito said in a statement that it provided its 2018 report and recommendations to the condo association.

Rene Rocha, a Morgan & Morgan attorney working on the Rosenberg case, said informing the board may not have been enough.

“They could have walked away from the job if they told the board it would be unsafe to proceed this way,” said Rocha. “Obviously, it didn’t happen that way.”

The Rosenberg lawsuit also said it planned to sue Surfside for allegedly failed to hire an independent expert to inspect the building after receiving the 2018 Morabito report.

The condo association declined to comment on the lawsuit, SD Architects could not be reached, and the town did not respond.

Legal experts said the defendants will likely argue there was no evidence that the building was not an immediate risk of collapse.

A Florida judge appointed attorney Michael Goldberg of the Akerman law firm on Friday as a receiver for the condo association, which disclosed on Thursday it had $30 million in property insurance and $18 million for liability. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said the insurance “will obviously be inadequate to compensate everyone fully.”

Accountability Difficulty

Residents and their families may have to contend with Florida laws and court rulings that have made it more difficult to hold parties accountable for defects in professional design, construction or code compliance, according to Barry Ansbacher, a Florida attorney who specializes in condo and construction law.

For example, a 2006 law shortened to 10 years from 15 years the window for plaintiffs to sue for certain defects in design and construction and the potential personal liability for architects and engineers has also been narrowed, Ansbacher said.

Court rulings have also limited liability, including a 1985 decision that sovereign immunity protects local government building inspectors.

“Often, by the time something is discovered that was not done properly, the clock has run out and there is no liability,” Ansbacher said.

There is also the possibility of criminal charges.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she would have a grand jury examine the collapse, although she did not say whether she would consider charges. Florida grand juries can also make recommendations on matters of public policy.

One Florida prosecutor said the most likely charge if someone’s actions led to the collapse would be the crime of manslaughter by culpable negligence.

“To have a crime here you need more than what is presently being reported,” said Dave Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County. “You have to have someone who knew that destruction was imminent and did nothing about it.”

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; editing by Noeleen Walder and Jonathan Oatis)

Top Photo: his aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

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There are three components to homeowners insurancedwelling coveragepersonal property coverage, and personal liability coverage.

Personal liability coverage protects homeowners if their pet injures someone or damages someone’s property. If your pet bites you or damages your property, that is not covered. Also, exotic pets and certain dog breeds are typically excluded from coverage in either situation.

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Does homeowners insurance cover pet damage and liability?

If you have homeowners insurance, pet bites are covered under your policy’s personal liability coverage. However, some homeowners insurance companies will not offer coverage for certain dog breeds and exotic pets. 

According to Wise Insurance Group, most insurers consider a pet to be exotic if:

  • A permit is required to buy the pet
  • You need to modify your home or yard to contain the pet
  • The pet is a hybrid of a domesticated and non-domesticated animal (like wolf and cat hybrids)
  • The animal is found naturally in the wild

Pet liability coverage is not pet insurance. Pet insurance is a health plan for your pet. Pet liability covers damage or injury your pet causes to someone. Also, damage to you or your personal property by your pet will not be covered.

There are limits to standard personal liability coverage depending on your policy and insurance carrier, usually $100,000.

Consider an umbrella policy for extra liability coverage

An umbrella policy is additional liability coverage that’s available as an add-on rider to your renters insurance. Umbrella coverage kicks in after you have used up your personal liability coverage limit.

A million-dollar umbrella policy costs between $150 and $300 a year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. However, the Institute notes that most carriers require renters to have at least $300,000 in personal liability coverage before selling them an umbrella policy.

Canine liability and exotic pet insurance is an option 

If you have a restricted dog breed and cannot get an umbrella policy to cover your pet, you might consider canine liability insurance. Canine liability insurance offers coverage if your dog bites or attacks someone. It’s a separate policy that is helpful if your renters insurance doesn’t offer coverage for your breed. 

If you have an exotic pet, X-Insurance offers exotic pet liability insurance.

