Assignment of benefits is a legal contract between you and a third party, such as a roofer, contractor, or other vendors. The AOB allows you to transfer specific rights that your insurance policy grants you to a third party. These rights can include filing a claim, financial payments to a contractor, and even allowing the third party to file a lawsuit on your behalf

While there are reputable entities that use this form, AOBs have often been abused and broadly written. In some cases, they can give away all of your rights under your insurance policy to a third party. Unethical contractors commonly use AOBs to inflate damages and the cost of a claim, which results in legal battles and increased insurance premiums.

How To Avoid an Assignment of Benefits

Assignment of benefits (AOB) is commonly used when a homeowner experiences roof damage, a leaky pipe, etc., and they contact a contractor for assistance. The contractor may take this time to present the homeowner with an AOB. Most Assignment of Benefits agreements presented to the homeowner allows the contractor to stand in the homeowner’s shoes for insurance payment purposes. 

What To Look Out For? 

If the contractor hands you a form that reads, “I transfer and assign all insurance rights, benefits, and causes of action under my property insurance policy to the contractor.” They are asking you to sign away your rights to the claim under your homeowner’s insurance policy, and you don’t want that! If you experience a loss, be sure to contact your insurance company first before doing anything else. This will help protect yourself and avoid dealing with an AOB issue altogether.

Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • Someone knocks on your door to tell you about damage to your home that you had no idea about
  • Someone says you will get a free kitchen or free roof for no particular reason
  • They claim the damage is a lot more than it clearly is
  • Permanent repairs start before your insurance company is allowed to inspect or be notified
  • They claim to cover your deductible

Protect Yourself

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be a victim of AOB. Contact your Bankers’ agent if you have any questions or concerns. Our agents are available to answer any questions you may have, don’t hesitate to call us at 800-627-0000.

Stay safe! It’s hurricane season, and we’ve got tips to keep you and your loved ones safe, as well as a free hurricane survival guide. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Center is another excellent resource that tracks hurricanes and tropical storms.


What Is A Flood and What Are Flood Hazards?

With Floods being the most common natural disaster in the United States, it’s important to understand what zones require flood insurance, your chances of flooding, and making sure you have a plan in place for you, your family, and your home.

Flooding isn’t just a threat to people living near water. It happens all across the country — in all regions, in all climates, in various ways. Floods happen when there is an overflow of water onto land that is usually dry and can occur due to snow melting quickly, heavy rainfall, ocean waves coming onto shore, overflows from dams or other water systems. Flash floods are especially hazardous as they can happen within minutes and are very destructive.

Using Flood Maps To Know What Zone You’re In

Make sure you know if your home is at high-risk or low-risk of flooding by using a flood map. Living in a high-risk area means you have a 25% chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. However, your home doesn’t have to be in a high-risk zone for you to experience flooding. Almost 25% of all Flood claims come from low to moderate-risk areas.

The odds of you experiencing flooding may seem slim. But it happens more than you’d think. In fact, 90% of all presidential-declared disasters involve flooding. Even minor flooding can mean significant financial challenges. Just a couple of inches of floodwater penetrating your home is more than enough to destroy floors, damaged walls, and ruin appliances, which could cost you thousands.

Nature isn’t the only cause of flooding either. New construction and paving can alter the lands’ ability to drain properly. As a result, run-off can increase two to six times over what would occur on natural terrain. Areas that were initially zoned as low-risk can quickly become high-risk as development changes topography.

Have A Plan – Know What Zones Require Flood Insurance

Having a plan in place for you and your family will provide peace of mind and ensure you’re prepared. When making a plan, it’ll be important to think about dietary needs, medical needs, shelter, and even plan for any fur babies. With your family safe, it’s time to think about your home and what zones require Flood insurance.

Homeowners policies may cover fire, tornado, or even earthquake damage, but they rarely cover damage from flooding. The next step would be to look into Flood insurance. There are two types of flood policies: Preferred and Standard. The flood hazard zone you live in determines the type of policy you should buy. If your property is located in a low-risk zone, you may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy, making you eligible for coverage at a lower rate. If you live in a high-risk zone, the sooner you speak to an agent, the better, as Flood insurance has a mandatory 30-day waiting period on new flood policies.

