The Best Way to Pick a Florida Take Out Homeowners Insurance Company

Citizens Property Insurance is Florida’s state run home insurance company. It was formed to offer home insurance coverage to consumers unable to find coverage from a private Florida home insurance company. Homeowners in Florida turn to Citizens for coverage due to one or more risk factors that make their home undesirable to private insurance companies. These risk factors include among other things – the home’s age, distance from the coast, construction materials, and roof type.

Citizens Property Insurance depends on a mix of pre-event hurricane borrowing and imposing after the storm surcharges on all Florida home insurance policies if it doesn’t have the money it needs to pay claims.

This potentially lethal mix of high risk homes along with being under funded is one of the reasons that it’s always been a good idea to try to reduce the number of policies in Citizens Property Insurance. The smaller the number of policies that the company has, there is less chance that policyholders across Florida will have to pay large special assessments for many years after a major hurricane.

One of the ways that is done is by encouraging private home insurance companies to assume or “take out” policies currently covered by Citizens Property Insurance – hence the name “take out companies”. The take out process is also referred to as depopulation.

Attracting companies to assume or take policies out of Citizens Insurance Florida is good public policy.

In addition to moving more of Florida’s wind risk to the private market, customers may also get better customer service from a private take out company that doesn’t have a massive base of over 1 million customers like Citizens. They are also usually rewarded with annual insurance premiums that are lower than what they were paying Citizens. Finally, policyholders with private insurance companies are subject to smaller special assessments after major hurricanes.

Florida take out home insurance companies come to life with an immediate customer base of policyholders without having to make the usual investments in marketing and adverting. When these companies are initially capitalized, its easier for them to raise money because investors know that the take out companies will have an immediate customer base and money coming in immediately after they assume policies from Citizens.

Despite all the good that comes from reducing the number of Florida home insurance policies in Citizens Property Insurance, the take out program is not without its problems.

Policyholders are often concerned about the financial stability of the take out insurance companies. Many are start up companies and have a small surplus available to pay claims of $20 million or less. With Florida hurricane claims averaging $30,000 or more, even after a company’s reinsurance kicks in, there might not be enough money to pay all of the claims.

A significant number of take out companies were created after Florida’s 2004/2005 hurricane seasons. Policyholders are concerned that if their home has a hurricane claim in 2009, that their home will be “on-the job” training for the customer service staff at these newly formed companies – inexperience that could cause delays in paying claims fairly and prompty.

Many of these take out companies milk the policy base they assume and never go on to write any new business beyond the policies they take out of Citizens. Companies that don’t diversify their policy base beyond the original take out policies are more vulnerable to collapsing after a major Florida hurricane.

Last but not least, Florida insurance agents who originally wrote the policies that are being removed from Citizens might not want to become an agent with the new take out companies – even if it means they will lose the business. They simply might not want to add a new company to the mix of companies they already represent. Or they could have real concerns about the financial stability of the new take out company. The agent can’t stop consumers who want to benefit from a take out offer. However, an agent’s reluctance to be an agent with a particular company should at a minimum cause a consumer to pause and move forward with caution.

Here are the questions you should be asking your current Florida insurance agent if you are with Citizens and you are sent a take out offer – before you decide whether to move your Florida home insurance from Citizens to the new take out company:

How long has it been in business? Has it ever handled Florida hurricane claims before? If so, how many customers have filed complaints against that company for inadequate customer service.

How financially strong is the take out company? What are its financial ratings? How diversified is the company’s policy base across both Florida and other states? Are the policies being assumed by the take out company in North Central Florida, or in hurricane ground zero along the South Florida coast?

If your agent is not willing to become a new agent of one of the take out companies, that alone should be a warning sign to you. By taking this position, your agent is risking the loss of the commission your policy. Find out from your agent why they don’t want their agency to accept an appointment with the new take out company. The answer your agent gives you, might tell you everything you need to know about whether you should accept the offer from the new take out company.

Last but not least, ask your agent if there are any other Florida home insurance companies who might want to cover your home. The private home insurance market in Florida is always changing and there might be other companies now covering homes like yours that are a lot more stable.

Don’t forget, if you don’t bother to investigate these take out insurance companies, you will be the one that could be living with an unpaid claim after the next Florida hurricane.

Car Insurance Companies – They Know More Than You Think

When you apply for auto insurance, even when getting an online quote, you’d be surprised by the amount of information the insurance companies go through before telling you how much your premiums will be!

What are They Looking For?

The number one thing that insurers always look for is a clean driving record.  They will investigate your record in the state you’re living in as well as every other state in the country via a central database.  They will verify your birth date and compare it to other personal information to confirm that you are who you say.  They will dig into your driving records everyplace you’ve been issued a driver’s license and also cross-index other insurance records.  All this can take place in just a few minutes-or seconds, depending on the speed of their computers!

But that’s not all that insurance companies are looking for; you’ll also find that they thoroughly check out your credit report.

Why Should They Care About My Credit Score?

Your mother or grandmother may have told you that she can look at your friends and see your future.  Well, insurance companies can look at your credit score and see future!  Like the friends you choose can show your character, your credit score indicates your sense of personal responsibility. 

Let’s say that you’ve made some mistakes in the past and your credit score isn’t so great.  You’ve maxed out your credit cards during a rough patch and are paying them off with minimum payments.  You have no savings, a couple of late payments on record and your credit score is in the low 600’s.  This tells the insurance company that you don’t think about the future much and probably don’t take precautions against unexpected financial downturns.  You’re someone who is living in the present and not looking towards the future.  Is that accurate?

