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.

Is Competition In The Insurance Industry Benefiting Massachusetts Drivers?

car

In 2008, the auto insurance market in Massachusetts was deregulated resulting in major changes for both consumers and insurance carriers alike. As more carriers began to write policies in the state, prices initially dropped.  However, prices have since rebounded and now closely resemble what consumers were paying before the industry was deregulated, according to data from the state Division of Insurance.  The question then arises; Is competition in the industry actually benefiting Massachusetts residents?

Recently, an article titled “Auto Insurance Rates Bounce Back Up In Mass.” was published in the Boston Globe.  The article was written by Deirdre Fernandes and she tries to determine whether or not consumers are benefiting from competition in the auto insurance industry by studying year-to-year comparisons of auto insurance premiums.  Before deregulation, insurance carriers typically had the same prices and offerings for their consumers, prompting larger carriers to avoid writing policies in Massachusetts due to the strict regulation of the industry.

After the deregulation, larger carriers such as Progressive and Geico began writing policies with extremely low premiums, forcing established carriers to lower their prices in order to maintain their business.  Since then, prices have risen as these larger carriers have become more familiar with paying out claims in the state. However, it is important to note that according to Fernandes’ article, repair costs and medical costs (all of which factor into claim payouts) are increasing faster in Massachusetts than across the nation as a whole, which also affect premium prices.

In her article, Fernandes quotes Deirdre Cummings, legislative Director of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group who said “If you look at rates and rates are going higher, that’s not in the consumer’s favor.”  Fernandes also plays devil’s advocate by acknowledging the fact that because insurance carriers are no longer regulated, they are able to offer unique services to their customers such as roadside assistance and specific discounts relating to bundling policies together, good student discounts, annual mileage discounts, etc.  Fernandes then quotes Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Joe Murphy who says “It’s clear that the change in regulation has been a win for consumers”.

While Fernandes does address both sides of the argument, Joe Murphy takes issue with her analysis and wrote a response to her article.  In it, he states “Year-over-year comparisons of auto insurance premiums do not provide a sound foundation for commentary about rate levels or the general health of the insurance market.”  Essentially he argues that the increase in competition gives consumers the power to shop around if their premium does increase, making carriers compete for their business.

The competition also encourages insurance carriers to keep their own profits down so that they can keep premiums as low as possible.  In his response, Murphy says “In the five years prior to 2012, auto insurers in Massachusetts reported virtually zero profit from underwriting, the lowest of any New England state during that same period.”

One of the most important things to take away from both articles is that while insurance premiums may be about the same as they were before deregulation, consumers now have options and the ability to shop around if their premium does go up.  The power is in the hands of the consumer, and they are able to purchase policies not only based on price, but also based on coverage, available discounts, additional services, and much more.

As an independent agency, we are proud to work with many top-rated insurance companies including Commerce, Plymouth Rock, Arbella, Progressive, Safeco, Travelers, and Occidental.  We give our customers options when it comes to purchasing their policy and are unbiased in the quotes we provide. Our goal is to find Massachusetts residents the policy that is right for them.  So, if you’re looking to compare auto insurance rates in Massachusetts and find the best policy for you, get a free quote at MassDrive.com!  Our insurance agents are extremely knowledgeable and will work to find the policy that is right for you!

Photo By: TheBusyBrain

Tips For Taking A Road Trip With The Kids

road trip

Taking a road trip with the kids can really test your patience and planning skills.  Fending off constant questions like “Are we there yet?” and “When’s the next bathroom break?” can get old pretty quick, so you’ll want to make sure your kids have plenty of things to occupy their time while in the car.  To help you out, we’ve listed some tips that will definitely come in handy if you plan on road tripping with the kids this summer.

