Wednesday, December 12, 2012

7 Tips For Buying A New Home

MSN Real Estate section

I have recently come in contact with many people who are looking to buy a new home; some of these people are first-time home buyers. In light of this recent contact, I would like to share some of the best tips I have found thus far about purchasing a home. Please feel free to add any additional tips or questions in the comment space!

1. Check the prices in the area. More often than not, people expect to pay a certain price regardless of the area in which they are buying. Check the prices of homes in the area and see if it is something you can afford. If it is not affordable, you have just saved yourself a lot of time and trouble. Know what you are getting into before you begin looking at homes.

2. Know your price point. Just like it is important to know what prices to expect in certain areas, it is important to know what price you can afford. This includes mortgage payments. Follow this link to use MSN's Real Estate calculator.

3. Find out your monthly cost. Buying a home does not just stop at purchasing the house. You also have to purchase a mortgage, pay taxes, and BUY HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE! So many times I hear people come into the agency after they have purchased a home and they are shocked to hear what the insurance cost is for a home in their area. Please, to avoid shock and stress, call your agency before purchasing a house and get a ball-park estimate of the insurance cost for a home in that area. The estimate won't be 100% accurate unless you call with the details of the exact home you are purchasing, but it will be a good enough figure to give you an idea of what you will be paying. Follow this link to read the most commonly asked insurance questions or to get a quote.

4. Find out how much you will pay in closing costs. Sometimes you only have to pay 50% of it, but other times you might have to pay all of it. Be aware of what is required of you. Closing costs can range up to a couple thousand dollars, so don't be caught off guard!

5. Know your budget. Often times, people start with a set budget and then slowly exceed it to cover insurance costs, closing costs, etc. Fanny Mae advises that a home should not exceed 28% of your budget. Any more than that and things can become very fiscally dangerous.

6. Talk to Real Estate agents. Are prices going to stay low for a while or are they going to increase soon? Know what kind of time frame you are working with so you can get the best house for your money!

7. Don't forget about the extra expenses. Buying a home is expensive, already. However, please do not forget about the extra expenses of repairs and furnishings and everything else that is included in buying a new home. Sometimes, people forget to budget in the small things, such as moving costs or taking a few days off of work for the move. These small expenses can add up quickly, so make sure you have planned an extra "emergency" budget for your new home so that you don't break the bank.

All tips are from MSN's Real Estate section.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Protect Yourself From Florida's Biggest Risk

© 2012 Professional Organizer San Diego
We have all heard about identity theft and its prevalence in Florida. Did you know, though, that Florida has the highest rate of identity theft compared to all other states? In 2011, Florida had 178 complaints per 100,000 residents (Security First Insurance). Common actions, such as buying gas and using an ATM, can put you at risk for identity fraud. So, what can you do to protect yourself from having this happening? There are many identity theft and fraud insurance coverages (which I highly recommend). Typically these coverages are offered through your homeowners insurance and can vary in coverages and rates. Aside from the additional insurance, here are a few tips from Security First to protect yourself from identity fraud and theft:

1. Avoid Skimmers - Skimmers are little devices placed on card readers, most commonly found on gas pumps and ATMs. Avoid using ATMs and gas pumps. Instead, take out cash or pay for your gas inside at the cash register. This will help you avoid possible skimmers.

2. Change your user names and passwords frequently - Most people keep the same user name and password for every login. While this might be the easiest way to remember your login, it is also the easiest way for thieves to have access to all of your accounts. Change your user name and password regularly, and be sure to mix in capital letters and numbers to make these more difficult to crack!

3. Don't send personal information through technology - Don't respond to emails, texts, or phone calls with personal information. These messages can be intercepted and seen by people who you might not want to have access to your personal information. It is best to just avoid this practice altogether.

4. Check your bank account and transactions often - I would recommend that you check your bank statements at least once a week. Make sure no withdraws or transactions are happening that you are not expecting. If you do see unknown action on your bank statement, contact your bank immediately so they can place a hold on your account and work on getting your money back to you.

5. Obtain identity theft coverage - All of these tips will help you avoid identity theft and fraud, but make sure that you and your family members are protected should the worst happen. Security first offers Identity Protection at different levels and rates, so make sure you call our agency to see what the best coverage is for your family!

Call Fearnow Insurance with any questions about identity theft or any other insurance needs. You can contact us at (813) 689-8878 or You can also visit our website at 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Caramel-Pecan Pie

Recipe Time
Cook Time:


  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts 
  • 28 caramels
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted 
  • Chocolate-Dipped Pecans (optional)


  1. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork.
  2. Bake piecrust at 400° for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned; cool on wire rack.
  3. Combine caramels, butter, and 1/4 cup water in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until caramels and butter are melted; remove from heat.
  4. Stir together sugar and next 3 ingredients. Stir into caramel mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in pecans. Pour into prepared crust.
  5. Bake pie at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°, and bake 20 more minutes, shielding edges of crust with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove pie to a wire rack to cool. Top with Chocolate-Dipped Pecans, if desired.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Brine a Turkey

Brining Turkey

Brining is the secret to a juicy, flavorful turkey.

Why Brine?

Brining makes it moist. Why are brined turkeys so juicy? Salt causes the meat tissues to absorb water and flavorings. It also breaks down the proteins, resulting in a tender-seeming turkey. This means that--despite the moisture loss during roasting and the long cooking time--you end up with a juicy bird.

