General Questions

Q: How does Burke, Bogart & Brownell compare to other insurance companies?
A: Working with an agent allows you to have personalized service and direct contact, which is crucial when navigating filing a claim or purchasing products. Having someone to advocate on your behalf that is willing to fully explain your coverage and tailor policies to fit your exact needs will benefit you greatly. A local, independent agent can deliver personalized service and competitive pricing, too.

Homeowners Insurance Coverage and Cost Questions

Q: Does my homeowners insurance cover outbuildings and pools?
A: Talk to your agent to determine what exactly is covered and what is not if you are unsure, as policy language can vary from carrier to carrier and be remarkably specific.

Q: Am I required to carry homeowner’s insurance?
A: Home insurance is highly recommended and usually required if you have a mortgage. The board may require you carry insurance if you buy into a townhouse or condo. Renters insurance may be needed if you rent out an investment home. Ask your agent which type of policy is appropriate for your needs.

Q: What is a home inventory?
A: Put simply, a home inventory is a list of valuables in your home. To create a good home inventory, it is recommended that you take photos of each item, include receipts and dates of purchase (if available), note models and serial numbers. Be sure to include any appraisals of items. This will all come in handy if you face a disaster or robbery and will allow the insurance company to reimburse you. As always, ask your agent for any suggestions of items you may want to list. Consider obtaining Fine Art and Collectibles insurance for these items as well. Coverage limit caps may not be sufficient for luxury items and these types of policies can cover valuable items.

Q: What is the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost?
A: The actual cash value is the replacement cost of the property at the time of a covered loss, minus depreciation, meaning that the insurance company will subtract an amount for depreciation from the value of your possessions before paying your claim. Replacement cost is the cost to replace, repair, or rebuild the home to its original condition with materials of the same kind of quality. Ask your agency about your specific policy and what it covers.

Q: What is the difference between condo insurance and homeowners insurance?
A: Owners are covered for the inside of the home, their personal property, and personal liability protection under both insurances, but condos have different requirements than single-family homes. Refer to your condo association’s master policy, as condo insurance will cover inside the dwelling, especially if the master policy of the association is an “all-in” policy. However, “bare walls-in” policies don’t cover anything contained within the walls of your condo. Speak with an agent about your needs to better understand what coverages you should consider, including coverage for building and personal property, personal liability, and loss of use.

Q: Is flood insurance included in my homeowners policy?
A: In Florida, flood insurance is crucial and may be required by your mortgage company. Flood insurance is not covered under standard H03 policies. Call one of our agents to discuss flood insurance coverage and premiums. Premiums will generally be higher in high-risk areas compared to moderate and low-risk areas.

Q: Why is my premium so high? What can I do to help lower my costs?
A: There are many varying factors that are considered when insurers determine your premium. Here at Burke, Bogart, and Brownell, we understand the importance of keeping premiums affordable. Please reach out to an agent to discuss further ways to make your premiums affordable. Here are some suggestions: Increase your deductible, which is one of the easiest ways to save on your premium. It is recommended that you do not take on a deductible that you can’t comfortably spare out of pocket. Ask us for guidance if you have any questions on what deductible you should choose. By choosing an annual payment, you can usually save money verses choosing to pay monthly. Improving your home security can lower your costs. Most insurance providers will offer you a discount for security features like dead-bolt locks, smoke detectors, centrally monitored security alarms. The costs of installing these items may be offset by the savings available to you. Further, making your home safer by clearing brush and trimming trees around your home, hurricane-proofing, updating your roof, upgrading your plumbing and electrical systems, installing an automatic water shut-off system and backup generator can all help to reduce your bill. Reviewing your policy annually, improving your credit score, and limiting your claims are all ways to help costs.

Q: What are some things I should consider when purchasing a home regarding homeowners insurance?
A: Things that can affect your insurance premiums include the age of your home, how close you are to flood zones and emergency services (like fire stations), the construction and condition of the roof, and protective devices (security alarms, CO2 detectors, smoke alarms/sprinkler systems, hurricane shutters, etc.).

Q: Currently properties in my area are going for (dollar amount). If I tried to sell my home for what it is insured for, why wouldn’t I be able to get that amount for it? Why do I need to insure it for an amount that is higher?
A: Market value deals with many factors such as location and land value. Insurance deals with the cost of labor and materials as well as debris removal, should the home be a total loss, and needs to be rebuilt/replaced.

Application Questions

Q: What do I need to get a quote?
A: We need inspections, address and personal information to obtain an accurate and valid quote.

Q: If I accept the quote and want to bind my policy, what documents will I need?
A: For Existing Homeowners—Proof of prior insurance, wind mitigation inspection report, and alarm certificates for your centrally monitored security alarm (if you have one). For New Homeowners—Closing Disclosure (which lists closing costs, loan terms, your mortgage company and who your co-mortgagee is, if applicable), wind mitigation inspection report, and alarm certificates.