How to file a liability insurance claim for a pet bite or damage

If your pet bites someone, you should notify your homeowners insurance company immediately. Some states have laws that if a pet bites, the owner is strictly liable. 

You want to make sure your insurance company is on notice in case a lawsuit is filed against you. Failure to timely notify your insurance company can result in denying your claim — in which case you would be personally responsible for costs.

Also, if you get an exotic pet without approval from your homeowners insurance company, your claim may be denied and you may be dropped as a customer.Ronda LeeAssociate Editor, Insurance

Ronda Lee is an associate editor for insurance at Personal Finance Insider covering life, auto, homeowners, and renters insurance for consumers. Before joining Business Insider, she was a contributing writer at HuffPost with featured articles in politics,…Read More

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Over a period of time, as your income increases, you change your lifestyle. Moving to a bigger house, changing cars and gadgets, and expensive shopping become a part of your existence. There is nothing wrong with spending incremental income on yourself. But have you ever thought of enhancing your investments and insurance as well? Very few review their investments and insurance requirements periodically. It is not possible to always maintain a ratio of savings to income, but you must monitor it.

Life events necessitate reviews

Marriage and child birth increase your dependents. At such life stages, you should review your investment, life and health insurance. At the time of renewal of your health insurance, you must not only add the new member of the family, but also increase the sum insured. The health insurance cover that was sufficient for you as an individual or as a couple, may not be sufficient for a family of two / three members. You should consider opting for a family floater health insurance cover at the time of member addition.

A relook at your life insurance needs is also necessary during such life events. You need to make sure your child’s education cost is taken care of in case of your untimely death. As a simple thumb rule, you should increase the term life insurance cover by the present value of your child’s education expense. So, in case of an uncertain event, your family can invest the proceeds from life insurance for the child’s education.

In terms of investment for a financial goal before marriage, if you were investing for your retirement, you now need to accumulate a corpus for your spouse as well. Also, once you have a child, you should start saving for the kid’s higher education. So, you need to top-up your investments accordingly. The earlier your start, the lesser the monthly savings required.

Additional liability

When you take a home loan or personal loan, automatically your monthly fixed expenses will go up to the extent of the EMI. So, you should gradually top-up the contingency fund with an amount equivalent to 3-6 months of EMI.

Many of you simply consider the existing term life insurance cover as a hedge for the new home loan that you take. Even if you have term life insurance, you should increase your cover to the extent of the home loan so that this liability can be repaid immediately in case of your untimely death. The balance proceeds from life insurance can be utilised for your family’s ongoing expenses and other financial goals. So, you should simply increase your term life insurance cover to the extent of your home loan that you take.

Factor in inflation

Most of you review the performance of your investment portfolio regularly, but very few review the quantum of your savings. You should review your investments once a year and insurance cover every 3-4 years to see if they can beat inflation or not.

Your monthly outgo increases due to inflation, lifestyle change and ongoing children’s education expenses. So, you should top-up your contingency fund accordingly. Also, if you are investing in mutual funds via the SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) mode, you can consider increasing your instalments every year automatically by a fixed percentage or amount. This can help you enhance your investments automatically with your increasing income and expenses.

Even today, I come across many friends and relatives who have family health insurance cover of just Rs 2-3 lakh staying in a metro such as Mumbai. They do review the premium at the time of renewal by comparing it with ten different companies, which saves them some cost. But they ignore the fact that the cover they have is insufficient and might end up paying from their pocket someday. Medical inflation is something that is ignored by many. So, it is very important to review your sum insured of health insurance and see if it is enough to meet current hospitalisation expenses of major illnesses. You can enhance your health insurance by increasing your base policy cover itself or buying a super top-up cover at the time of renewal.

It is very important to enhance your investments and insurance periodically so that you do not overspend your incremental income and thereby do not remain underinvested and underinsured.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Most people are familiar with renters insurancehomeowners insurance, and condo insurance, but there are eight types of homeowners policies based on the type of home you have. 