How to Brine a Turkey

The real trick with brining is finding a container that's large enough to submerge the turkey, yet small enough to fit in your refrigerator. Try a stock pot, a bucket, or a roasting pan; if you use a shallow roasting pan, you will need to turn the bird periodically so that each side rests in the brine. Place the container on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator (so spills won't reach foods below).
The basic ratio for turkey brine is two cups of kosher salt to two gallons of water. Some recipes include sweeteners or acidic ingredients to balance the saltiness.
  • Dissolve salt (and sugar, if using) in two cups of hot water. Stir in remaining gallon plus 3 ½ quarts of cold water.
  • Remove giblets and neck from turkey.
  • Immerse turkey in brine and refrigerate for at least eight hours but no longer than 24 hours.

Cooking the Turkey

When you're ready to roast, pour off the brine. Rinse the turkey well with cool tap water, and pat dry with paper towels.

Tuck the wing tips behind the back and place the bird, breast-side up, on a roasting rack.

Proceed with your preferred recipe, but remember that the turkey has already absorbed a significant amount of salt--any drippings that you use for gravy will already be salty, and no salt should be added to compound butters or spice rubs.

Instructions from

Monday, November 19, 2012

Creole-Stuffed Turkey Dressing


  • 4 cups cubed corn bread 
  • 2 cups cubed crustless day-old whole wheat bread 
  • 1 cup chopped fully cooked ham 
  • 3/4 cup smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage 
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper 
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper 
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery 
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced onion 
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning 
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute 
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 turkey (8 to 10 pounds) 

  • In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients; add enough broth to moisten. Just before baking, loosely stuff the turkey. Skewer turkey openings; tie drumsticks together. Place breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. 
  • Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 3-1/2 to 4 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 180° for the turkey and 165° for the stuffing, basting occasionally with pan drippings. (Cover loosely with foil if turkey browns too quickly.) Cover turkey and let stand for 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving turkey. 

Yield: 6-8 servings.  

Editor's Note: (You may substitute the following spices instead of the creole seasonings: 1 teaspoon each paprika and garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon each cayenne pepper, dried thyme and ground cumin.) Stuffing may be baked in a greased 2-qt. covered baking dish at 325° for 70 minutes (uncover during the last 10 minute). Stuffing yields about 6 cups.

Recipe from
20 210 230

Friday, November 16, 2012

Apple Pecan Cobler

Copyright 2012  
 Prep time: 30 min Cook Time: 55 min 


 4 cups thinly sliced apples 
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 cup chopped pecans 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
                                                                       1/4 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Generously grease a 2-quart baking dish.
  2. Arrange apple slices in an even layer in the baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup pecans. Sprinkle mixture over apples.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together egg, evaporated milk, and melted butter. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture all at once, and stir until smooth. Pour mixture over apples, and sprinkle top with 1/4 cup pecans.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lemon-Maple Squash

Photograph by Marcus Nilsson
©Television Food Network G.P.

Lemon-Maple Squash


Slice 4 pounds butternut or calabaza squash into thick wedges and remove the seeds. Place cut-side up in a baking dish. Combine 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup water, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper; pour over the squash and dot with 4 tablespoons butter. Bake 20 minutes at 350, then flip the squash and bake until caramelized and tender, 45 more minutes, basting halfway through.

Total Time: 35 min. Prep: 15 min. Cook: 20 min. Yield: 8 servings. Level: Easy.

SERVES: 8 (SIDE); Calories: 161; Total Fat: 6 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Protein: 2 grams; Total carbohydrates: 29 grams; Sugar: 11 grams; Fiber: 3.5 grams; Cholesterol: 15 milligrams; Sodium: 46 milligrams

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Turkey Cranberry Salad (video)

Recipe found at Publix

2 cups cooked turkey breast, coarsely chopped
1 (5-oz) bag spring mix salad blend
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup cinnamon toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 of a 20-oz bag sweet potato fries
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons whole berry cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Preheat oven to 400­°F.
  • Chop turkey, basil, and almonds.
  1. Bake fries following package instructions or until crispy.
  2. Place cranberry sauce and 1 teaspoon water in microwave-safe bowl; microwave on HIGH 30 seconds or until liquefied. Stir in vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper; whisk in oil.
  3. Place salad blend in salad bowl. Add remaining ingredients and dressing; toss to coat. Top with fries and serve.
CALORIES (per 1/4 recipe) 550kcal; FAT 35g; CHOL 55mg; SODIUM 560mg; CARB 38g; FIBER 6g; PROTEIN 25g; VIT A 90%; VIT C 6%; CALC 15%; IRON 15%

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Flower Pumpkins

We are taking a slight break from our Thanksgiving recipes today to share a great centerpiece idea. Let's face it, a plain table is just not ideal for a family gathering on the holidays. These Flower Pumpkins are easy to make and will be the perfect piece to add a festive feel to your home! Idea provided by Kraft.


