Friday, July 18, 2014

Hot topic: Sinkholes in Trinity, Florida

I am asked the same question time and time again: What is the deal with the sinkholes in Trinity!? Am I covered !?

1. We are prone to sinkholes...
 Let's take a look at the map below from the Florida Geological Survey. Trinity is in a blue shaded area. The Florida Geological Survey says "...abruptly forming, collapse sinkholes are dominate..." for this blue shaded area. Insurance carriers look at this information when they decide where to offer insurance policies and what type of coverages they will include.

2. Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse is included in most policies in accordance with Florida law...

When we see the devastating, massive sinkholes on the news they are usually (not always) classified Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse. Most policies in Florida include Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse in their policy in accordance with Florida law. This differs from what might be called 'sinkhole' coverage.

Here's the 4 criteria that must ALL be met for a loss to be defined as a Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse:
  • Abrupt collapse of the ground cover
  • A depression clearly visible with the naked eye
  • Structural damage to the foundation AND
  • Structure being condemned by an authorized governmental agency

3. If you have 'sinkhole' insurance, it will be clearly marked on your insurance policy's declarations page along with the deductible.

'Sinkhole' insurance is different than Ground Cover Collapse and policy coverage is different for each carrier. In my experience, it is very challenging to get the seperate 'sinkhole' coverage in the Trinity area. Typically, homeowners are required to get a geological inspection through an approved vendor. The company then decides if they are willing to write the risk based on the inspection results.

If you have 'sinkhole' coverage as indicated on your declarations page, you will want to be cautious before cancelling this coverage. While it might be causing your premium to increase in price each year at renewal, it could be difficult to get this coverage added back onto your policy.

More info from the Florida Department of Financial Services:

Again, each policy and homeowner has unique circumstances. This article is meant for general informational purposes. To obtain insurance advice specific to your needs, please contact me at


Interested in a quote or want a second opinion on your current policy? I only need your address. Call me at (813) 406-2290 or email me at

Brianne Ruggeri Small Agent
Ruggeri Insurance Agency
Main Office (941) 966-5900
Cell (813) 406-2290


Friday, April 11, 2014

Wine, Wine on the Wall... Will your insurance cover it if it were to fall?

You undoubtedly remember when you started collecting wine. You had a few bottles here and there. Now you have a cooler to store your impressive collection and a global representation in your selections of vintage.

Now that some time has passed and you've turned a hobby into a passion, are you sure that your collection is protected by your homeowners insurance? 

Here area few steps to be sure your wine collection is protected.

  1. Have your collection appraised. An official wine appraisal done by a professional will be invaluable if you have an insurance loss to your collection. Appraisals cost the equivalent of a few bottles of wine and are worth every penny. 
  2. Take an ongoing inventory. As you add to your collection, record your purchases. If your home burns down or your collection suffers damage
  3. Consider your wine storage. Wine cellars and coolers can come with a heavy price tag. While many of these appliances may be covered under your contents coverage, you want to be sure that their value is factored in to your policy.

Talk to your insurance agent. Find out what types of coverage are available to you. Ask what perils are insured against. Will damage from fire be covered? Will damage from a flood or vandalism be covered? These things are important to consider.


4 Basic Property Coverages in your Homeowers Policy

GET TO KNOW YOUR POLICY.  It's not as complicated as you think. We have broken it down into smaller sections for you so it's easy to GRASP. 

Inside, outside, upside down... let's look at the pieces of your policy and learn what's covered.


· A (Dwelling) This is the structure of your home. If you flipped it upside down and shook it, the dwelling would be the parts that don’t fall out. This includes cabinets, fixtures, walls, floors, etc.

· B (Other Structures) Do you have a fence, gazebo, detached garage or tool shed? Your other structures are considered structures that are detached from your home or connected by wire, fence or another connection. If you have to walk across grass to get to it, it’s probably an other structure.

· C (Personal Property) Your bed, clothes, pots and pans, etc. are considered contents and covered under personal property. Some items such as jewelry, money and firearms have special limitations. Also, some personal properties and ‘perils’ are not covered.

· D (Loss of Use) When a loss occurs due to a covered peril and you can’t live in the dwelling, this coverage is intended to cover your additional living expenses. If you have to relocate to a hotel and buy new work clothes, you’ll use this coverage.
*As always, It's important to consult your agent with questions. We're happy to review your policy with you. (813) 406-2290



Friday, March 7, 2014

Flood Reform- Light at the End of the Tunnel?

