Thursday, December 26, 2013

Florida Homeowner's Insurance Reportedly Through the Roof

According to a report released by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners this past month, Florida tops the charts for the nation's highest homeowners insurance premiums. Upon review of the report, Florida's average premium almost doubles the national average. The Insurance Journal made note of this astounding fact:
A national report shows the average premium for most Florida homeowners is $1,933 a year, or nearly twice the national average of $978. (Gary Fineout, Insurance Journal)

The report shows that Florida's insurance rates have been steadily increasing over the past several years, even though the hurricane activity for the state has been decreasing since 2005.

So, why does the average insurance premium continually increase if the hurricane activity is in decline?

The reinsurance for the insurance companies has been increasing over the last several years, which causes insurance companies to increase premiums to compensate for the expense.

Simply put, insurance companies also need to buy insurance to financially protect the company in the event of a total state disaster. The companies that offer insurance to insurance companies are called reinsurance companies, and are largely located in the Cayman Islands. These reinsurance companies also insure insurance companies around the world. So, when the tsunamis hit Japan and Sandy hit the northeast, the reinsurance companies had to pay the insurance companies so that the insurance companies could pay the insureds' claims.

Do you see the cycle?

So, even though Florida has not had any hurricane activity in the past few years, the insurance companies are still increasing rates to compensate for the reinsurance rate increases. Reinsurance rates typically increase whenever there is an influx in natural disasters.

So, is there any light at the end of the tunnel?

Yes. Reinsurance rates are set to drop this year, and one of our homeowners companies has already approved a standard 5% rate DECREASE across the board. Hopefully, all other companies will follow suit and, over time, the Florida homeowners insurance average premium will decrease significantly.

Still have questions? Contact the agency and ask one of our agents. 813-689-8878 or

Friday, December 20, 2013

White Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 cups flour
1/2 bag white chocolate chips
1/2 bag butterscotch chips
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in one egg at a time. Mix in oil, vanilla and almond extract.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly mix into wet ingredients. Once smooth, fold in chips.
  3. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Save a Little Money This Winter

For the past few weeks, we have all enjoyed this cooled weather. The crisp air is perfect for opening windows in the morning and turning off the air conditioner... until about noon when the temperature heats up again. But, eventually, the cold weather will be here. Heaters will be on and electric bills will be up.

What if there were a few ways to actually save money when the cold weather hits? These tips can help you keep your home warm and your wallet full.

Repair Drafty Windows and Doors

Any gap in a home’s structural shell lets cold air inside and allows household heat to escape outdoors. When it comes to air infiltration, a 1/8-inch gap under your front door is equivalent to having a gaping 2.4-inch hole in an exterior wall, according the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Weather-stripping windows and doors is an economical way to eliminate leaks. Caulking a window’s exterior and interior casing helps stop leaks as well.
If you have an older home with single-pane windows, you may wish to consider window replacements. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that drafty, outdated windows can account for as much as 25 percent of your heating bill. Adding storm windows is another option. When combined with weather-stripping, the EPA reports that a quality storm window can achieve the same energy savings as a new dual-pane window.

Address Other Sources of Air Infiltration

Even something as ordinary as a gap around an outdoor water faucet can break a building envelope’s seal. Armed with a can of expanding foam insulation and silicone caulk, take a tour of your home and exam every electrical, plumbing or gas conduit installed in exterior walls and ceilings. Look for gaps around the chimney and the foundation too. One of the most commonly overlooked sources of air leakage are the cans that hold recessed lighting fixtures. Air-tight trim kits are available that will seal up the leaks.

Inspect Air Ducts

For homes with central heating systems, the branching network of air ducts that delivers heat to your living spaces will likely benefit from sealing and insulation. A study conducted by the EPA found that up to 20 percent of the air that passes through ductwork in the average home is lost to leaky ducts. Because efficient performance depends upon maintaining the careful balance between supply and return channels, however, the EPA recommends leaving duct repairs in the hands of qualified professionals.

Take Advantage of No-Cost Strategies

The sun dips lower on the southern horizon during the winter, and unobstructed south-facing windows can contribute to solar heat gain. Trim back outdoor shrubs and trees to let the sunlight help warm your home. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day and close them up tightly at night to hold in the heat. An open fireplace damper can increase your heating costs by as much as 10 percent. Keep the damper closed when not in use.
Finally, consider scheduling a home energy audit. Professional auditors use specialized equipment like blower doors and thermographic scans to identify a structure’s biggest energy wasters. The report delivered at the end of the assessments offers a list of prioritized improvements that will let you see at a glance which improvements will deliver the biggest bang for your buck.
By taking advantage of these tips, you will be well on your way to saving money on your heating coststhis winter. Calfinder has a wealth of information to help you not only save money on space heating, but contractors available to assist you with your home improvements.