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Hand Sanitizer Recall

“Keeping your hands clean has never been so crucial as it is now,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent homeowners insurance agency.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most effective way to clean your hands is to wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you are unable to wash them, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent ethanol or ethyl alcohol is good.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for hand sanitizer has soared. During March it became difficult to find it stocked on store shelves. Even now, stock is constantly fluctuating.

The demand has unconventional companies making hand sanitizer. Beauty brands and even ExxonMobil is making hand sanitizer. Distilleries are also using their supply of high proof alcohol to produce hand sanitizer. Local Florida distilleries making hand sanitizer include, St. Augustine Distillery and Copper Bottom Craft Distillery.

“Even though many companies are getting into hand sanitizer making, leave it to the professionals,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent homeowners insurance agency.

Officials at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have tested hand sanitizers and found many are not safe. Numerous hand sanitizers have tested positive for methanol or wood alcohol. Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. The FDA explains, substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.”

The FDA found, products containing methanol do not have it listed among the ingredients in the product. So far, 87 hand sanitizers have been added to the growing recall list. Newly added products include those made by Scent Theory, Herbacil, Jaloma and Leiper’s Fork Distillery.

The recalled products are manufactured in Mexico and one in Tennessee. Some are sold at popular retailers such as Target, Costco, BJs Wholesale Club and Walmart. The FDA’s investigation into methanol contamination is ongoing. The agency recommends not only throwing out the contaminated sanitizers but avoiding hand sanitizers from the companies on their list.

The full list can be found at this FDA link.

GreatFlorida Insurance can provide peace of mind covering your valuables and protecting your dwelling with homeowners insurance. Contact us today.

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Road Tripping During a Pandemic

             

Are you ready to get out of the house? Grab your mask and keys and hit the road. “With COVID-19 continuing to inflict cities, many travelers are hesitant to fly but the open road is before you,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

Taking a road trip during a pandemic does not lend itself to spontaneity. A vacation during this time requires a little more planning, but we are here to help.

Make a plan

It sounds basic but get an idea of where or how far you want to go. COVID restrictions differ not only from state to state, but by city and county. With businesses opening, then re-closing confusion and misinformation is rampant. If there is a specific destination you want to visit, call ahead. It is also helpful to check out a location’s current COVID guidelines.

If you are looking for a place to stay along the way or once you reach your destination, check local hotels or Airbnb. Some major hotel chains are open for now such as Hyatt, and Best Western but not all, especially upscale hotel chains in bigger cities. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time. Many hotels have restricted pools, gyms and room service.

Ready your vehicle

Make sure your car is ready to set out on a journey. Get your oil checked along with the coolant levels, wiper fluids, brakes and tire pressure. AAA reports only 17 percent of cars on the road have their tires properly inflated.  The proper tire pressure can help save on gas. Check to see what kind of car insurance coverage and emergency roadside service is available to you while traveling.

Rental car

You may decide, instead of taking your car to rent one. Before renting a car, check with your insurance agent for the type of car insurance coverage you currently have in order to avoid paying for unnecessary coverage. “If you have a current car insurance policy, you likely will not need additional coverage,” says Buck, with GreatFlorida Insurance.

A car rental employee is a salesperson. Employees are encouraged to sell you upgrades as well as auto insurance. Also, most homeowner’s insurance  as well as renters insurance policies will cover the cost of belongings stolen in the car.

In the vehicle

A mask might be necessary outside the vehicle but not inside. Travel and Leisure report, “Experts caution against wearing a mask when driving alone because of a potential reduction in oxygen and possible lightheadedness.”

Food is an important part of every road trip. While most drive-ins are open, restaurants are hit and miss. Eater.com can provide you dining information for each state. If you want to limit your stops on the road, pack a cooler full of snacks and drinks.

On the road

Once you are off, you can get the latest travel updates from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

GreatFlorida Insurance is here for you. During these uncertain times, some of your auto insurance needs could have changed and we are here to help. Contact us today.