Whether that’s a true picture of someone with that credit score and history, that’s what the insurance companies see and what their statistics tell them is a logical conclusion.  Their data also tells them that a person with such a low score also has a high risk score-they are more likely to make a claim than someone with a higher credit score. 

Don’t Ask for Trouble 

Keep an eye on your credit report and make sure that it is accurate, checking it at least once annually.  Improve it as much as possible, paying more than minimum payments and specifying that the extra go toward the principle.  You’ll be rid of credit card debt in half the time if you pay in that manner and it will look good on your credit report. 

Don’t try to toggle your risk factor by omitting details about your driving record!  If you leave out citations or convictions on your application or deny that they exist, you could be setting yourself up for a fraud charge.  Even if you aren’t charged with trying to defraud the insurance company, it will be on your record for every other insurer to see. 

In short, be frugal and honest!  Good money management and an application that is factual will definitely save you money on your auto insurance. 

Vehicle Insurance Fraud in Russia Affects Both Insurance Companies and Their Customers

Today car owners in Russia are facing an unusual and ridiculous problem, massively. It often occurs that owners cannot obtain an insurance coverage for their cars because of the shortage of blank contract forms, as insurance companies’ managers are telling them. Such cases were completely unknown just three years ago. Russian lawyers community is investigating this problematic situation which affects the growth of Russian vehicle insurance segment.

Such shortages of blank forms are usually occurring in case one is trying to get a minimum compulsory third-party liability insurance (or OSAGO) contract. So what could cause the so-called ‘shortage’ of blank forms for this type of insurance contract? It appears that it is not the fault of insurance companies’ printers; the reason is the greed of insurance companies which have developed a peculiar ‘marketing scheme’. They are taking advantage of the problems of car owners who are obliged to obtain this insurance according to the law.

So, the shortage of blank forms of OSAGO insurance contracts is being created in purpose. Insurance companies are taking this step in order to boost sales of other their products and services. Particularly, when a customer comes to an insurance company wishing to get an OSAGO contract, he or she is then proposed to sign a life, health or property insurance contract as well. And in case the customer refuses from this additional service, company’s managers say that there are no blank forms for OSAGO contracts. The customer cannot verify this statement of course and has either to agree getting this extra insurance service or just leave.

Basically, in such a situation car owners can complain to the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service of Russia, the Central Bank of Russia or to the Russian Association of Motor Insurers. But practice shows that such complaints do not help much: the only result you can get is a formal report from a controller about an inspection that was made in the company and about the lack of law breaches in this company’s actions. Consequently people are turning to insurance lawyers in Russia more and more often.

Still, there is an option. In fact, the service of vehicle insurance (including OSAGO contracts) is a public agreement according to the Article #426 of the Civil Code of Russian Federation and therefore an insurance company does not have a right to refuse this service to a customer. It does not have a right to force a person to acquire extra services prior to getting an OSAGO contract as well.

In case you have faced such an illegal refusal from corporate insurance manager, you need to write down a formal request to sign an OSAGO contract on paper. You should attach copies of all necessary documents to it, provide your phone number and register it in the insurance company’s branch office (making sure it is sealed). Most probably, in such a case tomorrow they will call you and propose to come again to their office to sign the insurance contract without persuading you to accept any extra conditions.

Now let us investigate the situation with Russian insurance companies refusing to sign third party liability (usually shortened as KASKO) contracts.

Russian insurance companies are having certain problems in this sphere themselves. Central offices are cancelling KASKO services in regional branch offices because of drastic growth of customer fraud which economic security services of branch offices are failing to mitigate.

The reason is that the number of insurance fraud ‘business’ schemes which include acquiring an insurance contract for an expensive car and then doing purposeful damage to it (such as cutting the upholstery, making scratches or fissures on the glass) has grown several times during the last two years. Thus, a car owner can receive the compensation from the insurer which is calculated based upon official car dealers’ prices for repair parts. At the same time, the damaged car would be actually repaired at a usual low-cost repair shop.

Flaws in Russian insurance legislation result in such fraud schemes being very profitable for those who choose this kind of ‘business’. According to information received by Russian lawyers during their professional activities, such schemes are now increasingly used by people who were not involved in fraud schemes earlier.

Economic security departments of insurance companies cannot effectively counter such fraud attempts because they do not have any legal means to perform deep investigations. All they can do is to recommend refusing such claims. But sometimes it makes the situation even worse for an insurer when a car owner whose claim was refused wins this case in a court and receives a sum even bigger than was claimed initially.

The emerging wave of such fabricated insurance claims in Russia has urged many insurance companies to stop providing the service of KASKO insurance and even to quit the Russian insurance market at all. The major part of Russian-based insurance companies used to have the vehicle insurance services as their primary source of income and did not completely realize how many risks are there in this niche; so now these businesses are having a hard time.

So here is an advice for car owners willing to get a vehicle insurance contract in Russia from Russian insurance lawyers. It is better to be very careful when choosing an insurance provider: in case of this company’s bankruptcy you would not be able to claim your payment via the Russian Association of Motor Insurers as this organization can only help to compensate losses by OSAGO contracts. Therefore, you would have register as a creditor in the formal bankruptcy procedure, and the more creditors there would be, the smaller chances of getting some compensation you would have.