Personal Property Inventory

November 19, 2015 at 3:06 PM | Posted in Event Planning, Home, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Safety Tips, Specialty Policy | Leave a comment
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Why is taking inventory of your Personal Property so important?

If your home was destroyed, or a theft occurred, could you compile a complete list of your personal property from memory?  Most people couldn’t; WHY? Maybe because they’d be too devastated by the loss itself to be able to write down all that was destroyed. Or maybe because after a lot of years, it’s hard to keep track of what one owns! Compiling a complete list is something you’d be asked to do at the time of filing your claim.

We know that putting a dollar value on possessions you’ve accumulated over many years is difficult and that only you can decide the extent of your insurance needs. However, if the unthinkable happened, would you have enough coverage for everything?  Your Personal Property Inventory serves two important functions:

  • as a valuable record of your possessions
  • as a way for you to judge the adequacy of your present coverage – do you have enough?

The inventory list should be stored somewhere safe, preferably away from your home. Our suggestion would be to take a video of each room in your home and store that video off premises – a relative’s home, safety deposit box, etc. Then if the worst happened, it would be available at the time you report your loss.

 

Benefits of a Home Inventory

Obtaining a comprehensive home inventory:

  • Ensures you have the necessary amount of insurance coverage.
  • Identifies items—such as jewelry, coins, antiques, artwork, and silverware—that have limited coverage on a home or tenant policy and helps to determine if additional insurance is needed for those items.

The decision can then be made to purchase additional coverage (known as a “rider”) so the items will be insured for their full value. This then…

  • Allows an evaluation on whether to insure your property and contents at “replacement cost” or “actual cash value.” Replacement cost is the amount it takes to replace or repair your home and possessions with materials of similar quality. Actual cash value is a lower amount that consists of replacement cost less depreciation.
  • Verifies the condition of your assets before moving or placing them in storage in case of loss or damage.

So break out your camera and say action!cinematographer marker

Don’t be caught “underinsured” and/or unable to remember what you own. Call us today to discuss your homeowners or renters insurance policy, and find out what you need to ensure you’re protected in case of loss at our toll free number: 888-850-9400.

 

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.

It’s That Time of Year to Start Preparing Your Home for Winter

October 22, 2015 at 8:26 AM | Posted in Home, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Reminders, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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Beautiful New England foliage is at its peak and the leaves are falling, along with the temperature. Last winter was brutal – who knows what Mother Nature has in store for us this year?? We came up with a list of things for you to consider before winter sets in:

  • Tune Up Time – Snow blowers and generators should be tuned up; check to make sure they’re running correctly.
  • Shovels & Sand– Stock an adequate supply of both.
  • Tree Maintenance – Trim branches away from power lines, your roof and gutters.
  • Heating System & Chimneys – Have these items professionally cleaned before the heating season starts.
  • Clean the Gutters – If your gutters are full of debris, water can back up against the house and damage your roof, siding, and wood trim, and also lead to leaks and ice dams.
  • Inspect Your Roof & Attic– Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may cause leaks, especially if you had icicles hanging off your roof last winter, or even worse, suffered from ice dams. Make sure you take preventative measures to fix any air leaks and ensure you have adequate insulation in your attic. Making sure these things are taken care of will prevent any snow melting and leaking into your attic, causing potential water damage to the inside of your house.
  • Divert Water Spouts– add extensions onto your downspouts to divert water away from your foundation to prevent ground water seepage into your basement.
  • Shut-Off Exterior Water Faucets – Drain water from pipes and hoses to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
  • Space Heaters – Inspect all heating appliances thoroughly before using them. Make sure you’re up-to-date on Space Heater safety.
  • Emergency Supplies – Replace and restock before/after power outages. Include batteries, flashlights, non-perishable food supplies, and blankets.

Checking off this list and being prepared for the winter months will help ensure you have a worry free and claim free season. Please feel free to call us with any questions about your coverage and how to best keep yourself protected at 888.852.8500.

Road Hazards

October 8, 2015 at 12:30 PM | Posted in Auto, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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In the auto insurance industry, a “road hazard” can be defined as anything on the road that poses a threat to a driver, placing drivers at risk of being in an accident. Some common examples can be road repair in anticipation of winter, potholes, uneven/unpaved roads, or a foreign object in the road, causing drivers to swerve and possibly lead to an accident.

The frequency of road hazard accidents is at a high, and it’s not just due to a higher population of pot holes; objects being transported on the road risk coming loose if they are not secured properly, in turn posing a risk to drivers and others around them. Now that autumn is upon us, leaves will soon be littering the ground and everyone will be doing fall lawn clean-up, driving to waste yards to dispose of leaves and branches. If yard debris is not tied down with ropes, tarps, or nets, a portion of the load can fall off the vehicle during transit, creating a risk for accidents as drivers may need to swerve to avoid the falling yard debris, or debris left behind in the road.