If you bought a townhome and want to get homeowners insurance, you might not be sure what to get: homeowners or condo insurance. The determining factor that will help you decide is whether or not your townhouse is part of a homeowner association (HOA).

Do I need homeowners insurance for my townhouse?

Homeowners insurance is not required by state law. However, if you have a mortgage, your lender will require homeowners insurance to protect the investment. If you have a homeowner association, most require homeowners insurance.

Even if you don’t have a mortgage, homeowners insurance is generally a worthwhile investment because it protects your dwellingpersonal belongings, and offers personal liability coverage if an injury happens on your property. The issue is whether you can afford not to protect your home — which is most Americans biggest asset.

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What kind of townhouse insurance do I need?

If you are renting a townhouse, then you need renters insurance. However, if you own your townhome, the type of homeowners insurance you need depends on whether you are part of a homeowner association.

If your townhouse is part of a homeowner association (HOA), then you will need HO-6 condo/co-op insurance. If you own your townhome and there is no homeowners association, that means that you are responsible for the dwelling and need a standard HO-3 homeowners insurance.

Condo/co-op insurance versus standard homeowners insurance

The major difference between standard homeowners insurance and condo/co-op insurance is the dwelling coverage. 

Homeowners living in a house have dwelling coverage for the home and any structures on the property. HO-3 is the most common type of homeowners insurance because it covers the house, your belongings, and liability coverage. 

If you live in a condo or co-op, the building and common areas are owned by the condo association. They are covered by the condo or co-op association’s master policy, which condo owners contribute via condo or homeowner assessments, known as HOA fees. 

The condo association’s master policy covers liability for injury that occurs in common areas. You need to check your association’s by-laws to determine whether the master policy has “all-in” coverage or “bare walls” coverage.

Although the condo association’s master policy covers the building and common areas, your assessment payments do not cover the contents of your unit, injuries that occur in your unit, or damage to your unit. Condo insurance is referred to as “walls-in” coverage because it covers everything inside your walls, whether that’s your property, your liability, or damage inside your unit. 

Also, condo and co-op owners get a specific type of coverage called “loss of assessment,” which kicks in to cover any additional costs that may be requested should the condo association’s own coverage fall short. If there is an event and the association’s coverage isn’t enough, the association will ask for additional payment from each condo owner. Loss of assessment coverage helps condo owners cover those payments.

Coverage HO-3 Special homeownersHO-6 Condo/Co-op
Dwelling/StructureYesMaster policy*
Personal liabilityYesYes
Personal belongingsYesYes
Loss of Use (additional living expenses)YesYes
Loss of assessmentsNoYes
High-end electronics/special jewelryLimited**Limited**
Equipment breakdownYesMaster policy*
Electrical outageYesMaster policy*
Service linesYesMaster policy*
Cyber liability****
FloodNo***No***
EarthquakeNo**No**
Water damageYesYes

*Consult condo/homeowners association’s master policy and by-laws

**Available as add-on coverage if not part of policy

***Required if you are in a flood zone, but most homeowners experience some flood 

What is the difference between a condo and a townhouse?

A condo is an apartment-style building, but instead of a landlord it’s managed by the condo association. The association is responsible for the building and common areas. A townhouse is like a rowhouse and you share one or two walls with your neighbors. A townhome may have an attached or detached garage.

 CondoTownhouse
OwnershipCondo owners only own the interior of their unit. All other areas, including the building exterior and communal areas, are property of the Homeowners Association (HOA).In most townhouse communities, owners own their unit’s interior and exterior, including the roof, lawn and driveway, but not the communal areas.
ArchitectureCondos come in many different styles. They may be part of a large high rise, a cul-de-sac of cottages or anything in between.Townhouses are designed in rows, so tenants usually share at least one wall. It’s common for townhouses to have two or more stories.
CommunityCondominiums often have a community focus with a club house, pool, golf course and/or similar amenity.Some townhouse communities offer the same types of amenities as condos, but others are more private.
Homeowner Association (HOA) feesHOA fees for condos are typically higher than townhouses because they pay for exterior upkeep, such as lawn care, trash removal, and pest control.Townhouse owners pay lower monthly HOA fees because they pay for much of their own upkeep. Certain types of maintenance and trash removal are still handled by the HOA.
Homeowner insurance ratesHome insurance rates are usually lower for condos because owners only have to insure the interior of their unit.Townhouses may have higher home insurance rates, since most owners need insurance that covers both the exterior and interior.
SizeAlthough condos come in many sizes and styles, they are generally smaller than townhouses.Townhouses can be quite large and often feature multiple stories.
PrivacyDepending on the style, condos could be private, individual homes or apartment-style units.Townhouses share one to two walls with neighboring units, but don’t have units above or below them.

