How To Avoid Contractor Insurance Scams

As a homeowner, you carry homeowner’s insurance to protect yourself in case of damage to your home. A devastating storm can leave flooding waters, property damage, and personal injuries in its wake. Perhaps one of the least expected dangers that follow a storm is fraudulent contractors. Most contractors are honest and work hard, but some will follow disasters and try to take advantage of you.

After recent storms and major disasters, a few unscrupulous contractors use a trick to defraud homeowners every year – convincing them to sign away their rights through an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) form.

A contractor or repair company representative will often tell you that an Assignment of Benefits or “AOB” form is necessary for them to do work on your home. They may promise it will make the process easier for you as it will allow them to “handle everything.” They might even offer to lower or eliminate your deductible if you sign the form immediately.

Don’t allow contractors to start work before the damage is assessed by your insurer. Most importantly, don’t sign an AOB form. We are here for you and can help you navigate the claims process and avoid contractor abuse and fraud.

  • Use well know contractors
  • Ask for a written contract
  • Ask to see proof of insurance and licensing from the contractor
  • Make sure your agent and insurance company is involved.
  • Have your claims adjuster inspect all damage?

Five Things People Should Know About Insurance

For many people, insurance can be difficult to understand.  Most people know that insurance is needed, but often they do not fully understand what they are buying or if they are properly covered.  That is why it is important to have an insurance agent on your side.  A good agent will help you determine what your insurance needs are, educate you about your options, and help you understand the specifics of the insurance you are buying.

Here are five things that you need to know as you consider your insurance options.

  • You cannot add coverage for a claim that has already occurred. For example, if there is flooding in your area, you cannot buy flood insurance during an event.
  • Coverage gaps can be costly. Having a gap or lapse in coverage can be costly. Always pay your premiums on time, or ask for a grace period from your insurer.  You will end up paying more if you have lapses in your policy.
  • Insurance is not intended to cover everything. Insurance is designed to provide financial recovery after an accident or unforeseen loss. Every policy has exclusions which are important to understand. Remember, insurance is not intended to cover regular maintenance.
  • An agent can be a valuable resource. A licensed agent can help you find the best possible combination of coverage, price, and service that fits your individual needs. A good agent will be willing to answer any questions you may have and be there for you when a claim occurs.
  • Do not skimp on liability insurance. The cost of litigation these days underscores the need for everyone to have an adequate amount of liability insurance.  The greater your assets are, the greater your need is to have your assets covered.  To protect yourself and your family financially, buy enough liability insurance on your auto and home insurance policies to cover above your net worth.  We can help you determine how much coverage your individual needs require.

In 1989, Oakwood’s founder, Bruce L. Sogn, set out to establish a business that would give him the opportunity to serve the community and to fulfill a need in the marketplace. Today as an independent insurance agency, Oakwood does just that.

After researching the insurance industry, he found that by becoming an independent insurance agent, he could offer a comprehensive range of insurance products and services to his clients. By maintaining focus on competitive products, Oakwood has kept its commitment to service, professionalism, and the highest integrity.

Five Things People Should Know About Insurance

For many people, insurance can be difficult to understand.  Most people know that insurance is needed, but often they do not fully understand what they are buying or if they are properly covered.  That is why it is important to have an insurance agent on your side.  A good agent will help you determine what your insurance needs are, educate you about your options, and help you understand the specifics of the insurance you are buying.

Here are five things that you need to know as you consider your insurance options.

  1. You cannot add coverage for a claim that has already occurred. For example, if there is flooding in your area, you cannot buy flood insurance during an event.
  1. Coverage gaps can be costly. Having a gap or lapse in coverage can be costly. Always pay your premiums on time, or ask for a grace period from your insurer.  You will end up paying more if you have lapses in your policy.
  1. Insurance is not intended to cover everything. Insurance is designed to provide financial recovery after an accident or unforeseen loss. Every policy has exclusions which are important to understand. Remember, insurance is not intended to cover regular maintenance.
  1. An agent can be a valuable resource. A licensed agent can help you find the best possible combination of coverage, price, and service that fits your individual needs. A good agent will be willing to answer any questions you may have and be there for you when a claim occurs.
  1. Do not skimp on liability insurance. The cost of litigation these days underscores the need for everyone to have an adequate amount of liability insurance.  The greater your assets are, the greater your need is to have your assets covered.  To protect yourself and your family financially, buy enough liability insurance on your auto and home insurance policies to cover above your net worth.  We can help you determine how much coverage your individual needs require.

 

The Future of Risk

Business Insurance Trends

The business insurance world is changing at a fast pace. Technology is continually evolving and businesses must change or die. New technology also brings a change in claims and litigation. Often lawsuits filed today are indicators of business liability claims tomorrow.

Business Insurance

Business or commercial insurance coverage is available for almost every conceivable risk your business might face. The cost and amount of coverage of policies vary among insurers.  Also, the type of business you are in also impacts cost and coverage.  You should discuss your specific business risks and the types of insurance available for your business with us.

