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.

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College-Bound Coverage

August 6, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Posted in Home, Reminders | Leave a comment
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Sending your child off to college can be a very emotional experience, making it difficult to remember everything that needs to be thought of while worrying about them leaving home. Insurance coverage is one topic that is often forgotten, although it is one of the most important topics. The proper insurance coverage not only protects the student but protects you, the parent as well. If your child is under the age of 24, is a full-time student, and was a resident of your household before moving out to school, some of your home and auto coverage may follow them if they will be living in the dorm.

Covering a student’s actions:
Your homeowner policy provides coverage for bodily injury or property damage that is caused by your child accidentally. Intentional acts are not covered. This only applies if they are in the dorm. This may be a good time to consider an umbrella policy to obtain additional liability coverage.

Covering a student’s belongings:
Your homeowner policy provides coverage up to 10% of your contents coverage for their belongings while away from your premises. This may NOT apply if they are living in an off campus apartment or fraternity or sorority house.  When it comes to electronic devices such as laptops and computers, you may want to specifically schedule these items.

If your child will be living off campus, they would want to purchase a tenant policy to protect their personal items and receive liability coverage. Some landlords are now requiring that they be listed on a tenant policy so they will be notified if it cancels during the year.

Covering student autos or driving liability: When your child takes a car to school, be sure they are listed as the primary operator and that you have notified your insurance agent of the town the vehicle will be garaged during the school year. Make sure your child knows not to let anyone else drive the vehicle, as this would negate any available coverage in the event of a loss.

If your student is not taking a car to school and there is a chance they may drive someone else’s vehicle, make sure you leave them on your policy as a rated operator. Should they be in an accident, your auto policy will provide them some coverage if the owner of the other vehicle did not carry enough liability coverage. There may also be discounts available to students away at school.

There are so many issues to consider as you help your child leave for college. Call us at 888-850-9400 and we can help you arrange for any insurance coverage needed before they go.

Swimming Safety

June 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Posted in Personal Property, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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It’s official — pool season is here!  During the warm, humid weather it is lots of fun to go swimming, but make sure you don’t throw caution to the wind when cooling off in the water. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • Become CPR certified.
  • Always swim with a buddy – never swim alone.
  • When in a public pool or lake, only swim in designated areas that are supervised by lifeguards.
  • Maintain constant supervision, especially for children.
  • Keep a swimming emergency kit handy that consists of: first aid kit, floatation device, charged cell phone, and a pair of scissors to cut hair, clothing, or a pool cover if needed.
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well and learns what to do in the case of rip tides.
  • Make sure anyone that is not a strong swimmer wears a life jacket.
  • Make sure the appropriate safe guards are installed in your home pool such as door alarms, window guards, and locking pool gates.
  • Make sure your pool or spa is in good working order and has the proper drain covers.
  • If a child goes missing, check the water first!
  • Protect your skin with a good sunscreen and re-apply frequently throughout the day.

Whether your summer includes swimming in your backyard pool, at the local swimming hole, or the town pool make sure you and your loved ones stay safe. Most swimming-related accidents are preventable.

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

Seasonal Vehicle Coverage

April 9, 2014 at 9:04 AM | Posted in Auto, Camper, Insurance Policy, Motor Home, Motorcycle, Personal Insurance, Personal Property, Specialty Policy, Travel Trailer | Leave a comment
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It is that time of year again. The motorcycles, campers, and collector cars and other recreational vehicles are starting to make an appearance now that the weather is better. Here are some insurance reminders before you take them out:

