Category: Personal Insurance

Flood Insurance Changes Taking Place this Month

When the Biggert-Waters Flood Act was passed last July, very few knew that it would take over a year for some of the major provisions of the bill to kick in. In fact, some of the changes were not even announced until almost a year after the bill passed, and less than 6 months from the time many of the provision go into affect. October 1st, 2013 is one of the dates where some major changes are set to go into affect. There are a few provisions that go into affect as of Oct 1, but the ones that will affect the most people are the Elevation Certificate requirement on all Flood Insurance Policies, and the elimination of subsidized rates for Pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) homes. From here on out, Flood Insurance rates will be based on the actual elevation of the house (actuarial rate), no matter if it was built before or after the Rate Map was released in the mid-70’s. Until now, Pre-Firm homes were allowed to keep their subsidized rates. However, as of Oct 1, 2013, Non-Primary Homes (under 80% occupancy per year), will no longer be allowed to keep their subsidized rates, and will see an increase of 25% per year until the actuarial rate is achieved. The actuarial rate for a home is pre-set by the National Flood Insurance Program and is based on the elevation of the house, which is why Elevation Certificates are now required. Primary homeowners will get to keep their subsidized rates as long as they keep their policy. As of Oct 1, 2013, however, once they let the policy lapse, assign the policy, or for any new policy, the actuarial rate will begin from day one, and will not be phased in at the 25% per year pace. But that news is not all bad, as in many cases, the actuarial rate is less expensive under the new law. For example, the actuarial rate before Biggert-Waters for a Single Story Pre-Firm home that is in an AE Flood Zone, is at Base Flood Elevation and without an Elevation Certificate is $3,600 per year. Under the new law, that same house will now have an actuarial rate of $1,815. If that same house is 4 ft above Base Flood Elevation, the actuarial rate under the new law will be $553 per year. So its important to get an Elevation Certificate to determine the Base Flood Elevation. In many cases, rates will not go up that much, if at all. There are some other changes that take affect on Oct 1, 2013 as well. For example, all Business Owners that are using subsidized rates will now see a 25% rate increase per yer until the actuarial rate is achieved. The same goes for properties that are deemed to be severe repetitive loss properties, who have had sever flood damage multiple times. Also the limit on the amount rates can go up each year was raised from 10%-20%, plus there will be an additional 5% fee charged to all Flood Policies the set up a Reserve Fund. It is very important to speak with your Insurance agent to determine the affect the changes will have on you. The best advice right now is to get an Elevation Certificate. Then you will get a true picture of what needs to be done, if anything, to keep your Flood Insurance rates low.

New FEMA Base Elevation Requirements are Released

This past weekend, FEMA released the new flood elevation maps for those areas that were affected by Super Storm Sandy. Here you will be able to search by address and find out what the Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) is for that property. It is choked full of other information as well. After entering the address, and clicking “Get Details” you will not only get the new AFBE, it will also give you the old base elevation, as well as what Flood Zone the property is in. There are also numerous links to other reports and information regarding the elevation of the property.* While this is going to apply to any new homes that are built in flood zones, it will also apply to those homes that the are deemed to “substantially damaged” by the Township in which the property is located. On the Long Beach Township home page, they explain this a little more in the “Repair Your Flood Damaged Home” section about a quarter of the way down the page. They also explain that if the home is deemed to be substantially damage, you must now meet the the required flood elevation for that location. They also give some guidance as to what the Township will deemed as substantially damaged. Of course each town’s requirements may be slightly different, but this is an example what homeowners need to take into consideration when they are deciding what to do with their damaged homes. *Update as of December 19, 2012 – All owners should click on the “Link to AFBE Map” to view the actual map. It gives two different numbers as a base elevation, the 1% Elevation and the 2% Elevation. Here is a link to the definitions, but its essentially the percentage chance that the elevation will be breached by water in a given year. The general difference in feet between the two number are 4-5 feet. For example, our LBI office has a 1% advisory base elevation of 9 feet, and a 2% advisory base of 13 feet. These are the numbers to pay close attention to. We are hearing that Long Beach Township will adopt the 2% ABFE in their buiding ordinances, which means new homes and those deemed substantially damaged will have to raise their house to the 2% elevation. Regarding what is deemed substantially damaged, we are hearing that if the damage to your home is 49-50% of the buildings value, it will be deemed substantially damaged and be forced to comply with the flood regualtions. On Friday, Dec 21, 2012, Long Beach Township is expected to introduce its new FEMA ordinances, so stay tuned…

Hurricane Sandy Claims Update

We understand you are all anxious to start rebuilding.  Our Claims and Insurance people have been working as quickly as possible to get the thousands of claims processed from Hurricane Sandy.  An Adjustor will be in contact but please remember it could be more than a week from the time you submit your claim before you are contacted. Priority is being given to those properties that were the primary residence of families and they are currently do not have a place to live Feel free to contact us at any point and we can try to answer all your questions. Here are some tips on what you can do in the mean time:
  • Make sure your property is safe to enter.
  • Be sure to use Gloves and mask to keep you healthy
  • Shut off electric and gas mains so you don’t have issues when they come on again
  • Take as many pictures as possible before doing any work
  • Write down an inventory of damaged items
  • You can remove any wet things such as carpet and furniture, Just Do Not throw anything out
  • Keep everything someplace safe on the property
  • You can do what you need to to make your property safe and prevent further damage, particularly from Mold – If you need to remove sheet rock and insulation, once again do not throw it out
  • Make sure you throw away everything thing that has been in the freezer/refrigerator
If you get a contractor for Anything:
  • Keep your receipts
  • Make sure they have a New Jersey license to do business
  • If they do not have an NJ license number then Insurance will most likely not reimburse
  • We have a list of licensed contractors here
 

Van Dyk Group Included in 2012 IIABA’s Best Practices Study

Barnegat, NJ – For the 12th year in a row, The Van Dyk Group has retained its status as part of an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the United States participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) “Best Practices” Study Group. Each year since 1993, IIABA and Reagan Consulting, an Atlanta-based management consulting firm, join forces to study the country’s leading agencies in six revenue categories. The agencies comprising the study groups are selected every third year through a comprehensive nomination and qualifying process and awarded a “Best Practices Agency” designation. The selected “Best Practices” agencies retain their status during the three-year cycle by submitting extensive financial and operational data for review each year. This year concludes the current three-year study cycle in which more than 1,200 independent agencies throughout the U.S. were nominated to participate. Only 224 agencies qualified for the honor. To be chosen, the agency had to be among the 35-40 top-performing agencies in one of six revenue categories. The agency was nominated by either an IIABA affiliated state association or an insurance company and qualified based on its operational excellence. The Best Practices Study was initiated by IIABA in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The annual survey and study of leading independent insurance agencies documents the business practices of the “best” agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices. Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance – property, casualty, life and health – as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagents.com.

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