Hurricane Irma is in the Atlantic and is looking to pose a major risk to South Florida. Therefore, now would be a good time to review your policy to make sure you have the coverage needed to protect your assets in the wake of a natural disaster. Irma currently has wind speeds of 175 mph. It is right now labeled as a category 5 and could grow stronger. We highly recommend having your insurance settled so that you can have peace of mind knowing your home is covered from either water damage or structural damage. When purchasing flood insurance the policy usually takes up to 30 days to process so it is important to have your insurance settled ahead of time before facing a potential flood. Binding restrictions are already coming up from Home Insurance companies meaning there is a hold on issuing new policies. It is important in these events to make sure that all your premiums are up to date.
The situation occurring in Texas due to Harvey is devastating and this is the last thing we want for anyone. Harvey wreaked havoc upon Texas causing massive flooding everywhere with the majority not having flood insurance. This leaves their homes in devastation and they are not covered meaning they will have to pay out of pocket. Flood Insurance will pay for all covered losses and unlike federal assistance loans the money does not have to be paid back. It’s also important to secure your home in the case of massive damages being struck against it during a natural disaster. Having homeowners insurance doesn’t mean you’re protected in the event of a flood. Everyone needs to double check their policy and see if they’re covered against wind and that your coverage limits are appropriate. It is important to note that you never wait last minute to get insurance because your coverage won’t kick in until after the natural disaster therefore rendering your policy uneffective during a storm. We want the best for our clients and we want to make sure everyone is protected ahead of time.
These damages become really expensive and the last thing we want for anyone is to be stuck in an unwinnable financial situation. If you’re in the market for home or flood insurance please give us a call at 239-591-0963 for our Naples location or 239-931-5316 for our Fort Myers office.
Additional Precautionary Information:
For those who are looking to further secure their homes, the Fire Departments in Lee County are handing out sandbags. They are available at the following locations:
- North Fort Myers: 1280 Barrett Road
- Iona: 6061 South Pointe Blvd
- Estero: 21510 Three Oaks Pkwy.
- San Carlos: 8013 Sanibel Blvd.
- Fort Myers Beach: Near Tops Supermarket, 2545 Estero Blvd.
- Bonita Station: 27701 Bonita Grande Dr.
- Bayshore: 17350 Nalle Rd., North Ft Myers
- South Trail 13500 Sophomore Lane, Fort Myers
There is also a list of public shelters for Lee County available here: http://www.leegov.com/publicsafety/emergencymanagement/shelters/publicshelters
There is a list of public shelters for Collier County available here: http://www.colliergov.net/your-government/divisions-a-e/emergency-management/special-needs-shelter-info
If you’re looking for wood to board up your windows it is best that you act as quickly as possible due to limited supply.
Gulf Coast Educators Insurance has partnered with Southern Oak Insurance Company (one of our home insurance companies) to produce a TV commercial which will be airing shortly in the Naples area. Check it out, and tell us what you think!
Hermine is officially here and this tropical storm is likely to lead to significant water damage and flooding all throughout the state. Hopefully your home will not be among those harmed by this tropical storm. However, this is Florida, and so being prepared to fight flooding and water damage is always wise. There are certain things that you can do to protect yourself in the future but for today if you are out driving in these conditions or you need to head to the store, be careful not to drive through any standing water. The sheriff’s department and Emergency Management Systems have been issuing warnings all throughout the day and yesterday, so be on guard to protect yourself while out and about.
In the meantime, it is wise for you to call our office so that we can review your homeowners insurance policy. Whether your policy was purchased from our agency or someone else, we can review it for you to make sure that your coverage is what it should be so that you will not have to pay for fixing your home out-of-pocket, in the event that you suffer flooding.
Your homeowners insurance policy needs to have enough coverage in place to pay for repairs to the physical structure of your home as well as to pay for replacing your furniture and other valuables. For example, if your living room were to flood, the things that would need to be repaired or replaced are your –
- Personal Items, etc.
Much of what would require repair would not be the structure but the things inside of your home. Unfortunately, many homeowners make the mistake of not insuring all of their personal property. If you do not have items like your huge new television or your fine art collection included in your policy, you may not have enough money to pay to replace them in the event of major damage. Adding this coverage to your policy is simple, but it does require making a phone call to our office.
Protect Your Home from Hermine and Other Storms
In addition to making sure that you have the right level of insurance coverage, there are other things you can do to protect your home. These include –
#1 Creating natural barriers.
