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Have you lost your Florida Driver’s License? Forgiveness awaits.

Each year many Florida drivers commit a transgression resulting in the loss of their driver’s license. Thankfully, forgiveness is extended by the state in the form of an SR22 or FR44. To help get their license get reinstated and put drivers back on the road, GreatFlorida Insurance has launched a new website, SR22.greatflorida.com.

The new website provides information specific for Florida drivers who find themselves in need of an SR22 or an FR44. “Our insurance company has been providing  auto insurance to high risk drivers in Florida for years, despite the reluctance of many insurance companies to deal with these challenging circumstances. We feel the new website will share with the public our services and help by providing accurate information that is exclusive to Florida motorists,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

A popular misconception about an SR22 and FR44, they are not insurance but actually a certificate of financial responsibility. It informs the state that you have purchased the appropriate insurance limits required to drive. The certificate is filed by your insurance agent electronically directly to the state. This alerts the state that you are maintaining continuous insurance coverage.

An SR22 can be mandated by the courts for a number of reasons including: excessive tickets and previously driving without insurance. Florida is one of the few states that necessitates an FR44. An FR44 is mandatory for those who have committed a DUI. While they detail new and possibly higher insurance limits, neither of the certificates place restrictions on your driver’s license.

Florida SR22 Insurance

For more information on obtaining an SR22 or FR44, you can visit the new website, http://sr22.greatflorida.com/, where you will find answers to many of your questions.

GreatFlorida Insurance is insurance for Floridians by Floridians. Since 1991, we have faithfully served Florida residents and their insurance needs. Unlike many insurance companies in the state, we are a network of independent, franchised insurance agents located in communities across Florida. This means we are not bound to one company to fulfill your insurance requirements, but we can shop around to find the best coverage and price for you. This flexibility allows GreatFlorida Insurance agents to craft a custom insurance policy specific for your needs, not just offer a standard insurance policy.

GreatFlorida Insurance provides homeowners insurance, auto insurance, health insurance, boat insurance, motorcycle insurance, renters insurance, commercial auto insurance and umbrella insurance. We are dedicated to providing our customers professional, prompt and courteous service. We work with reputable insurance carriers across the nation such as: Travelers, Progressive, Nationwide and more.

It is savvy to make informed decisions about your insurance. GreatFlorida agents are there to guide you every step of the way by giving you options and simplifying the process of buying insurance. Contact us online or give us a call today.






Treadmill Safety

Treadmill-walkers-gym-Depositphotos_11275390_xlThe recent death of Dave Goldberg, known Silicon Valley executive and husband of Facebook director Cheryl Sandburg is a tragic reminder of how average exercise equipment has the potential to seriously injure or cause death to individuals.

While treadmill deaths are rare, they do occur. In 2009, Exodus Tyson, four year old daughter of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, died after being strangled by the treadmill cord in her home.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 24,400 treadmill injuries were reported by emergency rooms in 2014, with an average of three deaths a year for the past ten years. Common injuries include: contusions, lacerations and friction burns.

“As with any heavy machinery in your home, it is important to carefully read the directions when setting up your treadmill and review safety instructions with family members, especially children to prevent injuries,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

Over 50 million people use treadmills, making it the most popular exercise equipment. Whether you use your treadmill to stay in shape or it has become a clothes hanger, it is crucial to be familiar with safe practices. Consumer Reports has recommended safety tips to get you and your family safe.

Keep the area clear. Leave plenty of space in the back  and on the sides to avoid getting pinned against a wall or crashing into something.

Use the safety key. If you clip this onto your clothing, as soon as you fall the machine will turn off.

Straddle the deck. Allow the belt to start moving before you step on it so it doesn’t catch you off guard, don’t start the treadmill while you are standing on it.

Stay focused. Keep your head up and don’t get preoccupied looking around or fumbling with your phone.

Know your limits. Keeping track of your heart rate is a good idea, if you begin to feel unusual, dizzy or numb, slow down or stop to prevent over exertion.

Come to a complete stop. Let the treadmill come to a complete stop before hopping off.

