Protecting Against Uninsured & Underinsured Drivers

doctor and patientDespite laws requiring drivers to maintain insurance, the IRC (Insurance Research Council) estimated that 1 in 7 U.S. drivers has no insurance at all.  In fact, many drivers choose only the minimum amount of insurance required by law.  It’s impossible to know if you’ll ever be involved in an accident with such a driver but, a recent survey may indicate that Massachusetts drivers are at greater risk.  That’s because we share a border with Rhode Island, which was among the top 10 states with a higher percentage of uninsured motorists.  At 17.6%, they ranked ninth in  the nation.  For this reason, we recommend that our customers consider selecting higher limits for their uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.
Consider this scenario – you’re injured in an auto accident with an uninsured driver and you incur hospital bills plus pain and suffering totaling $85,000.  You attempt to collect from the person who caused the injury but, since the person is uninsured, you can’t collect from their insurance company.  You could sue but, uninsured drivers typically have little or no assets and you’ll likely be left out in the cold.  If you had purchased $100,000 of uninsured bodily injury liability coverage under your own auto policy, you’d have collected the entire $85,000.
At 4.5%, Massachusetts has the lowest percentage of uninsured motorists.  However, you should still consider increasing your own coverage limits.  Why?  As mentioned previously, most drivers opt only for the minimum amount of coverage required by law.  Choosing higher limits for your UM/UIM coverage can help make up the difference if you sustain injuries that exceed the coverage of a motorist who is at fault and under insured.
Everyone’s situation is different but, increasing your coverage limits can help provide peace of mind should you ever be involved in an accident with someone who is more interested in low or no premiums than proper coverage.
For more information on how you can protect yourself against uninsured and under insured drivers, call Estabrook & Chamberlain today.

Dog Bites Cost Plenty

dog biteDogs account for a substantial number of insurance claims.  In 2010 alone, one insurance company paid out over $90 million for dog bite claims nationwide.  Morale of the story?  keep Fido on a leash and make sure you’re covered in the event of a liability claim.

Read and Ride Program Winners.

winnersPictured  are the winners of the 2011 One World, Many Stories Read and Ride Program.
Back row:  Tom Chamberlain (Estabrook and Chamberlain Insurance), Anaia Risko, Abby Morris, Andrew Power, Patrick Kearns, and Cindy Davis. Front row:  Domenic Sarro, Sarah Power, Nina Savino, and Devon Scott. All are from the Bridgewater library. Not pictured are the West Bridgewater library winners,  Hannah Smith and Emily Belmont.
Bicycles were donated by Estabrook & Chamberlain Insurance Agency.

Oil Leak Insurance

oil leakA new law was enacted over a year ago that allows consumers to purchase insurance that would compensate them should an oil heating system leak and cause damage to their residence.  If you haven’t looked into this, we urge you to give us a call.  We’ll be happy to explain the coverage and discuss your options.

Other Structures

other structuresEvery homeowner’s policy provides automatic coverage to detached structures.  This could include a separate garage, barn, shed, pool, cabana, fence, etc.  This covers up to 10% of the insurance provided on the house.  So, a $250,000 policy on a home would cover an additional $25,000 for other structures.
There are a few significant limitations to this coverage that you should be aware of.  Should the other structure be used to store business property or if you operate a business on its premises, your homeowners policy would not cover the structure.
To be sure other structures are properly insured, you should first determine how the property is used.  If there is business-related activity occurring in the structure, you may need to consider a separate business policy.  You should also consider any renovations made to other structures.  A property owner may renovate or expand a structure, creating a building that might have a higher replacement value than that covered by the additional 10% automatically allowed under a homeowners policy.  In the example noted previously, if your renovated/expanded structure cost $60,000 to rebuild, you would need to review your homeowners policy as you would only receive a maximum of $25,000 under the other structures coverage.
To ensure that your coverage is adequate and up to date, give us a call today.  Rates for additional coverage on other structures are very reasonable and well worth looking into.

Paranoid Pooch

Paranoid poochSometimes, man’s best friend can be the cause of serious damage.  One insurance company reports a claim relating to a “paranoid” dog.  It seems the policyholder had a classic car that was waxed to a mirror-like finish. The car was so highly polished that his dog could see his reflection in the paint.  Thinking the reflection was another dog, the confused canine became very agitated and began scratching at the car, trying to get at the “other dog”.  As you may have guessed, all he succeeded in doing was ruining the door panel as well as the front and rear quarter-panels.  Luckily, even this odd situation was covered by the owner’s comprehensive coverage.  Don’t assume that comprehensive covers every odd occurrence though.  Always make sure you understand your coverage and that it’s appropriate and up to date.

Are You Running A Home Business?

Some experts claim 40% to 70% of homes are used for some kind of business endeavor.  Many people may not even realize they are operating a home business. Do you sell things on Etsy, E-bay or similar sites and make over $2,000 a year?  Do you accept money for providing child care in your home – even on an occasional basis?  If so, you’re running a home-based business.

It’s important to know that homeowners insurance likely does not cover claims for businesses like these. However, your homeowners policy can be enhanced with “business endorsements” that increase coverage amounts and provide additional protection.  Other endorsements and separate coverages are also available that may be more appropriate depending on your situation.  To find out what works best for you, give us a call today.  We’ll work with you to identify any gaps in your coverage and make recommendations that best suit your needs.

Life Insurance – As Important As Ever

According to USA Today, only 44% of households have an individual life insurance policy, and 30% have no individual or employer-provided life insurance at all.  A major culprit in these troubling statistics is the recent economic downturn.  Procrastination also plays a role, as life insurance is not required the way auto and home owners insurance are.

For whatever reason, many people delay the purchase of life insurance. This is unfortunate because young. healthy people can usually obtain the least expensive premiums.  Waiting often means running the risk of getting ill and losing out on the best rates. It’s sad to say but, most people overlook their need for insurance until it’s too late.  Don’t procrastinate!  Call Estabrook & Chamberlain today and we’ll show you how easy and affordable it can be to provide the coverage your family deserves.


Hurricane Planning

The hurricane season is upon us and, in addition to past hurricanes, the damage caused by this year’s record breaking tornado season underscores the importance of disaster planning.  Such planning can also be useful for less-dramatic incidents such as house fires or a prolonged power outages.

When creating your disaster plan, your family comes first.  Don’t forget about your financial documents though.  Be sure you have cash available too, in case banks or ATMs are affected.  To protect your documents, buy an airtight, water-proof and fireproof container or safe.  Be sure you can grab and carry it easily if you need to leave quickly.

Documents to include in the container:

  • Mortgage records and deeds
  • Insurance policies
  • Wills
  • Stock and bond certificates
  • Financial account numbers
  • Info regarding prescription drug and other medical needs

Photocopy the front and back of all cards in your wallet too so you have a record of credit card issuers, health benefit companies and other important contacts. Having a list of important people such as friends, family members, your bank, your insurance company, your lawyer, etc. is also good to have.

Visit these sites for info and tips on preparing for disasters:

Boat Insurance Tips

Your homeowners insurance automatically provides liability coverage for boats 26’ or less in length.  The same is true for boats of that length with outboard motors of 25 horsepower or less.

A boat left on a residential premises is only insured up to $1,000 for damage to the hull.  This coverage applies only if the boat is kept in an enclosed structure.

Your homeowners policy may not provide adequate protection for your boat.  If you need more comprehensive coverage for your boat, Estabrook & Chamberlain offers very competitive rates.  Give us a call and we’ll help you determine the best way to protect your boat and other watercraft.