Mission Statement

"Our mission is to create peace of mind and build enduring relationships."

Bob Lancaster Insurance's mission statement is the core of our culture. Our customers always come first, and we strive to provide them with the products and service that best respond to their needs. Building trust and fostering loyal, long-lasting relationships are the essence of who we are and fundamental parts of our company values.

Putting our mission statement to work

Our employees work hard to connect with our customers on a very real and personal level. Find out what Bob Lancaster’s mission means to them and how they carry it out every day.

Bob Lancaster Insurance, serving Florida's insurance needs since 1964. Contact us today at 321-725-1620 - see what we can do for YOU and YOUR BUSINESS!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Essential Safety Tips for Nighttime Boating

Stay visible when boating after the sun goes down.
If you own a boat (or better yet, as the joke goes, you know someone who does), you’ve probably thought about spending some evenings on the water — especially in the summertime.

It’s a great thought, of course. But, when you’re boating after dark, you need to think about staying safe, even as you enjoy the sunset and starry sky.

Here are seven things to keep in mind, both before you hit the water and once you’re out cruising – or floating – around:

1. Have a plan — and tools to help if it goes wrong.
Don’t go boating at night in an unfamiliar place. You can’t see as well, obviously, so stick to where you know the ropes, so to speak. And because things look different in the dark, make sure you have the correct navigational tools in case you get lost.

2. Share your plan.
Always give a friend or family member your “float plan.” Include where you’re going, your boat’s description and registration information, who’s with you and when you’ll be back.

3. Check – and dress for – the weather.
On top of the other difficulties of boating at night, you don’t want to get caught in a storm if you can help it. And you want to be comfortable, so be sure to bring clothing appropriate for the forecast. A sweatshirt, blanket and extra towels may come in handy, even in the summer.

4. Do a pre-trip inspection.
This is good advice for daytime boating as well, but at night it’s crucial that your navigation lights work, for starters. You also need a horn, plenty of fuel, a radio, a flashlight, flares, fire extinguishers and life jackets for all passengers.

5. Slow down.
Speed is a factor in many boating accidents, and the limited visibility at night makes the water even more dangerous. Remember, you aren’t going to be the only one on the water at night, so know the right-of-way rules.

6. Pay attention.
Know how to monitor the navigation lights of other vessels to recognize which direction they are going. Be particularly cautious about small vessels, such as canoes and kayaks, as well as anchored or drifting boats. Their lights can be easily confused with lights onshore.

7. Don’t get distracted — or drunk.
It’s never okay to drink and operate a boat, so be sure you have a designated driver. And, though you’re out there to have fun, make sure you can still hear the sounds from approaching vessels. Keep the stereo low and your ears open.

While these tips are important, there’s nothing like experience to help ensure a safe voyage. If you’re a new boater or just in an unfamiliar vessel, you may want to put in more hours during the day before tackling an area at night. Even then, start with short evening outings and work your way up to a moonlight ride. And don’t forget to turn on the lights at the dock before you go!

Contact us for all your Insurance needs! (321)725-1620
Bob Lancaster Insurance
Serving Florida since 1964

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

6 ways to reduce business premises liability

When a customer enters any place of business, it is usually to consider the goods or services offered for sale. Suppose Susie enters Trudy's Exotic Emporium, a store offering many unique and some exotic products. Walking down an aisle she slips and falls, injuring herself. Is the owner of the business liable to her for the injuries she has sustained?

The answer to this depends upon several considerations. First, simply because an injury has occurred does not automatically make the store liable, or at least fully liable. Legally, the concept of absolute liability will not usually apply. Absolute liability is a situation where just because an injury or loss occurred, a party is simply held liable for the loss of another. These types of situations are somewhat rare and often apply when a defendant has been engaged in an ultra-hazardous activity.