This is what happens when your pumpkins want to get all dressed up and come to the party.
What you need:
  • Scissors
  • Fresh or silk flat flowers
  • Pumpkins and gourds
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
Make it
  1. Using scissors, trim the stems from the flowers.
  2. Glue flowers on pumpkins with hot glue gun.
This craft is not intended for children. Always supervise and assist young children when they are working with scissors or small pieces of craft materials.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fried Ravioli

Add caption


  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 1 box store-bought cheese ravioli (about 24 ravioli)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 jar store bought marinara sauce, heated, for dipping


Pour enough olive oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees F.
While the oil is heating, put the buttermilk and the bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Working in batches, dip ravioli in buttermilk to coat completely. Allow the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Dredge ravioli in the bread crumbs. Place the ravioli on a baking sheet, and continue with the remaining ravioli.
When the oil is hot, fry the ravioli in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried ravioli to paper towels to drain.
Sprinkle the fried ravioli with Parmesan and serve with a bowl of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving recipe day two: Cornbread Dressing. Recipe found at Southern Living.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups diced celery
  • 2 cups diced sweet onions
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh sage
  • Cornbread Crumbles
  • 3 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add celery and onions, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in sage, and sauté 1 minute.
  2. 2. Stir together Cornbread Crumbles and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Stir in eggs, next 2 ingredients, and celery mixture, stirring until blended. Divide cornbread mixture between 1 lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish and 1 lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish.
  3. 3. Bake at 400° for 45 to 55 minutes or until set and golden brown.
  4. Try These Twists!
  5. Chorizo-and-Dried Cherry Dressing: Saute 3/4 lb. diced chorizo sausage in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes or until browned; drain. Prepare recipe as directed, stirring sausage and 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped dried cherries into breadcrumbs in Step 2.
  6. Fresh Corn-and-Green Chile Dressing: Substitute 3 cups fresh corn kernels for diced celery and 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro for sage. Prepare recipe as directed, stirring in 2 (4-oz.) cans chopped green chiles with cilantro in Step 1.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sweet Potato-Pecan Casserole

In honor of the food and festivities that typically surrounds Thanksgiving, we will be providing you with a new, tasty recipe each day until Turkey Day finally comes! These recipes will be moderately easy to cook and delicious to eat. Recipe for day one? Sweet potato-pecan casserole!

Cooking spray
3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                                                      1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
                                                      1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
                                                      Kosher salt
                                                      1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
                                                      1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mist an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a pot with a large steamer basket in place. Put the sweet potatoes in the basket, cover and steam until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and let cool slightly. Add the honey, egg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the nutmeg, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt; whip with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread the sweet potato mixture in the prepared baking dish.

Mix the brown sugar, pecans and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl; sprinkle over the potatoes. Bake until hot and beginning to brown around the edges, 40 to 45 minutes.

Per serving: Calories 160; Fat 4 g (Saturated 1 g); Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 180 mg; Carbohydrate 31 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 3 g

Recipe from Food Network

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dog Bite Insurance

For all of my friends who have dogs that are unruly (or just a little misunderstood), here is a new insurance option to keep yourself protected in case the worst happens:
F.I.D.O. Brings Dog Bite Liability Coverage to Florida; More States Coming
 18, 2012 by Amy O'Connor
When commercial lines agent and dog owner Debbie Turner began to look into help for her difficult dog back in 2000, she had no idea that her journey would end up leading to a new personal lines insurance option.
Now, she believes her new Covered Canine policy could take a bite out of the dog liability insurance marketplace.
Turner, who is president of Dean Insurance Agency in Altamont Fla., says the story behind the coverage began about 12 years ago when her own dog’s behavior issues led to her becoming, as she describes it, “obsessed with dogs’ behavior and trying to fix them.”
It was through this process she realized there was a gap between what questions insurance companies ask when covering dogs on a homeowners or tenant’s liability policy and what they should really know about the actual dog that is being insured. She said there are also many inconsistencies among carriers over what’s covered, or if any coverage is provided at all.
“My research showed that more and more homeowners policies have taken full animal liability out of homeowners or tenants policies, or they are excluding specific breeds,” Turner says. “It seems to be a trend that homeowners and tenant markets are really moving away from providing coverage for animal liability and dog bites are a huge part of that.”
Turner says a conversation with a colleague about a paper she wanted to write about this issue turned into her instead developing the Covered Canine insurance product and the Federation of Insured Dog Owners, or F.I.D.O.
The organization provides dog bite liability insurance through the Covered Canine insurance policy to all breeds of dogs on Great American Insurance Co. paper. The policy is currently available in Florida only, but Turner says as soon as she completes all the filing requirements for other states, she will make it available nationwide through multiple markets.
The available limits are $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 and Turner hopes to make them higher once the program is up and running. There is also the option to insure the dog off-premises for situations where the dog is taken out on a leash and attacks someone. The policy does not, however, cover “dog to dog” damages.
Customers can go online and rate the policy themselves based on breed, weight and other factors, including whether there are children living in the house and their ages. Applicants are also required to upload a picture of the dog.
She says there are not many circumstances where coverage would be denied, but those that will be have to do with whether a dog is not well-socialized or has been a police dog.
The goal of the rating criteria, she says, is not to exclude any certain breed of dog, but to focus more on the circumstances of the dog’s living arrangements.
“If you rate a pitbull according to the correct lifestyle – such as a fenced in yard, taken to the vet – you can get a $50,000 policy for under $200. You cannot buy that anywhere else,” she says.
There is a $50 fee to join F.I.D.O., which will eventually operate as a 501 (c)(3) charity with part of the membership fee benefiting animal-related causes. Turner says the legal components of that are still in process.
The coverage is only available through F.I.D.O.’s website because Turner says the policy prices are so low that it was not economically feasible for them to be brokered. However, she says that other agents and brokers can benefit from making their clients aware that there is another option out there.
“Because [animal liability] is being removed so consistently from so many personal lines policies, at some point agents are going to start getting sued because they aren’t telling anyone,” says Turner. “From an E&O standpoint, agents need to be telling insureds ‘it’s not covered, but here is a reasonably priced alternative’.”
Turner, whose agency focuses on malpractice, business and real estate insurance, says she began working on F.I.D.O. last year and just launched the organization in July. No policies have been bound yet but she is hoping to see about 12,000 in the first year.
She says developing F.I.D.O. has been an arduous process because her agency doesn’t focus on personal lines and she didn’t realize at first that this would be a personal lines product. Dealing with the regulatory issues of filing a non-admitted master policy in all states has been difficult, but she says they are being very careful to take all the necessary steps, “We need to make sure we are in compliance to be able to write,” she said.
She plans to donate part of the F.I.D.O. money to causes that help educate people about dog behavior and how they interact with people, a promise that is listed under the mission statement section of the F.I.D.O. site. She thinks this education can be an eye-opener for people and help prevent bad situations for dog owners and their pets.
“All dogs are animals and may bite… people really are very, very naïve about if or when a dog will bite. They don’t get it,” says Turner.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Internet Insurance

