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The basics of your policy

Some policyholders mistakenly think they need to insure their house for its resale value. You should be insuring your house for its replacement value, which is the amount it will take to rebuild the home if it is destroyed by a covered peril.

Your insurance agent will provide you with an estimate, but experts also advise paying a contractor, engineer or a trained appraiser to place the right replacement amount on a house if you do not agree with your agent or company replacement cost amount. Be aware that these expert expenses could be the responsibility of the homeowner.

In the event your home is destroyed, your policy will pay up to the limits on your policy to rebuild your home. Some insurers have what is called an inflation guard contained in the policy. This will increase the amount of insurance on your home by a small amount each year to keep up with inflation.

Some insurers pay only the replacement value stated in your insurance contract, while others will provide a cushion of up to 25 percent. The replacement estimate may not take into account a surge in demand after a storm that could increase the cost of supplies and labor.

Contents coverage

Florida homeowners are allowed to waive coverage for furnishings and other contents. Some companies also allow consumers to pick the level of contents coverage. Insurers used to give consumers coverage pegged at a certain value of their structure — 50 percent was common — even if their furnishings and belongings were minimal.

Windstorm coverage

Florida statute 627.712 allows homeowners to exclude coverage for wind events in some cases. Most mortgage holders, however, require wind coverage.

To waive wind coverage, a homeowner must provide a letter from their lender that says it is all right with the lender if the insured drops the coverage. The savings from a policy by dropping windstorm coverage could be substantial, up to half of the total premiums paid.

Even so, use caution before dropping the coverage, because it comes with a high risk. It’s not just hurricanes that it covers, but any wind scenario. That would include a tree falling on your house if it did so as a result of a strong wind and not just a hurricane.

Raising deductibles

An option that could offer substantial premium savings is raising your deductible. Your mortgage company might be able to veto such a move. Most insurers offer hurricane deductible of $500, 2 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent.

Florida Statute 627.701 allows insurers to offer deductibles beyond the 10 percent, but not all insurers offer larger deductible options. To have a deductible in excess of 10 percent, the home must be valued at less than $500,000 and the policyholder must provide to the insurer a letter, written in his or her own hand, saying what amount in deductible they are willing to pay.

Permission must also be obtained by the mortgage company if applicable. Calculate whether you could make repairs yourself in the event of a catastrophic event. Do you have $30,000 on hand, the amount you would pay if you took a 15 percent deductible, and your house suffered $200,000 worth of damage?