Our agents are always here for any questions you may have and are happy to walk you through the process. Reach out to an agent or request a quote. Are you looking for more answers? We’ve got you. Our blogs are full of tips for homeowners, and one of our most recent blogs covers 6 most asked questions about homeowners insurance.


With the most active hurricane season behind us and the new hurricane season just months away, policyholders and new homeowners want to know “does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks” along with a tirade of other questions. We get it, 2020 was rough, and 2021 looks a lot like 2020’s twin. We’re here to answer some of the most asked questions for homeowners insurance policies.

We hope the information we provide will leave you feeling confident in knowing how and when your policy kicks in and what you can do to stay on top of home maintenance. Knowing the difference could keep you from being stuck in a situation your policy doesn’t cover because it could have been prevented. Let’s start with the basics.

What Is Homeowners Insurance, and Why Do I Need It?

Homeowners insurance is a package policy that combines several types of insurance coverage in a single policy and applies to most single-family homes. A standard homeowners insurance policy covers:

Dwelling Coverage: Pays for damage to your home in the event of a covered loss.

Personal Property Coverage: Covers your belongings, such as furniture, clothing, or electronics, in the event of a covered loss.

Personal Liability Coverage: Pays for legal damages that are awarded to a third party when you are found to be liable for their bodily injuries or damage to their possessions while they are on your property.

Loss-of-Use: Reimburses for living costs incurred if you cannot live in your home due to a covered loss.

Medical Payment: Helps pay for medical bills incurred by visitors to your home who sustain a bodily injury while on your premises or due to your personal activities.

Your policy can have additional coverages added based on your individual needs.

So, Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks? 

Your insurance policy would cover roof leak repair caused by covered perils, such as a hurricane, hail storms, etc. (unless your policy has exclusions). If the roof leak is caused by poor maintenance or general wear and tear, it would not be covered. 

It’s recommended to inspect your roof twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. Having your roof inspected before a hurricane season could be a saving grace. It will help prevent minor roof damage from leading to severe problems that can cause leaks and damage to the building’s interior.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover A Pipe Bursting?

Homeowners insurance will typically cover the damages if a pipe burst is sudden and unforeseen. However, some policies do exclude water damage coverage (make sure you know which coverage you have.) Remember, there is a difference between sudden damage and inadequate maintenance.

Regular maintenance could prevent a from pipe bursting. It is up to the homeowner to make sure they are having their plumbing inspected regularly. If there is a leak in a pipe and the homeowner is not following proper maintenance procedures, damages will not be covered.  

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Removal?

Your homeowners insurance might cover tree removal depending on what caused the tree to fall and where it fell. If the tree fell on and damaged a structure, the homeowners insurance usually covers the damage and the removal up to a certain dollar amount.

Will Homeowners Insurance Replace My Water Heater?

Usually, a homeowners insurance policy will only replace a damaged water heater if it is damaged by a covered peril, such as a fire or natural disaster.

However, if a water heater bursts suddenly and causes water damage, the water damage may be covered. The water heater will not be covered or replaced if it breaks down. We highly recommend extended warranties be purchased on expensive home appliances to cover the appliance itself.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?

Homeowners insurance may cover mold if caused by a covered peril. The insurance policy will typically cover mold removal, repairs, and clean-up.

Mold growth or damage caused by flooding would most likely be covered under a separate flood insurance policy. 

The Big Takeaway

The big takeaway is that homeowners insurance policies do cover unforeseen events. Still, the homeowner is responsible for the home’s general maintenance and wear and tear upkeep. Sometimes a little bit of money spent throughout the year could save you thousands of dollars and a disastrous event. If you are ever unsure what your next step should be, your agent will always help guide you and answer any questions.

