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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Why Do I Need to Get a Wind Mitigation Inspection Done on my Home or Condominium in Florida?


After the hurricanes of 2004, the Florida legislature established guidelines to help homeowners reduce their homeowner’s insurance premiums based on their home’s ability to withstand a hurricane. The goal was to offer incentives to Florida homeowners who invested in mitigation techniques, upgrades, or retrofits to make their home stronger. In return, Florida homeowner’s insurance companies would give monetary incentives or discounts for Florida homeowners who incorporated the latest storm damage mitigation products and technologies in their homes.

Key Components of a Mitigation Inspection include the following:

  • Year Built and Number of Stories – Important in determining which building code the home complies with. The more current the building code, the more stringent the requirements for hurricane mitigation/protection it may have.
  • Roof Covering – The most important and overlooked element that governs the losses experienced in hurricanes.
  • Roof Deck Attachment – How the roof deck is attached to the trusses/rafters plays an important role in its ability to withstand windstorms.
  • Roof to Wall Connection – Helps establish the continuous load path from the roof through the walls and into the ground.
  • Roof Shape – Definition of Hip roof is a hip-shaped roof with NO OTHER ROOF SHAPE greater than 50% of ANY major wall length.
  • Gable End Bracing – Must be braced to meet the 2001 Florida Building Code.
  • Secondary Water Resistance – Must have a self-adhering modified bitumen roofing underlayment applied directly to the roof sheathing of foam if foam is sprayed from inside the attic.
  • Opening Protection/Shutters – Every opening, including skylights and gable vents, must be protected to receive a hurricane rating.
  • Wall Construction Type – Important when assessing risk as certain wall structures are stronger and, therefore, have less risk than others.

When Florida homeowners truly understand what mitigation upgrades need to be done to receive homeowner’s insurance premium discounts, many times these upgrades are conducted, thereby achieving the goal of the legislation. This is because the upgrades needed are often simple and/or cost-effective. Many homes in high-velocity zones have some protection already in place.

Examples of mitigation upgrades include:

  • Additional protection for one or more openings,
  • Bracing gable ends, or
  • Installing SWR’s during re-roofing projects.

In almost all cases, the cost of mitigation upgrades is less than the discount a homeowner may receive when the savings is calculated over the validity period of the inspection report: FIVE YEARS!

Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in all lines of personal insurance, and has since 1925. For a no-obligation quote on homeowners insurance, auto insurance, flood insurance, boat insurance, or umbrella insurance policies, please contact us 561-276-6055 or 800-272-6055 and ask for personal lines. Or you can email us at insurance@gbifl.com.

Does it Matter which Florida Dental Malpractice Insurance Company I choose?


Dentists in Florida ask us all the time which dental malpractice insurance company they should choose for their dental malpractice insurance. There are five main dental malpractice insurance companies in Florida. All advertise that they are the best for Florida dentists. So, which one should a dentist choose?

As a Florida agency who has been writing dental malpractice insurance for over thirty years, we can offer some thoughts:

First, choose a Florida dental malpractice insurance company that specializes in insuring dentists. The dental malpractice company will focus all its resources on the dental profession. In many cases, Florida dentists play “second fiddle” to other medical specialties, such as medical physicians. This lack of focus on the dentist weakens the dental malpractice insurance company’s ability to properly defend a Florida dentist should a claim occur.

Second, choose a Florida dental malpractice insurance company that has insured dentists for a long time. Nothing trumps experience in defending Florida dentists. A new dental malpractice insurance company will lack the depth of knowledge necessary for defending complicated dental malpractice cases.

Third, choose a dental malpractice insurance company that aggressively fights frivolous claims. If the dental malpractice insurer settles claims easily, the Florida dentist will have difficulty securing coverage in the future. They may also wind up in the National Practitioner’s Data Bank because the company was unable to properly defend them.

And finally, choose a dental malpractice insurance company that has a proven Risk Management Program geared specifically to the dentist. Claims are awful, even if they are frivolous and even if a dentist wins in court. Avoiding claims in the first place is the aim of the Florida dentist. A proven attempt by the dental malpractice insurer to help the dental practitioner avoid a lawsuit is invaluable. And…the Florida dentist will likely receive a credit on their malpractice insurance premium for successful completion of the Risk Management Course.

John Gracey Backer, CPA


John Gracey Backer, CPA, is the Treasurer of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Malpractice, Professional and Personal Insurance for the Healthcare Provider. He can be contacted at 800-272-6055 ext 128, or at john@gbifl.com.

Five Reasons a Physician or Surgeon will Purchase an “Occurrence” Policy Rather than a “Claims-Made” policy for Medical Malpractice Insurance


Physicians and surgeons will most likely purchase an “occurrence” policy to cover their medical malpractice insurance exposure in the following situations:

  • They are just beginning their practice and are not sure of their career path;
  • They are practicing part-time;
  • They are working for someone else and do not want to be stuck purchasing a tail policy if they leave;
  • They are close to retirement;
  • They are working in Florida but plan to move to another state in a few years.