In the scenario here, any liability placed upon the store for the injury to the customer would normally be predicated upon the concept of negligence on the part of the business. During the first year of law school, most students are exposed to the somewhat strange world of tort law and the discussion of when one party should be liable for injury or loss to another.

To speak in general terms, the law usually expects us to conduct ourselves in such a way that we do not cause injury or loss to others. This is where negligence comes into the picture. As a plaintiff, Susie must show certain things like the defendant (the store) owed a duty of care toward her or a class to which she belongs. Second, that the store breached that duty of care by an act or omission. Third, that this act or failure to act on the part of the defendant store was what is called the proximate (i.e., direct) cause of the plaintiff's loss or injury. Fourth is that the plaintiff did suffer loss or injury, which may be compensated. In general terms these facts must be proven by plaintiff Susie in order for her to receive compensation.

A business open to the public is basically expected to use reasonable care to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and state. In principle this should make sense to most persons and not be viewed as an overly burdensome obligation on the business operator. The issues in most situations revolve around the question of what the business did or did not do with respect to maintaining the premises in a reasonably safe condition.

Here we should perhaps emphasize the term 'reasonably' safe condition. We are not referring to the legal concept of absolute liability or saying that the business is guaranteeing the safety of all customers in all circumstances.

Check regularly for hazards

6 ways to reduce risk

That said, what should a business owner do? One suggestion would be to consult with an insurance agent. If you call us at Bob Lancaster Insurance we can send a representative to come out and look over the business premises and give advice. If the owner has an attorney, a consultation might be of value.

As a business owner, consider setting up periodic sweep schedules where an employee goes through the premises looking for problems like spilled drinks on the floor and other possible issues. Keep a record of these sweep schedules. In the future this shows an effort to find and clear possible problems and hazards.  Should the matter end up in court, it shows the business owner used reasonable care in an attempt to avoid problems. Most businesses will clean up or remove a known hazard, such as spilled soft drinks on a floor, but going further with periodic checks for hazards offers better evidence of a concern for safety.

If problems are found, try to remedy them as soon as possible because it shows the business took reasonable actions to avoid injury to customers and correct the problem.

Be proactive. If there is a problem, address it. Retailers may want to consider a sign on the front door or window advising that no food or drinks are allowed inside the business. While this won’t always prevent customers from bringing them in the store, if someone slips and falls it shows the store tried to prevent such problems.

Look at displays of merchandise – are boxes stacked too high? Do they pose a risk of falling? Merchandise placed on higher shelves may pose a problem. Consider posting a notice that customers should request assistance for such items.

What about the condition of the floor itself? Are there protruding ridges, broken tiles where footwear may get caught? You cannot prevent all problems, but you can reduce possible liability by taking reasonable precautions.

If there is an accident and a customer is injured, make an accurate report of the matter. Details are important. For example, in a slip and fall not only is what may have been on the floor important, but notice what kind of footwear the customer was wearing. Were they flats, heels, tennis shoes or a slippery type of sandal?

Many incidents may occur on a business premises. Take the time to look around and think about making changes to conditions that have the potential to cause or contribute to an accident. All accidents cannot be prevented, but the effort to maintain safe conditions will show that reasonable care was exercised.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Do You Need Umbrella Insurance?

Umbrella Coverage Explained

Umbrella insurance gives you the excess liability coverage you may need in an accident or lawsuit.
One of the most certain things in life is, certainly, uncertainty. Your dog could bite the neighbor’s kid. Your teen driver could hit a cyclist. A guest could fall down your stairs. A rainy morning commute on worn-out tires could result in a multi-car accident. And you could be held liable to others for the cost of damages – injuries, property destruction, emotional distress, lost wages and more.

Good thing you have insurance. But, wait, your policy covers $300,000 of liability, and, in a lawsuit, you’re judged liable for $1 million. That leaves $700,000 left to pay. How will you cover it?
If you have umbrella insurance and your policy covers the incident, the additional $700,000 will come from your policy. If not, it will come from the assets you have now, such as your home and savings, and from future assets, such as your wages or inheritance.