  • Make sure kids are comfy.  What your kids are wearing on their road trip can make a big difference to how the trip goes.  If kids are uncomfortable you’ll hear about it, probably over and over again.  Put them in something that they like to wear such as pajamas or shorts and a t-shirt, and save the dressy clothes for your arrival, odds are something will end up spilling on them anyways during the trip, so at least you won’t dirty up one of their nicer outfits.
  • Be strategic about your departure time.  It may be easier to travel with kids during certain hours of the day, for example, if your kids can sleep through the night in the car, you might want to wait until after dinner and drive through the night so you reach your destination by morning.  You’ll probably avoid tons of traffic too, which is always a plus.  Working with their schedules, nap times, and meal times will make the trip easier for you and them.
  • Keep them occupied.  This will help you keep your sanity and theirs, make sure you have plenty of coloring books, toys, games, movies, and snacks.  You’ll also want to charge any electronics they may use, such as tablets or portable DVD players before you leave.
  • Be prepared for anything, and we mean ANYTHING.  You want to make sure you have a first aid kit, wet wipes, paper towels, extra clothes, diapers, batteries, car chargers, trash bags, a flashlight, and extra drinks and snacks in case the ones you already packed spill.
  • Take a break.  It’s inevitable that little ones and even older ones will want to stretch their legs and take a break from the car.  Find a local park and have a picnic so you can have something to eat and they can run around and burn off some energy.
  • Get kids involved in the trip.  If your kids are old enough to suggest landmarks they want to see or places they want to visit, let them!  It will make the trip much more enjoyable for them and you may even visit a place that you wouldn’t have chosen on your own, and end up loving it!
  • Make sure your driver’s license, registration, and insurance are all up to date and haven’t expired.  These are all extremely important to have any day, but especially if you’re going to be driving a long distance.  If you don’t have a membership to AAA, you may also want to consider that.

With these tips, your next family road trip should go smoothly and be a blast for everyone!

Photo By: Deb

Cookie Wars: MassDrive Edition

massdrive crew

When it comes to competition, we take it very seriously over here at MassDrive, and this week we had a great idea to spice up the holiday season!  We were inspired by the holiday gifts our friends at Plymouth Rock Assurance sent us; three cookie cutters meant to represent their offerings, a gingerbread man (life insurance), a car (auto insurance), and a house (homeowners insurance).  After we got those, it didn’t take long for us to come up with the idea for a cookie decorating contest between the Boston and Phoenix offices!

Each team had to use the cutters provided, and the only other rule was to be as creative as possible!  Both offices are full of creative minds so we all knew competition would be stiff, but of course before we could begin decorating we needed the actual cookies.  Luckily we had two gracious volunteers from each office offer to bake some for everyone.

As we’ve said before, MassDrive is not your typical insurance company, and the cookie creations both offices came up with is further proof of that.  We have incredibly creative employees working in both offices, and a true team effort turned a simple cookie contest into two impressive masterpieces in their own right.  Each office combined the decorating talents of each employee to create a full on holiday scene.

To keep things fair, our California office and a few remote employees served as impartial judges.  Since both offices created amazing cookies, we know this may have been the toughest job of all.

Phoenix creative an amazing holiday village scene complete with insurance themed touches including “Renters Row”, “Auto Ave”, “Pet Protection Parkway”, and even a “NGI University” building!  The judges loves the variety of ingredients used as decorations, especially the pretzel windows which gave the cookies an appealing salty & sweet quality.  The judges also loved the creativity of incorporating insurance aspects into the holiday village.

phoenix village

In Boston, we came up with the idea to create a stop-animation video using our cookies to illustrate the dangers of distracted driving.  The whole office enjoyed creating it, we worked together to come up with a story board, figured out exactly how many cookies we would need for our video, and had our talented crew begin decorating.  We then used the Stop Motion App to create the video, which was awesome because it was free and very user-friendly.  What resulted was a distracted driving awareness video that impressed the judges, and even the competition in Phoenix!  The judges thought that the i-Phone cookie with an incoming message was the most creative cookie, and also thought that the cookies had the “perfect amount of icing”.

