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College Coverage Questions

Being able to extend your insurance coverage to your children is a real benefit when your kids are young, but what happens when they go off to college? Are they still covered? Does it matter if they live on campus or off? These and many more questions have many parents wondering about how well protected their kids will be while attending college.

Generally, to be considered an insured, a college student living away from home must be attending classes “full time”, as defined by the school. This being the case, it’s important for them not to drop classes or do anything else that may cause their status to change. Doing so could result in a gap in property and/or liability coverage.

Typically, students living off campus are not covered under their parents policy. In cases where coverage is available, it may be significantly limited. This can be a real concern given the cost of items such as cell phones, computers, TVs, etc. That’s why it’s important to check your specific policy. If no coverage is available, renters insurance is strongly recommended. In addition to coverage for possessions, renters policies often provide coverage for living expenses if the rented premises become unlivable.

Auto insurance is also a concern. If a student living away at school uses the family car while at home, they should remain as a listed driver on the parent’s policy. Discounts are available based on the distance from home and the student’s access to the car. If the student will have a family car on campus, then the insurer should be notified as the change in garaging may mean a change in premium. To learn more about insurance coverage for your child at school, call or stop by our office today. We’ll be glad to review your coverage and recommend the best “course” of action for you and your student.

Safety Feature Frustrations

Today’s cars have more gizmos and gadgets than at anytime in the past. Included in these are features and functions intended to keep passengers safe. Unfortunately, some of these features are becoming quite the nuisance for some drivers – so much so that they are actually being disabled. The “advanced driver assistance systems” in many new cars present drivers with so many alerts that the annoyance is unbearable for some. In a recent survey, 23% of respondents said that functions such as lane-keeping and centering were “bothersome”. If you find yourself becoming more and more annoyed by your car’s technology, we strongly urge you not to disable any safety systems. The result could be devastating.

Red Light Risks

Accident levels have been on a downward slope for a number of years, but one category in particular is an exception. The death toll from running red lights is at a 10 year high. Researchers are not sure what the reason for this rise may be, but it underscores the need to stay vigilant while behind the wheel. New vehicle safety features can help mitigate some of the risks drivers face, but only if they pay attention while driving. We urge all our customers to do their part and stay focused behind the wheel.

Corrosion Concerns

Water can be one of the most damaging things a homeowner can face and one of the biggest water risks in any home is the water heater. Many water heaters have connections at the top where the steel tank and copper fittings meet. It’s at this point where corrosion often occurs. When it does, it can weaken pipes, resulting in a simple leak or even a catastrophic failure. The latter is often brought about by excessive water pressure and the fast-closing automatic water valves on washing machines and dishwashers.

You can help prevent water heater leaks with a quick inspection of the pipes and fittings at the top, which should reveal any signs of corrosion. We suggest doing this on a regular basis. Should you find any corrosion, call your local plumber. With a trained eye, they can tell if you’re at risk and ensure your plumbing is up to code.

Short-Term Rentals

A new law regarding short-term rental properties in Massachusetts went into effect on July 1st. The law covers the regulation, registration and taxation of short-term rental properties such as those offered on Airbnb. Under the law, short-term rentals are defined as a period of less than thirty-one consecutive calendar days. Persons who do no more than fourteen days of short-term rentals in a calendar year can file for an exemption with the DOR. However. they are still liable to register and maintain the required liability insurance.

The new law includes a number of rules for operators of short-term rentals. A provision that directly impacts homeowners or renters is that they must notify their insurers of their intent to do a short-term rental. Liability insurance and other requirements may apply, so it’s important for those participating in short-term rentals to become familiar with the new law, which can be read at: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2018/Chapter337

Scooter Risks

The popularity of electric scooters has increased dramatically in the last few years. More and more people are renting or even buying scooters. Unfortunately, many people fail to understand the associated risks and don’t realize they are likely not insured against them.

If you’re riding a scooter and are involved in an accident, how will you pay for any needed medical care? Your personal health insurance may cover you, but what if someone else is harmed and it’s your fault? And what if you damage someone else’s property? Will your homeowners or auto policy offer any protection? These are all important questions you should look into before stepping on to a scooter.

If you’re thinking of buying or even renting a scooter, be sure to talk with us first to learn how you can protect yourself in the event of an accident. Call or stop by our offices today.

Smart Home Safety

It’s pretty cool that an Internet connected fridge can alert you when you’re low on milk, but what if that ability prevents your home security system from doing its job? Researchers recently uncovered widespread flaws in home technology that could allow hackers to make this happen – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is relatively new and the security features of many home technology products has yet to be fully tested, let alone thought through. So, if you’re an “early adopter” of home technology, we urge you to do your homework and stay informed/updated about the products you connect to your home network. Pay particular attention to your network router, as this is the access point to everything on your network.

The Key To Car Theft

The overall number of car thefts has greatly decreased over the last 15 years, but the numbers also show a significant increase in some types of car theft – in particular, when people leave their cars running.

Letting your car warm up in the driveway on a cold day or leaving your car running to dash into the store for a quick purchase – these are the types of situations that have led to a sharp increase in car thefts. You may think, “It’s only for a minute or two”, but that’s all it takes.

Don’t take a chance. Always take your keys and key fob with you. It will keep your car safe and help keep your insurance costs from increasing.

Holiday Gathering Gotchas

Now is the time many people begin planning holiday parties. Some will even hire vendors to handle catering, bartending, parking and decorations. If you’ll be doing the same, keep these tips in mind to avoid liability claims.

The Basics
Make sure you know the vendors you hire. Check them out as much as possible and make sure they’re licensed, bonded and insured – it helps to get details such as coverages and carriers. Also, make sure to get a signed contract.

Alcohol Safety
If you hire a bartender or a caterer that serves alcohol, be sure they have liquor-related liability coverage. Let them handle things once the party begins – including pouring all drinks and checking IDs. Not doing so could impact some liability coverages. They should also know to cut off anyone who appears to be over the limit.

Parking Plans
Hiring valets/parking attendants helps minimize collisions on your property, keeps roads clear and eases arrivals and departures. Whether you hire someone to park cars or not, be sure to keep walkways clear and add additional lighting for safety.

Decoration Decisions
If you hire a decorator, be sure to tell them where people will and won’t gather. This helps them choose the right decorations for the locale. For example – candles in a high traffic area are a recipe for disaster. Be sure to point out all electrical outlets too – this helps avoid overloads.

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