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What is and is not included with renters insurance

Most renters do not get renters insurance under the false assumption the landlord is responsible for damages. Your landlord covers structural and building damage but does not pay for your damaged or stolen personal property. Only 37 percent of renters have renters insurance despite the growing number of renters in the U.S. according to Policygenius.com.

“Renters insurance is affordable,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance. The Insurance Information Institute reports the average cost for a renters insurance policy in Florida is $18 a month, or $188 annually.

A standard renters insurance policy covers personal property stolen or damaged by vandalism, fire, smoke, lightning and wind (tornadoes). Damage caused by hurricanes is not as straightforward. While most renters insurance policies cover wind damage, hurricanes are excluded from standard coverage. You may be required to purchase additional hurricane insurance. Hurricanes also cause water damage. If the water is failing from the sky during a hurricane it will most likely be covered. However, if the water damage is caused by flooding due to a hurricane, it will be excluded from the standard renters insurance policy.

Flood insurance is available to renters, but must be purchased separately from your renters insurance,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

Policies generally start at $20,000-$30,000 worth of coverage. The more coverage you require, the more it will cost. While this may seem like more than enough to cover your belongings, renters insurance also covers personal liability. If a visitor falls and injures themselves at your home, renters insurance may help cover the cost of their medical bills. If you are renting a home with a pool, you might want to consider getting a little more than standard coverage. You may also consider more coverage if you own a dog. If your dog bites someone, your renters insurance could help cover the costs.

Renters insurance covers you beyond your four walls. While you are away, if something is stolen from your rental car or hotel room, you may be reimbursed for your loss.

Renters insurance does not cover your roommates. Renters insurance only covers personal property of the policyholder or a resident relative. If your landlord requires renters to get insurance coverage as terms of your lease, all parties need to have an individual policy.

It is important to carefully read and understand any renters insurance policy before purchasing it so you know exactly what is and is not covered.

The agents at GreatFlorida Insurance can answer your questions regarding renters insurance. They can craft a renters insurance policy to suit your individual needs so you get the coverage you need and are not paying for unnecessary coverage. Contact us today.

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Flying During COVID-19

“Flying can increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to close contact with other people,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent home insurance agency.

However, airlines are taking precautions to keep you safe and there are preventative measures you can take as well. USA Today reports that flying is safer now than it was earlier in the pandemic because of airline changes.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has updated their security procedures in response to the virus.

  • Travelers now scan their own boarding passes.
  • Travelers are urged to put cellphones and keys in a carry-on bag instead of a bin.
  • One liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces is allowed per passenger.
  • Place food items in a clear bag, then place the bag in a bin.

“There is a lot of confusion for travelers because states, airports and airlines all have different safety procedures,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent home insurance agency.

Some states across the US require self-quarantine for all incoming or select travelers, especially those coming from COVID-19 hotspots. Those include, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois (Chicago), Florida, Maine, Vermont, Hawaii, Alaska, Kansas, New Mexico and Rhode Island.

Many restaurants and stores remain closed within airports. It might be a good idea to bring your own snack from home. In-flight snack and beverage service is mostly eliminated on shorter flights and replaced with alternatives on lengthier flights. Again, this varies between airlines, so verify prior to your flight.

Be sure to check with your airline before taking a flight to review new policies. Most airlines require face masks and will not permit a passenger to board without wearing one.

Choosing a seat next to the window, eliminates traffic you are exposed to on the flight making it a better option if you are concerned about virus exposure from others. Once you are on-board your flight, turn on the air vent to improve ventilation.

Did you know your homeowners insurance or renters insurance often travels with you? Find out what is covered, give GreatFlorida Insurance a call today.

https://www.greatflorida.com/florida-homeowners-insurance

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Celebrating the Fourth of July

This 4th of July will certainly look different from years past. “Independence Day is a day of unity across the US, we could really use that this year,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent homeowners insurance agency.