Data from Nationwide

How much does homeowners insurance cost?

According to the Homeowners Insurance Report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average annual premium in the United States in 2017 was $1,211. 

The average annual condo insurance premium in the United States in 2017 was $488, according to the Condominium/Cooperative Unit Owner’s Insurance Report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Homes located in weather zones or disaster-prone areas — such as flood zoneshurricanestornadoes, wildfires, mudslides, hail, and earthquakes — will have increased premiums because these types of events are not included in basic coverage and will need to be add-on riders. 

The cheapest price may be okay for a renter. However, if you’re a homeowner the cheapest price is probably not the way to go if that means a company isn’t responsive when you file a claim. For many homeowners, a home is their biggest asset and homeowners insurance helps protect it. Focus on customer service, complaints, and the reputation of the insurance provider. 

How to find homeowners insurance

If you currently have homeowners insurance, review your policy coverage yearly. If your homeowners insurance company hasn’t provided the level of service you expected, maybe it is time for you to select a new provider.

Remember that a cheap price doesn’t mean good customer service. The average cost for homeowners insurance will vary based on the state where you live and whether you are urban or rural. Focus on customer satisfaction rankings, like those from J.D. Power, and comparison shop. This is especially important for those living in disaster-prone areas, when good service can make all the difference.Ronda LeeAssociate Editor, Insurance

Ronda Lee is an associate editor for insurance at Personal Finance Insider covering life, auto, homeowners, and renters insurance for consumers. Before joining Business Insider, she was a contributing writer at HuffPost with featured articles in politics,…Read More

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict that found an insurer liable for $2.6 million in damages to a Miami condominium tower caused by Hurricane Irma, rejecting arguments made in appeals filed by parties on both sides of the dispute.

The panel refused the insurance carrier’s request to overturn a magistrate judge’s decision barring testimony by its expert, who had failed to make himself available for a deposition during the period set by the US District Court’s scheduling order.

But the panel also rejected an argument by the condominium association that a deductible set at 3% of the value of the building was invalid because it conflicted with a state statute. It refused to overturn the jury’s finding that a portion of the damages claimed by the association existed prior to the hurricane.

“After extensive litigation, we put this case to bed,” says the 11th Circuit ruling, released Tuesday, July 20.

Neither the St. Louis Condominium Association or State Auto’s Rockhill Insurance Co. were happy after a District Court jury in Miami returned a $2.6 million damage award to the condo association.

St. Louis claimed Hurricane Irma caused $16 million in damages to its 31-story waterfront building when it struck on Sept. 10, 2017. The insurer argued that most of the claimed damages were preexisting, caused by years of exposure to wind and rain, and the amount needed for legitimate hurricane damage repairs fell well below the deductible amount of 3% of the value of the building, or $945,342.

The jury found that the association suffered $3,673,303.67 in covered losses. The jury also found that $359,578 of the claimed damages were preexisting.

Rockhill appealed the trial court decision and St. Louis filed a cross-appeal. Each party asked the 11th Circuit to overturn the jury verdict because of the magistrate judge’s decisions on motions that were made both before and after trial.

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Before trial, the association had moved to exclude or strike testimony by some of Rockhill’s experts. The magistrate judge agreed that one expert should be removed: Brian Warner, Rockhill’s expert on sliding windows and doors. The magistrate judge noted that Warner had canceled a scheduled deposition and Rockhill had refused to offer a single date on which me would be available before the deadline set by the scheduling order.