Future Business Insurance Risks

Intellectual Property

This is one of the fastest-growing areas of litigation. The average defense cost in 2019 was over $500,000. With more information being disrupted over the internet, claims are sure to increase. Intellectual property insurance coverage protects companies for copyright, trademark or patent infringement, and claims arising out of the company’s operation.

Cyberattacks

Recent news that Russian cyber thieves stole billions of passwords should create heightened awareness about the risks and need for cyber insurance. The problem, Munich Re explains, stems from the fact that “most traditional property and liability policies provide no cover for cyber risks” although there still may be a duty to defend until such time as coverage is determined.

Social Media

Social media is becoming popular with many businesses, and this increases the liability risks. The combination of personal use and business use combined with privacy laws increases the risk to the business of being sued by employees and other third parties. There is a definite increased risk of defamation, libel, and slander for firms who don’t outsource the service.

Directors & Officers Liability

Most business owners don’t believe they can or will be sued despite statistics that show otherwise. The latest number by Chubb Insurance Company shows that about 20% of firms have been sued for directors and officers negligence. Claims can be made by shareholders, regulators, family members, customers, vendors and competitors.

 

Are You Starting A Home Business?

Do you want to start a home-based business? Having a home business of your own is a good way to make a living. Keep in mind that if there are risks involved. Most home-based businesses do not have the same risks as other businesses, including buildings, employees, production machinery, and a fleet of vehicles.

However, home-based businesses do have many risks that need to be considered.

Do Some Pre Planning

  • Check with your local zoning to see if home-based businesses are allowed
  • If you are planning on having customers visit your home, you may need special permits.

Home Based Business Risks Can Include

  • Product liability
  • Professional Liability
  • Injury or damage to customers
  • Auto accidents
  • Disability
  • Cyber breach
  • Property loss and damage
  • Crime and dishonesty
  • Cyber liability
  • Web page copyright liability
  • Employees or contractor’s issues

The key is to understand what these risks are so you can take the necessary actions to make sure that your business is protected. It’s important to carry the right commercial insurance to protect your business in case of an unforeseen event. Hire a reputable insurance provider to help you assess the potential risks and determine which types of policies meet your business needs.

As an independent insurance agency we are affiliated with multiple industry-leading companies. It is these partnerships that allow us to provide our clients with better coverage at a competitive price. Our staff is knowledgeable and committed to providing a quality customer service experience to our valued clients.

 

Never Sign Away Your Rights

As a homeowner, you carry homeowner’s insurance to protect yourself in case of damage to your home. Horrifically, unscrupulous contractors use an insidious trick to defraud thousands of Florida homeowners every year – convincing them to sign away their rights through an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) form.

 

What is an “AOB” form?

A contractor or repair company representative will often tell you that an Assignment of Benefits or “AOB” form is necessary for them to do work on your home. They may promise it will make the process easier for you as it will allow them to “handle everything.” They might even offer to lower or eliminate your deductible if you sign the form immediately.

This tactic is often used by roofing contractors after storms, or by water restoration companies if you have water damage caused by a leak in your home. However, signing an AOB form efficiently turns over your rights under your insurance policy. If someone can gain access to the roof or the interior of your home before your insurance adjuster arrives, they may intentionally cause extra damage so they can inflate repair costs

Don’t allow roofing contractors up on your roof to “investigate,” or water restoration companies to start work before the damage is assessed. Most importantly, don’t sign an AOB form. We are here for you and can help you navigate the claims process and avoid contractor abuse and fraud.

You can help stop AOB contractor fraud by knowing your rights (including the right to cancel a contract, including a signed AOB form, within three days) and you can also help others avoid a nightmare like Barbara’s by sharing this information with friends, family, and neighbors. Together, we can put an end to contractor abuse and AOB contractor fraud.

Most contractors are very professional, but there are a few that follow disasters and try to take advantage of you.

 

How To Make Your Insurance Work For You

Every year people make resolutions to improve their financial position. Part of that process means looking at your business and personal insurance program and determining if it still works for you. We pride ourselves on attempting to provide the best quality insurance for all of our clients. But the truth is, proper insurance coverage and healthy financial habitats are in large part due to the actions of the clients. Here are a few lessons we have learned to help you make your insurance work for you.

Personal Insurance Tips

  1. Make a home inventory of all your personal property and place a replacement value on it.
  2. Replace your hot water heater if it is old.
  3. Clean our gutters annually.
  4. Meet with your agent to have an annual insurance review. As your life changes, so should your insurance.
  5. Have your roof checked on a regular basis.
  6. Make sure to check washing machine hoses and dishwasher hoses in case they need to be replaced.

Commercial Insurance Tips

  1. Check your workers’ compensation rates and classifications.
  2. Make sure you have written agreements with all contractors.
  3. If you rent or lease equipment, let your agent know.
  4. As your business changes, it is essential to communicate with your agent so proper coverage can be reviewed.