Closings and Cancellations

Anxiety over coronavirus and the civil unrest over systemic racism in our country has many people on edge and a unified celebration would be welcome. However, with coronavirus surging in Florida, many municipal Independence Day activities, such as parades and fireworks displays are modified or cancelled. Some beaches across the state are closing as well.

Nevertheless, do not let the cancellations get you down. Not all activities are quashed. Before making any plans, check to see what is open. Location openings and closings and scheduled events change daily.

To check your local beach openings, see the following link.

https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/2020/06/30/coronavirus-florida-beaches-closed-open-july-4-holiday/3277961001/

For state parks checkout the website: https://www.floridastateparks.org/

Community social networking pages are a good resource to find out what is happening in your area.

Fireworks

Whether you enjoy them or despise them, fireworks are having a moment. According to NBC News, fireworks sellers expected to see a 20 to 50 percent drop in sales this year due to COVID-19. However, some fireworks stores are experiencing a 200 percent plus increase in sales. Sellers attribute the spike to boredom.

This year, Gov. DeSantis signed a bill making fireworks legal on July 4th, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Florida’s fireworks law defines “fireworks” as everything that goes into the air or explodes.

“Always use caution when lighting fireworks. Adult supervision is a must, says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent homeowners insurance agency.

Also, The National Safety Council urges never re-light a malfunctioning firework and keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that do not work.

If you prefer someone else oversee the fireworks display, you can watch NBC’s Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks from New York at 8-10 p.m.

PBS is broadcasting A Capitol Fourth from D.C. at 8-9:30p.m. Both shows will include live performances as well as fireworks. Many local firework shows will be streamed live on Facebook.

Social Distance Celebration

If you are not ready to be around crowds, you can enjoy a fun and safe celebration from home. Host a family 4th of July run or bike ride. Race bibs and medals are available online and do not forget prizes to motivate the family.

An Outdoor movie or games such as badminton and corn-hole or turning on the sprinkler can provide fun.

If you decide to host a cook-out, the following are tips to keep everyone healthy.

  • Smaller is better
  • Stay outside as much as possible
  • Keep plenty of hand sanitizer around
  • Provide drinks from individual bottles and cans
  • Use disposable utensils and plates
  • Designate one person to cook at the grill
  • Offer individually wrapped and packaged snacks, condiments and desserts
  • Place trash cans around

While this Independence Day we might have to sacrifice our usual traditions, it is still a day to be thankful. Enjoy, celebrate and stay safe.

GreatFlorida Insurance is here for you during these uncertain times. We provide competitive pricing for homeowners insurance from a vast pool of providers. Contact us today.

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Mandating Masks

“Face masks have become the emblem of COVID-19,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent homeowners insurance agency. As of Tuesday, 16 states and the District of Columbia are requiring face masks worn in public.

While coronavirus cases continue to surge across Florida, a group of state lawmakers is urging Gov. DeSantis to make face masks mandatory to help slow the spread of the virus.

According to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health, Florida is averaging 3,300 new cases a day for the past seven days. A new daily record was just set with more than 5,500 new cases. Florida Surgeon General, Scott Rivkees issued a public health advisory, “that all individuals in Florida should wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible.”

Many counties and cities across the state have orders requiring face masks in public. Some of them include the following but are not limited to, Broward, Leon, Gadsden, Miami-Dade, Miami, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Aventura, the Florida Keys, Key Biscayne and Hialeah.

Earlier guidance from US officials did not recommend the widespread wearing of masks. However, in April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended face coverings for the general public in places where social distancing is difficult to maintain such as grocery stores.

However, wearing a face mask is a continuous subject. Evidence is seen across the country, with a maskless man fighting to get into a Walmart, to a Dollar Tree employee killed over the enforcement of wearing a mask.  Face masks for many represent political conflict, a debate over disease vs. the economy, or the threat of loosing your freedom. Some people find them hard to breathe in or do not like them because of sensory issues.

“Even though pandemic fatigue has set in, we are required to make sacrifices during this time for the health of others in our state,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent homeowners insurance agency.