Rockhill filed a similar motion to bar testimony from St. Louis’ experts, alleging their training was inadequate and their methodology in estimating damages was unreliable. The magistrate judge denied the motion.

After trial, the association filed a motion to strike the jury’s finding about preexisting damage and asked the trail court to refrain from applying the deductible. The magistrate judge denied both requests.

On appeal, the condo association argued that the trial court erred by applying the deductible because Florida Statute Section 627.701(2)(b) states that deductibles cannot be based on a percentage rather than a specific dollar amount unless the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation determines that the deductible provision is clear and unambiguous.

The association also asked the appellate court to overturn the jury finding that that $359,578 of the claimed damages were preexisting.

The 11th Circuit panel refused on both points.

The condo association was hoping to increase the amount of the award by about a third by throwing out a deductible that it says is specifically prohibited by state law.

The opinion says that the Florida Supreme Court ruled in QBE Ins. Corp. v. Chalfonte Condo. Apartment Ass’n (2012) that the statute that requires regulatory approval for percentage-based deductibles does not create any penalty for violations. Voiding the deductible would amount to a “severe penalty” that was not created by the legislature, the panel concluded.

The court also upheld the jury’s finding about pre-existing damage. The opinion notes that minutes of the condo association’s board of directors meetings shows that the amount that jury found to be pre-existing damages matched exactly the cost of a repair estimate that was provided to the board for a proposal to waterproof and caulk windows and doors.

Rockhill was also unable to persuade the appellate panel to alter the trial court decision. The insurer rejected arguments that the association’s experts were incompetent and unreliable.

What’s more, the appellate panel refused to accept Rockhill’s argument that jury had failed to factor into its damage calculation that the board of directors was considering spending $1.2 million for painting and waterproofing balconies attached to the condo tower. The insurer asserted that those “pre-existing damages” should also have been deducted from the award.

The 11th Circuit said to overturn that finding, the insurer needed to show that the amount awarded was not “legally sufficient.”

“The number found by the jury was not pulled out of a hat—it was within the range shown by the evidence at trial,” the opinion says.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Whatever it was meant for , we need the push for new business in all areas so this should help keep S. Florida moving toward to recovery.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

The tragedy provides a lesson on the importance of transparency and honesty when completing insurance applications.

By Tiffany J. Rothenberg | July 26, 2021 at 03:00 AM | The original version of this story was published on Daily Business Review

As a related matter, policyholders should know that under Florida law, there is a duty to read and understand documents before signing. When an insured signs an insurance application, the insured is affirming to the carrier that all of the information provided is correct. This is true even if the insurance agent filled out the application, and simply requests a signature. (Credit: Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock.com)

As of July 16, a search of Miami-Dade Court records revealed more than 20 lawsuits that have been filed on behalf of the deceased, grieving families, and the dozens of survivors rendered homeless following the Surfside Condo collapse. As the investigation unfolds on the recent tragedy, so too has the pursuit for accountability and compensation for victims.

Initially, litigants focused on the potential coverage limits of the condo association’s property insurance and liability insurance policies as sources of compensation. Indeed, at one of the first hearings, Judge Michael A. Hanzman, the judge presiding over the Surfside Condo matters, observed that the combined funds of these policies, totaling $48 million, are unlikely to adequately “compensate everyone fully for the extent of their losses.”

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

As Florida continues to grapple with increasing weather damage claims and rampant insurance fraud, more insurers are refusing to cover homes with roofs over 10 years old.

The number of lawsuits filed against Florida’s top 44 insurers has continued to increase, data from the state Department of Financial Services said, totaling 44,325 during the first six months of 2021, compared to about 30,000 during the same period in each of the three previous years. Allegations of fraud amid the lawsuits, and its effect on rising premiums, have led the state to pass a bill to control runaway insurance costs.