You will want to check your state's current laws before the storm hits to make sure you are covered after the storm.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • Even with Hurricane Irma long gone, we're still seeing new closures due to the storm.  St. Johns County Emergency Management says due to significant erosion from Irma, they're closing down the Roscoe Boulevard Bridge, north of Landrum Lane for repairs, beginning September 21.  During this time, Roscoe Boulevard will be closed to through traffic from Landrum Lane to Canal Boulevard.  It will remain closed until the full damage assessment and necessary repairs have been completed. There's no timeline released on how long that could take.  St. Johns County Emergency Management says residents living between Canal Boulevard and the bridge can access their homes from North Roscoe. Those living between Landrum Lane and the bridge can access their homes from South Roscoe.  In addition, all southbound traffic on Roscoe Bouelvard will be detoured at Canal Boulevard to Palm Valley Road, while all northbound traffic will be detoured to Landrum Lane to Palm Valley Road.  For more information, you can call the county at (904) 209-0110.
  • It's good news for St. Johns County residents. The county says the Roscoe Boulevard Bridge has finally reopened. It's been closed for repairs, between Landrum Lane and Canal Boulevard, since the bridge sustained significant damage from Hurricane Irma.  Irma also caused damage to the County Road 218 and Henley Road bridges in Clay County. Those remain closed at this time, but the Clay County Sheriff's Office says they're on track with construction.  The reopening dates for both of those bridges are set for mid-late December.
  • The Florida Democrat Party chairman resigned Friday after a report of anonymous allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior, a decision he made after four of his party's candidates for governor said he should step down.The party posted on Twitter a statement from Stephen Bittel, who had held the position since January.'When my personal situation becomes distracting to our core mission of electing Democrats and making Florida better, it is time for me to step aside,' Bittel said. 'I apologize for all who have felt uncomfortable during my tenure at the Democratic Party.'Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and businessman Chris King quickly called on Bittel to resign in response to a Politico report quoting women it did not identify saying Bittel would leer at them, make comments about their appearances or breasts, and exhibit other behavior that made them uncomfortable. He also had a breast-shaped stress ball in his office.None of the women said he groped or assaulted them.Bittel is a wealthy real estate developer who was a big money donor to the party. He was elected to lead the state party following an election year that saw Florida support Republican President Donald Trump.Graham said she called Bittel after the report to personally urge him to resign.'No one should have to work in an uncomfortable environment. Bittel's behavior and the atmosphere he has created is unacceptable,' she said in a statement released by her campaign.His resignation comes as the party tries to regain control of the governor's office for the first time since 1999. Florida is also electing three new Cabinet members and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is seeking a fourth term and will likely be challenged by Republican Gov. Rick Scott.Last month, Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemens resigned after a report that he had an extra-marital affair with a lobbyist. Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala, who is running for governor, is being investigated by the Senate over anonymous allegations of harassment and groping. He has denied the allegations.A growing number of prominent men have faced allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to rape since Donald Trump's presidential campaign, when multiple women accused him of past sexual improprieties. After Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein resigned last month, other men in entertainment, media, politics and beyond have been accused as well.
  • A local man who thought he was showing up for a date, was instead beaten and robbed.  The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has made three arrests in connection to an armed robbery, tied to the online dating website Plenty of Fish. According to their arrest reports, three suspects, Kristen Freese, 19, Elizabeth Rittenhouse, 20, and Darell Mathis, 24, were all in some way connected to an armed robbery that took place inside a home on Haverford Road on Jacksonville's Northside, earlier this week.  JSO says the victim, a man, showed up to the home to meet up with a woman he had been messaging with on Plenty of Fish. Once inside, three men slammed him to the floor and started beating him.  One of the men who had a gun, allegedly demanded the victim to empty his pockets and strip off his clothes. The report says the men continued to beat the victim, as they took his wallet and iPhone.  After locking him in a closet for several minutes, the men eventually kicked him out of the home, allegedly threatening to kill him if he called police.  The report says the victim drove down the road where another person called police for him. He was taken to the hospital with several cuts to his face, swelling and bruising.  Freese, Rittenhouse, and Mathis are now all charged with armed robbery. It's not yet clear if police have identified the other people involved.
  • It’s become a tradition in many families – instead of roasting the Thanksgiving turkey, they fry it up in a vat of oil. Some say the idea of frying the holiday bird came from Justin Wilson, the Louisiana chef who made everything Cajun popular a few decades ago.According to an article in Vogue, in 1996, Martha Stewart Living published a photograph of a deep-fried turkey for its November issue. The New York Times included a piece about deep-fried turkey a year later.While people who have included frying a turkey as part of their holiday celebration swear by the moist taste, frying 15 pounds of bird is not without its risks.Here’s a step-by-step guide to cooking the bird without burning down your house. 1. Pick the bird.  With frying turkeys, small is generally better. Go for birds around 10-12 pounds. If you have a big crowd of turkey lovers coming for dinner, fry two of them. 2. Prepare the bird. There is an important step in frying a turkey that you don’t necessarily take when you roast one. It is important, really important, that the turkey is completely thawed (no ice on it at all) and that it is dried off when you lower it into the oil. Just remember, oil and water are not a good mix. 3. Don’t forget to season. After the bird is thawed, season it liberally with salt, pepper and any other seasonings your guests would like. Some people use “turkey injectors” to shoot seasoning under the turkey skin. 4. Don’t forget the cavity. And while you are in the cavity, make sure you get the giblets out of there. For those new to turkeys, it’s that bag that is stuff into a frozen turkey that contains the neck, the heart, liver and other parts that were once inside the bird in a different fashion. You can do all of this the day before Thanksgiving and put the bird in the refrigerator until it is show time. 5. OK, your bird is ready. It’s time to set up the frying gear. First, and most importantly, you will be doing the frying outside, not in or near a garage or a carport. Turkey frying isn’t a family activity. Make sure the kids and the pets are inside while you fry. That’s very important. 6. Now comes the setup for the fryer. What you generally get when you buy a turkey fryer is a metal pot, something that looks like a coat hanger, a burner, a thermometer and a gas regulator. The other thing you need is oil. You want an oil that can stand up to high heat. Peanut oil or cottonseed oil is a good choice. 7. How much oil do you need? That’s a good question. Here’s an easy way to figure it out. The day before you fry, take the bird, still in its packaging, and lower it into the pot. Cover the turkey with water. Make a note of how much water was needed to cover the turkey. That’s how much oil you will need. (Note: You want to leave at least 3-5 inches for the top of the pot clear for safety’s sake.) .  8. Now, find a level spot to put the burner. Fill the pot with the amount of oil you measured by using the water the day before. Turn the burner on and heat the oil. The oil should be at 340-350 degrees before you lower the turkey into it. 9. Putting it in. Take the hanger-like device and stick it in the turkey. The legs should be facing up, the breast down. Slowly lower the turkey into the oil. Use long oven mitts while you do this. Once the turkey is in the oil, take out the coat-hanger device and let the turkey sit. 10. How long do you cook it? Here’s a ballpark estimate: allow 3 1/2 minutes for every pound. So, for a 12-pound bird, it should take about 42 minutes.  11. Getting it out. Once the bird is cooked, put the hanger-like device back into the bird. Remember to wear the long oven mitts. Carefully lift the turkey out of the oil. Allow it to drain a bit, and then place it on a platter. Check the temperature of the bird. It  should be between 167 and 180 degrees. If the temperature is OK, leave the bird alone for a while. If it’s not hot enough or is undercooked in spots, you can put the turkey back into the oil.   

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