Public health officials have emphasized the importance of face coverings while states, re-open, given that people who are asymptomatic could unknowingly transmit COVID-19. The coverings are primarily to prevent people who have the virus from infecting others.

The Mayo Clinic offers the following tips for wearing masks

  • Place your mask over your mouth and nose.
  • Tie it behind your head or use ear loops and make sure it’s snug.
  • Don’t touch your mask while wearing it.
  • If you accidentally touch your mask, wash or sanitize your hands.
  • Remove the mask by untying it or lifting off the ear loops without touching the front of the mask or your face.
  • Wash your hands immediately after removing your mask
  • Regularly wash your mask with soap and water in the washing machine. It’s fine to launder it with other clothes.

GreatFlorida Insurance is here to answer all your insurance inquiries. For dependable home insurance, contact us today.

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What to do if your car is stuck in sand, mud or water

Getting stuck in the sand, mud or water is at some point inevitable for most drivers. Beaches and the occasional flash flood in Florida make it easy to get your car stuck.

“Depending on your auto insurance policy, a tow truck could save the day,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

However, without car insurance, a tow truck can be expensive and cost serious time. You can phone a friend with a tow strap or chains, but their vehicle must be powerful enough to pull you out of the elements. With clever know how you can get yourself unstuck and back on the road quickly.

Sand & Mud

If your wheels are slipping and you are not going anywhere, you are stuck. Do not continue to press the gas. Spinning your tires will dig a hole sinking further into the sand or mud.

Firestone recommends a simple solution, use a car mat. A car mat will increase traction under your tire, allowing your car to pull forward over the mud or sand. Other items that work as well include, sticks, cardboard, a blanket, pieces of carpet or a truck liner.

Follow these steps:

  1. Place your car into park.
  2. Dig dirt or sand away from the front of each tire stuck.
  3. Take your car mat and place the tip of the mat under the stuck tire, with the rest of the mat in front of the tire.
  4. Get back into the car and drive slowly forward until you reach solid ground. Don’t forget to pick up your floor mat!

Water

“Never attempt to cross a flooded road,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent auto insurance agency. Water can conceal dips, holes and depth.

Floodwaters can damage roadways washing away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground. A mere 6 inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control or possible stalling. AccuWeather reports, one foot of water will float many vehicles and two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including SUV’s and pick-up trucks.

  • If your call stalls in water, try restarting the engine.
  • If you cannot restart your vehicle and you become trapped in rising water, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Do not climb on top of your vehicle, it could be carried away.
  • Try to open the door or roll down the window to get out of the car. Do not break the window, glass can go inward.
  • If you are unable to get out safely, call 911 or get the attention of a passerby or someone standing on higher ground so they may call for help.

GreatFlorida Insurance can help you find the most reliable and affordable auto insurance to fit your individual needs. We have agents throughout Florida to serve you and answer any questions you may have regarding car insurance. Contact us today.

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Civil Disorder Covered by Insurance

Around the country, many continue to protest in response to the death of George Floyd and the pattern of police brutality and centuries of race inequality. While most protests are peaceful, some destruction has occurred. However, it is a comfort to know that most damage caused by civil unrest is covered by a standard insurance policy.

 “Property damage caused by rioting, civil disorder and vandalism are covered under standard auto insurance and homeowners insurance policies, says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

According to the Insurance Information Institute iii, the costliest riot-related insurance losses in the U.S. occurred during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Outrage broke out after four police officers were acquitted for using excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King. Insurers paid policyholders $775 million at that time for damages. Adjusting for inflation, that amounts to $1.4 billion now, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator.

Personal property

Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage to property caused by fire, an explosion, a riot, civil commotion, vandalism or malicious mischief. This includes coverage to the structure of the home as well as any personal possessions. If you cannot live in your home because it was damaged by an insured disaster, standard home insurance and renters insurance polices provide coverage for additional living expenses. This is pay for the cost of living away from home, above beyond traditional expenses. This would include hotel bill and restaurant meal reimbursement while a home is being repaired or rebuilt. Be aware, if you reside in an area that has experienced an outbreak of violence from civil unrest, officials can prevent you from returning home until it is considered safe.  