If your home is surrounded by cement, there is no surface for water to sink into or be soaked up by. Water will simply run wherever it wishes without being absorbed into the earth. Consider planting natural barriers and having a lawn, bark, or plants that thrive in wet conditions and are likely to soak up water during normal rain storms. While this is not going to stop a tropical storm, it can help to prevent water from running everywhere on a regular basis.
#2 Build cement barriers.
You can help to direct water away from your home by creating cement barriers or even building trenches. This may require the help of a contractor but if you do so strategically, you can help to direct water away from your front door or garage.
#3 Use sandbags.
In the event that there is a major tropical storm like Hermine, your best bet is to buy or fill sandbags that can be placed around your home. This can provide some protection during major storms.
Call Gulf Coast Educators Insurance
For more tips or to have your homeowners’ insurance policy reviewed, call our office and speak with an agent. We are here for you!
If you were one of the lucky ones who bought a new car at the end of the year, be sure to find out if you have enough insurance coverage on it. Most people are unaware of the type of auto insurance they have, what is covered, and what is’t. As long as they keep getting a card in the mail with their insurance number, everything is squared away ? except when it isn’t.. At Gulf Coast Educators Insurance, we know that not understanding your auto insurance coverage can hurt you in the event of an accident.
Here are a few questions to ask your insurance agent:
Should I have the same coverage levels for all my vehicles?
No. Most families have two or more vehicles that were bought in different years. If you just got a new car, you will want more coverage on it than your third vehicle that just sits in the driveway. While many people put the same level of coverage on each of their cars, this is not necessary and can hurt you in the long run. For example, if you have a truck in the driveway that is only used to go to Home Depot, you can probably get by with minimal coverage. Putting that same level of coverage on the minivan used to take your kids to and from school and soccer practice is unwise.
What would happen if I was hit by someone without insurance?
That depends on the type of coverage you have. At Gulf Coast Educators Insurance, we tend to recommend that you have an uninsured motorist provision on your insurance plan so you are covered no matter what happens. This coverage would make sure your medical bills were paid and that your car was repaired after an accident, without needing to go after someone who clearly could not afford to pay for these damages.
What happens if my new car is totaled?
This is a big one. If you paid sticker price for your new car or truck, got a loan on it, and drove it off the lot, it could be worth less than what you paid. If you bought it with zero down (or a low down payment), this could become problematic later on. When a car is declared totaled by the insurance company, money is paid out based on the current value of the vehicle. If the value is less than what you owe, you would be obligated to pay the difference to the bank. Essentially, you would be without the benefit of your vehicle while still owing money for it. In order to eliminate the risk of this happening, you should get GAP coverage. This ensures that your loan is paid off if the car is totaled.
We know the entire concept of insurance can feel complicated, but it does not have to be when working with an experienced agent.
Our goal is to make sure you have the right level of coverage so you are prepared for anything that comes your way. Give us a call to review your policy today.
At Gulf Coast Educators Insurance, our goal is to protect you and your family from the many unplanned disasters that can come your way. This includes protecting your home against a flood. We offer flood insurance and recommend that you have your homeowners insurance and flood insurance reviewed on an annual basis. What most people don’t realize is that flood zone designations can change. Things like new construction can change runoff patterns and cause flooding in areas that never received it before. Fortunately, it is easy to check, and we will be happy to do it for you during a consultation over the phone or in person.
Having the right level of flood insurance coverage is the best place to start when creating your emergency plan. Remember that this coverage wonÃ¢Â?Â?t be found in your standard homeowner’s insurance policy, so you will need separate flood insurance. Beyond that, there are certain things you can do to prepare your family for this and any type of natural disaster.
Create an Escape Plan
If your home was threatened by a storm, had physical damage, caught on fire, or started to flood, how would you and your family get out? Businesses have an emergency escape plan for a reason, and you should, too. Knowing what you will do can help make sure that all your kids end up leaving the house the same way as you. This will prevent the need to try and find them in the middle of what could be significant chaos. You should also have a designated meeting spot away from your home in case some of you are home and others are out. It is also wise to have a family emergency contact.
Make a Go Bag
If you live in a flood zone, you need to prepare for the reality of evacuation. Most of the time, there are warnings, but in case you need to get out right away, you should have a “go bag”. This should include several days worth of clothes for each family member, toothbrushes, toothpaste, medication, cash, copies of IDs and important documents, diapers, a couple of toys, cell phone chargers, flashlight, water, and snacks. While only a few basic essentials, it can provide what you need if you have to suddenly stay at a hotel for a night or two.