When we were approaching implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act of 2012, our agency had to explain to customers seeking flood insurance that rates were going to skyrocket. It is our job to advise clients, however there was no delicate way to explain the seriousness of the situation. Since that time, many customers seeking new policies in areas considered 'Special Flood Hazard Areas' have been presented with quotes in the thousands of dollars. Many of the homes we were quoting were valued at around $200,000. These were typical families facing rates that could jeopardize their ability to afford their homes.

Without a doubt, you saw flood insurance on both local and nation news programs...homeowners frustrated with the financial burden of these high premiums. Market prices for homes in Special Flood Hazard Areas were drastically lower than before the Biggert-Waters implementation. Signs proclaiming "Not in a Flood Zone!" could be found hanging from for sale signs throughout Pinellas in an attempt to bring in buyers who might otherwise be leery.

Well, relief might be around the corner. The Grimm-Waters act floating around Washington D.C. proposes several changes. Here are just a few:
  • Delays most of the reforms and increases for 4 years
  • Homebuyers may not have to incur the burden of the full risk premium at time of home purchase (this has been the catalyst for the decline in sales of homes with increased flood risk)
  • Possible retroactive refunds for those who had large increases due to the sale or purchase of a home
  • Allows 'grandfathering' to continue (Biggert-Waters eliminated this which caused previously subsidized rates to increase to full risk over 5 years)
  • Caps increases at 15-18% and allow for subsidies for rates on current flood maps
  • Minimize the number of policies that exceed 1% of total coverage on the home
The development of this legislation has been a bipartisan victory. We see members of Congress from both sides of the isle working diligently to provide relief. While we have not seen the final laws go into effect, we can be glad that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

*This blog is meant for informational purposes only. For specific questions regarding insurance legislation or policy information, contact our main office or the author, Brianne Small (813) 406-2290

By Brianne Ruggeri Small, Personal Lines Agent
Ruggeri Insurance Agency, Inc.
(813) 406-2290
"Your home is with our family." since 1968

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

6 InsuranceTips for Homebuyers

Congratulations! The offer on the house was accepted and you are getting everything in order to move into the home of your dreams. From the loan paperwork to the inspections and everything in between, the process can be daunting. Keep the insurance buying process moving along by adhering to these tips.

Keep these 5 tips for new homebuyers in mind when it comes to insurance...

1. Give yourself plenty of TIME. The insurance buying process is just that... a process. Allow plenty of time to obtain necessary inspections and have your application processed. Avoid a last minute scramble to get insurance before closing. Contact an agent soon after your bid is accepted to prevent a delay.

2. Don't shop based on PRICE alone. Talk and consult with a reputable agent. Any agent can remove important coverages and offer a cheap policy. An agent who is looking out for the needs of their client will use experience to prepare a quote that contains coverages necessary to keep you out of harm's way. Several coverages are inexpensive and worth the small increase in premium.

3. Understand the REPLACEMENT COST ESTIMATOR. You paid $200,000 for your home, so why is your agent asking you to insure your house for $275,000? If you are insuring your home for replacement cost (which you should), the company is only interested in what it will cost to have a home rebuilt with brand new materials. Market price and replacement cost are completely different.

4. Mention your VALUABLES. While your homeowners policy likely provides coverage or several of your valuable possessions, it is imperative that you mention these items to your agent. Companies provide many options to add on coverage or increase limitations for jewelry, collectibles, etc. Know what's covered under your policy and know the limitations of coverage.

5. Seriously consider FLOOD INSURANCE. If you aren't in a flood hazard zone, it doesn't mean you're safe from floods. I frequently hear "When we got all that rain last year, the water didn't come close to my house." The fact is that mother nature doesn't care about flood zones. When a major storm comes our way, it will be too late to buy this valuable insurance and those without flood insurance won't be compensated for any type of damage from rising water.

As always, it's important to talk with your agent. Find someone reputable who will take the time to answer your questions and put you in a policy that suits your individual needs.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me on my cell at (813) 406-2290.

-Brianne Small, Personal Lines Agent

You might also enjoy.... Home Inventory- The list that will make your life easier after a loss

Monday, January 27, 2014

Home Inventory- The list that will make your life much easier after a loss

If you were to sit and list of all the items in your home, could you do it?