I have noticed that many of the new businesses popping up are internet-based businesses. These are companies that work from home or have a wide-spread clientele that requires most business transactions to be done via the internet. Because of this, it is very important that these businesses have the proper insurance to protect the information of the company and the information of the client. Here are some different business insurance options:

Property Insurance
Inevitably, you will have some technological difficulties at some point. Hopefully, it will just be a small problem that can be fixed with a quick call to your IT guy. However, sometimes these technology problems can be large and detrimental to your business. "Computer Operations Interruption Coverage replaces your business income loss and any extra expenses as a result of many computer problems"  (Insurance Information Institute, Internet Businesses). Similarly, Electronic Data Loss Coverage replaces/pays for any data that was destroyed or damaged as a result of certain losses named in your policy. With the inevitability of technological difficulties and viruses, it is very important to make sure that your business is properly covered, should the worst occur.

Liability Insurance
Another risk that goes along with having an internet-based business is the threat of having private information released to the public. By adding the Electronic Liability Endorsement to your business policy, you will have liability coverage for your business in the event that any confidential information is released through electronic error. I strongly encourage every business owner to purchase this endorsement. Liability insurance will also protect you if someone accuses you of slander over something you wrote on your website. Again, this is very important insurance to have, not just for internet based companies, but for any company!

Please contact our agency if you have any questions or want a quote for your business. We have agents that are ready to help you protect your business that you have worked so hard to build. You can reach us at (813) 689-8878 or go to our website at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Green Insurance

The concept of "going green" isn't just helping out the environment... now it is helping out your wallet, too! To promote clean living, many insurance companies are offering a new line of discounts that reward you for being environmentally friendly. Below are some of the discounts offered and how you can receive them:

Auto Insurance:
          • Hybrid Discount: Hybrid cars may qualify for a discount of up to 10% off of your insurance premium. This can also be applied to any hybrid recreational vehicle, such as a boat or jetski. This is not for all insurance companies, so call your agent to see if your company offers this discount.
  • Alternative Fuel Discount: Much like the hybrid discount, if your vehicle uses alternative fuel, you could qualify for an auto insurance discount. Again, this can apply to other recreational vehicles that offer this feature. 
  • Pay As You Drive Programs: We have this option for cell phones, so why not for insurance? Some companies offer a PAYD program which tracks the miles you drive over a set amount of time. If you drive under the average mileage, you could be rewarded through discounts to your premium.
Homeowners Insurance:

  • LEED Discount: If your home is LEED Certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System), you could qualify for a discount from your homeowners insurance. Insurance companies want to reward devotional to sustainability homes.
  • Replacement Coverages: Some insurance companies will pay you more for your damaged home materials to be replaced with eco-friendly materials. This is usually an endorsement to standard homeowners policies, but it may pay off in the end if you need something replaced in your home.

  • Some insurance companies are beginning to offer discounts for sustainability practices within a business. For example, if your business has water conserving plumbing, energy efficient lighting, etc. you could qualify for a premium deduction! 
Information is provided by Insurance Information Institute  

These discounts are not offered by all insurance companies. Please call us if you have any questions or would like to see if your insurance company carries these discounts. We represent all of the major carriers in Florida, so we are fully capable of finding the most dependable company with the best rates for you! Call us or get a quote from our website (813) 689-8878 or 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

17 FAQs about Homeowners Insurance

I came across this article about homeowners insurance and thought it would be great to share. We often hear similar questions in the agency, and it's important for everyone to take a moment to read about what your policy does and does not cover so you can plan accordingly.

The article is called Am I Covered?

Common Questions Asked by Homeowners about Insurance
If a fire, flood, earthquake, or some other natural disaster were to destroy or damage your home, would you have the right insurance coverage to rebuild your house?

This brochure, based on the questions consumers most frequently ask, explains what is covered in a standard homeowners policy and what is not. Where gaps in coverage exist, it tells you how to fill them.

To simplify explanations, we assume that you have a policy known as Homeowners-3 (HO-3), the most common homeowners policy in the United States. Find out what type of homeowners policy you have. If you have a different policy, you should review your options in question #17.

Answer: Yes. The HO-3 provides broad coverage for these and other disasters or “perils,” as they are called in the policy, including all those listed in the question. You should check the dollar limits of insurance in your policy and make sure you are comfortable with the amount of insurance you have for specific items. Also, if you live near the Atlantic or Gulf coasts there may be some restrictions on your coverage for wind damage. Ask your agent about windstorm/hurricane deductibles. In areas prone to hailstorms, you may have a specific hail damage deductible.

