What Are You Overlooking?

To put it mildly, March of 2018 was a doozie in terms of storms. For many, the 3 nor’easters that hit Massachusetts were a reminder of how important homeowners’ insurance can be. They also underscored how a little prevention can minimize the financial cost of storm damage.

Many homeowners don’t realize that they can easily do more to limit their exposure. For example, major storms typically deliver a 1-2 punch. The first is damage from the storm itself. The second is damage that results from power outages. For homes with sump pumps, this can be a real problem. Without power for your sump pump, the rising water table can cause significant damage to basements. Even with insurance, homeowners can still be on the hook for more than they think. That’s because those policyholders who have purchased broader coverage are still limited to a maximum limit of $2,500 or $5,000.

To address this, homeowners should consider a battery backup system. These are relatively inexpensive and can save you hundreds … maybe even thousands. For more information on battery backups, visit your local home center. Be sure to ask us how affordable it can be to extend the built-in limits of your homeowners’ policy too. We’d be happy to talk with you about it.

Rating Teen Drivers

In addition to the many, many studies conducted by insurance companies, the industry also relies on 3rd party studies to help them better understand risk and price their products accordingly. Recently one study was conducted to rate the ability of new drivers. Interestingly, novice male teens rated better than new male drivers in their 20’s. Some might assume this might have something to do with playing video games, but that wasn’t the case. Video game experience had no effect on driving skills.

The study also showed that both male and female teens who played sports are better drivers than those who did not participate in sports. This would seem to clash with the relatively high rate of teen accidents, but based on the results of the study, the authors hypothesize that the disparity is most likely due to inattention to safety considerations rather than lack of technical driving ability. Subsequently, the study authors have proposed placing a greater emphasis on safety training as opposed to mandatory driver education.

Another Kidde Recall

In our Spring 2018 newsletter, we wrote about a recall of Kidde fire extinguishers. Now, we have a new recall to tell you about. This one involves their dual sensor smoke alarms. The specific product is the Kidde dual-sensor (photoelectric and ionization) smoke alarms – models Pl2010 and Pl9010.

The devices are being recalled due to a possible failure to alert consumers of a fire. According to the recall notice, a yellow cap left on during the manufacturing process can cover one of the two smoke sensors and compromise the alarm’s ability to detect smoke, posing a risk of consumers not being alerted to a fire in their home.

For details, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at https://bit.ly/2u7qQyx.

Water, Water Everywhere?

A recent insurance company study found that many homeowners see fire and theft as greater concerns than water damage, but the reality is, water leaks are a more frequent risk. Research shows that instances of water damage have been rising dramatically. In fact, the frequency of sudden pipe bursts has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

A good way to mitigate water leaks is to have your home and plumbing inspected. Most homeowners haven’t done this since purchasing their home. Given the likelihood that the potential for plumbing leaks increase over time, that’s reason enough to have a trained inspector give your home the once over. Compared to the expense associated with a leak or burst pipe, a home inspection is a fairly low-cost way to spot trouble that may be hiding in your house.

According to research, even though they are much more likely to be vigilant about preventative maintenance, high-net-worth homeowners are less likely to see water damage as a top concern.
Given that nearly 60% of homeowners who experienced a water leak claim to have spent in excess of $5,000 on clean up and repairs, the cost of an inspection seems well worth it for this segment of homeowners. But, no matter what your income level, an ounce of prevention can go a long way toward mitigating water damage.

Summer Vacation Tips

The destination is key, but there are many other tips to consider when planning your summer vacation – especially if you’re going overseas.

Here are just a few:

Smaller Can Be Better
An important advantage of smaller boutique hotels is they may be less attractive to thieves who tend to migrate toward larger, crowded hotels.

Keep A Low Profile
If traveling to another country, it’s best not to stand out. Do your homework – research local customs, weather, attire, etc. It’s also a good idea to leave expensive jewelry at home.

Think Twice About Rental Cars
Unless you’re very familiar with your destination, overseas vacationers should avoid car rentals.  An unfamiliarity with the region and the driving habits of locals can put you at greater risk.  Plus, your auto insurance doesn’t apply outside of North America and Canada.

Papers Please!
There are some documents you’ll definitely need to bring – e.g.: driver’s license, passport, visa, and itinerary. But, be sure to make copies of each of these and leave them at home with a trusted friend or family member.
You may also want to scan these items and store them in a secure place online where you can easily access them in case of emergency.

