Insurance Info: Agent vs. Carrier

Insurance Info: Agent vs. Carrier

One of the most common confusions I hear from callers as an insurance representative is what an insurance agent is vs. what an insurance carrier is. Today I will help clear that up!

Insurance Agent

An agent is the local representative you can visit in office to obtain advice, quotes and explanations about your policy. Insurance agents obtain a specific license that covers the general lines of: auto, home, health, marine, etc.

Most agents are able to write insurance policies with multiple carriers to find you the best price for an adequate amount of coverage. The agent is able to utilize tools to determine the replacement cost of a home and the coverage needed to rebuild it. Agents offer multiple forms of insurance and are knowledgeable about what is and is not covered by a policy.

Reasons to go to an agent:

1. To educate yourself on what your insurance policy truly covers

2. To discuss a claim prior to reporting it to the carrier and make sure you have coverage on your policy

3. To obtain quotes from multiple carriers to determine the best option

4. To make updates and changes to an active policy such as adding a mortgage adding more coverage

Insurance Carriers

The insurance carrier is the company who would pay out a claim in the event you have a loss covered by the policy. The carrier can assist in answering basic policy questions, accepting payments and accepting claim information.

If your agent is unavailable or unable to help, trying calling your insurance company directly. Some carriers have customer service departments who are able to answer questions or provide resources you might need.

Jessica’s recommendations:

1. Choose an agent who is local so you can stop in for an appointment when necessary

2. Have your agent run a Replacement Cost Estimator (RCE) annually for your home insurance to make sure it is insured correctly

3. Shop for a new insurance policy every few years to see if your carrier’s rates are in line with others or if you can save money

4. Speak to your agent about purchasing proper inspections that can apply a discount on your insurance policy

5. Understand what is and is not covered under a policy

Tip! Wind mitigation inspections can provide a discount in Florida on your home insurance if you have had your roof completely replaced since 2002.

Insurance Info: Homeowners Policy Types

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to be all-encompassing. Every insurance company and state is different.  call your agent to make sure you are fully protected!

Insurance Info Homeowners Policy Types

Every month we will be bringing you a week of Insurance Info packed with tips  and things you need to know!

There are so many different types of insurance out there that this article could realistically be 10 or more pages long. (You already know this because you read your insurance policy cover to cover, right?) But we won’t bore you with all of that junk, instead we’ve provided you with the most common types of insurance and the differences between them so you can fully understand what you’re being covered for or what you’re not.

Talk the Talk

Here is a quick rundown on some insurance terms and coverage types you’ll need to know!

Dwelling- This is the main structure of your home, such as the flooring, walls, windows and roof. Agents will run a replacement cost estimator (RCE) to determine the cost needed to rebuild it from the ground up.

Contents- This coverage basically insures everything that would fall out if you turned your house upside down; such as, clothing, electronics, and furniture. Most companies have specific limits for contents that typically include artwork, firearms and jewelry. If you have an expensive art collection, or any of these specialty items advise your agent so additional coverage can be added to your policy. (Don’t assume anything is covered just because you have insurance!)   Contents coverage can typically be insured at actual cash value, or replacement cost.

Replacement Cost- If your house were to burn down there should be enough coverage in place to fully rebuild, including labor and materials. Replacement cost will allow your home, or contents to be replaced at today’s value exactly as it was; meaning, you cannot add major custom upgrades unless the home was originally in that state prior to the fire.

Actual Cash Value- This coverage is the opposite of Replacement Cost, meaning if you have a claim the things that need to be repaired, or replaced will be done  at depreciated value rather than at today’s value. (Think about car’s blue book value, but concerning your personal belongings. Everything depreciates the minute you drive away from the store.)

Personal Liability- This coverage is to financially protect you if you are being sued, or are involved in a lawsuit due to an injury that happened on your property, or for damage you caused to another person’s property.

Medical Payments- This coverage comes in handy if someone injures themselves on your property. ( Example: If you have a children’s birthday party at your home and a child is hurt in any manner- trips, bumps their head, etc.- you as the homeowners are liable.)

Mold Coverage- This coverage is typically broken down to mold property and mold liability coverage to protect your home from damage cause by mold, or fungi. The mold could be caused by a leak, overflow of water, etc. Contact your insurance carrier at the first signs of mold! It can become EXTREMELY expensive!

Claim/ Loss – If your property incurs damage, or if you are being sued you would need to report a claim to your insurance company to determine if you have coverage on your policy to cover the cost.

TIP! Every insurance company has different policy limits, exclusions and guidelines. Your agent can usually quote your home with multiple companies  to save money, but make sure you know what the  difference is before choosing the lowest price.


Coverage for Dwelling & Contents

HO3- This is a standard policy meant to insure your home from most common hazards like fire, theft or mold at full replacement cost. A homeowner’s policy is meant for people who are occupying a home they own on a primary, secondary, or seasonal basis. This policy is not meant for people who rent their houses, or are leaving it vacant without security.  These policies typically include contents, liability, medical and mold coverage unless they were specifically excluded. Additional coverage can be added for protection from wind/hurricane, sinkhole or flood damage, if necessary.

