Tenant Coverage

October 29, 2015 at 2:33 PM | Posted in Home, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Regulations, Renters, Specialty Policy, tenant, tenant policy | Leave a comment
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While renting an apartment, a house or condominium, the dwelling or structure may not be your responsibility but you still have property to protect. The landlord does not carry any coverage on their property policy for you. A tenant policy is also known as HO4 policy, for the tenant who opts to buy coverage to protect their personal property and to obtain personal liability coverage. Most insurance carriers allow coverage as low as $20,000 for personal property and can be purchased for approximately $200 annually. A general guide to determine the amount of coverage needed is to multiply each full room by 10,000 and make necessary adjustments to that figure. Also keep in mind this is a property policy and makes you eligible for the account discount if you also write your auto policy with the same insurance carrier, or with an affiliated company. This policy could respond by replacing your household items, such as clothing and furniture, from loss caused by fire, theft or vandalism.

Ask yourself the following questions:

What if there is a fire in the building? Or if your apartment is vandalized or burglarized?

  • Could you afford to buy your own replacement items?
  • Could you also afford to relocate while building repairs are being made?

The police report will be on file, the fire department will extinguish the fire, but neither will replace your belongings.  If you had purchased a tenant policy in these scenarios, you would need to pay the policy deductible for a covered loss and would be eligible to replace your items up to the limit of coverage you had purchased.

Call us at (888) 850-9400 to obtain the annual rating of this valuable coverage.

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Preventing Puff-backs

January 21, 2015 at 9:44 AM | Posted in Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Regulations, Safety Tips, Seasonal, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A “puff back” is an explosion in the burner chamber of a furnace or boiler. They are usually small and confined to the burner chamber, however, they can do considerable damage to the heating system. In addition, a puff back can send soot and smoke throughout the house, covering walls, ceilings, carpets, furniture, etc. The cleanup of such damage must be done by a professional cleaning company.

The cause of a puff back can always be traced back to a lack of maintenance or repairs to the heating system. Here are some tips to help prevent this dangerous and extremely messy event from happening in your home.

  • Have all of your oil-fired heating appliances serviced annually by a licensed technician.
  • Stay alert for noises, odors, or soot, and watch for oil leaks or air leaks in the oil piping system and at the oil burner. If you notice any of these, contact a licensed technician for an inspection, diagnosis, and repair if necessary.

Keeping up with regular maintenance, and being alert for symptoms, will help prevent the risk of having to cover the cost of cleanup and the disruption in your life that a puff back would create. Fortunately, your homeowner policy will usually cover damage to your home and contents caused by a puff back.

If a puff back occurs, we recommend that you do not attempt to clean it yourself. Using standard cleaning products could cause further damage and may not get rid of the oil residue and odors. The cost of hiring a professional cleaning company would be covered as part of the claim.

If you have any questions on puff backs or the coverage your policy offers, call us at 888-850-9400. It is always recommended to have your furnace cleaned and boiler checked before the winter cold sets in to avoid the chances of a puff back in your home.

Snowmobiling Safety Tips

January 14, 2015 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Personal Insurance, Regulations, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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Now that Mother Nature has decided to send us some snow, people are starting to take out their winter toys, with snowmobiles being one of the most popular.  Provided there is a combination of caution and common sense, snowmobiling can be one of the best ways to get out and enjoy this beautiful season. Here are some tips to help keep you and others safe while engaging this fun pastime:

  • Keep your sled properly maintained – make sure everything is in working order before taking it out for the first time.
  • Dress properly – wear wind/waterproof outer layers and wear a safety certified helmet.
  • Bring a first aid kit with you – include survival items such as a knife, flares, flashlight, compass, and a fire starting kit. Also bring along water and snacks in case you are stranded for a long period of time.
  • Do research before heading out – know the regulations of the area you will be riding in and check weather forecasts. Keep your speed in line with the conditions and your level of expertise. Slow down in hazardous areas such as around water or in the mountains at night.
  • Don’t go alone – not only is it more fun to be with friends, but more importantly, it’s always best to ride with someone else in case something happens.
  • Learn and use the proper hand signals – it is important to communicate with other drivers.
  • Never drink and drive – alcohol will not keep you warm, it will actually increase your risk of hypothermia.