Keep children away. Make your treadmill off limits to kids for their safety. Remove the safety key and place it out of their reach.

People suffer injuries on treadmills  for many reasons such as, the sudden acceleration or deceleration of the treadmill, a user is unfamiliar with how the treadmill works, a slick belt surface, people are not paying attention or users lose their balance.

GreatFlorida Insurance believes in safety first. If you are looking for homeowners insurance, renters insurance or health insurance, our qualified, independent insurance agents can help. We have offices all over Florida to serve you and find affordable and reliable insurance coverage you can trust.

Buying a Boat and Boat Insurance

The tranquility of being on the water, combined with fresh air and sunshine are enjoyable benefits that come with owning watercraft.  An abundance of shoreline, rivers and lakes right outside your door in Florida, make owning a boat idyllic. So what’s the hold up? If you are in the market for a boat, The National Marine Manufacturers Association offers tips on buying the right boat.

Florida-Boat-InsurancePurpose– What activities do you plan to enjoy on your boat, fishing, water sports, cruising, sailing or are you interested in a personal watercraft, PWC?

Capacity– How many passengers do you plan to have in your boat?

Size– Do you have a preference in the length of your boat?

Propulsion– Do you want your boat to have an engine, sails or will you utilize man power?

Transporting– Will you keep your boat at a marina, or do you plan to transport it with a trailer?

Additional recommendations include: buying your vessel from a certified dealer and examine warranties.

Like any major purchase, enter the decision making process armed with a financial plan. Purchasing the boat, is just the beginning. Bloomberg Business highlights some  supplementary expenses such as maintenance fees, the purchasing of safety gear, electronic equipment – a GPS, chart plotter or radio, storage fees, dockage or slip fees, gas and oil. Title and registration are required; thankfully, Florida does not charge property taxes on boats.

Another expense is boat insurance. While Florida, like most states, does not require you to get boat insurance before you register your vessel, there are many risks associated with owning a boat. If you have a loan on the boat or if you use the boat for collateral on a loan, your lender may require you to have insurance.  Also, certain marinas and harbors require insurance in order for you to dock your boat.

“Many homeowners, mistakenly assume that their boat is covered under their homeowner’s insurance,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance. “Depending on your homeowner’s policy, you might have limited coverage on a small vessel on your property. Boat insurance is highly recommended to protect you, your passengers and the boat.”

When selecting boat insurance, make sure to get the appropriate coverage and do not pay for insurance you do not need. Independent agents at GreatFlorida Insurance will help you find the right insurance within your budget by checking out several insurance companies and comparing prices.

GreatFlorida insurance agents can explain the difference between liability, collision, comprehensive and medical coverage.

Adwords336x280_3Liability– This will cover bodily injury and property damage in an accident where you are at fault.

Comprehensive and Collision-Collision covers damage to a boat involved in a collision. Comprehensive coverage protects your  boat if it is stolen, damaged by a fire or vandalized. Damage can also happen out of the water or while towing a boat, physical damage or comprehensive and collision will cover any out of water incidents.

Uninsured Coverage– This will cover costs for damage and injuries if you are involved in a collision with a boat that does not have insurance.

Medical Coverage– Will cover costs related to injuries suffered in a boat accident. Check your health insurance first, it could provide the adequate coverage you need.

Additional coverage is also available for fishing equipment and other boat related personal property you want to insure.

GreatFlorida Insurance covers a wide variety of boats including yachts, a bow rider, center console, cuddy cabin, walk-around, ski boat, pontoon, jet boats, sailboats, bass boats, commercial vessels and P&I, private pleasure craft from $50,000 – $200,000,000, cargo commercial fishing and charter international risks. They also cover personal watercraft such as a WaveRunner, Jet Ski or Sea Doo.


Simple Tips for Sustainable Living

Many Floridians are increasingly discovering the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle and finding it is easy to implement. Going green and sustainable living is all about lifestyle change.

It starts with becoming more sensitive to the environment and desiring to reduce consumption and waste. Eco-friendly practices save money by reducing excess and reusing materials. They also provide a healthier environment.

