Top 10 Hurricane Resources in South Florida

Hurricane Resources

South Florida’s stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and sunny climate are alluring, but the region is no stranger to the annual threat of hurricanes. This blog covers the top 10 essential hurricane resources in South Florida, empowering you to weather the storm with confidence.

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Stock Up on Hurricane Supplies This Tax Free Holiday


The 2020 Florida Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is here, from May 29th – June 4th. Unlike previous years, there is only ONE tax holiday for disaster preparedness supplies in 2020.  So it’s time to stock up on those high demand hurricane supplies and general household items. Because, don’t forget hurricane season starts on June 1st (what a crazy coincidence!) and a lot of disaster preparedness items are sales tax exempt during this time.

Hurricane Prep Savings Galore

When a hurricane hits, you don’t want to be scrambling to find these important disaster preparedness items. You can avoid long lines and a lot of stress by planning to pick up these top disaster preparedness items during the sales tax holiday. Click the image below to see the high demand tax free items.

While there are price limits on what you can buy, the range of emergency supplies isn’t half bad:

2020 Disaster Prep Sales Tax Holiday

Planning Ahead

Remember that the most common emergency items are always exempt from taxes, including first-aid kits, basic foodstuffs (including baby formula), bottled water, and prescription medications.

There’s little worse than running smack dab into an emergency without the supplies you need! Now is the time to get the fuel, food, and lighting you need if worst comes to worst. Don’t stand in line with everyone else, only to find out the items you need most are sold out. Prep for hurricane season now (without those pesky taxes!) and rest easy when the storm hits. You can get all the details of Florida’s Tax Free Holiday here as well.

storm season

Download your free Disaster Preparedness Plan Ebook here!

Synergy Insurance has been helping Floridians improve family safety for years, and we want to help you too—whether you’re a client or not! For more information about disaster prep, download our Disaster Preparedness Plan to learn more about what to do when a storm touches down. If you have any questions about how homeowners insurance can help you get the coverage you need to stave off the worst of the storm, call Synergy Insurance today.

The Truth About Flood Insurance

flood insurance

Flooding is the #1 ranked natural disaster in the country and yet, there are numerous common misconceptions about flood insurance that permeate in the United States, specifically in Florida. Make sure your home and property is protected in case of an emergency, as many residents live in coastal areas. Knowing the importance of flood insurance is the first step in preventing unexpected loss, and we’re here to help get you ready.

My Homeowners Policy Covers Flooding

Fact: Your homeowners policy more than likely does not cover flooding.  You may have optional coverage for back-up of sewers and drains, but flooding caused by natural disasters or similar events are provided by different agencies such as The National Flood Insurance Program to allow policyholders the maximum flexibility in coverage and to save them money with lower premiums.

I Don’t Live in a Flood Zone, So I Don’t Need Flood Insurance

Fact: Per the National Flood Insurance Program, flooding is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow, caused by various conditions such as severe storms and sources of rapid water accumulation. Believe it or not, we all live in a flood zone, which has the potential to fill with water any time.  The difference is the severity or risk of flooding in your particular zone.  Industry wide, however, over 20% of all flood claims come from people who are NOT in high risk areas, and 1/3 of all disaster assistance goes to flooding victims according to FEMA – so we’re all at risk.

Flood Damage is Easy to Pay Back

storm seasonFact: If you don’t already have flood insurance, contact a Synergy agent to discuss options. Most federal disaster assistance comes in the form of low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and you have to pay them back. FEMA offers disaster grants that don’t need to be paid back, but this amount is often much less than what is needed to recover. One inch of flood water can cause up to $27,000 in damages alone, leaving you scrambling to pay for it. A claim against your flood insurance policy could, and often does, provide more funds for recovery than those you could qualify for from FEMA or the SBA — and you don’t have to pay it back.

Make sure your home, family and belongings are protected in case of a disaster with our Disaster Preparedness Plan! This resource is filled with tip sheets, evacuation routes, and safety information to help give you peace of mind during the worst. Click the image to get your copy!

5 Reasons Why an Insurance Company May Deny Your Hurricane Claim 

hurricane deductible

Few things are worse than having an insurance claim denied, especially after a devastating event like a hurricane. But as you may already well know, it can be an all too common occurrence. Sometimes customers fight the denials and win, spending months or even years trying to convince someone that they deserve coverage. But it’s usually far easier to have a better understanding of how your policy works.