  • Motorcycles: If you decreased your coverage when you put your motorcycle away last winter, don’t forget to increase coverage before taking a ride. When deciding what coverage to put on your motorcycle, Medical Payments is very important to you and anyone that is on your bike at the time of an accident.
  • Campers: They can be covered under your auto policy, but you will get much better coverage at a comparable price if you insure your camper on a travel trailer policy. It includes things like towing and roadside assistance, accessory coverage for awnings, etc… and campsite liability if stationary.
  • Collector Cars: If you have a classic or collector car that is at least 15 years old, you will want to make sure you have collector car insurance coverage. The coverage is designed for the special needs of the car collector. It covers everything your regular auto policy will cover in the event of a loss but the method of determining the value is an agreed value rather than an actual cash value — there is no reduction taken for depreciation. Since a collector or classic car is only driven for a short period of time each year, the premium is usually much lower than a regular auto policy.
  • Off Road Vehicles: Whether you drive an ATV or a golf cart, you could potentially injure someone or cause property damage. You need coverage that will respond to any situation. Some of the extras on a recreational vehicle policy include: Equipment coverage, helmet and safety apparel, and trailer coverage.
  • Watercraft: Boats of all sizes and jet skis need the proper coverage as well. Physical damage to the vessel, liability to other boaters, medical payments, and trailer coverage are just some of the coverages available under a watercraft policy.

No matter what your passion is, make sure you and your family are protected with the right coverage before you experience a loss.

Using Your Vehicle for a Profit? Know the Exclusions & Limitations

April 2, 2014 at 10:51 AM | Posted in Auto | Leave a comment
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Uber, Lyft, and SideCar are some of the new business services popping up that use smart phone technology for vehicle owners who combine availability with ride sharing or taxi service.  These companies work from a mobile phone application, allowing potential riders to connect with potential drivers for a fee.  Whether you choose “ride-sharing” or transportation for hire, there are definite limitations on your personal auto policy that you need to be aware of:

  • Every Massachusetts Auto policy has a public or livery conveyance exclusion that applies to most of the coverages, including property damage and bodily injury to others.  This means that if you are acting as a livery service (carrying passengers for hire) at the time of an accident, your insurance company could deny coverage.
  • The Vehicle Sharing Exclusion, new to Massachusetts, states the insurance company will not pay any claim for injury or property damage under the policy while your auto is being used in a personal vehicle sharing program.
  • Most of these programs offer their own coverage as excess in addition to the driver’s personal insurance policy. Programs may offer to pay from dollar-one if the primary insurance is not available. However, depending on the circumstances at the exact time of the claim there could be a question as to whether or not their coverage will respond.

It is always better to be safe than sorry. Before you sign up for any of these new business ventures involving the use of your personal vehicle, call Protector Group at 888-850-9400 to discuss your coverage and any exclusions that may apply.

Snow Removal Tips

December 18, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Posted in Holidays, Home, Safety Tips, Seasonal | Leave a comment
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It’s beginning to look a lot like… a very snowy winter! Even though the snow creates beautiful scenery, it can be a hassle to clean up. By following this list of snow removal suggestions you can help prevent liability issues and injury:

  • Clear snow and ice off your vehicle surfaces before you drive away. Snow and ice flying off a vehicle can damage other cars and cause accidents. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority can prohibit vehicles from using the roadway if debris, including snow or ice, could fall from the vehicle and endanger individuals or property. Massachusetts Turnpike Police also have the authority to fine drivers $200 for failing to clear vehicles.
  • Clear and sand walkways and steps. Make sure that your walkways and steps are clear of snow and ice to ensure the safety of visitors and delivery personnel. As things melt during the day and freeze again at night, it makes it necessary to re-apply sand and salt. Don’t forget – due to a recent Massachusetts law, homeowners are now responsible for clearing the sidewalk in front of their homes.
  • Have your roof raked after each significant snowfall. Raking the snow away from the edges of your roof prevents the melting and re-freezing that creates ice dams. This will protect your roof as well as prevent icicles from forming that could fall and injure someone.

This is just the beginning of the winter season and much more snow is expected. At Protector Group we hope these tips will keep you safe and incident free this winter.

Review Your Personal Liability Limits

December 4, 2013 at 11:34 AM | Posted in Auto, Home, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Personal Property | Leave a comment
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If you plan on hosting or attending holiday parties, now is a good time to review the liability limits on your personal policies. In addition to providing you a specified limit of liability, the coverage also covers the cost of your legal defense, which in most cases is as much if not more than the settlement itself.