With the knowledge of road hazards in mind while traveling, please use caution out on the road. Practice road safety. Keep your speed within the speed limit and maintain a safe distance behind any vehicle to avoid upcoming potholes or debris in the road; there’s a chance the driver ahead of you will swerve to avoid such road hazards.

Be sure you know the specifics of what your auto policy covers in the event of an accident. Any damage to your tire or wheel as a result of a pothole is not covered by MA auto policy. In the event of a collision due to a pothole, or coming in contact with anything on the road, auto policies can provide coverage, but you may be subject to a deductible. If you have questions about your auto policy, or would like to discuss your policy coverage in the event of an accident caused by a road hazard, our client representatives are here to give detailed and helpful direction. Call us toll free at 888 – 850 – 9400.

Take Preventive Measures Against Ice Dams Before Winter

September 24, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Posted in Home, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Reminders, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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With the colder weather approaching, now is the time to start thinking about getting your home ready for the winter; particularly your roof. A roof catches all of the precipitation winter has to offer, and if unprepared, winter can break through its protective barrier and damage your home, using ice dams as its main weapon. Ice dams are a home owner’s nightmare, but taking preventative measures, and educating yourself on how they occur, can help keep your roof secure.

Cycles of warm and cold air closest to the roof are the primary cause of ice dams. Keeping warm air out of your attic, and cold air circulating in, is critical to minimize the warming of the underside of your roof. As a homeowner, there are steps that you can take ahead of time to avoid water damage from ice dams.

  • Insulate the attic floor and put weather stripping around pull-down stairs
  • Increase ventilation in attics by installing eave, soffit, ridge and gable vents
  • Install water and ice shield on the entire roof
  • Install heating coils on the roof

Water damage to the contents in your home resulting from ice dams is not covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy unless you purchase “All Risk on Contents” coverage. If you do not have this type of coverage, or are unsure if you do and would like to discuss more about insuring your home against ice dams, call us at 1 (800) 850-9400.

Submitting a Claim on Your Home or Auto Insurance

March 25, 2015 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Auto, Home, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy | Leave a comment
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Due to this year’s severe winter, you are possibly one of the many that has sustained damage to your house or vehicle. Claims issues ranges include everything from ice dams and house fires, to broken windshields and auto accidents. No matter what type of loss you have, the following steps will help make your claim process go as smoothly as possible:

  • Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.  Some questions you may want to ask are:  Is the damage covered? How long do I have to file the claim? Will the deductible apply? Do I need an estimate? How will this affect my future insurability?
  • Submit a claim. Once your questions have been answered and you make the decision to submit the claim, your agent can transfer you to your company’s claims department or help you contact them directly. The company representative will take your statement and assign you to a company adjuster that will handle your claim. Most likely your adjuster will send someone out to inspect the damage and help settle the claim. There is no charge for this service. You may also be contacted by a Public Adjuster who has no relationship with your insurance company. Public Adjusters charge you a fee for their services that can be as much as 15 percent of your claim settlement. Be advised, they can’t get more money for you than what is stated in your policy.
  • Create a file for your claim. The better organized you are the easier the entire process will be. Write up a summary of what happened, take pictures, and keep lists of damaged items. Keep copies of all forms that you send to or receive from the company or your agent. Write down the name of everyone you speak with along with the date you spoke to them.
  • Know who to contact for claims assistance. If you have questions regarding your claim, your company adjuster is the best person to contact. If you are still not happy with any aspect of your claim, contact your insurance agent and they will get involved on your behalf.

It is in the insurance company’s best interest to pay claims quickly and fairly to keep their customers happy. Most companies stake their reputation on how they handle their claims. Our agency recognizes that claim handling is one of the most important insurance services we offer, therefore, we have a dedicated Claims Adviser on staff to advocate for our customers. If you need guidance with your claim, please give us a call at 888-850-9400.

 

 

Furnace “Puff Back” Q&A

October 15, 2014 at 1:03 PM | Posted in Home | Leave a comment
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What is a “Puff Back”?
A “Puff Back” is an explosion in the burner chamber of a furnace or boiler. If you have forced hot air you have a furnace, and if you have forced hot water you have a boiler. These explosions are usually small and confined to the burner chamber but they can cause quite a bit of damage to the heating system. Most “Puff Backs” occur in oil-fired heating systems. In a system fueled with gas, the explosion is usually bigger and more damaging.

What causes a “Puff Back”?
A “Puff Back” may have many causes but is always traced to a lack of maintenance or a failure to make needed repairs. Having your heating system cleaned and inspected annually to help you avoid problems.