You Don’t Have Flood Insurance

Homeowners in designated flood zones are required to buy some type of flood coverage, but more than half of people affected by flooding damage during a hurricane live outside the zoning lines. It’s a good idea to educate yourself about the benefits of flood insurance whether you live in a designated flood zone or not. The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. Check out their site to learn more about their program!

Cleaning Up Is Circumstantial

If a tree breaks the windows of your home or crushes your car, this is usually covered by your policy. If it was your car that was damaged, typically your auto insurance policy is the best outlet to cover your claim. But if a tree happens to fall in your yard, you’re usually on the hook to clean it up. You may even need to cover the damage if your neighbor’s tree falls on your house. It’s best to cooperate with your neighbor, let them know that you are reporting the claim to your insurance company and share any pertinent information with them as long as your carrier permits.

Your Policy Has Certain Exclusions

In 45 states in the US (including Florida), insurance policies have a (heavily buried) clause that allows them to deny claims if two catastrophic events occurred simultaneously and one of those events wasn’t covered. In other words, if the wind took out half your roof and flooded your basement, both claims might be denied if you didn’t have flood insurance.

Federal Flood Insurance Is Limited

If you do happen to live in a designated flood zone and were required to purchase federal flood insurance, it doesn’t automatically mean that your claim will be approved. The minimum federal flood insurance will only cover the structure of the home as opposed to any outdoor property. So if your pool was destroyed during the hurricane, you may be out of luck.

You Haven’t Factored in Both Deductibles

When it comes to hurricane claims, homeowners have one deductible for loss and theft as well as an annual deductible for a hurricane. So your claim can conceivably be denied because you need to meet both deductible minimums before your policy kicks in (exact deductibles depend on your policy).

Homeowners do have recourse if their claim is denied, it’s just a lot more work than understanding your coverage up front. Don’t wait until you are forced to file a claim to find out that you don’t have the right homeowners insurance policy. Synergy Insurance can make it easier (and less confusing) to ensure that you get the coverage you need. Get a free, no-obligation insurance checkup if you think your coverage is lacking, and let us be your insurance experts!

homeowners insurance

Storm Prep to Avoid Scams

assignment of benefits

It happens all too often. A vicious storm wipes through the region, causing damage to trees, vehicles, and homes. Maybe you were one of the victims, or maybe you were one of the lucky ones. A day or two following the storm, your family was approached by an individual offering to inspect your roof, replace the crack in your windshield or trim the tree in your front yard – for FREE. The individual holds out a form asking you to sign, promising to work with your insurance company so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Without giving it much more thought, you sign the form. You just became a victim of AOB fraud.

AOB scams like this happen every day, especially in climates that are subject to severe weather and frequent storms, such as Florida. The fact is becoming a victim of an AOB scam can end up costing families more than what they realize. Storm season is here, so taking certain precautions now can save you time and money down the road.

These tips can help you not only prepare for the upcoming storm season, but to also prevent an AOB scam.

What is an AOB?

Assignment of Benefits (AOB) is an agreement between a homeowner and an insurance company, which stipulates the transfer of rights, benefits, and financial interest to a third party. The insurance company is then responsible for making payments to the contracted third party for any repairs related to a claim. Although this agreement takes the pressure off the homeowner to deal with a contractor and the insurance company in the event of a claim, the homeowner also loses the ability to work with the insurance company.

AOB fraud occurs when a contractor or other third party approaches an individual or family claiming to be affiliated with the homeowner’s insurance company, and gets the homeowner to sign an agreement promising to make repairs to a property and to handle the insurance paperwork. The third party then collects the insurance money and takes off, leaving the homeowner stranded – without repairs or insurance money.

Storm Preparation to Avoid Scams

The good news is there are some things homeowners can do to prevent AOB scams. So, the next time there is severe weather in the forecast, here are some things you can do to not only protect your home, property, and vehicle from damage, but also to protect your family from an AOB scam.

  • Gather paperwork on previous repairs
  • Walk around the outside of your home and property and take pictures to assess current conditions before a storm
  • Re-assess your home and property after a storm, taking pictures as necessary to determine if there is legitimate damage
  • Prepare a list of legitimate, credible third party contractors directly from your insurance company to call in the event repairs are needed

By taking the time to follow these steps before and after the next storm, homeowners will save themselves a great deal of time, money, and hassle by avoiding an AOB scam.

homeowners insuranceHow Synergy Insurance Can Help

If you believe you have become a victim of an AOB scam or if you have questions regarding storm preparation, contact your Synergy agent today.