Before you put your snowmobile to use, call Marsh & McLennan to make sure you have the proper insurance coverage to protect you, other riders, and your sled.  Ensuring safety, also ensures fun!

 

Text With One Hand, Ticket In The Other

July 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM | Posted in Auto, Laws, Regulations, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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In 2010 Massachusetts passed a law banning the following:

  • Cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers
  • Cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers younger than 18
  • Texting for all drivers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded Massachusetts $275,000 in federal grant funds to aid in the enforcement of the Safe Driving Law. Massachusetts is now rolling out a pilot project called “Text With One Hand, Ticket In The Other.” This project will allow State Police to observe distracted driver behaviors through proven enforcement strategies.

“Text With One Hand, Ticket In The Other” will take place in two- to four-week intervals during the next two years, with the first installment running through June 29. The communities that are subjects of the pilot program include Andover, Dracut, Dunstable, Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, and Wilmington.

Most states now have cell phone laws in place that either ban talking, texting, or both. For a complete listing of what is banned in each state go to:  http://www.iihs.org/laws/cellphonelaws.aspx

Mulch Fire-Safety Massachusetts Regulations

May 1, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Posted in Home, Regulations, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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As you start cleaning out your gardens and putting in a layer of mulch to prevent those weeds from growing, there are many types of mulch you could use.  The most common is wood product mulch.  It keeps the weeds away, your plants cool through the summer and warm through the spring and fall.

Unfortunately, wood product mulch is combustible.   After a rash of fires in large buildings and millions of dollars in property damage, a new Massachusetts state regulation was put into place last fall.  The regulation prohibits those who own a building from placing mulch less than 18 inches away from a structure’s wall.  Residential buildings with less than six units are exempt.

Even when your property is exempt, it is still a good idea to follow the regulations to be sure you don’t put your home at risk.  The following tips will help you safely mulch your property:

  • Place mulch no less than 18 inches away from a building’s wall.
  • Use stone or crushed rock for the first 18” as a barrier around your foundation.
  • Space mulch piles 30 feet apart and keep them 25 feet away from a property line.

For more information on this regulation please visit: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/dfs/dfs2/osfm/pubed/fs-topics/fs-topics-a/mulch-fire-safety.html

Open Burning Season Begins

April 3, 2013 at 9:26 AM | Posted in Home, Regulations, Reminders, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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Spring is here and everywhere you look folks are starting their yard work, cleaning up what remains in winter’s wake. That means piles of dead grass, leaves, and branches are ready for disposal. Burning is a good way to get rid of last year’s debris and open burning permits are being issued throughout the month of April.

If you plan to burn this year, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • An open burning permit is required and can be obtained from your local fire department.
  • You will need to call on a daily basis for each permit to determine if weather conditions allow for burning that day.
  • All fires must be contained at a minimum of 75 feet away from buildings.
  • Keep burning piles away from power lines.
  • The hours to burn are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Keep fire extinguishment materials on hand; i.e., water, sand, shovels, and rakes.
  • Watch the wind, it can change at any time. You should be prepared to extinguish your fire at a moment’s notice.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • An adult must attend the fire at all times until it is completely extinguished.
  • The month of April holds the highest risk for brush fires, once the snow melts and April’s strong winds expose the prior year’s debris.
  • Open Burning season ends on May 1st.

Let the Spring cleaning begin! Click on the following link for a great article with additional information on open burning: www.mass.gov/dep/air/compliance/burning.

Remember: An ounce of prevention can protect you and your family from injury and property damage.

Massachusetts Laws on Use of Electronic Devices while Driving

August 2, 2012 at 9:02 AM | Posted in Auto, Laws, Regulations, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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Massachusetts has strict laws with regard to the use of electronic devices while driving. An electronic device is defined as any hand-held or other portable electronic equipment capable of providing data communication between two or more persons. No one under the age of 18 should be using a telephone while driving. No one should be texting while driving regardless of age.  Reporting an emergency is the only exception to the law.

You may not be aware that “while driving” includes while you are stopped at a red light. A police officer does not have to witness your use of the device in order to be cited. There have been cases where phone records have been reviewed at the time of an accident to discover there were texts received or sent. Fines can be enforced after the fact, or criminal charges filed for bodily injury resulting from improper use of electronic equipment.

