homeowners insurance


Flood Insurance Myths Debunked

Not knowing the facts on flood insurance can end up costing you your life savings. Review the flood insurance myths we debunked so you know the facts about how to protect your biggest assets.

Myth: Flood Insurance is only for those who live in high risks areas.

Unfortunately, this is not true- 25% of flood claims are for homes NOT in flood plains. While people think you must live in a flood plain to get flood insurance, this is also not true. Almost anyone who wants flood insurance can get it.

Myth: Homeowner’s policy will cover flood damage.

Your standard homeowner’s policy and umbrella policies will not cover flood damage. Flood and earthquake damage must be purchased separately. This leads to our next myth:

Myth: All water damage is treated the same.

Certain types of water damage are covered under flood insurance, while others are covered under your homeowner’s policy. During a storm, if your roof gets torn off and rain pours in, your homeowner’s policy will cover the damage. If a riverbank overflows and damages your home, your flood insurance policy will come into play.

Myth: Flood Insurance covers everything.

Understanding what your flood insurance covers is so important. Flood insurance policies max out at $250,000, which means if you have a 400,000 house with a total loss from a flood, the most you can recover through the program is $250,000 to cover the structure.

The limit for personal possessions is $100,000 under the federal program, but you can buy excess flood insurance through a private carrier that will cover claims above those national limits.

Myth: Your basement is covered.

Well, yes and no. Improvements to your basement such as finished walls, floors, and ceilings are not covered, as well as personal belongings like furniture. The structural components and essential elements such as heating and air conditioning systems will be covered under your flood insurance policy.

Myth: Flood plains do not change.

Flood plains change and evolve over the years. Just because a few years ago your home was not on a flood plain, doesn’t mean it still is not. Check FloodSmart.gov to see if your home is on a flood plain and get information on your risks. Even more important, be sure to speak to your agent to find out details on what you need to be covered.

Myth: You can’t purchase flood insurance instantly.

You can buy flood insurance anytime, BUT the policy is not in effect until after a 30-day waiting period from the first premium payment paid. The exception to this rule is if the policy is bought within 13 months of a flood map revision. If the revised Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) now shows the building in a high flood risk area, any flood insurance purchases will only have a one-day waiting period to go into effect.

To find out more information, check out FloodSmart.gov and speak to your MassDrive insurance agent.

Tips For Moving Day

moving

Whether you’re moving into a condo, apartment, house, or dorm room, moving day can be an extremely stressful and taxing experience.  There’s so much to do, packing, labeling, hauling, unpacking, there’s a lot of room for error which is why we thought we’d pull together some helpful tips!