What damage can a “Puff Back” cause?
A “Puff Back” can result in major damage by sending soot and smoke throughout the house. Walls, ceilings, carpets, furniture, and curtains become coated with a fine film of soot and smoke. The damage is usually worse with a forced hot air heating system or central air conditioning because the duct work provides a path through the house allowing the soot and smoke to reach more areas.

What do I do if this happens to me?
If you have a “Puff Back”, report it to your insurance agent and contact a professional cleaning company to begin clean up. Soot and smoke can create quite a mess and be very hard to clean up. Special techniques and materials are usually required to avoid leaving greasy smears. In severe cases, furniture and carpeting may need to be replaced.

Am I covered under my homeowner policy?
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 how your policy will respond, call us at 888-850-9400.

Schedule your furnace to be cleaned before the cold weather takes hold to avoid the chances of a “Puff Back” in your home.

Protecting Yourself from Tree Damage

August 13, 2014 at 9:24 AM | Posted in Home | Leave a comment
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These mild summer days are actually the best time to prepare for the coming storm seasons. If you have trees on your property, you may want to be aware that falling trees and limbs are very common causes of property damage, personal injury, and sometimes death. Windstorms, ice storms, and snow storms can bring even the healthiest tree crashing down. Heavy rains can saturate the ground causing trees to uproot and fall. In addition, trees with large roots can damage septic systems, foundations, utility lines, and sidewalks.

The following signs may require special attention:

  • Trees that are hollow or have cracks in the trunk and major limbs
  • Trees that are decaying or have mushrooms growing from the bark
  • Branches hanging over a roof or that directly contact a roof, siding, or power lines
  • Trees with V-shaped forks rather than U-shaped forks may be more likely to split

Most homeowners are able to attend to these conditions by pruning or removing trees themselves, however, it is always best to consult with a licensed tree care specialist.

Not all homeowner insurance policies automatically provide coverage for tree damage and removal of fallen trees. Contact your agent to see what coverage options are available to you before a loss occurs.

Protect Your Home from Lightning Claims

July 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Home | Leave a comment
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Summer is the season that brings most thunder and lightning storms causing potential dangers. When lightning strikes, it can damage appliances and electronics within your home. The following tips may help you should you encounter a lightning strike:

Preparing for the storm:

  • Have a professional electrician install a lightning protection system. This system provides a path for the lightning current to travel safely to the ground should your home be struck.
  • An electrician might also install surge arresters to your utility service and telephone equipment to prevent surges from entering your home on power and telephone lines.
  • Install surge protectors on outlets in which computers and other electronic equipment are plugged in reducing the possibility of damage.

What to do if lightning strikes your home:

  • In a severe strike, make sure everyone is accounted for and immediately evacuate the house.
  • Call 911. The fire department is dispatched in cases of lightning strikes.
  • The fire department will use thermal imaging cameras to make sure there are no fires or hot spots in your walls.
  • Consult an electrician to make sure your wiring was not damaged.

Filing a claim for lightning:

  • Contact your agent as soon as possible to report the lighting strike.
  • Keep detailed records of all big-ticket purchase such as TVs and computers to show proof of ownership at the time of a claim.
  • Keep receipts for any damaged items that you replace.
  • Keep the items that were damaged for the insurance company to inspect.

Appliances and electronics are not the only items that can be damaged due to a lightning strike. Other items such as well pumps have been known to be damaged by lightning. If you have any questions on how your policy will respond to lightning contact your agent before a loss.

Avoiding Dog Bites

May 21, 2014 at 9:02 AM | Posted in Home, Insurance Claims, Personal Insurance, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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Dogs may be man’s best friend, but according to the Insurance Information Institute, one third of all homeowners liability claims paid out in 2013 were from dog bites. The cost of those claims in 2013 alone was more than $483 million. Each year, the number of dog bite claims rises.

All dogs have the potential to bite under the right scenarios. The best way to protect yourself from claims is to prevent your dog from biting in the first place. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Make sure a dog is suitable for your household and neighborhood before adopting or purchasing it. Research and check with a professional dog trainer to learn what will work best for your situation.
  • Spend the time to train and socialize your dog to ensure positive interactions with people or other animals.
  • Invest in professional training sessions.
  • Ask whether a child or adult is fearful of your dog and separate them while that person is in your home.
  • Small children should never be left alone with a dog.
  • Don’t let anyone, especially children, disturb a dog that is eating or sleeping.
  • Seek professional advice immediately if your dog develops aggressive behaviors.
  • Always display calm caution, and never surprise an unfamiliar dog upon approaching.
  • Avoid staring directly into a dog’s eyes as this may be a threatening gesture to the animal.

May 18th through the 24th is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. This annual event provides consumers with information on how to be responsible pet owners and increasing dog bite awareness. You can learn more by visiting the American Humane Associations website at www.americanhumane.org or the American Kennel Club at www.akc.org/insurance/tips_dogbites.cfm

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