Hurricane Season: What Does Your Insurance Cover?

The potential of ‘the big one’ arriving is always a bit of a terrifying topic during the hurricane season in Florida. And while Irma—pummeling and devastating the Caribbean and the Florida Keys in 2017—showed us the power of what a Category 4 storm can do, you may still be putting off checking over your homeowner’s policy. And if you are busy shopping for a home in the Sunshine State, or a more hurricane-prone area, one of the first details you should inquire about is homeowner’s insurance and the typical rates.

While you may already own a home in Florida, one of the first questions for potential homeowners often is – or should be—regarding not only what is required, but what is most needed.  The biggest damage from a hurricane is usually wind as it drives everything else, including the water, in many cases; however, both wind and flood insurance should be purchased to protect your home against the elements. In Florida, the state does not require it, but your mortgage lender probably will ask that you purchase both wind and flood. There is not really such a thing as ‘hurricane insurance,’ but most old-timers who have purchased homes know that what insurance in Florida usually boils down to is purchasing additional windstorm coverage as well as flood insurance only available through the National Flood Insurance Program.

There is the question of the deductible, and insurance can be costly but critical to the protection of your home if you live in a high-risk area or a flood zone in what is already a low-lying area (chances are, you are aware if you live in a flood zone, as you are aware of the puddling and ponding after thunderstorms or heavy rains for days at a time). The reality is that you may end up paying thousands of dollars a year for insurance if you live in a coastal area—and even worse if you are on lower ground; however, this can be ‘the price of doing business’ for living in what many consider to be paradise.

If you have been injured due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

The Differences between Medicare and Advantage Plans

Insurance is a tricky business, but unfortunately, this is a purchase we must all enter into—and often for multiple lines, whether you own one or more cars (or as a business owner, you could even own a fleet), a home, commercial properties, have professional liability needs, or more. But health insurance is one of the most stupefying areas—causing many of us to wonder how the process and the offerings can be so challenging, but also presenting us with confusing policies and a wide range of questions every time we go to the doctor or have the unfortunate experience to be admitted to the hospital.

Many individuals are confused about how Medicare works, as it is composed of these basic parts:

  • Hospital care
  • Doctors, procedures, medical devices
  • Prescription drugs

Medicare Advantage also plays a role as a more cost-effective option over classic Medicare/Medigap. A policyholder can purchase coverage through a private insurer offering all the above, which often includes other services too. This type of insurance usually includes minimal co-pays, with visits to doctors’ offices, tests from the medical lab, and procedures covered too.

If this is the type of insurance you are using, be sure to speak with your insurance agent or Medicare representative about all your options. There are many details—and expenses to understand, with each type of private plan having a variety of different program details. Policyholders usually have many concerns about coverages for hospital stays, prescription drugs, and what types of doctors’ visits—and doctors—are covered.

Many of these questions may come into play if you are hurt in a car accident, and especially if you sustained serious injuries like neck or spinal issues, paralysis, soft tissue damage, broken arms or legs, or more. Obviously, these types of injuries can be extremely expensive to treat, and long-term care can be an enormous consideration too. Healthcare is a challenge for so many today in the US, and medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy for consumers so understanding and managing such expenses are crucial.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

School Zones Require Your Utmost Attention

Even if you have children, it is sometimes hard not to find the slowdown of a school zone to be an inconvenience; after all, you may be in a hurry to get to work or to another destination with a sense of urgency, and from the main road there may seem to be little going on—and little reason to be traveling at a snail’s pace; however, this could not be further from the truth in most cases as schools are extremely busy and this activity can spill out into the road via school buses, kids walking and bicycling, and more, at any moment.

As a parent, you are probably aware that kids bring a wonderful amount of energy to any situation. But this type of chaos must be carefully controlled in the school situation, and especially just during and after school when there may be hundreds of children milling about, cars entering and leaving at multiple locations, and backpack-toting children walking and riding bicycles.

At the inner school realm is the car pick-up line, developed by your school in an organized and closely monitored fashion so that kids can be picked up easily and safely. Here, although the routine may be simple and turn into a rote exercise, this is never a place where you want to be traveling on auto pilot or distracted by a cell phone. If your child rides the bus, again, there is an area where extreme caution should be practiced as groups of younger people congregate waiting to get on their bus to start their day or piling out of one as they are being dropped off. If your child rides their bike to school also, make sure they are visible to motorists in wearing bright or light-colored clothing. Educate them fully on traffic rules and how to stay safe while traveling near cars.