Answer: The standard policy provides only from $1,000 to $2,000 for theft of jewelry. If your jewelry is worth a lot more, you should purchase higher limits. You may wish to add a floater to your policy to cover specific pieces of jewelry and other expensive possessions such as paintings, electronic equipment, stamp collections or silverware, for example. The floater will provide both higher limits and protect you from additional risks, not covered in your normal policy.

Answer: If the cost of rebuilding your home is equal to or less than $150,000 you would have enough coverage. The HO-3 policy pays for structural damage on a replacement cost basis. If the cost of replacing your home is, say, $120,000, then that is all the insurance you need. On the other hand if the cost of rebuilding your home is $180,000, then you will be short $30,000.

If you live in an area that is frequently hit by major storms, ask you insurance company about an extended or guaranteed replacement cost policy. This will provide a certain amount over the policy limit to rebuild your home so that if building costs go up unexpectedly, due to high demand for contractors and materials, you will have extra funds to cover the bill.

If you choose not to rebuild your home, you will receive the replacement cost of your home, less depreciation. This is called actual cash value. You should make sure that the amount of insurance you have will cover the cost of rebuilding your house. You can find out what this cost is by talking to your real estate agent or builders in your area.

Do not use the price of your house as the basis for the amount of insurance you purchase. The market price of your house includes the value of the land on which the house is situated. In almost all cases, the land will still be there after a disaster, so you do not need to insure it. You only need to insure the structure.

Answer: No. So, if you live in a flood-prone area it may be wise to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance is provided by the federal government, under a program run by the Federal Insurance Administration. In some parts of the country, homes can be damaged or destroyed by mudslides. This risk is also covered under flood policies. Contact your agent or company representative to get this insurance or call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-800-427-4661 or visit its Web site at

Answer: Yes. The HO-3 covers you for accidental discharge of water from a plumbing system. You should check your plumbing and heating systems once a year. While you are covered for damage, who needs the mess and hassle?

Answer: No. Water seepage is excluded under the HO-3. And if the water seepage is not due to a flood you will not be covered under a flood policy. Seepage is viewed as a maintenance issue and is not covered by insurance. You should see a contractor about waterproofing your basement.

Answer: No. Earthquake coverage is sold as additional coverage to the homeowners policy. To find out whether you should buy this insurance, talk to your agent or company representative. The cost of this coverage can vary significantly from one area to another, depending on the likelihood of a major earthquake.

Answer: Yes. The policy will pay for damages, if a fall or other accident on your property is the result of your negligence. It will also pay for the legal costs of defending you against a claim. Also, the medical payments part of your homeowners policy will cover medical expenses, if a neighbor or guest is injured on your property. You should check to see how much liability protection you have. The standard amount is $100,000. If you feel you need more, consider purchasing higher limits.

Answer: Yes. You are covered for the damage to your roof. You are also covered for the removal of the tree, generally up to a $500 limit. You should cut down dead or dying trees close to your house and prune branches that are near your house. It's true that your insurance covers damage, but falling trees and branches can also injure your family.

Answer: Your trees and shrubs are covered for losses due to risks like vandalism, theft and fire, but not wind damage. However, if a fallen tree blocks access to your home you may be covered for its removal. Decide if you need extra insurance for the trees, plants and shrubs on your property. You may be able to purchase extra insurance, which will not only cover the cost of removing fallen trees, but will also cover the cost of replacing trees, and other plants.

Answer: The general answer is no. However, there are a number of exceptions. In some states, food spoilage is covered under the homeowners policy. In addition, if the power loss is due to a break in a power line on or close to your property, you may be covered. You should check with your agent to find out whether you are covered for food spoilage in your state. If not, you can add food spoilage coverage to your policy for an additional premium.

Answer: If they’re full-time college students and part of your household, your insurance generally provides some coverage in a dorm, typically 10 percent of the contents limit. If they live off campus, some companies may not provide this limited coverage if the apartment is rented in the student’s name.

Answer: Yes. The HO-3 covers your personal property while it is anywhere in the world. However, if your golf clubs are old, you will only get their current value, which may not be enough to purchase a new set. Consider buying a replacement cost endorsement for your personal property. This way you will get what it costs to replace the golf clubs, less the applicable deductible.

Answer: Whether or not you are covered for either theft or liability depends on the size of the boat, the horsepower of the engine and your insurance company. Coverage for small boats under homeowners policies varies significantly. Ask your insurance representative whether you need a Boatowners policy.

Answer: No. The HO-3 excludes costs caused by ordinances or laws that regulate the construction of buildings. You can purchase an Ordinance or Law endorsement. This will cover the extra costs involved in meeting new building codes.

Answer: Sometimes. The term “Acts of God” is not specifically mentioned in homeowners insurance policies. It usually refers to natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, as opposed to man-made acts, like theft and auto accidents. Some natural disasters, such as damage from windstorms, hail, lightning and volcanic eruptions, are covered under homeowners insurance. Damage from floods and earthquakes is not.

Answer: Review your coverage with your agent. Some older policies provide less coverage than the HO-3. They may not provide coverage for water damage, theft, or liability. They may also provide coverage for the house on an actual cash value basis, rather than a replacement cost basis.