If disaster were to strike, would all of your valuables be accounted for? Download our Home Inventory Checklist today, and take the guesswork out of your insurance claim.

Assignment of Benefits – What You Need To Know

assignment of benefits

Being a Florida homeowner can come with a lot of risks – a lot of them being weather related. During the 2018 storm season, you may need to consider getting work done on your house prior to or after a storm approaches. Before you hire a contractor, there are things you need to be aware of. Check out this list of important information regarding an Assignment of Benefits, and make sure you’re prepared before you sign an agreement.

What is an AOB?

An Assignment of Benefits is an agreement between you and a third party where you transfer your rights, benefits and financial interest in an insurance policy claim to another party. It is commonly used when hiring a contractor, roofer or water mitigation company to make repairs to your property. Once the Assignment of Benefits is complete, your insurance company must make payments directly to the party completing repairs and you lose the ability to deal directly with your insurance company for your claim.  This is a legal arrangement, but can allow unscrupulous contractors to submit improper claims, causing legal battles to ensue.  You should ALWAYS contact your insurance company to notify them of damages before taking any action to make permanent repairs after a storm. You can avoid the risk of this happening to you by recognizing warning signs and following some simple guidelines.

Warning Signs of AOB Seekers

  • Someone knocks on your door to let you know you have damage you weren’t aware of
  • Contract contains the words “Assignment of Benefit”
  • A contractor offers free services, such as remodeling other areas of your home not affected by damage
  • The Vendor offers to handle your claim and pay your deductible for you
  • Vendors show up immediately following major storms that affect your neighborhood

Prior to Signing Contract

  • Call your Synergy Claims Department, notify them of your damage and let them know a vendor has contacted you
  • Do NOT begin any permanent repairs before you have notified your insurance company or allowed them to inspect damages
  • Before agreeing to third party repairs, request everything in writing, including total cost, scope of project, and timeline
  • Look very carefully for any “Assignment of Benefits” language and, if possible, have someone else review the agreement with you as well
  • Get more than one repair estimate and never feel pressured to decide immediately
  • Always ensure that the vendor is licensed and it’s always a good idea to request references

What if you do sign an AOB?

  • homeowners insuranceAny benefits received from your claim payments will go directly to the third party and not you
  • You lose all decision making ability about how the damage will be repaired and how long it will take

If you feel that something isn’t right regarding your AOB, please contact Synergy immediately.

If disaster were to strike, would all of your valuables be accounted for? Click the image to download our Home Inventory Checklist, and take the guesswork out of your insurance claim.


What is Business Interruption Insurance and Why You Need It

business insurance

Florida is known for its glorious weather, beautiful beaches, and severe storms. Not every day in Florida is paradise, especially during the summer months. In fact, June 1st is the official start of hurricane season. If a hurricane hits your business, are you prepared? Do you have the necessary coverage to recoup losses from damaged or lost property? What happens if your business is forced to shut down for several days or weeks until the damage is cleared or your building is repaired or rebuilt? Can you afford to take a loss like that?

Most business owners can’t. So what do you do? Let’s take a look at business interruption insurance and how it can help your business.

What is Business Interruption Insurance?

What exactly is business interruption insurance? This type of insurance covers the loss of any income that a business may encounter after a hurricane or another type of natural disaster. This type of insurance will help business owners with the loss of profits or income that would have been generated during the time a business is being rebuilt or repaired.

It’s also important to note that this type of insurance is separate from hurricane insurance. This means that if a business owner chooses to purchase hurricane insurance, business interruption insurance is a separate add-on, which costs extra. Similar to hurricane insurance, the amount that is covered depends on the policy amount, which is determined by risks associated with a particular business.

In the state of Florida, business interruption insurance is incredibly important, particularly for businesses located along the coast who may be at a higher risk of shutting down for repairs. This type of insurance will protect a business from being stranded after a disaster.

How Synergy Insurance Can Help

Synergy Insurance specializes in writing insurance policies for people and businesses throughout the state of Florida. In addition to serving their customers, the team at Synergy also wants to ensure that their customers and businesses are well informed and aware of how their policies work so that they can prepare for potential accidents and/ or disasters.