Speeding or otherwise driving recklessly through a school zone is not just increasing the potential for a tragic accident, but also your chances for getting a ticket from law enforcement—with added repercussions due to the location. Accidents involving children can be catastrophic due to their smaller size, leading to broken bones, soft tissue damage, head injuries, paralysis, and more.

If you or your child has been injured due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

What is Umbrella Insurance—and Why Do I Need It?

Car insurance can be surprisingly complex, but it is a necessary form of risk protection meant to save you from financial ruin in the face of an accident that could require—in many cases—a significant payout, and especially if you are liable. This is important as you don’t want an accident to ruin so many other aspects of your life if for some unfortunate reason you are sued. Often known as a PUP, personal umbrella protection takes over when your other liability limits have been maxed out; with this extra protection, if you are liable for an accident, it means that you have additional funds to pay out for the claim.

You may be considering an umbrella policy if you have significant assets to protect overall, or if you are engaged in business or other activities where you do have to worry more about liability. You may own a home that is worth a substantial amount of money or you may own a business that you would not want to lose due to a liability claim that you could not pay. Obviously, if you have a substantial amount of money saved or put away into a wide range of investments, you might be able to pay additional funds required for a claim out of pocket but in protecting yourself with the umbrella policy, you could save yourself from going broke.

If you travel extensively or will be out of the country a lot, protect yourself against liability. This also goes for individuals who may be involved in professions that are more prone to lawsuits such as sports (especially if they are more extreme and/or if you are coaching), working with animals, and more. One of the most basic examples—and common—would be a car or motorcycle accident. If you had the unfortunate experience to be liable for damage to someone else’s vehicle (which could be significant) and had to pay out beyond the limits of your own insurance for someone else’s extensive injuries (which could require long-term treatment), the cost could be unfathomable. On the flip side of this, of course, is the scenario where you are hit by another driver who has insufficient insurance. It is critical to speak with a skilled car accident attorney as soon as possible so they can deal with the insurance company and protect your interests.

If you or a loved one have been affected by an injury caused by the negligence of others, contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

Is that Household Budget Getting Tighter? Here Are Tips to Save More Money!

Both consumer debt overall and household debt continue to soar to historic highs as many US citizens are living paycheck to paycheck or are in dire financial straits due to unexpected issues such as a car crash or a motorcycle accident causing loss of employment or hours. While the mortgage typically eats up most of the income for most consumers today, student loans are also making life more difficult for many of the 45 million borrowers up to their ears in almost $1.6 trillion in cumulative debt. It can be hard enough to make ends meet if you live alone, but if you are supporting a family or working with your partner to take care of children (and perhaps ageing parents or other family members too), it could be difficult to rein in your finances or continue saving in the manner you enjoy.

Here are five ways to save more money now:

  1. Hold a family meeting – while no one wants to burden younger children with worries about money, older children will benefit from understanding the truth about how a household budget must be handled, along with learning that everyone, and every family unit, will experience financial ups and downs in life. One of the most important topics at your family meeting may be an announcement that there will be ‘budget cuts’ and there may be restrictions on spending for a while.
  2. Start adding more to your retirement fund if possible – this is especially helpful if your boss is matching your contributions. This is true savings for your future and becomes increasingly more important as you head into your 40s and 50s.
  3. Stop eating out – busy lives, and especially as both spouses/parents work these days, can make it exceedingly difficult to make it to the dinner table for a home-cooked meal. Even though it may take extra effort on those days where you are exhausted, hit the grocery after work—or once a week on the weekends, after which you may want to designate several hours to meal prep to get you through the week. These types of preparations pay off not only financially, but nutritionally as well. Get the family in on cooking too, and delegate duties—especially the dishwashing!
  4. Kick those bad habits – if you are a smoker or like your fine wines and other alcohol, consider how much you are spending monthly on these luxuries. Cutting back is a savings to your wallet, and also your well-being.
  5. Research major purchases, and be disciplined about online spending – is the refrigerator on the fritz? While you may need a new one quickly, take time to comparison shop. Feeling the need for some retail therapy from the desktop? Use this convenience wisely, and sparingly, being disciplined about how often you let that ‘buy now’ button subtract money from your checking account.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Get Out and Enjoy Florida: What to See Besides Theme Parks

