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Welcome to our learning center. We understand that sometimes it can be hard to get answers to even the most basic questions. At Watts, Dawson & Associates, Inc., we provide "All forms of Insurance!", so we have the experience to answer your questions!

Below are answers to some of the most common questions we are asked. Just click on the topic of your choice to see the information on that topic.

  • Why do I need auto insurance?
    Your car has two unique qualities. First, it is probably one of the most expensive things you own. Insurance protects your investment and guarantees you a way of coping with the expense of accidents, vandalism, or theft, as well as securing your financial responsibility to the bank or other institution lending the money to buy your vehicle. Second, when you drive, you are operating a powerful machine, weighing one ton or more and capable of moving at over 100 miles per hour. You are responsible for the safety of your passengers, your fellow drivers, other people's property, pedestrians and yourself. Insurance helps you live up to that responsibility by ensuring your ability to cover the costs of potential damages or injuries. You are also required to be financially responsible by state laws, which are best satisfied through your insurance coverage. In fact, in most states insurance is a prerequisite to registering your car. So if you want to drive your own vehicle, you must be insured.
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  • Why and how are policies priced for different drivers?
    Drivers are grouped according to the level of risk each one poses--i.e., the amount of loss incurred by insurers within various categories of policy holders. For various reasons, drivers are categorized by: ? Sex--Men have more accidents on the road than women. ? Age--Drivers under 25 (and, for some insurers, under 30) are considered at higher risk of having an accident. ? Marital Status--Married drivers tend to have fewer accidents than single drivers. ? Personal Driving Record--Years of driving experience, accidents, speeding tickets and drunk-driving offenses are all factors in determining how much of a risk you pose as a motorist. ? How You Use Your Vehicle--If you commute by car during rush hours, you're at greater risk of having an accident than if you only drive for errands and recreation on the weekends. Drivers who use their own vehicles for business also are considered to be at greater risk. ? Type of Vehicle--The value, size, weight, age of your vehicle--even the cost of the replacement parts--are essential to determining the price of your insurance. Larger, heavier vehicles are considered at lower risk than smaller, lighter ones. Plus, more expensive cars are costlier to have repaired than economy models.
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  • Why are rates different for different cars?
    Vehicles are also grouped into categories according to their likelihood of being damaged, vandalized or stolen. Insurers generally consider the size and type of vehicle, as well as the value and the cost of repairs (which can vary greatly, even on the vehicles that cost roughly the same). Thus, a new station wagon is expected to hold up better in an accident than a sports car or subcompact. Putting insurance aside, safety is key when buying an automobile. Your life depends on it! Some cars are considered safer than others because of their performance record in safety tests and real accidents. That's why you should research insurance coverage before you buy your car. It helps you to understand the actual cost and indicates those vehicles with good safety records. Your insurer will ultimately reward you for putting safety first.
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  • Do I really need insurance for my home?
    Insurance, any kind, is your protection against the uncertainties of day-to-day living. For most people, their home is their single most valuable possession - and their biggest investment. Homeowners insurance protects your investment as well as you , the members of your family and your household possessions. If you were to suddenly lose your home due to fire or tornado or have the contents damaged or stolen, like most of us, you probably could not afford to replace everything all at once. And if somebody sued you for an injury or damage caused by you or your property, the cost of defending that suit could run into thousands of dollars just for legal fees - regardless of the outcome of the suit. All of these situations are covered by the homeowners package policy. And while it may be unpleasant to think about fire, theft, and other "uncertainties of life," let's face it, they are there and things happen. Yet another reason you need to carry homeowners insurance is that mortgage lenders require it. No mortgage company will lend the large amounts of money needed to finance a home at today's prices without requiring an insurance policy to protect that investment.
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  • What exactly does a homeowners policy cover?
    "Exact" coverage is hard to define because there are different policies and about 900 insurance companies writing most of the property/casualty business in the United States. However, 80 percent of homeowners policies are based on a standard form. All homeowners policies cover two important areas: property and liability. Remember that you have to have protection against the proverbial thief in the night and the person who slips on your sidewalk by day. What this means in insurance terms is that your homeowners policy has two basic components. It covers your structures and possessions - property insurance - and it furnishes protection against personal liability. Personal liability, as its name implies, means you are legally obligated to pay money to another person for actions caused by you, your family, or your property. That liability extends to medical payments to others for injuries caused by you or your family.
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  • What about natural catastrophes?
    Most catastrophes are covered; for example, wind damage from hurricanes and tornadoes come under the windstorm peril and so are included. Flood and earthquake damage, however, are not covered by a standard policy. Be careful no to be lulled into a false sense of geographic security. Flood and earthquake activity is more widespread than many people realize. For example, almost 90 percent of the U.S. population lives in seismically active areas. Since 1900, earthquakes have occurred in 39 states and caused damage in all 50. And if your home is located in a flood-prone area, you are 26 more times likely to suffer a flood loss than from fire. You may want to check with your agent about special catastrophic policies for normally excluded conditions like floods and earthquakes. Of course, the cost of such extra coverage may reflect the high risk involved. If you live along a shoreline, for example, expect to pay a higher premium for flood coverage than someone living on a mountaintop would pay.
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  • Who decides how much my property is worth?
    State laws may dictate how losses are to be figured, which means the same insurance company may use one method in one state and a different method in another. The common methods are: ? Actual Cash Value - The replacement cost of the item minus depreciation. For example, a new television set may cost $500. If your 7-year-old TV set gets damaged in a fire, it might have depreciated 50 percent. Therefore, you would be paid $250 for that set. ? Replacement Coverage - The cost of replacing an item without deducting for depreciation. So today's cost for a TV set with features similar to the 7-year-old one damaged by fire would determine the amount of compensation. If it still costs $500 today, that would be the replacement coverage. (Replacement value should not be confused with market value. The market value is what your house, for example, would actually sell for and is generally more than the replacement cost. This is because replacement value does not include the land - which almost always does not need to be replaced.
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  • I am a renter; do I need insurance?
    The same rule of thumb applies to renters as to homeowners. If catastrophe struck tomorrow, could you afford to replace everything you own? Or if you were sued, would you have enough money to pay legal fees and possibly settle the suit? If not, chances are you would benefit from the protection that renters insurance brings. Renters insurance offers the same general personal property coverage and liability protection as a homeowners policy. Thus, your camera is insured while you are on vacation, and you are covered if your grandfather clock crashes into the apartment lobby's wall and leaves a gaping hole. In fact, most policies are surprisingly extensive and may include additional living expenses (also called loss-of-use coverage) if you are forced by fire or other damage to live elsewhere.
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  • I rent out a room in my house. Are my tenants covered by my homeowners policy?
    No. Your property and your structure are covered by your policy as is your personal liability. However, the tenants' possessions and liability are not covered by your policy. Therefore, they may wish to purchase their own renters insurance. Whether you are a lessor or a renter, you should check with your agent to make sure you have the right coverage.
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  • What is Sinkhole Coverage vs Catastrophic Ground Collapse?

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    Watts Dawson & Associates, Inc.
    13008 N. 56 Street        1546 E. Bloomindale Ave.
    Tampa, FL 33617          Valrico, FL 33596           
    Phone: 813-985-0349    Phone:  813-651-9660           
    Fax: 813-989-3284         Fax: 813- 685-0424