We Believe…

  • in the dignity and importance of people.
  • that every person and business should have the best insurance protection they can afford.
  • that the Independent Agency system will offer the best selection for all people with their various needs in the changing world we live in.
  • in responsive customer service and ongoing education for our agents. This allows them to best serve the customer with the proper protection and appropriate amounts of insurance.

Managing Risk In Uncertain Times

We are living in uncertain times. COVID-19 and all that goes with it have created a new set of operating rules and risks. There is a number of new risks that have emerged as a result of these changing times.

 

It is vital that your business insurance program have the flexibility to respond to the changing and uncertain times we are living in. Your business insurance program needs to be designed to give your business the best possible coverage at a reasonable price from an agent who understands your individual needs.

 

Remote Workers 

COVID-19 has changed the way we think about remote working. Most businesses are having employees work from home, and even if there is a vaccine, the work from home trend is likely to continue. In general, employees are covered for work-related injuries that occur outside the office or other workplaces. Generally, employers are still responsible for injuries that occur during a detour, such as when an employee physically departs from his or her job duties that are considered minor activity, getting coffee, etc.

 

New Cyber Risks

Commercial businesses to become more dependent on the internet with an increase in remote workers. This new normal now requires special procedures and policies to protect your organization, its data, and network. When workers feel secure, you can nurture productivity and enhance collaboration.

Finance, Social Life And Health Of Employees

Because of the requirements and arrangements following the pandemic, employees have been faced with unexpected expenses related to travel, digital needs, accommodation (home workspaces) health concerns, and protective measures. Employers need to find ways to address these needs on a long-term basis, possibly through smaller in-person gatherings, remote learning opportunities, and even allowances for home office improvements.

Employees With Disabilities

Disabled employees need additional support to adapt to changes. Specific measures are required to address their needs and ensure their access to remote works issues.

As with any risk, you want to get out in front of it quickly. The longer you wait, the harder it is to mitigate the damage. The most successful companies are those that put systems and processes in place to help them quickly recognize the warning signs and navigate the best path forward.

In 1989, Oakwood’s founder, Bruce L. Sogn, set out to establish a business that would give him the opportunity to serve the community and to fulfill a need in the marketplace. Today as an independent insurance agency, Oakwood does just that.

After researching the insurance industry, he found that by becoming an independent insurance agent, he could offer a comprehensive range of insurance products and services to his clients. By maintaining focus on competitive products, Oakwood has kept its commitment to service, professionalism, and the highest integrity.

Stop Porch Pirates This Holiday Season

 

The holiday season is filled with fun, parties, food, gifts, overeating, and unfortunately some risk. One of the fasted growing risks for many people are stolen packages by porch pirates.  According to proopertycasualtiy360, over 26 million packages are stolen during the holiday season.  Need more bad news?

Your homeowners or renter’s insurance generally may not cover this loss as it tends to be under your deductible.  There could be covered if you have personal property off premises insurance.  Also for theft coverage to apply generally, you need proof of loss by a broker indoor, etc.  Call our office for a  review of your homeowner’s insurance, as each policy is unique to your circumstances.

Things To Do

  • Delivery confirmation is a good way to prove the package was delivered.
  • Thieves will follow delivery trucks, waiting for the perfect target.
  • These thieves commonly strike during working hours as many homes are empty at that time.
  • You can insure your packages.
  • Consider having a person there when the delivery is scheduled.
  • Install a security camera.

What To Do If A Package Is Stolen

  • Track your package. Check the delivery confirmation and tracking number.
  • Make sure a neighbor did not pick it up for you.
  • Contact the seller. Different retailers have different policies and processes for handling stolen items, but usually, you are entitled to a refund or a replacement item.
  • File a claim with the shipping company.
  • Check your Credit Cards for Purchase Protection.

 

Do You Have Insurance Questions? We Have Answers.

Insurance Question We Most Often Answer

As professional insurance agents, we are asked many questions regarding personal insurance.  We thought it might be good to offer answers to the most common kinds of questions we receive.

“Why buy from an agent when I can go online?”

When you buy insurance online, you are forced to become the insurance expert and if there is ever an issue, you have only yourself to blame.  In most cases, we can offer the same, or better, coverage with a licensed professional agent who is willing to actually meet with you and educate you on your choices.  The cost for these services is included in the cost of your insurance.

“How much insurance do I need?”

That depends on your personal situation.  If you have a number of vehicles, recreational vehicles, or a boat, we might recommend higher limits than if you are a renter with no “toys.”  We also recommend that you buy auto insurance coverage/limits above the state minimum.  If you have a growing family and own your home, we suggest higher limits and a personal umbrella policy to protect your assets.  A personal umbrella policy is very competitive and can provide an added layer of coverage and security.

“Which deductible should I select?”

The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.  In the long run, it may benefit you to increase your homeowner’s insurance deductible above a minimum amount, especially if you are claim free for a number of years.