As the southernmost state, Florida is famed for many exciting elements, from year-round sunshine and good weather (aside from unpleasant hurricanes) to beautiful ocean tides, bays, and more than the occasional alligator. There are also 25 scenic highways to travel, with lots of fun along the way, whether you enjoy road tripping in a car, motorcycle, getting out and bicycling, or walking or hiking. Although the choices are countless, here are some ideas for seeing the sights without breaking the bank at an amusement park:

  • The Everglades – this grassy sanctuary is not just one of the wonders of Florida, but the world. With 60 miles of marsh to enjoy, you can enter the Everglades just above the Florida Keys, or at other points such as Corkscrew Swamp, Big Cypress, or numerous areas offering airboat rides. Wildlife like raccoons, bobcats, fox, and deer populate these areas—including the elusive Florida Panther, a fascinating subspecies of the mountain lion that has had a resurgence in population during an ongoing recovery program for the endangered cats that require a large area to roam.
  • Kennedy Space Center – whether you are traveling with your kids, on a road trip alone, or navigating the Sunshine State with another group of adults, this area (in connection with NASA) offers huge entertainment combined with fascinating educational information, grouped into numerous exhibits and attractions.
  • Museums – while many out-of-state Florida enthusiasts are all about Disney World, they could miss out on numerous wonderful, small museums from the Museum of Discovery and Science or the Florida Maritime Museum to the Salvador Dali Museum—to Ringling or St. Augustine’s famed Potter’s Wax Museum or Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
  • Go to the opera – Sarasota Opera has been offering impressive performances since 1973, housed in a completely restored, historic theater. You can enjoy listening to opera or symphony, popular music, seeing art films, dance and ballet, and even get some laughs in watching stand-up comedy there.
  • See some lighthouses – from Key West Light to Ponce de Leon Light, or further north at Pensacola Light, these structures are all evidence of the rich history of Florida.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Motorists: Understand How Blind Spots Work

With millions of cars registered in the US at any given time, there’s no question that we must all share the road and try to do so as safely as possible. Unfortunately, most of us will be involved in at least one car accident in our lifetimes–but hopefully with defensive driving practices in place, you can lower the odds. Understanding how blind spots work is important, and although you may be aware that sometimes you cannot see another car or motorcycle or truck if it is next to you in the adjacent lane, it is helpful to know more about the technicalities involved—and what you can do to decrease your chance of having an accident due to an incident with a blind spot.

Blind spots are not restricted only to vehicles on the road, but also boats and even planes. If you are riding on a bicycle or a motorcycle or some form of transportation without windows or metal coverings, then you probably do not have to worry about blind spots. Visibility is restricted due to the design of most vehicles, the way mirrors are set up, headrests in the car, and more. The blind spot occurs in the lane next to you at a 45° angle while you are driving and unable to see what is there—which is usually either a car or other vehicle, or if you are hoping to pass, perhaps nothing at all.

There are ways to adjust your mirrors to avoid blind spots altogether, but that does take some technical prowess (and some experts say this is not possible), and in most cases, motorists have their mirrors set so they can see as much traffic as possible. While traveling, if you are about to pass, avoid collisions due to blind spots by looking in your side mirrors, rearview mirrors, and taking the time to turn your head also to look. Taking all these precautions is critical, and especially when on a multi-lane highway.

Trucks present even more issues with blind spots, and they need the help of motorists when passing. If you are traveling behind a truck and decide to pass on the left, make sure you can see the trucker in his mirror (this means he can see you!) as you move out into the next lane, and before you pass over into the next one.

The most important element of driving is simple: focus. This is an important skill to pass on to teen drivers as well, considering distracted driving is the number one threat and killer on highways in the US. With the advent of the smartphone, drivers have so many advantages such as GPS, the ability to make hands-free phone calls, and much more. But there are so many negative aspects of smartphone technology too about distracted driving. Drivers may be unable to resist the temptation to check text messages, and even worse, may feel obligated to respond – and sometimes at length. Beware of other drivers who may also be under the influence, ignoring traffic signals and signs, or driving under the influence.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

Car Crashes Top the List for Teen Deaths

Most of us are stymied as to why traffic incidents and car crashes in the United States continue to escalate. After all, haven’t we evolved so much more as a society in recent decades that we understand how to be better defensive drivers, enjoy better safety mechanisms in our cars, and watch out for so many of the hazards we are constantly warned about? The problem is that many motorists give in to temptations that cause hazard, while other accidents are caused by weather, obstacles in the road, or issues that are seemingly unavoidable (aside from staying off the road completely—which is sometimes the best choice).