“More and more companies are also recognizing the importance of utilizing materials and technologies that limit a negative environmental impact,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance. “Some insurance companies are offering benefits to those who are environmentally conscious.  There are discounts available for owners of hybrid vehicles, LEED certified homes and those who sign up to go paperless with their insurance companies.”

 If you are interested in greener and cleaner living, below are some easy steps to take toward a sustainable lifestyle.

  •  Participate in a recycling program in your community. If recycling pick-up is not available in your area, many retailers such as Best Buy and Target have in-store recycling kiosks. You can recycle electronics, paper and more for free. Most grocery stores in Florida have a plastic bag recycling container available as well.
    **You can recycle paper with staples and paperclips attached as well as bottles with limes.
  • Turn the water off while brushing your teeth. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, you can save eight gallons of water by this simple action- that equals 200 gallons of water a month.
  • When you are finished with your current cleaning products, try using natural products such as baking soda, lemon and vinegar. This will reduce chemicals that go down the drain and enter our water sources.
  • Wash clothes in cold water when possible. The U.S. Department of Energy states, “Water heating consumes 90 percent of the energy it takes to operate a washing machine.”
  •  If you are in a long carpool pick up line, turn your car off so it does not idle too long and you can save gas.
  • Replace your batteries with rechargeable batteries.
  • Install dimmer switches in your dining and living room.
  • Reuse containers- rinse out glass containers and fill them up with nails, screws or other small objects for handy see-through storage.
  • Keep a container for recycling near your desk for your convenience.
  • Substitute a micro-fiber cloth for paper towels when cleaning.
  • BYOB-Bring your own grocery and shopping bags to the store, some retailers offer a discount for bringing your own bag.
  • Stop buying bottled water and carry around a refillable bottle. You can also take a travel coffee mug into your usual coffee shop and they will refill it, some stores may even give you a discount.
  • Shop for produce at the local farmers market.
  • Try keeping cell phones and lap tops as long as possible or consider donating them when you are ready to make a new electronics purchase. Also check out buy- back programs like the one from Amazon.
  • Borrow books from the library.
  • Pop some tags- check out your local thrift store or consignment shop.
  • Unplug appliances when they are not in use.
  • Switch out small plastic baggies for reusable containers.
  • Combine your errands into one trip and shrink your carbon footprint.

GreatFlorida Insurance agents can find you available eco-friendly insurance discounts and insurance companies that participate in sustainable business practices. Call us today.

Florida Insurance Discounts

Useful Car Hacks

Florida Auto insuranceGreatFlorida Insurance wants to equip you with solutions for common headaches that occur to Florida drivers. The following are valuable life hacks for your car.

Cleaning the bugs from your car

Every spring and fall Floridians will find their front bumper plastered with love bugs.  Bird droppings and bugs can cause damage to your vehicle’s paint job. The sooner you clean them off the easier it is to remove them. Instinct says to use lots of pressure to scrub out the mess, but overly aggressive cleaning can damage your paint job. After cleaning the area with soap and water, try a microfiber cloth and WD-40 or a vehicle spray wax product.

Florida based car care supplier, Autogeek, suggests trying a bar of detailing clay and clay lubricant. Begin by spraying the lubricant then rubbing the clay bar back and forth to remove stubborn matter. After removing the bugs, protect your car with a quality wax or paint sealant so when bugs hit your car, they do not stick as easily.

Stuck in the sand or mud

This is a common dilemma especially in Florida, where we have an abundance of sand and mud. One off wheel turn and you can find yourself stuck. Consumer Reports has suggestions on how to remedy the situation. Switch your vehicle to low wheel drive if possible. Straighten out your tires and lightly hit the gas, moving forward then reversing to create a rocking motion. If your wheels spin, stop, this will only dig you deeper. Also, try digging a path for your wheels. Line the paths with small stones, twigs, beach towels or car mats for traction.

If this doesn’t work, try releasing air from your tires. Use a tire pressure gauge to help your release pressure to no less than 10 pounds. Once you are on solid ground reinflate the tires.  If you are stuck in mud, this method could require you to jack up your car, but a tow truck is your best bet.