Actual Cash Value means replacement cost less depreciation. For example, if your roof is destroyed in a storm, the insurance will only pay for the cost of a new roof less the amount of depreciation of the old roof. If your roof was in great shape, this deduction will not be large. However, if the roof was old and worn out, the deduction for depreciation may be significant. You should try to get an HO-3.

For more information, contact your agent or company representative. You can also visit our Web site at

This brochure was reviewed by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, USDA. For additional assistance with homeownership questions, contact your County Extension office listed under County Government in your local telephone directory.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Still waiting for your auto premium to reduce?

photo by
A few months ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the PIP Reform in hopes to reduce the amount of auto insurance fraud in Florida (if you didn't know, Florida is ranked one of the top states for fraud). While this reform promised a dramatic decrease for auto insurance premiums as a result of a decrease in auto fraud payout, the results have been less than anticipated. Below is the article from the Insurance Journal, entitled Florida Regulators Question Auto Insurance Savings.

Florida regulators are warning that a preliminary report estimating a new law will cut no-fault auto insurance premiums by 12 percent to 20 percent may be misleading and overly optimistic.
The Office of Insurance Regulation released a consulting firm’s draft report last Friday in response to public records requests by the news media. The final version is due Sept. 15. It’s required as part of the new law, which is designed to reduce insurance fraud.

“The final conclusions may, and probably will, change prior to the report being finalized,” wrote office spokesman Jack McDermott, who also issued a list of caveats.

One is that the estimate is for premiums that insurers are entitled to receive. Companies, though, often ask for lower premiums because auto insurance is highly competitive. That difference could reduce or eliminate any savings.

Another caveat is that the savings would be just for personal injury protection, or PIP, which accounts for only about 20 percent of a typical insurance bill. Also, any savings will not be realized until Jan. 1, 2013, at the earliest and there’s no requirement for insurers to accept the report’s findings.
Insurance companies, meanwhile, could seek premium increases for other reasons that could negate all or part of any savings.

Donovan Brown, state governmental relations counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, also urged caution on the draft report prepared by Pinnacle Actuarial Resources Inc.
Brown noted that the law will not be fully implemented until next year and courts may interpret it differently than the Legislature intended.

It calls for a 10 percent premium savings unless companies can explain why they can’t cut that much. Insurers also are required to cut rates by 25 percent in a second rate filing due Jan. 1, 2014, but they again can avoid it with an explanation.

Florida motorists have been required to buy no-fault PIP coverage since 1972 to make sure anyone injured in a crash gets money to treat their injuries without delay. A driver’s insurance company is required to pay up to $10,000 for medical bills and lost wages no matter who is at fault.
Bogus claims and faked accidents, though, are largely responsible for a $1.4 billion increase in PIP costs since 2008, state officials say.

The new law puts a 14-day limit on seeking treatment after a crash. Benefits also are capped at $2,500 unless a doctor, osteopathic physician, dentist or a supervised physician’s assistant or advanced registered nurse practitioner determines there’s an “emergency medical condition.” Chiropractors cannot make that determination.

As you can see, there might be delayed gratification of this PIP reform being passed. Luckily, waiting on the results of the reform is not your only option for receiving lower premiums. At Fearnow Insurance, we carry all of the major insurance companies in Florida, and we can quote your auto with all of our companies to ensure that you are receiving the best price and the best service. You can either quote yourself through our website or call us at (813)689-8878. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ready to Bring Out the Fall Decorations?

We have officially entered the fall season, which means that we can shamelessly cover our homes in auburn foliage and plastic fruits to celebrate the new season. While some of these decorations can be adorable, others can come off as cluttered and busy. Here are a few fall decorating tips from H&G to help make your home look like a fall festival. 

1. Place autumn leaves around your bookshelf to add a little fall to your favorite corner. You can either place them freely on the shelves, drape them over your favorite novels, or press them inside a shadow box on one of the shelves. Either way, it will add some color and some fall to your shelves. 

2. Decorating for fall does not have to be busy. By simply changing the color of your normal decorations, you will add a little bit of a the changing season into your home. For example, replace your everyday candles with orange and red ones, or change your normal flowers to orange, yellow, and reds. Add some fall colored leaves to your flower vase to enhance the fall effect without cluttering your home with decorations.

3. Replace your centerpiece with one that reflects the fall season. Fill a glass bowl or large vase with fake autumn leaves, and then place a few small pumpkins (white or orange) or a couple candles around the perimeter to give your table an autumn feel.

Try these few tips to make your decorating fun and easy ... and give your home a fresh look for fall!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Want a healthy alternative to chicken fingers? Give your kids the taste that they love without the deep-fried, terrible nutrition that is not good for them. Try these almond-crusted chicken fingers! 

Makes 4 servings
Active Time:
Total Time:




  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 pound chicken tenders, (see Ingredient Note)


  1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.
  2. Place almonds, flour, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt and pepper in a food processor; process until the almonds are finely chopped and the paprika is mixed throughout, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in oil; process until combined. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.
  3. Whisk egg whites in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders and turn to coat. Transfer each tender to the almond mixture; turn to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the tenders on the prepared rack and coat with cooking spray; turn and spray the other side.
  4. Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

Tips & Notes

  • Ingredient note: Chicken tenders, virtually fat-free, are a strip of rib meat typically found attached to the underside of the chicken breast, but they can also be purchased separately. Four 1-ounce tenders will yield a 3-ounce cooked portion. Tenders are perfect for quick stir-fries, chicken satay or kid-friendly breaded “chicken fingers.”