Damage to Autos

Damage to cars is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. This provides reimbursement for damage to the car and its contents caused by fire, falling objects, vandalism or riots. Comprehensive coverage will also reimburse a policyholder if a windshield is cracked or shattered. Some companies offer glass coverage without a deductible. Most drivers buy this optional coverage as part of their auto insurance policy.

During these times, with COVID-19 still very much a concern and protest occurring daily, GreatFlorida Insurance is here for our customers to offer peace of mind.

If you need to make changes to your auto insurance or homeowners insurance policy, contact us today, we are here to answer your questions and help.

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An RV Summer Vacation

The coronavirus has disrupted spring breaks to summer vacations. “Peak travel seasons have been met with stay at home orders, says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance Florida’s top independent RV insurance agency.

Travel plans are changing from flights across the country or overseas, to road trips. The only travel industry currently prospering is camping. Reopened campsites and RV parks are filling up fast, seeing a surge in reservations. And, sales of RVs are spiking in the wake of the pandemic, giving rise to “COVID Campers.”

FoxBusiness says, “Recreational vehicle dealers throughout the country have had as much as a 170 percent increase in sales for the month of May compared to this time last year as Americans crave outdoor travel as coronavirus-induced lockdowns ease in states, according to the RV Industry Association.”

In fact, Kiplinger reports in May, shares of Camping World Holdings (CWH) surged 35 percent after reporting first-quarter earnings that blew past analysts’ estimates.

The appeal of traveling in an RV is due to several factors and changes regarding travel. Many industry experts believe, it is likely fueled by pent-up demand to go vacationing after spending months of sheltering in place.

“Traveling in an RV can allow travelers to safely visit their family while visiting other parts of America,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance Florida’s largest independent RV insurance agency.

Being in an RV is also considered a safer way to travel since it is self-contained. Numerous travelers are wary about staying in a hotel. This self-contained way to travel is appealing to people. They have control over the environment and the cleanliness of their accommodations. Camping in an RV naturally lends itself to social distancing as well. And campers also have control over food preparation.

Lower gas prices the past few months are also adding to the appeal of being on the road. However, as states begin to reopen, expect to see gas prices begin to increase.

If you decide to join the millions who own and RV, contact GreatFlorida Insurance  for auto insurance and RV insurance today.

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Florida Fishing is Not Cancelled

March through July is prime fishing season in Florida. “A combination of COVID-19 fears, boat ramp closures and confusing rules have many anglers getting a later start on fishing,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance Florida’s largest independent boat insurance agency in Florida.

While much of the fishing season has been lost on boating restrictions, there is still time for some exciting catches.

Before Heading Out

Make sure you have the proper license and it is updated. Also, social distancing is required for fishing according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, FWC. Follow CDC-guidelines for social distancing and personal safety. A group size cannot exceed 10 people, even outside.

Verify that the location you are headed is open. Most beaches are open however, some remain closed and others are open but have restrictions. Those heading to a fish management area, FMA, can check the following link for the area’s open/close status. To check the status of a boat ramp, use the FWC’s Florida Public Boat Ramp Finder. It is updated every 24-hours. If the boat ramp is not run by the FWC, call the managing entity.

What is biting?

  • Bass fishing is keeping anglers busy around central Florida.
  • Freshwater- Tarpon, Snook, Trout
  • Saltwater- King mackerel and yellowtail
  • Red snapper season begins in June, June 11 for private recreation vessels and June 1 for federally permitted for-hire operators.

Starting July 1, 2020, if you are fishing for popular reef fish, such as red snapper on a private recreational vessel anywhere in Florida, you are required to get the State Reef Fish Angler designation. This includes anglers 65 and older.

GreatFlorida Insurance can make sure you are fully prepared before you head out to trawl with premium boat insurance at affordable prices. Contact a GreatFlorida Insurance agent to make sure you have proper boat insurance and adequate coverage for your equipment.