Read more: Federal judge blocks provision of Florida property insurance law

But apart from the severity and frequency of roofing claims making insurance more expensive, insurers are also increasingly unwilling to write new policies with asphalt shingle roofs that are over 10 years old. An insurer which asked not to be identified told South Florida Sun Sentinel it had identified at least four companies unwilling to insure shingle roofs more than 10 years old, two that had a cut-off at 12 years, and three that would not insure homes with 15-year-old roofs. The data was based on a review of information submitted to the state’s insurance regulators.

Since the list was made in January, several of the companies approached the Office of Insurance Regulation to ask if they could lower their roof cut-off ages, but the regulator pushed back against such decisions, the insurance contact noted.

According to Paul Handerhan, president of the Federal Association for Insurance Reform, “the outlook is bleak” for consumers in Florida who are caught in between this mess.

“But you can’t force insurance companies to write business they can’t write. If the law suddenly required companies to cover homes with older roofs, you’d be risking the company’s solvency and that wouldn’t do anyone any good, because, after a catastrophe, they’d be going bankrupt and no-one would get paid,” Handerhan told South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Handerhan added that insurers do not care if a 10- or 12-year-old roof is still functional; the issue is that they see homes with older roofs as most likely to be targeted by roofing contractors looking for big payouts; eliminating older roofs from their books of business is the easiest way to avoid costly claims.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

The latest uptick in COVID cases has been dubbed the “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” with the average number of new cases over the last seven days up nearly 70% and hospitalizations up 36%. Yet, while some of those represent breakthrough cases, the vast majority of Americans falling sick or dying in this latest wave are unvaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this month.Medical professional giving Covid-19 vaccine© Frederic J. Brown—Getty Images Medical professional giving Covid-19 vaccine

With unvaccinated Americans at greater risk of contracting a deadly case of COVID, does that have any effect on consumers’ ability to buy life insurance?  https://products.gobankingrates.com/r/d9360ea31bf06ea8b9d0ef49288e28fb?subid=

Although life insurers generally ask new policy applicants to share their health information or submit to a medical exam, some of the largest life insurance companies say they currently are not taking COVID vaccine status into account during the underwriting process, although a few are asking in select cases.

Lincoln Financial, New York Life, and Prudential, which collectively have over $33 billion in direct written premiums, all told Fortune that they do not ask customers to verify their vaccine status for new coverage.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is not a factor in the underwriting process,” Lincoln spokesman Jay Russo says.

Northwestern Mutual, another one of the largest life insurers, tells Fortune that while vaccination status is not a concern for the majority of its applicants, the company is asking for vaccine status from a “small number of people who have high risk conditions,” says spokeswoman Betsy Hoylman. That said, she adds that people can be unvaccinated and still qualify for the best rates.

MassMutual and MetLife did not confirm whether they take COVID vaccination status into consideration. 

While life insurers may not take Americans’ vaccine status into account in most cases, whether or not you’ve had COVID can be a factor. Consumers should expect to disclose if they currently have COVID, or have recovered from COVID, as part of the general medical questionnaire or declaration of insurability, Russo says of those applying for life insurance through Lincoln Financial. 

“Those who have/had COVID are still eligible to apply for life insurance coverage, though their application may be postponed until recovery,” he added. 

Northwestern Mutual does not directly ask whether an applicant has had COVID, but if an applicant was recently hospitalized or received recent abnormal test results, Hoylman says that may trigger a follow up with more questions or requests for associated medical records. Hoylman again noted that people who have fully recovered from COVID will still qualify for the best rates.

It’s worth noting that whether or not someone has a COVID vaccine does not impact life insurance costs for coverage already in place, according to Jan Graeber, senior health actuary at the American Council of Life Insurers.

The ACLI previously noted life insurers do not consider whether or not a policyholder has received a COVID vaccine when deciding whether to pay a claim. 

For all new coverage, Graeber says companies routinely consider health factors as information is available and in compliance with regulations that govern the industry. 

Yet those regulations and information may shift as more becomes known about COVID. “There may be near- and long-term considerations based on experience with COVID-19, new strains, vaccines, and consumer behavior,” Graeber says.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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