While distracted driving is one of the number one killers in the US today regarding car accidents, the problem looms larger in terms of teenagers and their driving habits. Although teens may have all the experience of a driver’s education course behind them, they are still fragile when it comes to experience; after all, consider how many years of driving experience you may have on the road—and there are still hazards to navigate past every day.

For a teenager, every bit of traveling on the road is a new experience as they are suddenly behind the wheel of the car. While they may doubt their mortality like many other young people, they may also be overconfident in their skills to multitask while behind the wheel. This could mean heavy overuse of the cell phone with calls coming in and being returned, voicemails being closely monitored, and text messages being read—and even worse, returned at length.

Most teenagers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving. If you are a parent to a teen who has just started driving, continue to emphasize the dangers, set rules about phone usage while in the car, and be a good role model yourself. For some adults, that may be the hardest part of the equation, as we have a hard time putting down the phones too sometimes. It is critical for every driver, and especially teenagers who are just learning ‘the lay of the land,’ to give every ounce of attention to the task at hand when operating a vehicle—and doing so defensively.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Hit and Run Car Accident: Know What to Do

If you walk away from a car crash alive, most likely you will be very grateful to have survived the incident; unfortunately, there may be a long list of items to take care of following such a traumatic event. And there is simply no way around it: if you have experienced property damage to your car or sustained physical injuries, you will be left with a list of responsibilities to handle.

The situation is exponentially compounded if you are in a hit-and-run accident. Enduring an accident due to the negligence of another party is a lot to process to begin with—but if they drive away from the scene of an accident, you may feel extremely angry. Victims of hit-and-run accidents sometimes have a very difficult time recovering from the emotional aspects of the incident; after all, to be potentially, seriously hurt and then just have someone drive away—or to be left with the tragedy of a loved one who passed away after the wreck—can be devastating enough to cause long-lasting symptoms of PTSD.

If you are hit by another driver and notice that they are taking off before the police arrive, do your best to note the type of car they are driving. Write down the make, model, and color or whatever information you have—with any information or even partial numbers of their license plate being most valuable. Jot down everything you can remember about their physical description, and seek out any witnesses on the scene of the accident—chances are, if this was during a busy time of day, someone noticed what happened and may be willing to talk to the police or even testify in your case. Don’t be shy about speaking to witnesses at the scene of ‘the crime,’ as this may be the only chance you would ever have to see them or speak to them.

A hit-and-run accident can add extreme chaos to an experience that is already fraught with intensity. Remember that your safety and immediate medical treatment should come before anything else. Consult with a skilled car accident attorney as soon as possible too so that you are not left feeling isolated in such a difficult time or dealing with the insurance adjusters alone. If given a chance, the insurance company will most likely attempt to pay you as little as possible for what could have been catastrophic injury and property damage.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Bicycling Safety: Prevent Your Child from Riding at Night

Kids and bicycles go together like peanut butter and jelly, as we all know. And for many adults too, their bicycle is a constant attachment and sometimes even an extremely economical form of transportation. Healthy exercises like bicycling are often passed down from parents to their children, encouraging the enjoyment of family time or solo exercise in the fresh air and the outdoors—as opposed to sitting inside staring at a tablet, the TV, or phone screen—along with building strong muscle and bone, and completing a good cardio and core work out every time.

Of course, most children are not concerned about the safety or health aspects of riding a bike. They usually have some place to go! And whether that is to school or a friend’s house, they may not be considering elements like time of day, weather, or other logistics that could make it dangerous to travel. It is highly recommended that you do not allow your child to ride their bicycle at night, but the true issue is in not allowing them to ride in the dark, which could apply to early rides to school also. This harkens back to the most important safety issue, which is visibility for motorists and others, and if it is dark, obviously your child is not going to be seen very easily (despite possible reflective gear and lights). Even during the day, bright clothing should be worn whenever possible—along with a bicycle helmet and recommended elbow and knee pads too.

Because bicycling offers so many health benefits, most of us are willing to overlook many safety issues that must be considered, and especially in Florida where bicyclist deaths continue to increase. Recent news shows that Florida is a dangerous place to ride:

“Each year about 2 percent of deaths in motor vehicle crashes are bicyclists. Although child bicyclist deaths have declined over the years, deaths among bicyclists age 20 and older have tripled since 1975,” states AAA data. “Florida leads the nation in bicycle fatalities. The latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows 783 bicyclists were killed in the U.S. in 2017; 125 (16%) were in Florida.”

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.