Overheated Car

Hot temperatures, stop and go traffic and long drives make this a high probable occurrence in Florida. As your car warns you the engine is overheating, turn off the AC and turn on the heater to draw hot air away from your engine. Make sure to roll down the windows so you can breathe. Find a place to pull over, preferably a gas station if possible. Turn the vehicle off and pop the hood once any steam has cleared so it can begin to cool down. You cannot do anything until the engine is cooled off. Do not touch the radiator cap until the car is cooled, it can cause serious burns. Once the engine has cooled down, unscrew the radiator cap using a cloth or napkin.  Check your coolant levels and refill it with antifreeze, if none is available, use water as a temporary fix until you get to your destination. If you notice the temperature increasing again, repeat this process until you reach your endpoint. Chances are, you have a leak and need a professional to inspect the car.

Roadside Assistance

“Roadside assistance is available through your car insurance,” says Ellsworth Buck Vice President of Great Florida Insurance. “It is one of those protections you are grateful to have in place when you need it.” Make sure to always have your insurance card in your vehicle or the information available on your cell phone.

If you are looking for dependable and affordable car insurance, give us a call at GreatFlorida Insurance. Our agents are located throughout Florida and are ready to assist you.

Rising Flood Insurance

Florida Flood InsuranceApril 1, 2015, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act went into effect. This will cause a rise in flood insurance for thousands of residents in flood zones, specifically those who have property in coastal areas and those living along lakes, rivers and bays in Florida.

“Unfortunately, this has been a long time coming. Many coastal residents knew the rising cost of flood insurance was inevitable. It is the price for living on the beach, said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act allows the government to slowly phase out subsidized flood insurance for millions of Americans owning property in flood zones. “Florida accounts for 40 percent of all flood policies in the country with Pinellas County having more subsidized policies than any other county in the U.S.,” said Buck.

The new law will help repair the National Flood Insurance Program by reducing the $24 billion deficit as a result from payouts from Hurricane Katrina and Sandy. The goal is for insurance premiums to equal the risk of owning property in a flood zone.

Floridians owning primary residences in a flood zone will see an average of a 10 percent increase in their premiums as well as an annual surcharge. Homeowners with a secondary property in a flood zone as well as those who have experienced repeated flooding will continue to see their premiums rise by 18 to 25 percent a year until reaching a level consistent with their risk of flooding.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA), “Flooding is the most frequent and severe weather threat.” With 90 percent of natural disasters in the U.S. being flood related, it is also the costliest natural disaster. Conservation groups support the new act as they say each year sea levels will continue to rise, making living close to the ocean more risky.

Florida homeowner insurance does not cover damage caused by a flood. Federal disaster assistance is only offered when the president declares a major disaster, which only happens half of the time. Flood insurance is available to protect homes and businesses through the National Flood Insurance Program.

For more questions about homeowners insurance and flood coverage contact GreatFlorida Insurance at 888-478-7801 to speak with an agent or visit our website at www.greatflorida.com.


Prepare to Dive In

Getting your pool and spa ready to sparkle.

Florida-Homeowners-InsuranceOwning a swimming pool offers endless hours of entertainment, exercise and lounging for you, your family and guests, all in the convenience of your backyard. Before taking the plunge this season, make sure your swimming pool is up to task and free of algae, debris and murky water.

When it comes to opening your pool for the season, you can hire someone for the job or save money by utilizing various tools created to keep your pool and spa fresh and clean.

When opening the pool for the first time, remove any standing water or debris off the cover.  Make sure to clean and completely dry the cover before storing it away.

Fire up the filter system and clean out the filter. Next, get to work vacuuming any dirt, sand and debris in the pool.  Add more water if necessary.

Professionals at Lowes believe, “Clean water and balanced chemistry are the keys to pool maintenance.”  Balanced pool water means it has the correct pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness levels.

Proper balance prevents surface corrosion as well as eye and skin irritation. Chlorinating your pool will sanitize the water preventing bacteria and algae.