HO8- This is similar to the HO3 policy, but the structure of the home is only insured at actual cash value. Actual Cash Value is the opposite of Replacement Cost, meaning older homes that have a claim will be repaired at a depreciated value depending on the year of construction rather than at today’s value.

HW2- This a special wind only policy that does not include any hazard, or liability coverage. It is similar to an HO3 policy since it is meant to insure owner occupied homes, not rentals. (This policy is very popular in Florida. You know since its a peninsula and all…)

DP3 – This policy is meant to primarily protect the main house; such as, the walls, foundation, roof, plumbing, etc. These policies are made for homeowners who are renting their house to others since this policy insures the structure of the home and does not typically include coverage for the home’s contents. ( If you are renting your property work into the lease that the insured understands they are responsible for their personal belongings and it is recommended they obtain a renters insurance policy!)

TIP! Sometimes you can save money by separating your wind and hazard insurance between two different companies with a HW2 wind-only and a HO3 ex-wind policy.


Coverage for contents only

HO6- This policy is for condominium owners who are not responsible for repairing the exterior dwelling of the building. A HO6 policy provides coverage for the interior unit’s contents and provides the normal package of liability, medial and mold coverage most policies include. The condo association should have a ‘master policy’ in place that covers the entire building and roof, which is why this policy only provides coverage for the interior unit (or our favorite way of describing it “The Walls In”).

HO4- This is a renters policy, meant for tenants occupying an apartment, condo, or house that is owned by others. This policy provide contents, liability, medical and mold coverage for a low yearly cost.


Other Policies

Forced Placed Insurance – If you have a mortgage on your home, but do not provide them proof of homeowners insurance within a specified timeframe they will ‘force’ an expensive … like super expensive…. policy with lower limits. Since the mortgage company has an interest in keeping your home safe (they do technically own it until the mortgage is fully paid off) you are required to add them to your homeowners policy! Be careful though,  if this happens call your agent as soon as possible to get a new policy, or to submit proof of your insurance policy.

Builder’s Risk Policy– If you are having major renovations, or construction done on your home then ask your agent about this policy type. Most homeowners policies do not insure homes that are under construction, so it is better to have a builder’s risk policy than to have a lapse in coverage. Companies can apply a surcharge if you have had a lapse in coverage and some companies will not insure a home that has had a lapse in coverage over 45 days!

TIP! If you are being cancelled by an insurance company set up a new policy to begin before your current policy cancels! Having a lapse in coverage can increase your premium, or make your home ineligible for coverage with some companies!

We know, this is a lot of Insurance Info…
Post your questions in the comment section below!

Insurance Info: Flood Damage

Insurance Info: Flood Damage

Background credit: WFLA News Channel 8


Flood vs. car vs. homeowners insurance

Our hometown of Tampa is currently receiving massive amounts of rain that is causing flooding and road closures in the area. I thought this would be a perfect time to share some insurance info about flood waters. Do you know the difference between car, flood and homeowners insurance? The reality is most people don’t!

Flood insurance is different from homeowners insurance and is used when damage is caused by a temporary rise in water. Your car is a different story though. If you sink your car into a 10ft deep puddle, it should be covered under a comprehensive auto insurance plan. The contents inside your car, like your laptop, would usually be covered by homeowners insurance. Damage caused by flooding is typically excluded from homeowners insurance though. I know… insurance is really complicated.

Don’t worry, Jessica and I both work in the insurance industry and can help explain!

TIP! If you car gets stuck in high water, call a tow truck to get your car to a safe  spot and contact professionals to dry your car out as soon as possible.

You can purchase flood insurance for your home, condo, or apartment from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you are in a high risk flood zone (anything beginning with A or V) your mortgage company will likely require you to provide proof of flood insurance. If your property is located in a low risk flood zone it may not be required, but for a low cost you can insure your home from the risk of flood damage. Some private insurance companies in Florida offer flood insurance options as an alternative to the standard NFIP flood policy.  If your property gets damaged during a flood, call your insurance agent first to go over what coverage you have prior to calling your insurance company. 

Free sandbags are available to help keep water from entering your home.

Areas to avoid around Tampa

This weekend Tampa had a record breaking amount of rainfall. The Gandy Bridge and other major roads around Tampa had to be shut down and city officials were handing out sand bags. The pictures coming out of the South Tampa area are frightening, especially if you got caught driving in this area. Pasco County declared a state of emergency and I’m currently in an area under flood watch until Monday afternoon!

Tip! Google Maps shows official road closures, but to avoid getting your car stuck like those below stay indoors during major storms and do not try driving through areas where you don’t know how deep the water is!

Call the police. Oh wait… #TampaFlood #southtampa #TheGreatTampaFloodof15

A post shared by Evan Brown (R-FL) (@ebmoney812) on

Basically just avoid the South Tampa area until the rain clears.

Especially stay away from Bayshore Boulevard since it has been reclaimed by the Gulf.

Not sure how I’m getting home since the roads surrounding me got closed down!

We hope all of our Tampa neighbors are able to stay safe! For those visiting us from other places, be sure to call your insurance agent today to verify you are protected properly and fully understand your insurance! Those insurance companies can make it tricky!

Do you have any photos from the Tampa flood you’d like to share?