Many policyholders may have received notice of insurance rates increasing nationwide. We understand many people are confused and frustrated with the new changes in the insurance industry. To help bring some perspective and provide context around the numbers, we urge you to read our blog 4 Reasons Why We See Homeowners Insurance Rates Increasing. You can also read more about how lawsuits are affecting insurance rates.


Why Are Homeowners Insurance Rates Increasing?

With everything else happening this year, policyholders nationwide are receiving notices from their carriers and wondering, “why are homeowners insurance rates increasing?” We know it can be confusing and frustrating, so let’s walk through it together. There are a few driving forces behind the rate increase, such as claims, lawsuits, natural disasters, and the significantly increased cost of reinsurance.

 

What do Claims, Lawsuits, and Natural Disasters Have In Common?

The leading causes driving the current rate increases are a large number of lawsuits and home insurance claims being filed, whether they’re valid or not. For example, in 2019, Florida didn’t see a major storm. However, hundreds of lawsuits continue to be filed every week for Hurricane Irma, which occurred three years ago. Aside from that, the number of lawsuits against Florida insurance companies is increasing in general.

This year, around 150,000 lawsuits were filed against Florida insurers compared to 92,000 in 2019 and 45,000 in 2018. That’s a huge jump. Last year, 60 Florida property and casualty insurers reported a loss of $700 million. This year, we’re on pace to hit $1 billion (Jack Lowenstein). All of these lawsuits and losses mean insurance rates rise for everyone. Some things we can’t control, unexpected things happen, and natural disasters are… natural. 

 

However, there has been a trend of fraudulent claims and lawsuits; this is something we can try to stop together. Door to door roofers are notorious for roaming neighborhoods, luring unsuspecting consumers with the promise of a new roof and no deductible; “just sign here!” They are trying to get you to sign an AOB, a written legal contract between you and another party wherein you transfer specific rights granted to you under your policy over to the contractor.

While many reputable entities utilize AOBs, these forms are widely abused and broadly written, in some cases giving away ALL OF YOUR RIGHTS under the insurance policy. AOBs are also commonly used by unscrupulous vendors to inflate damages and the cost of a claim. Always be suspicious of anyone that offers to present a claim to your carrier on your behalf. 

 

What Is Reinsurance? Why Does It Affect My Insurance Rate?

So what is reinsurance? Reinsurance is insurance that an insurance company purchases from another insurance company to protect itself from the risk of a major claims event. This coverage must be purchased every year and helps to bear the brunt of the risk of a catastrophic event, such as a hurricane.

This year, reinsurance rates on average soared 20%-50%; this affected insurance providers nationwide. Even Bankers, with our 44-year history of timely claims handling, was not immune to the significant industry-wide reinsurance rate increases and the extraordinary weather losses from the 2020 Hurricane Season. As a result, insurance providers were forced to put these price adjustments into their products. While these price adjustments come when many are looking for ways to cut costs and expenses, market forces require insurance providers to make these adjustments quickly.

When Should I File A Home Insurance Claim?

The big question is, when should I file a home insurance claim? Insurance is purchased to help balance the cost of major expenses if something unexpected should happen. If something unexpected does happen, it’s good practice to ask yourself if the event is a standard home maintenance expense or a major event. Do you have a leak in your plumbing? Or did the pipe burst causing thousands of dollars worth of damage? If you’re unsure if you should file a claim, you can always contact your agent with any questions. Your agent is an important resource you can trust.

 

We hope we were able to explain the current climate in the insurance industry. With the new year coming up and many of us working on our homes this past year, it may be a good idea to reevaluate your current insurance policy. Check out our quick blog on when and why you may want to update your homeowners policy.


House with fall leaves. 8 Tips on How to Prepare Your Home for Fall and Winter

How to Prepare Your Home for Fall and Winter

It’s time for sweater weather, boots, and pumpkin spice. We may be ready for fall mentally, but our homes need some sprucing up as well. We’ve got some tips on how to prepare your home for fall and winter. So you can feel truly safe and warm while you are cozying up to the fire this season.