After both teams had finished, we had a company conference call to announce the results.  Both offices went into the call without ever seeing what the other team had created, and hearing all the different reactions from each other may have been the most entertaining part of the contest.  Even though both teams did an amazing job, the judges unanimously agreed that Boston was the winner.  What do you think?  Do you agree with the judges?

 

Wondering How You Should Spend Your Tax Return? Put It Towards Your Insurance!

tax return

Who doesn’t love getting a nice check back from the government after tax season? Although it may be tempting to head to the mall for a shopping spree or buy that TV you’ve had your eye on, putting your tax return towards insurance is a smart choice that may save you a lot of money in the future!  Believe it or not, the more you spend up front, the more you can save!

If you have a few extra bucks after tax season, call up your insurance agent and ask what your options are.  They may suggest increasing your coverage, which may in turn lower your monthly payments!  Although you would have to pay more out of pocket if you were to have an accident, you could put your tax return in a savings account just in case you ever needed to pay out your deductible.  If you don’t end up getting into an accident or using your deductible, you have that much more money in the bank, not to mention all of the money you would likely save on your monthly bill.  This sounds like an all around win if you ask us and applies to both auto and homeowner’s insurance!

Depending on how big your tax return is, you could even pay off your homeowner’s or auto policy in full!  How great would it be to not have to worry about a monthly payment for the entire year?  Not only would you be worry free, you would also get a discount for paying the policy in full!  This discount varies from carrier to carrier but typically you can save up to 5% off your premium.

Another thing you can put your money towards?  If you have a pet, why not invest in their health and get pet insurance!  Your furry friend deserves to be protected should they be a little under the weather, after all, humans have health insurance so why shouldn’t animals?  No matter how much we love our pets and look out for them, anything can happen.  They could get loose and get hit by a car, or even develop a suspicious tumor that needs to be checked out, whether they’re young or old, your pets should be covered.  If you haven’t been to the vet’s lately, it’s extremely expensive for each visit, even a simple problem such as an ear infection can run you up a few hundred dollars, for about the same price (depending on your pet’s age, breed, etc), you can cover all of your pet’s health needs for the entire year!

When it comes to insurance, the more you spend up front, the more you can save in the long run!  If you find yourself coming across a big chunk of change after tax season, give us a call at MassDrive!  If you already have a policy, talk to us about increasing your coverages, and if you don’t currently have a policy, give us a call and get a quote!  We also offer pet insurance so all members of your family will be protected!

Photo By: 401 (K) 2013

 

Be A Force Of Nature!

storm

Did you know that we’re in the middle of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week?  Perfect timing considering this storm that’s currently hitting the east coast!  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) partnered up to designate the week of March 3-9th as National Weather Preparedness week and are urging Americans to Be A Force Of Nature.

There are three steps to being a force of nature; first you need to know your risk.  Here in Massachusetts, our biggest risks are from snow and flooding.  Storms can have a major impact on families across the state; from losing power, to damage caused by the wind and flooding, there are many risks that come along with these storms we have here in Massachusetts!  Make sure you are checking the weather reports regularly as well, we all know how unpredictable the weather in New England can be.  Click here to find out how you can protect your family and be better prepared for emergencies!

The next step to being a force of nature is pledging to take action!  Sign the Pledge To Prepare and take the first step to making sure you and your family are prepared for severe weather in your area.  This pledge includes filling out your family communications plan, putting together an emergency kit, and keeping important valuables and papers in a safe place.  Another tip to keep in mind; make sure you have multiple ways to get weather alerts!  You should make sure that your phone is able to receive wireless emergency alerts and sign up for alerts from different emergency management officials.  You might also consider obtaining a battery-powered radio that you can listen to for updates if the power goes out.  You can sign up for email and SMS alerts from the National Weather Service and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration here.

Finally, be an example!  Once you know your risk, and have taken the pledge to Be a Force of Nature, be an example!  This is the final step of being a force of nature and is arguably the most important.  Share your knowledge on any and all social media sites and let your friends know what you’re doing to prepare for upcoming storms!  Social media and today’s technology make it easier than ever to share our experiences and knowledge with friends and family, so spread the word!