The fact is, it only takes one serious accident and a resulting lawsuit to put everything you own – and will own – at risk. And it only takes one umbrella policy to help protect it all.
Here are a few things you should know about umbrella insurance:
  • Personal umbrella policies typically offer $1, $2, $3, $4 or $5 million of liability coverage. Consider your net worth when choosing your coverage –you could be sued for everything you have.
  • An umbrella policy is not a stand-alone policy. Your insurance carrier will typically require you to meet certain qualifications, such as having an auto policy with a certain level of liability coverage, in order to purchase umbrella insurance.
  • Even when you have umbrella insurance, your car or home insurance is your first line of defense. For example, if you are liable for $2 million in a car accident and your auto insurance covers $500,000 of liability, your auto policy covers the first $500,000. Your umbrella policy covers the remaining $1.5 million, assuming your policy covers the incident and that you purchased that much coverage. If you are liable for $250,000 in an accident on your property and your homeowners insurance covers $300,000, your umbrella policy won’t be needed.
  • If you insure a motorcycle, ATV, golf cart, snowmobile, motorhome or watercraft, your umbrella policy may provide additional liability coverage on top of those policies as well. Be sure to check with your carrier to confirm your coverage on these types of vehicles.
  • A single umbrella policy typically covers all of your family members who are residents of your household.
Essentially, an umbrella policy gives you excess liability coverage on top of what your other policies provide. If you’re at fault for a serious accident, you’ll need it.

Umbrella insurance also gives you liability coverage in instances where other policies don’t. Examples include driving in a foreign country or renting a boat.

If you’re curious about how umbrella insurance might play a role in protecting the life you’ve built or plan to build, give Bob Lancaster Insurance a call.

Contact us for all your Insurance needs! (321)725-1620
Bob Lancaster Insurance
Serving Florida since 1964

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Insuring Jewelry: How to Know If Your Coverage Is Enough

Extra Jewelry Coverage Helps Protect Your Most Valuable Pieces

Insure your jewelry on your homeowners policy.
A ring from a loved one. A bracelet handed down through generations. A watch or necklace marking a special occasion.

Every reason why you treasure a piece of fine jewelry is a reason why it should be insured.
Calling it “jewelry insurance,” however, may be misleading. It’s not a separate policy. Rather it’s part of your personal property coverage from your homeowners insurance, condoowners insurance, and renters insurance (depending on the specifics of your policy).

Jewelry coverage helps protect the investment you’ve made in your favorite pieces by helping you replace them if you experience a loss that’s covered by your policy. But, the coverage is only for certain instances and set dollar amounts, so look into your coverage and learn more about insuring jewelry below.

Know What Your Existing Insurance Policy Covers
If you already have personal property coverage as part of a homeowners policy, renters policy or condo policy, you likely already have some form of protection for your jewelry. The typical insurance policy will cover you, up to your policy limit, for jewelry that’s stolen or damaged in certain incidents, such as a fire at your home. However, the typical policy will not cover everyday damage, such as a stone falling out of its setting.

In addition to knowing when you’re covered and when you’re not, it’s also important to know how much you’re covered for. Your insurance policy may cover each individual piece of jewelry at a set amount, such as $1,000 per piece. Or, it may cover your jewelry collection as a whole, such as $3,000 for all pieces. Check your policy or schedule an insurance review with a local agent to better understand what kind of jewelry coverage you have.

Calculate the Value of Your Jewelry Collection in Today’s Dollars
To determine whether you have enough jewelry insurance, you need to know how much your pieces are worth. Keep in mind that your pieces may be worth more now than when you bought them. The value of precious metals and precious stones can increase over time, so have your pieces appraised about every three years.

Use these appraisals, as well as receipts for recently purchased items, to add up the value of your collection. Then compare it to how much jewelry replacement coverage you have on your homeowners insurance, condo insurance or renters insurance.