Per serving: 174 calories; 4 g fat ( 1 g sat , 2 g mono ); 66 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 27 g protein; 1 g fiber; 254 mg sodium; 76 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Selenium (31% daily value).
Exchanges: 3 very lean meat, 1/2 fat

Recipe from EatingWell

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Before you get that rental car...

An ongoing question that we hear in the agency is the question of whether or not a rental car is covered under your auto policy. As stated in previous posts, this question does not have a universal answer. Most auto companies will protect a rental car, but that is not always the case. It depends on the company and if you have utilized that option on the policy. I strongly suggest that you call your insurance agent before purchasing insurance from the rental car place - just to be safe.

However, the previously mentioned question is not what I want to address in this post. Rather, I would like to discuss the dangers that can occur when not adhering to the instructions on your insurance policy concerning rental cars. I am going to briefly explain a court case that happened in April of last year, in hopes that you will understand the importance of following the insurance guidelines when it comes to rental cars.

Jonathan Purvis owned a Toyota pickup truck that was insured by Progressive. Since his family was coming to town to stay with him, he needed a vehicle that could hold more passengers. Hence, he rented a car for the week. Purvis declined the insurance coverage from Thrifty Car Rental because his Progressive policy covered him (note, this is not always true with insurance policies). Later that day, Purvis let his daughter, Ashley, drive the rented car with her friend, Kelly Smith.

Unfortunately, Ashley and Kelly were involved in an accident, and Kelly suffered extensive injuries. Purvis looked to Progressive to cover the lawsuit that Kelly's parents filed, but Progressive denied the claim. They stated that Jonathan Purvis was the only insured driver for the rental vehicle, and any other driver would not be covered.

Purvis argued the claim, stating that his Progressive policy stated that any rental vehicle was covered and that Ashley was an insured driver on his Progressive policy. However, what Purvis did not realize is that his Progressive policy clearly stated that a substitute vehicle would only be covered if the insured vehicle is not being used due to breakdown, repair, servicing, loss, or destruction. Under this definition, his insurance company denied that claim, because his truck was still operating normally at the time of the rental car use. The case settled for $1 million.

Moral of the story:
It is important to get all of the insurance facts before renting a vehicle; this will allow you to drive your rental car with the peace of mind that you are covered in the event of an accident. Also, please list all possible drivers on your rental car, or simply do not let unlisted drivers use your car. By adhering to these rules, you might save yourself a world of trouble down the road.

As always, we have agents who are licensed and ready to answer any questions about coverage or different insurance situations that you might have. You can also go on our website and use our "live chat" option. Our number is 813-689-8878 and our website is

Written by Kelly Jones

Monday, September 10, 2012

Budget Cutting Tricks

Often times, people associate cutting their budgets with losing fun and entertainment. However, that is not always the case (though, sometimes it is included). In today's economy, it might be beneficial to cut back on some padded areas in your budget that you might not even know about. Here are a few tricks to help lower your expenses. You can do just one or you can combine them all, based on your personal needs.

1. Eating Out
Yes, we all know that constantly going out to lunch and dinner can add some extra expenses in your budget. This is an obvious area in which to cut back. However, what about that Starbucks coffee you get every morning on your way to work? The average cup of coffee is $2.25. That's an extra $11.25 a week. Doesn't sound like much, right? Let's try this: that's an extra $582 a year. That's quite the expensive habit. If you're anything like me, and you have to have your coffee in the morning, try investing in a coffee machine at home and a travel mug. It will cost less than $50 and you will be saving over $500 a year. Oh, and don't forget to cut back on your dinner and lunch expenses.

2. Lighting and Air Conditioning
Teach your children the importance of turning off a light when they are not in a room. These lights constantly running can increase your electric bill tremendously. You might also consider investing in dimmer switches and lower wattage bulbs. The air conditioning can be a little trickier, especially living in Florida where it is HOT every day. Try keeping the house a different temperature between the night and day. At my house, we typically keep it a few degrees cooler during the night, and then bump it up a little during the day. You would be surprised how much money this actually saves you.

3. Shop the Sales
Need a new bathing suit but don't want to pay an arm and a leg for one (I can't even begin to fathom why bathing suits are so expensive)? Shop the sales. Bathing suits go on sale right after Labor Day, even though we swim year-round in Florida. Make your current bathing suit last a few more months and buy your new one when it's half price. I realize that buying new clothes is sometimes a necessity, but that doesn't mean that you have to spend full price for anything. Look through the Sunday ads, go online to find the sales - these things will save you a ton of money in the long run. For example, I love shopping at Macy's. A couple Saturdays a month, they have the One Day Sale. This is when I do my shopping. I went this past Saturday and bought $385 worth of new clothes... do you want to know how much I paid? $73.00.  I only paid $73.00. Little changes in your shopping can save you a ton of money in the long run.

Another tip is to buy quality items. That really expensive designer jacket that you keep staring at WILL go on sale. I promise. Just be patient. When you buy quality items, even if the sale price is still a little bit of a splurge, you won't have to replace them for a long time. Take care of your clothes. Wash them delicately. Hang them to dry. This might sound like a little extra trouble, but cutting back on how often you need to replace clothes will also cut back on your amount of spending.

4. Buy in Bulk
It might be a wise investment to become a member of Costco or Sams or another equivalent bulk-shopping store. By buying things in bulk sizes, you will actually cut down in your grocery expenses. Instead of buying individual packs of chips to send to school with the kids, buy a large bulk bag and divide them up into plastic baggies (that you can also buy in bulk) or in Tupperware. You will cut down on your grocery cost and your environmental waste, all in one shot!