Know your risk, take action, and be an example for friends and family!   Another way to prepare for a storm?  Give us a call at MassDrive and get a quote for homeowner’s and auto insurance! Extreme wind and flooding can cause major problems for you, your home, and your car so make sure you have the appropriate coverages in the event of any damage!  Achieving a Weather-Ready Nation is a major goal, but it’s possible with help from all of you!

Photo By: Cara StHilaire

 

 

Are You Saving On Your Insurance In The New Year? Find Out What Discounts You May Be Eligible For!

It’s a new year and we’re busy writing new policies over here at MassDrive, but we want to make sure that you know what discounts you could be getting so you can save as much as possible!  There are many discounts available however the percentage that you can save does vary by carrier and is different for everyone, however there is an average range that most companies use and we’ve come up with the following breakdown of discounts:

  • Companion Policy Discount:  This is typically the largest discount you can get on your auto and homeowner’s policies and you get it simply by having your auto and homeowner’s insurance with the same carrier.  You can also receive this discount with renter’s or condo policies as well!  This discount can save you up to 10% on your auto policy and up to 20% on your homeowner’s, renter’s or condo policy!  Some (not all) companies even offer you a discount if you have your auto policy with them and a homeowner’s policy elsewhere, however this discount can only be applied to homeowner’s policies (not renter’s or condo) and is much smaller, typically only up to 4%.
  • Good Student Discount – This discount applies to both high school and college students and can usually save you about 10% on your auto policy but can even get as high as 15%!  However, there are some stipulations; the student must be full time and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.  The other catch is that they have to have less than 6 years of driving experience to be eligible.  If you’re a student with your own policy or are a parent with a student on your policy, definitely ask your agent about the good student discount!  If you meet the requirements, it’s an easy way to save big bucks on your policy!
  • Low Mileage Discount – The less you drive the more you save!  The discount you can get varies and is broken down into tiers based on your annual mileage.  You can typically get the biggest discount (up to 12%) if you drive less than 7,500 miles.  After that the next tier is 7,501-10,000 miles, then 10,001-12,500 miles, but if you drive over 12,501 miles you won’t receive a discount from most companies.  The discount gets lower as you move past each tier but is a great way to save!
  • Pay In Full Discount – This one is pretty self explanatory, if you pay your auto premium in full you can save up to 5%!
  • AAA Discount – If you’re a AAA member you are eligible for up to a 5% discount with most insurance companies!  AAA is a great service to have, you never know when the unexpected may occur and you may need a tow, which can be pretty expensive if you have to pay for it out of pocket.  Getting the discount is simple, you just scan a copy of your membership card and send it over to your agent and the discount can be applied.
  • Advanced Issue Discount – This discount is a great incentive to start shopping early for insurance!  If your policy is issued at least 7 days before the coverage become effective, you can save up to 5% on your policy!
  • eDocument Discount – Receiving your policy documents electronically can get you up to 5% discount on your policy!  Go green while saving yourself some green!
  • EFT Discount – This typically goes hand in hand with the eDocument discount, but you don’t necessarily have to have both.  EFT (electronic funds transfer) allows the carrier to take your monthly payment directly from your bank account, and it can save you about $60 per year!  If you choose to remain on a standard payment plan where the bills are mailed to you, most companies charge a $5-$6 installment fee each payment (most policies typically have 10 payment installments), so the savings can really add up if you’re on the EFT payment plan which may charge a minimal to no installment fee.
  • Multi-Car Discount – If you have more than one car, you can save up to 8% by having all of your vehicles on one policy.
  • Good Driver Discount – This is offered to drivers that have a good driving record and varies from case to case.  It is based on your SDIP rating, or how many points you have on your record and can be one of the biggest discounts available to drivers depending on your record.

Next time you’re shopping for insurance, give us a call at MassDrive!  All of our agents are extremely informed and will make sure you are getting as many discounts as possible!

Photo By: sunshinecity

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