Decide Which Items Require Additional Coverage
If the jewelry coverage on your policy is lower than the value of your collection, you’ll likely want to purchase additional coverage. For example, you may have a $2,000 pair of diamond earrings, a $7,500 engagement ring and an insurance policy that covers jewelry loss – no matter how many pieces – at $3,000. If both pieces are lost in a single incident, you’re short $6,500 of coverage.
To fill this gap, you can insure high-value items individually, as part of your homeowners insurance, condo insurance or renters insurance. This is known as scheduling valuables or adding a “rider” or “endorsement” to your policy. To do so, you will likely need a recent receipt or appraisal establishing the value of each item.

Once scheduled, if an item is damaged or lost in a covered incident, you’ll be covered for the full scheduled amount. Typically, scheduling an item also gives you broader coverage. A lost stone that isn’t covered under your homeowners policy, for example, is likely covered under a policy rider.

Catalog Your Jewelry in a Home Inventory
Once you arrange coverage for your high-value jewelry, it’s important to create a home inventory or update an existing one to catalog your valuable belongings. This isn’t as important for your scheduled pieces because your insurance company has a record of their value. However, for any unscheduled pieces that are lost or stolen, you’ll want a record of their worth.

Ideally, your home inventory will include photos, receipts, appraisals, descriptions, brand names, etc. of all valuable personal property, not just your jewelry. That way, if there’s a loss you’ll have all your documentation in place.

A home inventory can be as simple as a Word document (save it to the cloud or a flash drive in case your computer is damaged or stolen). Or use a Web program or mobile phone app to help you catalog your belongings.

Insuring jewelry is easy and affordable, so give us a call. You may pay as little as $10 a year for each $1,000 of coverage. So, if you get something special for Valentine’s Day this year, in addition to showing it off, be sure to protect it, too.

Contact us for all your Insurance needs! (321)725-1620
Bob Lancaster Insurance
Serving Florida since 1964

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Adjusting Homeowners’ Claims in the Sharing Economy

Would you rent your home to a total stranger? This may seem like a daunting prospect at first, but internet companies like Airbnb, HomeAway and VBRO have helped millions of people to do just that. Reassured by social media tools that allow users to rate and review their transactions and recommend service providers to their friends, many property owners have been quick to benefit from collaborative consumption.

The “sharing economy” has developed from a low key local phenomenon into a highly lucrative business model. However, this has raised some interesting issues for carriers and their adjusters.
The Legal Position
In New York, the Attorney General has been cracking down on hosts renting multiple units that are in effect illegal hotels. Residents of most New York apartments are prohibited from renting out their properties in their absence for less than thirty days, and building management companies have issued warnings that subletting may breach the terms of tenancy and risk the security of all residents.
Authorities in San Francisco recently introduced legislation to lift the ban on rentals of less than thirty days, with some important restrictions. The rental must be of the owner’s permanent home (their residence for at least 275 days in the preceding year); the rental terms cannot exceed ninety days in any given year. Also, the property owner must obtain a business license and permit. Each listing must hold at least $500,000 in liability insurance and city hotel taxes must be paid for all rentals.

Clearly when advising a client on a potential rental or investigating a claim for damages, it is prudent to check the legal position in their area, and ensure that they have met any administrative requirements.
Service Providers Offer Limited Coverage
It is also worth closely inspecting any protection offered by the service connecting the property owner with the tenant. For example Airbnb has a “host guarantee” which does offer significant cover, but is no real replacement for a wide ranging insurance policy. HomeAway offers damage protection insurance up to $5,000 for an additional fee.

Property owners must also understand what damage is covered by any such guarantee. They should also know if the service provider can be trusted to live up to their promises.

In one case, a New York property owner returned home to find that her seemingly harmless tenant had thrown a wild party and trashed her apartment. Initially, Airbnb was not helpful, and the homeowner’s basic insurance did not cover the damage. However, when Airbnb was threatened with bad publicity the company decided that their host guarantee was applicable and they agreed to pay for the damages.