Cleaning the pool tile can be a daunting undertaking.  To diminish anxiety, think about cleaning a section at a time, maybe while the family is already enjoying the outdoors. Use a designated pool tile cleaner or for a more natural approach, try scrubbing the tile with baking soda.

Before the inaugural cannonball, review pool rules with your family. Always make sure to have adult supervision and no running around the pool deck. Keep rescue equipment easily accessible. Each pool should be equipped with a ring buoy, life jackets, rope, pole and first aid kit.

If you are considering taking the fun to the next level by adding a slide or diving board to your pool, talk to your insurance agent about how it can affect your homeowner’s insurance policy. Not only could additional coverage be required, but some insurance companies have height requirements and water depth requirements.

Your hot tub or spa has most likely seen action through the winter. While the sun is out and you are spring cleaning, might as well perform maintenance on it as well.  Make sure you are sanitizing and chlorinating the hot tub water once a week. The filter should be cleaned once a month.  Spring Dance Hot Tubs recommends that you drain your spa every three months. Be sure to clean the shell and other accessories such as spa pillows, with a mild detergent, rinse then refill with fresh water.

The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, (APSP) recommends that children who are big enough to be in a hot tub not stay in for more than five minutes at a time unless the temperature is dropped to 98 degrees, but never more than 15 minutes at a time.

“Swimming pools and hot tubs are covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy. Some homeowner’s might consider increasing the liability limit or purchasing an umbrella policy. Pool accidents are costly and can become the source of a lawsuit,” points out Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

If you own a pool or spa, make sure your family has the appropriate home insurance coverage that provides you with peace of mind. GreatFlorida Insurance has offices located throughout Florida to help you find the right homeowner’s policy and umbrella insurance to keep you and your guests protected.


Florida Ranks High In Uninsured

Florida-Health-InsuranceThe U.S. Census Bureau released data this week revealing Florida has the second-highest number of uninsured residents from across the nation. According to  the Small Area Health Insurance Estimates report, in 2013, 24.3 percent of residents were without health insurance. The rate has declined since 2010, when 25.3 percent were reported as having no health insurance. Central and South Florida were reported as having the greatest amount of uninsured residents.

Finances are often cited as the reason why most people do not have health insurance. “Costly medical bills contribute to the financial demise of many individuals and families,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice president of GreatFlorida Insurance. “When someone without health insurance faces a serious illness requiring medical attention bills begin to pile up quick, for every test, procedure and ounce of medicine you receive, there is a dollar amount attached.”

Financial research and advisory company, NerdWallet conducted a health study and found medical debt is the largest cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. The study also discovered, medical debt is the largest category of consumer debt in collections.

The New York Times, reported on the soaring prices for medical care at hospitals. Patients were charged a variety of prices for a procedure as simple as stitches. One patient who received three stitches was charged $2,229.11, another who received 5 stitches was charged $3,355.96 and a patient who was given 6 stitches during her visit was charged over $3,000.

You cannot prevent accidents or unexpected illnesses and diagnoses during your life. Obtaining health insurance is a step toward not only maintaining a healthy lifestyle but protecting your finances from potential medical bills in the future.

GreatFlorida Insurance is aware that many low-wage and part-time employers do not offer workplace insurance coverage. While group and family health insurance seem to boast better prices, you can still save in individual health care costs.

GreatFlorida Insurance offers a selection of plans and options for health care through Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Florida Blue has plans with varying costs and coverage to meet your needs and budget, as well as a Catastrophic Plan for single people under 30 who qualify through financial hardships. Agents at GreatFlorida can help you understand new insurance laws, the difference in plan features, benefits, co-pays, premiums and deductibles to find a health insurance plan that  is right for you.


Preventing Motorcycle Accidents

Florida Motorcycle InsuranceAs spring approaches, many riders are anxious to rev up their bikes and enjoy the beautiful scenery and pleasant Florida weather. Most riders are aware that no matter how experienced you are as a rider, safety is always an issue.