  • Be ready to start early!  Moving day will probably feel like one of the longest of your life, but it’s important to get up early and make sure everything is packed and good to go.  You’ll want to make sure everything is ready once the movers or family and friends arrive.
  • Map out your route and make sure that you, as well as any movers know how to get there all well.  You’ll also want to make sure there’s room for everyone to park and unload.
  • If possible, try and pre-clean your home before you move in.  That way everything will be ready to use such as the shower, toilet, etc.  You’ll still have to do some cleaning after you unpack everything, there’s sure to be a bit of a mess but at least you’ll already have a head start!
  • Enlist the help of friends and family if possible.  Not only will this save money, but it may also make the process more fun! Just make sure you have everyone’s tasks figured out so the process can be as seamless as possible, and that you’re ready to go as soon as they arrive!
  • Arrange for a charity organization to come pick up any goods you’re willing to donate about a week or two before the move.  Many charities will haul away furniture and other items free of charge as long as they have use for them.
  • Minimize the use of cardboard boxes by packing with items you already have such as suitcases, duffel bags, backpacks, etc.
  • Avoid packing in trash bags, they could be mistaken for trash and accidentally thrown out, and if you’re using a moving service some movers have rules against moving belongings in trash bags.
  • When labeling boxes, label which room they’re going to go in to make unpacking easier.  You’ll know where to put them when you initially bring them in, and can unpack by room, which may help the whole process seem less overwhelming.  You’ll also want to make sure you label boxes on the side instead of on top, that way you can still read them if the boxes are stacked.
  • Pack all of your valuables such as jewelry and important paperwork in a separate bag and bring them with you.  If you’re using a moving service or even getting help from friends, you won’t want to entrust those things to anyone but yourself.
  • Take an inventory of boxes and their contents, especially if you’re using a moving company.  It’ll come in handy if something goes missing.
  • Pack an overnight bag with all of the necessities you will need easy access to, such as toiletries, phone chargers, and an extra change of clothes.  You won’t want to have to dig through boxes to try and find your toothbrush after a long day of moving.
  • If you’re renting, take pictures of your cleaned out apartment when moving in and when moving out, this will make it much easier when trying to get your security deposit back and when you’re dealing with landlords who want to charge you for cleaning and repair fees that may be totally unnecessary.
  • If you have young children or pets, arrange for a family member or babysitter to watch them during moving day, otherwise they will more than likely get in the way and be an additional stress factor.
  • Make sure your utilities are in order and have been set up.  You’ll want your gas, electricity, and water to be working when you move in.
  • Reward your movers!  After a long day of hauling boxes and furniture, your movers are bound to be tired, and whether they’re hired or friends and family, it’s a nice gesture to have some food and drinks available.
  • Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that your new home and all of your property is properly insured, and that’s where we come in!  Whether you’re renting or own a home, we can help you find the policy that’s right for you, so call us today for a free quote!

We know moving will be stressful no matter how many tips you read, but hopefully these will help to minimize that and will make the day run a little bit more smoothly!

Photo By: Meathead Movers

 

 

It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week!

dog bite

Did you know that May 18th – 24th is National Dog Bite Prevention Week?  Did you also know that according to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2013?  The average cost paid out for these claims in 2013 was $27,862.  No one wants to deal with a disaster such as this, not only is it traumatic for the victim, it can also be traumatic for yourself and your family.  In order to avoid these situations, we’ve come up with some tips to prevent you from being bitten, and to prevent your dog from biting.

  • Make sure your dog is properly socialized at a young age.  It’s important that they interact with other dogs as well as people so they learn how to properly act.  Under socialized dogs may bite out of fear when approached.
  • Be cautious when exposing your dog to new situations where you are unsure of how they will react.
  • If you own a dog that can be defensive, make sure there are signs posted in your yard warning visitors to “Beware of dog”.
  • Avoid aggressive games such a tug-of-war, it can encourage inappropriate behavior, fetch is a much better option.
  • Make sure your dog is always leashed when walking them outside.  If you allow your dog to run outside, make sure it is inside a fenced enclosure.  Putting them on a runner or behind an electric fence will keep them in your yard, but won’t prevent humans or other animals from approaching your dog.
  • Never leave young children alone with a dog unsupervised.
  • Teach children to always ask for permission before approaching an unfamiliar dog.
  • Never approach a dog you don’t know without asking it’s owner for permission.  Some dogs may react differently than others and may even feel threatened, especially if you’re on their property.
  • Do not disturb a dog if it is sleeping, eating, playing with a toy, or caring for puppies.  They may interpret you as a threat and react on instinct to defend their territory.
  • Pay attention to body language, if you come across a dog with a tense body, raised hair, a stiff tail, bared teeth, and especially if they growl at you, avoid eye contact and slowly back away to put some space between you and the dog.  Whatever you do, do not turn your back and run, as their instinct will be to chase you.
  • If a dog that appears tense does approach you, stand very still and avoid eye contact, try to toss an object away from you so that the dog will go investigate.  That should give you enough time to slowly walk away without provoking the animal.
  • If your dog does being to display aggressive behavior, consult your veterinarian or a behavioral specialist immediately.