Taxis & Public Transportation
Taxis are usually preferable. Be sure to have your hotel arrange a ride to ensure the driver works for a registered company. If using public transportation, be sure to map out your route in advance. Make note
of landmarks along the way and check schedules in advance to be sure you allow enough time.

Pause Social Media
Posting updates and photos about your trip can alert local thieves to your presence. It can also tip off thieves back home that your home may be ripe for picking.

Tag Your Kids
Before heading out for the day, be sure your kids have the name and address of your hotel. If traveling overseas, be sure to include the phone numbers for the embassy or consulate. For smaller kids, it’s a good idea to write this info on a slip of paper and pin it to their pocket.

Local Celebrity

Some people may know that Don Prohovich, who resides in Bridgewater, was a notable athlete as a young man. He played AAA minor league baseball as a shortstop for the Chicago White Sox organization. His pathway to the major leagues was blocked by Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio.

Don also excelled in basketball. He played for Holy Cross alongside teammate and Hall of Famer, Tom Heinsohn of the Boston Celtics. Don graciously presented our office with a picture of him and Heinsohn in the 1955 Madison Square Garden Holiday Tournament. Come by and see the picture of Don and Tom Heinsohn with Bill Russell providing the opposition.

Disaster Proofing Your Finances

There’s little you can do to prevent a disaster, but you can take steps to mitigate the financial aftermath. For homeowners and renters, one of the most important steps is to be sure your insurance coverage is adequate and current.

As a renter you should know that your landlord’s insurance will not cover you, so having your own coverage is vital. It may seem like an unaffordable luxury, but having good coverage can make all the difference when disaster strikes.

Most homeowners have insurance, so the most important consideration for them is to be sure their coverage is adequate. Too many people assume their policy protects all their property and possessions, for any eventuality. But that’s not always the case, so it’s important to review your coverage regularly.

When reviewing your homeowner’s policy, be sure you have enough insurance to rebuild the dwelling. Don’t calculate the value of your home based on the market value or assessed value. The amount of insurance must be calculated on the building’s replacement value. That’s why it’s important to include guaranteed replacement cost as part of your insurance, to protect you from inflated material costs following a natural disaster.

You may also want to consider a building code upgrade add-on. This additional coverage helps cover the costs associated with meeting updated building standards— crucial for older homes.

Take steps to protect your financial situation from disaster. For help reviewing your policy and for more information about added coverages, give us a call today. We’re happy to help.

Convenience vs. Risk

Many online retailers are working to solve delivery issues. Package theft in particular, is a key concern. For its part, Amazon has begun rolling out “Amazon Key”, a service that combines an electronic lock and a cloud-based camera system. With these in place, delivery drivers can place packages inside your home, rather than leave them outside where they might be stolen.

As convenient as this type of secure delivery may seem, it actually adds potential risks that force insurance companies to play catchup. So many questions arise with this
new service:
• What if a delivery person slips and falls?
• What if the delivery person causes a fire in your home?
• What if the system is hacked?

Currently, many of the answers to these questions are unknown because this is all so new. Given this, many security and insurance professionals advise against such services, suggesting instead that people have packages delivered to work or a friend, family member
or neighbor.

In the near future, look for insurers to revise existing policies and develop new coverages/add-ons to accommodate and mitigate the risks associated with new technology and services. For now, if you’re considering Amazon Key or a similar service, it’s a good idea to review your existing insurance. For help in doing so, give us a call today. We’ll help identify any weak points or gaps in your coverage.

April Showers Bring May Flowers … and Floods!

Spring rains and snow melt can pose a threat to homeowners. For many in Massachusetts, this may not seem like much of a concern, but Massachusetts is in the top 20 states whose properties face a moderate to high risk of flooding.

If you’re unsure if your home lies in a floodplain, or is otherwise at risk, check with us today. We’ll review floodplain info with you and help you review your existing coverage and show you how to best protect yourself and your family in case of a flood.

Fire Extinguisher Recall – No Kidde-ing

Smart renters and homeowners have at least one fire extinguisher. One popular brand is manufactured by Kidde, who recently announced a recall of multiple products. This recall involves two types of Kidde disposable fire extinguishers:

Plastic handle fire extinguishers

Plastic push-button fire extinguishers

This recall does not include Kidde Professional or Badger branded fire extinguishers or units with metal handles/valve assemblies.

For details and to see if your Kidde fire extinguisher is included in the recall, visit the following link.: https://goo.gl/fHjvc2

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