The Problem With Smoke Detectors

It’s common knowledge that batteries need to be changed in smoke detectors. A good rule of thumb is to check/change them in the spring and fall – when clocks are adjusted for daylight savings time. But what if your smoke detectors are hard-wired?

You may not know it, but smoke detectors have a limited life span. Eventually, the sensors wear out and they lose their ability to detect smoke. For this reason, fire safety experts suggest completely replacing smoke detectors every 10 years. This goes for battery and hard-wired models.

After 10 years, it may be difficult to remember that this change should take place, so be sure to create some kind of reminder for yourself that won’t get lost or fail to alert you. Setting a reminder on your phone or with an online calendar is a good idea. Multiple reminders are also recommended – in case one fails.

Umbrellas: Handy & Affordable

You have auto and homeowners’ policies, so why would you need more liability insurance?
ree reasons:

1 Higher coverage limits
2 Relatively cheap
3 Additional protection

Many people don’t realize it, but depending on the situation, their primary insurance policies may not provide enough protection. Typically, policies provide coverage limits of $300,000 to $500,00. This sounds like a lot, but in the case of a serious accident, these amounts could easily be exceeded. With a personal umbrella policy though, your coverage limits are extended from $1 million to $10 million.

“But why can’t I just pay to increase the limits on my primary policy? Isn’t this cheaper than buying an additional policy?” It’s a good question and the answer is, umbrella policy coverage limits are downright cheap when compared to your primary policy – especially when you consider that the additional coverage limits provided by an umbrella policy protect you whether the claim involves your auto or home.

Finally, one of the best reasons for adding an umbrella policy to your protection portfolio is that it provides additional coverage such as protection against “personal injury” claims which are generally not covered by primary policies..

Bottom line – serious situations can be expensive, but there is an affordable option that can provide added protection, should one arise. Call us today for details. We’ll show you how easy and affordable an umbrella policy can be.

Teen Drivers Take More Risks as They Age

You’d think teen drivers would improve with age, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. According to a recent study, as they age, high schoolers appear to take more risks and are involved in more accidents and near misses – 57% of seniors vs. 34% of sophomores.

As they age, teens naturally feel more confident. Unfortunately, this confidence can lead to taking greater risks behind the wheel. This includes talking on the phone or using apps while driving. Often, parents can unwittingly contribute to this behavior. According to the study, nearly 70% of 15 and 16 year olds said they would lose their driving privileges if they were to get into an accident whereas only 55% of teens 18 and older believe they would experience the same consequence.

Even though they feel more confident, the reality is hyper-connected teen drivers have only a couple of years experience behind the wheel. Given this, it’s important to remind them that phone/app use, and other forms of distracted driving, substantially increase the chances of an accident. So do your part. Take the time to talk with your teen drivers. It could make all the difference.

Home-Sharing Coverage Gaps

The rapid growth of home sharing services such as Airbnb and HomeAway has been a great thing for vacationers and property owners alike. But if you’re listing a property on these services, or if you’re considering doing so, it’s important to know about gaps that may exist in your insurance.

Relying solely on your regular homeowners/renters policy while hosting guests through a home sharing service can be problematic. That’s because participating in home sharing is considered a “commercial” activity that’s not covered by a typical homeowners policy. Even if you have robust insurance, some companies have rescinded or even refused to renew coverage because of the change in property status from residential to commercial.

That’s why it’s important to review local ordinances as well as your existing insurance. Doing so can help ensure you’re not taken by surprise if/when a guest damages your property. If you’re currently sharing your home online or you’re thinking about it, give us a call today. We’ll be glad to sit down
with you and identify any gaps in your coverage and show you the
best way to resolve them.

Frozen Pipes

Now is the best time to protect yourself. Last winter’s bitter cold caught many homeowners by surprise and led to unexpected repair bills and cleanup costs related to burst pipes and the resulting water damage. A crack in a pipe as small as 1/8” can gush water up to 10+ gallons an hour, causing serious damage. To lessen the chances of a burst pipe, here are some steps you can take:

Insulate exposed pipes in crawl spaces and attics, even in climates where freezing is uncommon. The more insulation, the better.

Wrap pipes in appropriate (indoor/outdoor) UL approved heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables. Install/apply as directed.

Use caulk or insulation to seal all cold air leaks near pipes. Even tiny openings can cause a pipe to freeze.

Disconnect outdoor hoses and use indoor valves to shut off and drain water from pipes leading outside.

We would be happy to discuss the above suggestions with you. Please call or visit our office today.

Condominium Coverage

Terminology can often make it difficult for condo owners to know what their insurance covers vs. what the association’s master policy covers. Here are some helpful definitions:

All In
This means the insurance policy includes wording that extends the coverage to be all-in. In other words, improvements and betterments to the units are now covered on the
master policy.

All-In Per Condo Documents
The insurance policy refers to the insurance section of the condominium documents to interpret what is covered on the master policy. If you see “all-in per condo documents” it means we have interpreted the master policy condominium document and feel it
will adequately cover all improvements made by unit-owners.

Per The Condo Documents
The insurance policy refers to the insurance section of the by laws to interpret what is covered on the master policy. The policy states it will cover “any of the following types of property contained within a unit regardless of ownership if your Condominium Association Agreement requires you to insure it.”

Original Specifications
This means the master policywill cover “any property included in the unit that was initially installed in accordance with your condominium’s original plans and specifications.” In other words, unit improvements after the original construction would not be covered on the master policy.

Read & Ride Winners

Estabrook & Chamberlain partnered with the West Bridgewater Public Library again this year to sponsor the 2018 Summer Reading Program. As in past years, the program’s intent is to help kids expand their knowledge and horizons through reading. The Read & Ride program also offers young readers the chance to win a new bike – just for reading one book over the summer.

This year’s participation was once again outstanding and we’re proud to announce the winners.
Back row (left to right) Maeve Stipkovich, Caleb Watson,
Tom Chamberlain, Dean Baker, Caleb Castle.
Front Row (left to right) Keira Stipkovich, Anya Stipkovich.
Not pictured: Brianne DePalma and Ellie Smith.

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