Q: What is a wind mitigation report?
A: A report issued from a certified inspector, noting the wind-resistant features of your home, like door/window coverings, how your roof is sealed and attached to your home and other features that make a world of difference should a hurricane strike. Having this report can substantially reduce your homeowners insurance costs.

Q: How long is my wind mitigation report valid?
A: Wind mitigation inspections are valid for five years.

Policy Questions

Q: Why was my policy non-renewed by the carrier?
A: A policy may be cancelled at any time for the following reasons: non-payment of premium, the property has been sold or you have found coverage elsewhere. If you have any questions, please call your agent for assistance.

Q: What is Umbrella coverage?
A: A personal umbrella policy, sometimes referred to as umbrella insurance, is meant to help protect you from large and potentially devastating liability claims or judgments. Personal umbrella coverage comes into play when your underlying liability limits (such as from a homeowners or auto insurance policy) have been reached. Umbrella coverage fills coverage gaps and extends coverage limits of primary and underlying policies (homeowners, personal auto, and dwelling policies).

Q: How do I know if I need Umbrella coverage?
A: Since our society is incredible litigious and people can subject you to a lawsuit, we recommend Umbrella policies to many of our clients for you overall protection and peace of mind. As the tendency to sue for damages rises and the granted awards by the courts grown, umbrella policies are a necessity, not a luxury. As always, contact an agent if you have any questions or would like to explore your options to fit your specific needs.

Q: How do I know if my policy is eligible for Umbrella policies?
A: Your policy must be active to add Umbrella coverage. Please contact us if you have questions.

Claims Questions

Q: How soon should I file a claim after an incident?
A: Contact us as soon as you experience a loss. The sooner, the better, as postponing the claim can hinder your payments and the settlement process.

Q: What are my rights during a claim?
A: Each state has varying laws, but in the state of Florida, you are entitled to an acknowledgement of the claim within 14 days and payment approved for your claim within 90 days.

Q: Do you have any suggestions to avoid contractor fraud?
A: It is important to be vigilant to avoid potential scams, especially after a natural disaster when turbulent times unfortunately prompt people to taken advantage of others. Call us before you hire a contractor and do not accept work if you didn’t request it (a definite red flag). Be sure to ask for the contractor’s insurance certificate and licensing, compare rates and timeliness, check Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau, get things in writing (contractor’s driver’s license number, promised work like cost, timeline, repairs, scheduled payments and warranties for work). It’s also important to not pay the contractor in full or sign a completion certificate prior to the work being completed, let them decide what coverage you have with your policy, or sign a contract with missing information.

Auto Insurance Coverage and Cost Questions

Q: What Auto coverage do I need to meet Florida’s requirements?
A: The requirements and laws for Personal Auto Policies vary by state. Most PAP cover auto liability, medical payments/personal injury protection, uninsured/underinsured motorist protection liability, and physical damage. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, any vehicle with a current Florida registration must be insured with a minimum of $10,000 in PIP and a minimum of $10,000 in PDL insurance. The Auto Policy must have continued coverage even if the vehicle is inoperable or not being driven.

Q: What is the difference between Comprehensive and Collision Insurance?
A: Collision insurance covers the auto’s impact with another vehicle or object, whereas Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle caused by covered events like theft, vandalism, hail, and other non-collision damages.

Q: What can affect my auto insurance costs?
A: There are a variety of factors that affect your auto premium, some of which you can control and others that are beyond your control. Your marital status, driving record, type of car you drive, your age, what purpose your car serves, the amount of mileage you put on the vehicle per year, where the car is garaged and more. Ask your agent for more information if you have further questions.

Q: What can I do to lower my auto insurance costs?
A: Drive a slightly older, less valuable vehicle. The more your vehicle is worth, the more it will cost to insure. If you don’t want to do that, you can make sure your vehicle has certain safety features, like anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices. Changing your driving habits can help, since your driving record is one of the most important factors. Making sure you do not lapse in coverage will lower your costs, as well as selecting a higher deductible. We recommend selecting a deductible that you can afford out-of-pocket should an incident arise. Try cutting down on the miles you drive. Speaking with your agent is the best way to determine what discounts you are eligible for. Common discounts include multi-car, multi-policy, good/safe driver, good student, low usage or mileage, and defensive driver training.

Fine Art and Collectibles Insurance

Q: Do I need insurance for my fur, guns, golf equipment, musical instruments and/or art collection?
A: We recommend you cover these irreplaceable items in the event of a theft, mysterious disappearance, or lost stone from a piece of jewelry. Your carrier may require recent appraisals for the items you would like to cover and protect. A thorough inventory of these items is highly recommended. Contact an agent with any questions you may have so we can custom tailor a policy to suit your needs.