Fire Place & HVAC Maintenance

Speaking of warm and cozy, this is a great time for a fireplace inspection and cleaning. Be sure the damper functions correctly, check that the flue is free of debris and that you can see sunlight at the top of the chimney.

If you have a heating and cooling system, now is an excellent time to schedule an appointment to get it checked and tuned up for the coming season. A checkup can run between $50 to $100, but the peace of mind is priceless. Does your HVAC include a built-in humidifier? If so, ask the contractor to replace that filter as well.

Remember to change your filters regularly. This is an essential step in keeping your system functioning properly.

How to Seal Your Home for Winter

Sealing your home is a must! It can help save you money by preventing air leaks that waste energy and help prevent moisture from getting into your walls. Pick a few caulk tubes that match your home’s interior and exterior colors and seal up cracks around windows, trim, pipes, etc. Be sure the temp is above 50 degrees (this will help the caulk flow smoothly). This is also an excellent opportunity to check and, if needed, replace weather stripping.

Garden Hoses, Plants, and Sprinkler Systems… Oh My

Remember to Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets to prevent damage if the temperature drops below freezing. For extra precaution, turn off all shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets to guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet. Don’t forget to drain the garden hose and store it in your garage or shed.

Fall is the time to prune plants and trees. Keep limbs and branches a minimum of 3 feet from your house. This will help keep moisture from dripping onto roofing and siding and prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

Buried irrigation lines can freeze and lead to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads. To keep pipes from freezing follow the steps below.

Steps for prevention:

  • Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.
  • Shut off the automatic controller.
  • Drain water from the system by opening the drain valves.
  • Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them. Replace once dry.
  • You can also hire a pro to do this for you.

 

Clean Out Your Gutters

Ice dam prevention can be simple. Once the leaves are gone from your trees, clean out your gutters to reduce the risk of ice dams. Check your gutters and make sure they aren’t sagging and trapping water. Tighten, repair, or replace any gutter hangers and downspout brackets that need it. Downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from the house to prevent foundation problems, if needed, add downspout extensions.

Perform A Roof Inspection

Conduct a visual inspection of the roof from the ground, grab binoculars to get a closer look for steep roofs, or climb on up for a better view, if you are able to do so safely. Check for missing, damaged, or loose shingles. If you have a flat roof, be sure to remove leaves and debris. In case you need it, here are 5 reasons you should check your roof to make sure it is ready for fall.

Safety Device Maintenance

Replace batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices. Test them to confirm they’re working correctly in case of an emergency. Have an evacuation plan and walk through it with the family to make sure everyone understands it.

We hope these tips help you and your family answer the question of how to prepare your home for fall and winter. For an in-depth look at fireplace safety, check out our blog on Fireplace Safety Tips.


Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween Safety Tips for 2019

Halloween is a night to get creative with unique costumes and decorations. It can be a fun but busy night for everyone, including our pets. Below are some Halloween safety tips to keep you and your neighbors safe this Halloween.

1. Turn Your Home Security System Off before Trick-or-Treaters Arrive.

We always want to feel safe in our homes, and a home security system is a great way to keep you and your family safe. However, on a night like Halloween, your door will be open and closed often. Don’t forget to disarm your alarm before the trick or treaters arrive to avoid any mishaps with your home security company and to prevent any unintended scares. **Don’t forget to turn it back on at the end of the night as well to ward off those tricksters!

2. Make Sure Pets Are In A Secure Room.

Our pets are family too! We want to make sure they are as comfortable and safe as our spooky guests this night. Pets may want to welcome every visitor, but it may be a good idea to keep them in their own room, especially on a night where people are continually coming to the door. This will keep everyone safe and prevent our fur babies from getting loose.

3. Leave Outdoor Lights On.

Sure, you have to be the spookiest house on the block, but you also don’t want anyone tripping or hurting themselves in the excitement of the potential goodies you have. Keep your house and walkway well lit; this will also let your neighbors know you are welcoming trick-or-treaters.

4. Keep Your Driveway and Walkway Free of Debris.

Cooler weather means falling leaves, acorns, and even branches. Be sure to keep your walkway and driveway free of debris; we wouldn’t want spider man tripping on his way up to the door!