If you think you could, consider this: Do you remember the serial numbers of your electronics? After a loss, do you want to have to concern yourself with listing all these items? An hour of planning ahead could save you time and effort down the road when you're attempting to file a claim.

How do I do a home inventory? 

  • Take photos or video of every room in your home. (Be sure to open closets and other storage spaces.) 
  • Document serial numbers. Your electronics should have serial numbers on the back of the devices. Make sure you have these in the event of a loss. Think about it: If you had a theft, there would be no way for police to identify your electronics if they don't know the serial number of the items they are searching for. 
  • Document the outside of your home. Patio furniture, gazebos, fences and other items outside your home may be covered under your homeowners policy. 
  • Call your agent to be sure your valuables are covered. While doing your inventory, be sure to keep an eye out for items whose values are more than your policy limitations. Do you have expensive jewelry? Do you have a collection of coins or firearms? You may need additional coverage that can be added to your homeowners policy. 
  • Gather important documents in one place. Do you know where your social security cards, birth certificates and other important papers are located? If you don't have a fireproof safe to store these in, consider a safety deposit box at a nearby bank.  
Why is this important? 
If you need to file a claim with your insurance company, you will need to verify your possessions so that they can calculate your settlement. A picture or video is truly worth a thousand words. The time saved from having this inventory ready to hand over is invaluable. 

If you have any questions about inventories, feel free to contact our office. (941) 966-5900 or email 

Is there a tool to help me get started? You can use these tools to create a comprehensive list or just as a guide for photo and video documentation. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Flood Insurance: Hope on the Horizon

There is hope on the horizon when it comes to FLOOD INSURANCE in Florida. 

A few positive developments & explanation of the Florida flood insurance situation.

by Brianne Small, Agent at Ruggeri Insurance Agency. 

  • BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON THE TABLE. The sponsors of the Bigger-Waters flood reform act say that the consequences of the rate hikes were not intended. Lawmakers realize that the Biggert-Waters act has created a crisis in several geographic areas, as you know! There are tens of thousands of homes in our Tampa Bay area that have been or will be impacted by the premium increases under the current laws. The local real estate market has also felt effects as buyers look for homes that are not in a special flood hazard area. Under the proposed changes, the government will take a step back and make a plan that accounts for affordability. Note that this agreement has not yet passed, but Ruggeri Insurance continuously monitors any updates and will keep you posted as we see new development. 

  • NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) IS $25 BILLION + IN DEBT. The Biggert-Waters flood insurance act was prompted by the massive debt from storms like Katrina and Sandy. Prior to these storms, the government could support the subsidies for those who are considered at higher risk for flooding. Now that the money is not there to subsidize rates, they want these homeowners to pay the full amount according to risk. Again, the lawmakers now realize that the lack of planning in implementing these changes has caused huge problems. While the laws to scale back Biggert-Waters have not been passed, it is encouraging to see bipartisan agreement. They will likely reassess the Biggert-Waters act and review how rates can be changed while taking affordability into account.  

  • PRIVATE COMPANIES ENTERING FLORIDA FLOOD INSURANCE MARKET. There are presently 2 private companies considering selling flood insurance to Florida residents. Flood insurance is currently offered through the government run NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program). Although flood insurance can be written through different carriers, the insurance itself is ultimately determined by the NFIP. The new private companies aim to provide flood insurance at lower rates than what the NFIP offers. Having private markets in addition to the NFIP will create more options for those with flood insurance. 

  • FLORIDA PAYS MORE IN FLOOD INSURANCE PREMIUMS THAN IT USES. Many people cite this argument when discussing the flood premium increases. Why should we pay more for insurance than we are actually paying out in claims? The problem with this logic is that if we look at each state individually, any large storms in Florida would result in a huge hike in our flood insurance premiums. Because the NFIP is a national program, risk is spread across all policy holders. If one state suffers devastating flood losses, insurance can be paid out and residents can still be offered flood insurance at what we anticipate will be reasonable premiums. 

As we see developments in the flood insurance changes, Ruggeri Insurance will keep you informed. Please visit us on Facebook for insurance updates and interesting tips.

*This article is intended for informational purposes only. The ideas are based on our professional opinion of the state of the insurance industry. For any specific questions or information, please call our office (941) 966-5900 to speak with an agent.