Depending on your situation, here are some liability coverage options you should consider:

  • If you rent, you need a renters policy. Liability is one of the coverages automatically included in this policy. You pick the limit and depending on the limits you choose, the cost is usually less than $20 a month for the policy. Your landlord’s home policy will NOT cover you or your belongings.
  • If you own your home or condo, check the limit of liability on your homeowner policy. If you are carrying the average of $300,000, the cost to increase it to $500,000 is usually less than $50 a year.
  • A Personal Umbrella policy sits over your basic property and auto policies. It starts at $1,000,000, extends your liability above and beyond the basic limits, and covers you and your family members worldwide.
  • Check the limits of liability on your auto policy as well. Bodily injury caused by an uninsured or underinsured auto will cover you and the occupants of your vehicle should you be hit by someone else. Bodily injury to others covers others you may injure if you are at fault. Both coverages are equally important throughout the year and especially now during this slippery winter season.

If you have any questions on your coverage or the options available to you call us at 1-888-850-9500.

We want to insure you have a safe and happy Holiday Season!

Insuring Home Improvements

October 16, 2013 at 9:55 AM | Posted in Home, Insurance Claims, Insurance Policy | Leave a comment
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When hiring professionals for your home improvement projects, know the basic guidelines you should follow:

  • Make sure all necessary permits are pulled.
  • Request Certificates of Insurance from the contractor.
  • Call Dig Safe before work begins whenever digging below ground occurs – It’s the law!
  • Communicate clearly and effectively with contractors throughout each phase of the project.
  • Always get a written warranty and receipt.
  • Notify your insurance agent of the work being performed so they can adjust your insurance policy accordingly.

Getting a good price on any work you have done is important, but price alone should not be the driving factor.  Did you know that any loss or damage to your dwelling resulting from defective, inadequate or faulty planning, construction, or maintenance of any property resulting from alteration, construction, repairs, renovation, remodeling or maintenance including materials used is excluded under all home policies?  Any ensuing damage might be covered if it is not otherwise excluded but faulty work, planning, and materials would not be.

Simply put:  If you have work done on your home and that work is not done correctly — or the correct materials are not used — your insurance will not pay for that work to be re-done correctly.
For example: …If you had a water loss due to the faulty work done to your roof, the ensuing damage “might” be covered, but the cost of repairing the roof would not be. You would be responsible for pursuing the contractor for the faulty work performed.

It is very important that you hire a reputable contractor and research their references prior to doing any work, because there is no coverage you can buy back once faulty workmanship or materials result in further damage.

Faulty work or materials are not all you want to think about. Town ordinances or zoning laws change over time.  If you have a partial loss in your home and the city or town zoning laws changed since your home was built, you could be required to update some undamaged portions of your home to meet the new zoning requirements when you start to repair or rebuild after the loss.  Fortunately, there is some coverage under your home policy for these types of claims.  The basic home policy is usually limited to 10% of your dwelling coverage but there are higher limit options available to purchase.

If you have any questions regarding policy limits or how your policy will respond to a specific scenario, call Protector Group at 888-850-9400.

What to Consider When Renting a Vehicle

June 19, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Auto, Insurance Policy, Personal Insurance, Rental Vehicles | Leave a comment
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When renting a vehicle for your vacation this year, here are some things to consider:

  • Your personal auto policy extends physical damage coverage to the rental vehicle, but the coverage territory is limited to the Continental US, its territories, and Canada.
  • Coverage extended from your personal auto policy will always be settled on an Actual Cash Value basis at the time of a loss.  You could be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses such as administration fees, depreciation vs. replacement value, and loss of use of the rental car.
  • If you purchase the Damage Waiver Coverage from the car rental agency, you are not held liable for any damage to the rental vehicle as long as you have met the requirements of the rental contract.
  • The credit card used to rent the vehicle may provide some coverage for the rented vehicle.  Double check to make sure it will cover administration fees, diminished value, and loss of use.
  • All drivers that may operate the rental should be listed on the rental contract in order for coverage to apply.
  • Most auto insurance companies now offer enhanced rental coverage that may provide some or all of the coverage you would normally purchase from the car rental agency

Before making any decisions on how best to insure the rental car, read your rental contract carefully.  If you have any questions on how your auto insurance coverage would respond to a rented vehicle, call Protector Group at 1-888-850-9400.

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