What is an occurrence policy? An occurrence policy protects a physician or surgeon from a lawsuit based on an incident which occurred while the medical malpractice insurance policy is in force. The medical malpractice insurance policy then covers those incidents forever. For example, a physician or surgeon purchases a medical malpractice insurance policy on an occurrence form in 2010 and treats client X in 2011 and then terminates the policy in 2012. In 2014, Client X sues the physician or surgeon for an incident that occurred in 2011. The physician or surgeon is covered, because he was insured in 2011, the year he treated client X. With an occurrence form of medical malpractice insurance, it does not matter if the physician or surgeon is covered when the lawsuit is brought against him.

Barbara Gracey Backer


Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at barbara@gbifl.com.

11 Spring Maintenance Tips For Your Home


Spring is an excellent time to do a thorough check-up on the outside of your home to avoid a potential loss on your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy. While losses may be covered by your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy, it is certainly best to do everything possible to stay safe. As we say in our agency, claims are awful, even with the best Homeowner’s Insurance Policy.

Foundation – Check the foundation of your home for cracking, bulging, leaks, or wear and tear. Contact a contractor if you see any suspicious cracks in your concrete floor, slab, or foundation.

Roof – Inspect your roof for any sign of missing shingles, cracks, leaks, or buckles. If your roof is old, you may want to start a fund for a new roof. Make sure that your soffits, fascia and all flashing are intact and not damaged by the elements. Remember that your roof is your first line of defense against water damage and a claim on your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy.

Window sills, door sills, and door thresholds – Check for cracks, chipped paint, missing caulking and repair or replace as needed.

Paint – A good paint job not only makes your home look nice, it also protects it from the elements. Repair any cracked or peeling paint for an inexpensive fix.

Windows and Doors – Repair any holes in screening to prevent bugs or other animals from entering your home. Check for damaged frames and hardware. Make sure screens and frames are securely fastened. Oil and secure door hinges and closers.

Gutters and downspouts – Gutters direct water away from your roof and home. Check for loose or leaky gutters. Clear out debris and check for corrosion, rust, loose fasteners, or joint separation. If a gutter has separated from the house, reattach it.

Siding – Clean siding to keep mold away. Paint wood surfaces if needed, being sure to sand smoothly if paint is peeling.

Decks and porches – Check for loose rails or rotting of rails, steps, decks, patios, or porches. Be sure to treat wood decks and fences regularly if they are exposed to sun and rain. While a slip and fall would be covered, it can be very traumatic and is easily avoidable.

Landscape – Make sure your yard’s grading directs water away from the home. Low areas in the yard or near the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures. There is minimal coverage for tree damage on most Homeowner’s Insurance Policies.

Yard objects – Remove yard objects, including lawn furniture, planters, bird feeders, and decorative objects, before a storm to prevent them from becoming flying missiles. Liability coverage on the Homeowner’s Policy covers flying objects, but you don’t want to injure someone or somethingelse.

Chimney – Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep. Fire is a covered peril on a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy, but not something you ever want to endure.

Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in all lines of personal insurance, and has since 1925. For a no-obligation quote on homeowners insurance, auto insurance, flood insurance, boat insurance, or umbrella insurance policies, please contact us 561-276-6055 or 800-272-6055 and ask for personal lines. Or you can email us at insurance@gbifl.com.

Five Questions to Ask About Boat Insurance


If you own a boat, you want to insure it properly. You don’t want to buy too much Boat Insurance, but, of course, you don’t want to buy too little Boat Insurance. We are some questions to ask your Boat Insurance Agent:

  • Do I really need insurance for my boat? Don’t look to your homeowner’s insurance or your automobile insurance for boat insurance coverage. You need a separate and specialized Boat Insurance Policy to fit your particular boat and your particular boating style.
  • How do I cover my Personal Property? People wonder whether their Homeowner’s Insurance Policy covers their personal property or if they should cover it on their Boat Insurance Policy. The answer is that a quality Boat Insurance Policy will cover items like life vests, water skis and fishing gear, as well as personal property.
  • Do I qualify for discounts on the Boat Insurance Policy? Good discounts are often available on a Boat Policy, such as discounts for insuring more than one boat or watercraft.
  • Is Towing Assistance available on a Boat Insurance Policy? Good Boat Insurance Policies can be endorsed to add towing and assistance coverage. This covers either the cost of fixing the boat at the point of breakdown or the cost of towing the boat to the nearest marina.
  • Can I cover any type of boat on a Boat Insurance Policy? The type of Boat Insurance Policy you purchase is based on many underwriting factors, including the type of boat, your experience, navigational boundaries, etc. Your Boat Insurance agent will discuss various options with you with an eye toward sculpting a custom policy for you.
    For more information about Boat Insurance, contact Debbie Vashon at 1-800-272-6055 X119.

Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in all lines of personal insurance, and has since 1925. For a no-obligation quote on homeowners insurance, auto insurance, flood insurance, boat insurance, or umbrella insurance policies, please contact us 561-276-6055 or 800-272-6055 and ask for personal lines. Or you can email us at insurance@gbifl.com.

Five ways to save money on your homeowner’s insurance


We encourage our clients to save money on their homeowner’s insurance by doing the following:

  • “Shop” your homeowner’s insurance regularly with an independent agent who represents several companies. There are new companies writing homeowner’s insurance in Florida now. Rates are slightly more competitive because of lower reinsurance costs.
  • Take high deductibles, especially on the wind portion of the policy. Wind deductibles range from 2% to 10% of the value of the home (not the size of the loss). Be sure you can handle the high deductible, though. Your premium cost will be reduced substantially, which can make a real difference over the years. Check your “all-other-perils” deductible as well.
  • Be sure you are taking advantage of all the available credits the company offers: central station alarm credits, hurricane shutter credits, gated community credits, and age of home credits. Be sure to have a Wind Mitigation Inspection performed by a reputable inspection company. The discount you may receive on your homeowner’s insurance policy year after year can more than offset the cost of the inspection.
  • Be sure the replacement value of your building and contents is accurate. If you have an inflation guard protection endorsement on the policy, these values will increase every year. You may be over-insured.
    Just as you go to your doctor or dentist every year for a routine check-up, you may want to have an insurance review of your homeowner’s policy on a regular basis.

Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in all lines of personal insurance, and has since 1925. For a no-obligation quote on homeowners insurance, auto insurance, flood insurance, boat insurance, or umbrella insurance policies, please contact us 561-276-6055 or 800-272-6055 and ask for personal lines. Or you can email us at insurance@gbifl.com.

Why Should You Carry Flood Insurance in Florida?


All we have to do is pick up the newspaper to see another example of the importance of carrying flood insurance in Florida. In spite of the fact that South Florida has not experienced a major hurricane in several years, we should still be protected from flooding by flood insurance.
In late April 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency after Florida was hit with more than 20 inches of rain in a 24 hour period, killing at least one person and flooding homes and cars in two Florida counties in the Panhandle. A few more inches of rain are expected to fall. Sadly, fire rescue crews are not able to respond to some calls because of road flooding. Some people have climbed into their attics because of rising waters, a direct result of Florida flooding. People are being advised to stay off the roads and move boats and jet skis from beaches to streets for rescues from floods.

This flooding resulted from a storm, not a hurricane. I wonder how many of the affected people carry flood insurance. I hope they all do carry flood insurance.

Flood Insurance in South Florida is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to cover damage caused by flooding and rising water. Most flood insurance losses happen in areas that are not flood-prone. Many flood losses happen from storms not rated as tornadoes. And remember, flood damage is NOT covered by a homeowner’s policy. You need to purchase a Florida flood insurance policy. If disaster relief aid even applies, it is in the form of a loan that must be repaid.
Before hurricane season is upon us, call for a no-obligation flood insurance quote. You will be glad you did if flooding hits your home or business.

Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in all lines of personal insurance, and has since 1925. For a no-obligation quote on homeowners insurance, auto insurance, flood insurance, boat insurance, or umbrella insurance policies, please contact us 561-276-6055 or 800-272-6055 and ask for personal lines. Or you can email us at insurance@gbifl.com.

Things to Consider in Choosing a Medical Malpractice Insurance Company


In your medical practice, your choice of medical malpractice insurer is one of your most important decisions. You have many choices and medical malpractice insurance agents are undoubtedly beating down your door to write your medical professional liability insurance policy.

In general, you should choose a medical malpractice insurer that has great depth. You want a company with the depth of capital to manage an expensive case with a large payout. The last thing you want is a company with a shaky financial position. Fifteen years ago, there were approximately 40 medical malpractice insurance companies in Florida. Now, there is a handful. If a company exits the state, you could be left holding the bag.

You also want a medical malpractice insurer who has been in business for a long time. Nothing can take the place of experience when it comes to handling claims. You have the right to ask about local counsel and to look at a list of those medical malpractice attorneys who will defend you if you have a claim.

It is important to choose a company with a track record in your state. Each state has particular laws regulating medical malpractice insurance. Again, nothing trumps experience in a state if you are subject to a lawsuit.
Most solid physician malpractice insurance companies offer Risk Management Programs to help you avoid a medical malpractice claim. Being sued is an awful experience, regardless of the outcome. Taking steps to mitigate a claim is vital to your practice and your well-being.

Many malpractice companies offer loss free credits, group credits, society credits, dividends, and profit sharing plans. We have seen physicians take out considerable dollars at retirement by being insured with a company that offers these benefits.

Barbara Gracey Backer


Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at barbara@gbifl.com.

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