Typically, these kinds of service providers do not offer any cover for a liability and only limited cover for damage to property. If the service provider will not offer any relief, the homeowner will turn to their insurance carrier. But does the business exclusion on a standard policy apply to home sharing? Typically, no.
Business Insurance may be Appropriate
Many insurance companies will agree to extend the homeowner’s coverage to the renter for a single occasion as long as they are notified in advance. However, if the property is to be rented out on a more regular basis, the property owner would be best advised to purchase business insurance, such as a hotel or bed and breakfast policy for short term rentals or a landlord policy for longer term rental.

Business insurance will not only provide protection against damage to the structure and contents of your client’s home, but will generally include liability coverage in case the tenant (or one of their guests) is injured on the property. Without this cover the property owner may find themselves facing costly legal fees and medical expenses. Policies may also include cover for loss of rental income while repairs are being effected, which is very reassuring if owners have mortgage payments to cover from the rental income.
How Big is the Risk?
While it is certainly the case that home sharing increases the risks of property damage or the incurring of liability for injury, carriers and adjusters should take care not to overestimate the risks.
Airbnb claims that since their inception they have not encountered any liability claim or judgment in excess of $10,000. HomeAway (which has been in business since 2005) purports not to have encountered any serious judgments or claims. Furthermore, insurance for rental properties is not new and policies covering vacation properties are already common to most carriers.

Contact us for all your Insurance needs! (321)725-1620

Bob Lancaster Insurance

Serving Florida since 1964

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Protecting Your Home: What Insurance Does and Doesn’t Cover

Understanding Your Home Insurance Policy

Know what your home insurance covers.
As a homeowner, one of the most important aspects of your home isn’t something you use daily. And it isn’t something flashy you show off to friends. It’s your homeowners insurance policy, and it protects you in more ways than you may think, helping you rebuild your home or repair damage that results from a covered loss.

But, that’s not all. It can also help cover the costs of a lawsuit, help you pay for somewhere else to live when your home is uninhabitable and much more.
Home insurance is typically very comprehensive, but all policies have exclusions and coverage limits. It’s vital to know what those are so you know what’s covered and what’s not. Fire damage? Typically covered. Flood damage? Typically not.

With this guide, you can begin to understand what a typical home insurance policy covers. Just keep in mind that coverages vary from carrier to carrier, region to region and even policy to policy. Only your individual home policy can tell you the coverages you have and those you don’t. For an even better understanding of your home policy coverages, review them with your local insurance agent.

What Home Insurance Covers
The typical homeowners insurance policy has six type of coverages. They are commonly known as:
  • Coverage A: Dwelling, for damage to your house that occurs due to covered losses, such as a fire. Following a covered loss, dwelling coverage helps you repair or rebuild your home, including the structures, such as a garage or a deck, attached to it.
  • Coverage B: Other Structures, for damage to other buildings or structures on your property that result from a covered loss, such as a tornado. This may include a detached garage, a barn or a fence.
  • Coverage C: Personal Property, for damage to or loss, including theft, of your personal belongings and possessions, such as jewelry, furniture, guns and other valuables. If you experience a covered loss, this coverage will help you replace items up to the defined dollar limit in your policy. In certain instances, your belongings may be worth more than the typical home insurance policy covers. In this case, you may be able to purchase additional coverage through a process known as scheduling valuables. To help expedite a personal property claim, it helps to keep an updated home inventory of your belongings.
  • Coverage D: Additional Living Expenses, for costs incurred, up to your set policy limit, due to “loss of use” of your home, meaning your home has been damaged to the extent that you cannot live in it and you need to live elsewhere. This coverage helps you handle the costs of your temporary housing and related expenses.
  • Coverage E: Personal Liability, for damage to other people’s property for which you are responsible. This coverage may also help you handle legal costs and liability judgments resulting from a lawsuit, up to the defined dollar amounts outlined in your policy.
  • Coverage F: Medical Payments to Others, for bodily injuries to other people, such as a houseguest, that occur in your home or on your property. Like personal liability coverage, this coverage helps with the costs of a lawsuit or legal decision, up to your defined policy limits.
Remember that, despite having all of these different types of coverages, you’re only covered up to the dollar amounts that you select and only for covered losses, as outlined in your policy. Typically, you can change these policy limits at any time if you’d like to purchase more coverage. This is a good idea if, for example, you’ve recently added on to your home, acquired some pricey personal belongings or made other updates to your property. If needed, you can also reduce your coverage, though always ensure you are adequately protected.

What Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover
It’s just as important to know what your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover as it is to know what your home policy does cover. For starters, your policy does not cover any damage or repairs costing less than your deductible. It also does not cover any costs that exceed the coverage limits outlined in your policy. You are solely responsible for excess costs, unless you have an umbrella policy to provide additional liability coverage for a covered loss.

More than likely, your policy also does not cover routine maintenance and repairs, as well as damage due to animals, termites, floods, earthquakes, sinkholes, sewer backups and other incidents. These are often considered non-covered losses. If you experience a non-covered loss, as outlined by your policy, you will be responsible for the costs.

What Home Insurance May Cover
Outside of the typicalhome insurance coverages, optional or separate coverage may be available from your carrier or from a different carrier. For example, you may be able to purchase earthquake or flood coverage separate from your homeowners policy.

Other coverages are optional add-ons to your existing homeowners insurance. These can include identity protection and equipment breakdown coverage, which covers the cost to repair or replace a range of appliances and other equipment, such as pool equipment, in your home. If this sounds similar to an extended appliance warranty, it is. The difference is that you can insure an array of appliances at once through this optional coverage rather than purchasing a separate warranty for each one.

This guide is a starting point for understanding your home insurance policy. Your own policy may vary greatly from the descriptions above depending on the state where you live, your carrier and the coverages you have selected. So take a close look at your policy by reviewing your documents or viewing your coverages online. Or, even better, come see us so we can explain your coverages in detail, as well as discuss whether your policy provides adequate protection for your home, property and belongings.

Shopping for home insurance?
Call or visit Bob Lancaster Insurance!

Contact us for all your Insurance needs! (321)725-1620
Bob Lancaster Insurance
Serving Florida since 1964

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lock down the data

 As you generate W-2s and 1099s for employees and contractors, consider taking some additional time to evaluate the safety of this sensitive information. Paper and digital files alike should be handled carefully. Shred or archive old information, and make sure nothing is inadvertently stored online where shared access is available. And here's a simple, but often overlooked, fix: Keep your operating system up to date, as they are periodically updated to fix security holes.

Privacy laws and common sense dictate that you take action to protect information about your employees and independent contractors. As the deadline approaches for providing W-2s or 1099s to workers, it’s important to safeguard keep security of their Social Security numbers and other sensitive information.

eFile4Biz, an IRS-authorized e-file provider for online processing of 1099s and W-2s, shares these guidelines:
  • Keep only the information you need. Eliminate or archive older data.
  • Set routine procedures for taskssuch as when/how to dispose of tools that contain house sensitive info.
  • Protect paper documents from a security breach or identity theft. Lock cabinets in which papers are kept.
  • Keep an inventory of your information sources. Make sure as a small business owner you know where your important data is at all times.
  • Review your network setup. Protect your business with a strong firewall and strong security programs.
  • Provide access to information only on a “need to know” basis. Protected information includes not only employee/contractor data, but also your passcodes.
It’s also a good idea to use encryption when you transfer data via email. If so, give the password to the recipient by phone or a separate email.

Contact us for all your Insurance needs! (321)725-1620
Bob Lancaster Insurance
Serving Florida since 1964