Catalog Your Belongings
It is important to make a list of the important belongings in your home and provide that list to your insurance agent. For example, your furniture, artwork, jewelry, and electronics should all be listed out. Many of these items can be insured ahead of time, and by cataloging them, it will be easier to have them replaced in the event of a flood. Some people take extra precautions by taking photos of important things or making videos. You can even upload the photos to a private album on Facebook so you can access them in the future from anywhere with an Internet connection.
When discussing flood insurance, we can provide you with even more tips for how to protect you and your family. To review your policy, call and speak with one of our Florida insurance agents.
This may seem like a funny question, but too few people ever actually think about retirement. What do you want it to be like? The standard image seems to be an old couple sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch. This does not have to be you! Instead, you can have adventures, buy the boat you always wanted, travel the world, or spend time in an RV visiting your grand kids. Whatever makes you happy is what retirement should be all about.
At Gulf Coast Educators Insurance, we know that planning for retirement needs to begin with establishing lifestyle goals. It is important to decide how you feel about retirement in general, when you want to actually retire, and what you want to do when you get there. This requires some soul searching, but it is worth it to ensure that you actually enjoy being retired, instead of wishing you were back at work or doing something else.
Once you know what you want retirement to be like and when you want to stop working, we can help you create a financial plan for what it will take to get you there. Retirement costs money, and that money can come from multiple sources. As an educator or someone working for the school district, you likely have a better than average pension. You will also be entitled to some Social Security benefits. This is the good news. However, that is often not enough to retire the way you want to. If you would rather spend Christmas in Switzerland than at home or would like to spend your days fishing in the open ocean, you will need more money than the typical porch-dweller. Fortunately, we can help you get it by helping you plan ahead.
There are several tools that can help you save for retirement. These include annuities and IRAs. When investing in an IRA, one of the things we will help you decide is whether you want to pay taxes on that money today or if you want to pay taxes when you draw the funds. The answer to this really depends on your current financial situation and whether you need tax deductions now. If you can afford to pay taxes on the money today, that can often be a better way to go, simply because you can then grow your investments as much as you want and never have to pay for those gains. Once you reach retirement age, you can draw from your IRA as needed.
Annuities are also beneficial for retirement, and they can provide you with cash flow on a monthly basis. With a fixed annuity, you are guaranteed a set rate of return and can withdraw up to 10 percent of your annuity on an annual basis. Many people prefer this method because there is no risk involved. However, if you would prefer an annuity that is tied to the stock market, we can offer you an indexed annuity.
These are all options we can discuss with you when meeting to plan for your future retirement.
Have You Set Your New Year’s Resolutions Yet?
Happy New Year from the team at Gulf Coast Educators Insurance! We hope that you had a fabulous holiday season with friends and family. With the most wonderful time of the year in the rearview mirror, it is time to get excited about new possibilities. That is what the new year is all about: the opportunity to have more fun, accomplish what you have always wanted to, and achieve some of your goals. We are excited to help you do exactly that. While making your new year’s resolutions, here are a few things you should consider including:
The sooner you begin planning for retirement, the longer your money will have time to grow and the more comfortable you will be. Planning for retirement may seem daunting, and you may even feel like you do not have enough money to do it. In reality, most people can afford to start saving if they start small. We can show you how to do so, and even if that only means an extra $75 a month, your money will begin working for you. We can also review your current retirement plan, including your 403(b) Investment Plan to ensure that it is working for you to the maximum capacity.
When making your new year’s resolutions, you should always include your financial future because of how easily you can impact it with your decisions today. Failing to act is the worst thing you could do, since even small contributions toward retirement can add up to a great deal of money later on.
Protecting Your Family
Insurance allows you to protect your family financially from the disasters you could never anticipate or plan for. There is no way to tell if you will get into a car accident, but if you do, we can make sure you are covered fully. That way, your medical bills will be paid and your property restored. There is no way to tell if your home will be hit by a storm and flooded. Still, we can provide you with flood insurance that will repair your home, replace your belongings, and even pay for you to stay somewhere else temporarily. The types of coverage we offer is vast, so whether you own a home, car, truck, motorcycle, boat, or RV, we can make sure you have the right insurance coverage in place to provide for any necessary repairs or replacement.
Another way to protect your family is to buy a life insurance plan. One of your goals should be to ensure that your spouse and children could keep their lifestyle if you were no longer there to bring home a paycheck. Life insurance can do this for you. It can be there financially when you are no longer able to be.