5. No Decorations On The Sidewalks.

The perfectly placed zombie or skeleton makes a huge statement, but these decorations should be looked at and not stepped on. Try placing them off to the side; this keeps the living and the dead safe.

6. Park Your Car In The Garage.

Keep your car safe on Halloween, as the night can be full of tricksters. Take action beforehand by parking your car in your garage or carport. This will keep it out of the way of guests and traffic to prevent any scrapes or dings.

7. Don’t Use Real Candles.

Candles can create a great ambiance, but they are also a fire hazard for you and your guests. Instead, try using LED candles, which will give your decorations the same great effect and are much safer.

8. Take Pictures!

Before trick-or-treaters start for the night, it is a good idea to take pictures of your home and property. We all try to keep our home safe and secure, but sometimes accidents happen. You can even call your home insurance agent to see what is covered.

More Halloween safety tips for trick-or-treaters.

Speaking of your home and pets, do you have a plan for your pets during an emergency? For tips and ideas on how to keep your pet safe during emergencies, you can check out our blog.


The winter can be a tough time with freezing temps and dreary days, but it can also be magical! Couples stroll through snow-strewn parks holding hands or sit by a cozy fire drinking hot coco. Many people take advantage of the idyllic scenery and winter wonderment to propose to their significant other, haven’t you noticed your Facebook feed filled with engagement pictures and announcements?

If you’re one of those people and plan on taking the plunge, make sure to back up that investment by scheduling your engagement ring with your insurance company. Scheduling is an optional add-on to homeowners policies that can help you rest easy knowing your investment is covered in case tragedy strikes.

All kinds of valuables can be scheduled, not just engagement rings or jewelry. For example, have you received a set of sterling silverware from your family? Go ahead and schedule that. When you got married, did you register for fine China? Put your mind at ease knowing that gift is covered. Have a stamp collection you’ve been curating for years? Make sure it’s protected.

Scheduling personal items can ensure that they are safe from theft, fire, or even mysterious disappearance. Insurers have different requirements when it comes to scheduling personal property, so make sure to contact your insurance company to learn more about the specifics of your carrier and policy.

Want to schedule some of your personal property? Contact your agent today!


Now that we’re well into the winter months with blustery storms bearing down, it’s a great time to put your feet up and sit by the fire. More than likely, you’ve already been keeping your home warm and cozy with your fireplace for the last few months so let’s make sure it’s performing at peak function to continue keeping you safe and warm.

Let’s start with a few wood-burning fireplace tips:

  • Have your fireplace and chimney inspected by a professional on a yearly basis. Ash and creosote can build up in your chimney and if not cleaned properly could cause damage to your home.
  • This may seem like an obvious tip, but make sure your damper is open while your fire is burning and until it’s completely burned out.
  • When starting your fire, make sure not to use flammable liquids like lighter fluid. These liquids can release toxic fumes and could even cause an explosion.
  • Make sure to only burn wood or manufactured logs in your fireplace. Different coated papers, greenery, and other materials can produce harmful gases that can spread throughout your home.
  • Use a metal screen or appropriate fireplace cover to keep embers inside the fireplace and out of your living room.
  • Finally, always keep a fire extinguisher in a convenient location in case something happens to go awry.

While gas fireplaces are much more low-maintenance than wood-burning fireplaces, it’s important to follow these few tips for keeping your home safe:

  • Just like a wood-burning fireplace, schedule yearly maintenance to make sure your fireplace is performing as it should.
  • Make sure you have a safety screen, and that the screen is intact with no cracks or imperfections.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless but is poisonous so it’s important to know right away if you have a leak.
  • Warn members of your household, especially kids, that the glass/screen can get very hot and that they should keep a safe distance.
  • Finally, even though gas fireplaces don’t emit wood embers, it’s important to keep highly flammable materials like fabric, paper, wood, etc. away from the fireplace.

Now, sit down and enjoy your fire, knowing that your home is safe and protected.