We all hope to never encounter a situation where our dog bites someone or we are bitten, but sometimes it happens.  These tips are a good way to avoid such situations, and to keep your family and your dog as safe as possible.

Photo By: John M. P. Knox

Do College Students Need Renters Insurance Or Does A Homeowners Policy Provide The Right Coverage?

move in

Are you a parent sending your child back to college in a few weeks?  Whether they are living in the dorms or renting an apartment, we know they are going to need a lot of supplies and that you want them to be protected!  So, how exactly would you go about that?  Insurance is a great way to protect not only their belongings, but also their liability in case of a loss.   Insurance can be confusing though, when it comes to knowing what kind to get and how much it will cost you, there can be a lot of questions.  If you have homeowner’s insurance, it may extend the coverage to protect your child while they are away at school but that varies from carrier to carrier so call and find out for sure.  If your homeowner’s policy won’t extend their coverage, then you may want to consider renter’s insurance for your child.

If you’re not familiar with renter’s insurance, insurance expert Bill Suneson was nice enough to explain a lot of the things you need to know, which have been summarized  below.

When a student moves into a residence hall, typically the terms of the housing agreement make it clear that the school is not responsible for stolen or damaged person property.  Further, the student becomes personally liable for any damage caused to the dorm or residence hall. The same applies to most rental agreements if a student moves into an apartment off-campus.  Without the proper insurance, students and families can incur a significant financial loss if they cause unintended damage to their residence or suffer a loss to their personal property.  For example, if someone breaks a window or steals some of your child’s personal property from their dorm or apartment, without insurance they would have to replace those items or repair the damage with money out of their own pocket.

Renters insurance is an easy and affordable way to protect a student’s personal property against theft, water damage, fire, etc.  It is not uncommon for a laptop computer or bicycle to be stolen from a dorm and most low deductible renters insurance plans would provide a quick replacement.

Another benefit?  A renters insurance plan protects students if they are personally liable for causing damage to their residence.  Colleges or landlords will promptly bill students for their portion of the loss. Just think about how easy it is to inadvertently triggers a sprinkler system if there was a small fire from cooking in their kitchen.   These things happen all the time, and without the proper coverage, students may find themselves with a hefty bill.

Renter’s insurance is a great resource and will allow parents to sleep soundly knowing their child’s belongings, and financial future are  protected.  Yes, most homeowner’s insurance policies do extend coverage to students when they are away at college. However, parents should review their policies closely before a student leaves for college as some policies may have certain limitations.  For instance, policies may limit coverage to students attending college full-time or living on-campus.

However, most homeowner’s policies have high deductibles and families are unlikely to file claims such as a $500 bike theft because the payment would not exceed their deductible.  Also, home insurance rates are increasing and filing small property or liability claims generally result in higher rates for the family over time.

With deductibles as low as $100 and most premiums less than $150, renters insurance is usually both valuable and affordable for students even though some coverage may exist through their parents’ homeowner’s policy.  As a parent, spend a few minutes going through your homeowner’s policy and decide with your child if renters insurance is something you want to invest in.  You may decide that your homeowner’s policy is enough and you don’t want the extra coverage, but after thinking about how much your valuables actually cost, you may decide that renters insurance is right for you in which case be sure to give us a call for a quote!

Photo By: Nazareth College 

Mass Home Sales on the Rise

The Warrner Group, a publisher of real estate information based out of South-Boston, reported last week Massachusetts single family home sales have have risen 17% from October or 2008. This has made October the 4th consecutive month of increased home sales. Many of the sales seem to be driven by first time homeowners looking to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit, that was to expire the end of November but has been extended into 2010.

This increase in sales will also mean a number of new homeowners are looking for homeowners insurance. To save money on your insurance policies ask your insurance carrier for a companion policy. For example MassDrive offer these policies, when you sign up for your auto and homeowners insurance together you receive discounts on both.

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