Make 2016 an Amazing Year!
At Gulf Coast Educators Insurance, we hope you go out and accomplish all your goals this year. Simultaneously, our goal is to make sure you are protected in the process. Call us today to have your insurance policies reviewed or to discuss your retirement goals.
Off To Grandma’s House You Go?
Are you heading out on the roads for Thanksgiving this year? Gas prices are low, the weather in Florida has been nice, and turkey dinner beckons. Gulf Coast Educators Insurance wants you to be safe while on the roadways this Thanksgiving. Here are a few tips on preparing for your road trip to “grandma’s house” this year.
•Prepare ahead of time. Map out the route in advance and factor in extra travel time due to the abundance of people driving by car for their turkey dinner
•Check your vehicle to make sure the tires are properly inflated, the car is oiled, the gas tank is full, and all maintenance tasks have been performed
•Stay safe by wearing your seat belt and have children in car seats
•Slow down and be prepared for delays
•Take frequent breaks and switch drivers if you need a rest
•Move over a lane for emergency vehicles (i.e. police) when traveling I-95, I-75, I-4 or other major multi-lane highways and interstates
•Don’t use cell phones or text while you are driving
•When you stop for a break, keep all valuables in the trunk or covered and lock your car when you leave it
Gulf Coast Educators Insurance wants you to have a very happy Thanksgiving. Obeying the rules of the road, maintaining your car, and being prepared for delays helps ease the stress of travel. Make sure that your car insurance is up to date and that you have enough coverage.
Gulf Coast Educators Insurance offers a variety of auto insurance products to Florida residents. Insurance policies can be obtained for cars, trucks, motorcycles, RV’s, campers and more. So no matter how you get to grandma’s house, be it on a motorcycle, car, or in a RV, Gulf Coast Educators Insurance will make sure that you have all of the auto insurance coverage that you need.
Auto insurance is necessary to protect you and your vehicle in the event of a car accident, theft of your vehicle, or vandalism to your vehicle. There are various policies available that offer different coverages and deductibles. To learn what policy works best for you, please contact us.
We offer 2 locations in southwest Florida to help with your auto insurance needs. Our knowledgeable and experienced insurance agents can help you review or obtain an auto insurance policy. To speak with an auto insurance agent at our Naples office, please call 239-591-0963, or for our Ft. Myers office please call 239-997-0420. We offer the best in auto insurance rates. Happy Thanksgiving!
Gulf Coast Educators Insurance welcomes back snowbirds
Are you considered a snowbird? Do you own a home in Florida and one elsewhere that you retreat to in the Summer months?
Our team of home insurance agents offers tips for making sure both your homes are safe and secure, especially the home that will be vacant for the next few months.
When leaving your home to return to Florida, consider these things:
•Consider a home security system and arm it when you go
•Have the landscape maintained
•Have a trusted neighbor check on your home
•Forward the mail and stop newspaper delivery
•Unplug appliances that aren’t being used so they don’t drain energy
•Turn down the thermostat
•Turn off your water heater
•Turn off your water
•Consider installing a sump pump if you have a basement
•Don’t post plans on social media
•If you get snow consider hiring a plow company to keep your driveway maintained so your home looks lived in
The Sunshine state welcomes you back, now that you are back to your Florida residence you may want to review the following:
•Check the inside and outside of your home for any mishaps that may have occurred while you were gone (i.e. broken windows, water damage, tree limbs on your roof, etc.)
•Check for water spots
•Check for mold
•Check the roof for leaks
•Trim your bushes
The summer storms in Florida are a nuisance for homeowners. Water damage can be unreal especially if your home is near a lower lying area.
These are a sample of tips of what to do when leaving one home and returning to another for the winter. Gulf Coast Educators Insurance also encourages you to check your insurance policies. Do you need to update your auto insurance policy to cover driving in Florida? Does your home insurance need to be updated?
Gulf Coast Educators Insurance has experienced insurance agents available to help you with your insurance needs. Come in and have your policy reviewed. We have three convenient office locations available: Naples, Port Charlotte, and Fort Myers. To contact an insurance agent at our Naples location, please call 239-591-0963, for our Port Charlotte office call 941-391-5423 or in Fort Myers office call 239-997-0420.
Our team of seasoned agents can offer you the best homeowners insurance in Naples, Port Charlotte and Ft. Myers.
We look forward to helping you!