Some penalties for improper use of electronic devices while driving are:

Junior Operators:

  • 1st offense – $100, 60 day license suspension and attitudinal course
  • 2nd offense – $250, 180 day suspension
  • 3rd offense – $500, 1 year suspension

Operators 18 and over:

  • 1st offense – $35 fine
  • 2nd offense in 12 months – $75 fine
  • 3rd offense in 12 months – $150 assessment

You may be tempted to send a quick text, but the bottom line is: Don’t Risk It! Do not use your electronic devices at all while behind the wheel, especially when your engine is running. Get into the habit of ignoring your electronic devices while driving. You’ll not only save your record but you could possibly save a life.

If you would like additional information on the Massachusetts safe driving laws, visit www.massdot.state.ma.us

Out-of-State Toll Violation Reciprocity

May 30, 2012 at 11:42 AM | Posted in Auto, Laws, Personal Insurance, Regulations | Leave a comment
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As a measure in enforcing toll violation laws, the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts have signed an agreement to pursue out-of-state toll violators. The DOT/E-Z Pass processing centers for these three states can now communicate unpaid toll violations to each other.

Once the MassDOT/E-Z pass processing center receives notice from New Hampshire or Maine that a Massachusetts resident has a toll violation, a letter will be sent warning the violator to settle their fee within 30 days or their registration and/or license will be marked as non-renewable. If a Massachusetts resident’s record gets marked, the following fees become applicable in addition to the toll violation fee:

  • $20 RMV surcharge for each violation that is marked
  • $10 administration fee for each violation that is marked

To remove the non-renew mark, violators must pay the toll violation to the applicable state and the $20 RMV surcharge and $10 administration fee to the MassDOT. MassDOT/RMV branches cannot accept the toll violation fee; therefore, violators must contact New Hampshire at 603-485-4641 or Maine at 888-682-7277.

To avoid fees and non-renewal marks on our driving records, let’s all take the time to get in line and pay our dime.

What Does Your Credit Score Have To Do With Insurance?

March 14, 2012 at 11:48 AM | Posted in Auto, Home, Insurance Policy, Insurance Scoring, Regulations | Leave a comment
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The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows insurers to obtain credit reports for use in conjunction with their underwriting guidelines. Insurance scoring is based on the belief that there is a direct statistical relationship between financial stability and risk. In other words, the higher a person’s insurance score, the less likely they are to use their insurance for small, frequent claims. The insurance industry states these scores help them issue new and renewal insurance policies based on objective, accurate, and consistent information. 

An insurance score is based on information contained in consumer credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union and used in conjunction with driving records, loss history, and application information to determine one’s insurance risk. Some insurance companies use this information to determine what rating platform to apply to an insured, while others may decline to write insurance all together if the insurance score does not meet their underwriting guidelines. 

In Massachusetts, insurance scoring has been required for Homeowner insurance for several years now. However, it is not yet being used for Auto insurance as it is in other states. 

Although we are not provided with your actual score, as a Massachusetts resident, you are entitled to one free credit report a year. You can obtain your free report by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

New Rule For Mobile Phone Use in Commercial Vehicles

January 12, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Posted in Auto, Laws, Regulations | Leave a comment
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As you recall, Massachusetts passed the safe driving law on September 30, 2010 banning texting while operating a vehicle.  Massachusetts will also enforce the U.S. Department of Transportation’s rule regarding the use of hand-held mobile phones in commercial motor vehicles.

The regulation defines a “commercial motor vehicle” as any vehicle used on public highways in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property with:

  • A gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, or
  • A vehicle designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation or,
  • A vehicle designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers not for compensation, or
  • A vehicle transporting hazardous materials that requires placarding under the Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (49 U.S.C. App.1801-1813).

This rule prohibits the following:

  • Holding a mobile phone (including push to talk phones) to conduct voice communication.
  • Dialing a mobile phone by pressing more than a single button.
  • Reaching for a mobile phone in an unacceptable or unsafe manner.

Please note:  This rule does not prohibit a driver from using a mounted mobile phone that can be easily accessed from the driver’s seat and activated with a single button.  Also, the term mobile phone does not include two way or Citizens Band Radio services.

Penalties will be issued to both the driver AND their employer.  So, whether you operate a commercial vehicle for employment or own a small business, drive safe…your well being and your job could depend on it!

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