“Almost all accidents involving a motorcycle end in serious injury or death, reported Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance. “Wearing a helmet and protective gear, along with maintaining your riding skills and being aware of your surroundings will help you to stay protected while on the road.”

Florida Motorcycle InsuranceMotorcycle enthusiast website, RideApart.com reviews the most common causes of motorcycle accidents and offers some useful safety tips on how to avoid them.

  • If a left turning vehicle, turns in front of you, make sure to follow at a safe distance- making you and your bike more visible will help.
  • Try staying on the side of a lane when stopped rather than the center of a lane; this can prevent you from being hit from behind.
  • Make sure to stay out of a vehicle’s blind spots, to prevent them from changing lanes and veering into your space.
  • Never ride between an active traffic lane and parked cars; this will prevent damage from a car opening its door in front of you.
  • If you approach a corner and realize you are going too fast, just try to ride it out.
  • A front brake can become locked, learn to become proficient with your front brake or consider buying a bike with an anti-lock brake system.
  • Hitting gravel, sand or other road debris when taking a turn is common, consider safely taking wider turns for greater visibility.
  • Slippery roads- if possible wait out the first hour when oil from the road comes to the surface and can cause hydroplaning. Always make sure your tires are not worn out but in good condition.
  • Never drink and drive.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, (IIHS), reported 4,381 motorcyclists died in a crash in 2013. Among the fatally injured drivers, 28 percent had a blood alcohol concentration, (BAC), at or above 0.08 percent.

GreatFlorida Insurance gives you the true freedom to ride.  We can create a custom motorcycle insurance policy for you regardless of the type of bike you ride. Call 888-478-7801 or complete our online request form at www.greatflorida.com and our agents will help find the best motorcycle insurance for you.


Your Tax Dollars at Work

Florida-Insurance-LegislationThe Florida 2015 Legislative Session is underway. During the next 60 days, officials will decide and debate, on close to the 1,100 bills filed according to Florida Politics.com.

“This legislative session, lawmakers will reexamine some issues from last year as well as introduce new ones. GreatFlorida Insurance wants to keep our agents and customers updated on the issues that are important to you,” said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance.

Some of the hotly contested issues on the agenda this session include the following:

Budget-Florida law requires an annual state budget passed every year. Governor Rick Scott’s proposed budget includes $673 million in tax cuts. He wants to see reductions in cell phone and cable and satellite TV bills as well as manufacturing and machinery and equipment. He also wants to eliminate sales tax on college text books and increase a corporate tax exemption.

Water and Land-Last year, 75 percent of Florida voters said they want to put $1 billion towards water and land conservation projects. Lawmakers must decide which projects get that money. Proposed projects include: Everglades clean-up, stormwater and land acquisitions and beach restoration.

Medicaid- During the previous legislative sessions, there has been a bid for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Many are waiting to see if it gets anywhere this time around.

Marijuana-A revised medical marijuana amendment has been proposed to ease the suffering of those with chronic illnesses such as ALS and cancer.

Guns-After the November 20, shooting at Florida State University, there is renewed interest to repeal the ban of guns on campus. Most university presidents across Florida are opposed to the bill.

Gambling-This a battle between gambling resort owners and those who want to maintain Florida’s family friendly attractions. The state’s five year, $ 1 billion casino compact with the Seminole tribe expires this year. Lawmakers must decide if they want to expand gambling beyond tribal reservations.

Insurance-Some are pushing for statewide insurance requirements and background checks for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. These companies assert they are tech firms and not taxi services.

Other bills for consideration include:

Repeal capital punishment

Necessitate greyhound tracks to report dog injuries to the state

Regulate the use of remote controlled drones

Provide financial education and job training for people with developmental disabilities

Legalize 64 oz. beer containers, or growlers

Permit grocery and drug stores to sell hard liquor

GreatFlorida Insurance has been serving Florida since 1991. Dedicated to helping Floridians make informed decisions about their insurance, we offer professional service and affordable insurance. GreatFlorida Insurance specializes in health insurance, auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, boat insurance, motorcycle insurance, business insurance, renters insurance and umbrella insurance.