5. Borrow
Sometimes it is more beneficial to borrow something than to purchase it. For example, if you never use a pizza cutter, but need it for this one night, call your neighbor and see if you can borrow it. Likewise, if you are redoing your landscape, but otherwise you never do yard work, ask your neighbor if you can borrow their wagon to haul the plants around instead of buying one that you will never use again.

Here is one rule of thumb that I have learned when borrowing: DON'T BORROW SOMETHING THAT IS TOO EXPENSIVE FOR YOU TO REPLACE. Inevitably, you will have that one moment when you ruin something that you borrowed. For me, it was a pair of shoes that I borrowed from a girlfriend to wear on a date. I scuffed the side of them pretty badly, and had a replace them. The only problem was, they were way too expensive for me and it did some serious damage to my budget. So, unless you have the money to replace it sitting in a savings account or "emergency fund", it might not be the best idea for you to borrow it.

These ideas were found in the Women's Day magazine.

Written by Kelly Jones

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Florida Governor Opens the Disaster Fund

In light of hurricane Isaac and tropical storm Debbie, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for certain areas of Florida due to flooding and general damage caused from the storms. A recent article in Insurance Journal has described the state of emergency and the Governor's plans for the insurance relief to the damaged areas:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has announced that the state is activating Florida’s disaster fund to help residents who suffered property losses from Hurricane Isaac and Tropical Storm Debbie.
Earlier this week, Hurricane Isaac made its way through the Florida Keys and skirted along the state’s southwest coastline leaving behind double-digit rainfall inches through much of the state. As a result, many residents have seen some minor wind damage, although the overwhelming amount of losses has come from a storm surge and rain.
On Aug. 25, Scott declared a state of emergency in some portions of the state due to the impact of Hurricane Isaac.
Now he is calling on Florida’s Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides long-term assistance to communities affected by the storms, to begin making monies available to residents through its Neighbors to the Rescue program.
“While Hurricane Isaac was beating down on western portions of the Panhandle, I got to see, first-hand, the flooding damage the storm left behind in Palm Beach County,” said Scott in a statement, noting that some residents were still recovering from Tropical Storm Debbie. “Your assistance will give much needed help to our friends and neighbors.”
In addition to the Neighbors to the Rescue disaster fund, Scott is encouraging Floridians to donate to other relief organizations such as the American Red Cross and the United Way.
So, what does this article mean to you?

It means that there could be a chance of increased insurance rates, though it is not fully accurate to say that these increases will definitely happen. To be honest, more information needs to be addressed about how much additional funding for the damages is being spent and how many areas are receiving it before the insurance companies decide if they need to increase their rates.

If your rates do increase, however, please remember that we carry all of the major insurance companies in Florida and we are able to search for more reasonable prices for you elsewhere.

I believe that it is also important to note the amount of flood damage that has occurred to areas relatively far from the coasts due to these storms. While flood insurance is required if you live in a flood zone, I strongly recommend that you purchase flood insurance even if you are not in a flood zone. Remember, Florida is surrounded by water and prone to terrible storms, i.e. anyone can flood. Luckily, if you are not in a flood zone, then you pay one fixed, relatively inexpensive, annual rate for coverage to your home from any flood damage.

If you have any questions about your homeowners or flood insurance, please call our agency and speak to one of our service representatives. We offer both business and personal insurance, and we would love to help make sure that your possessions are properly covered at the most affordable price!

Written by Kelly Jones

Monday, August 27, 2012

MYTH BUSTERS: Does my insurance cover damage to my car?
I feel like this is an appropriate topic to discuss, considering the recent string of storms that have hit Florida. I have heard this question many times, and I am sure it will come up again now that the storms have blown through:
"Does my insurance cover damage to my car caused from a storm, i.e. an uprooted tree, a limb falling, lightning strike, etc.?"
Unfortunately for most, this question is asked after the matter. But, for the lucky ones who have not yet experienced this fiasco, here is a good rule that you should know about your auto insurance policy.

Yes, your policy has the ABILITY to cover damage to your vehicle caused by acts of God. However, that does not mean that all policies cover this. The coverage is called "comprehensive coverage" and it will repair your car after any natural disaster causes damage to it. Typically, this coverage comes with a deductible of up to $1,000, but you can opt out of that.

Seems simple enough, right? Now, here is the problem that I usually run into. Comprehensive coverage is considered an endorsement, meaning it is not covered under standard auto insurance. However, it can be added to any policy - it just increases the premium a little bit. The increase in premium makes sense, because the company is offering more coverage and they are taking more risk of paying for a car repair. I find that some people do not want to pay this increase in premium, so they opt out of the coverage altogether.

There is another option, though. If you add the comprehensive coverage to your policy, but increase the deductible, the premium will not increase as much. For example, if you increase your deductible to $1,000, that is $1,000 less that your auto insurance company will have to pay to repair your car. If the damages are $5,000, you still have to pay $1,000 out of pocket, but that is much better than having to pay $5,000 out of pocket for repairs. So, you see, there can be some negotiation available with the coverage.

Unfortunately for Florida, the storms are not over. We receive wind and rain year round. If you would like to cover your vehicle for any natural disasters, or if you have any questions about your auto insurance coverages or ways that you can lower your premium, please give Fearnow Insurance a call at 813.689.8878 or email at

Written by Kelly Jones