ma-rmv-img

REAL ID: New Massachusetts RMV Requirements, Explained.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has implemented new requirements for obtaining driver’s licenses, ID cards and learner’s permits. Effective March 26, 2018, you now need documentation showing U.S. citizenship or lawful presence as required by federal and state law.

What do these new RMV rules mean for you?

Whether you need a new ID or need to renew an expiring one, new requirements mean the process will go like this.

  1. Decide what type of ID you want – REAL ID or Standard Massachusetts ID. A REAL ID is valid for federal purposes, but a Standard Massachusetts ID is not.
  2. Complete your online application
  3. Bring required identification and a completed application to an RMV Service Center.

Why was this change made?

Implementing the Real ID brings Massachusetts into compliance with Federal requirements established in 2005 pertaining to security and terrorism resulting from the 2001 terror attacks. Please visit mass.gov/id for more information.

Will this change affect my auto insurance?

There could be some ramifications for your automobile insurance if you are unable to obtain a Massachusetts Driver’s License, whether it is a Real ID or not.

As your insurance agent, Cochrane & Porter is here to help. Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns.

Homeowners Insurance Claim

How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim

In the event you need to file a Homeowners Insurance claim, we want to make sure you know what to do.

Homeowners Insurance offers financial protection from losses caused by things like fire, theft, and storm damage to your home. It can also protect you and your family members from potential liabilities arising from bodily harm or property damage to other people’s property. It’s important to know what is and what isn’t covered by your homeowners policy and review your insurance coverage with your insurance agent annually. At Cochrane & Porter, we’re here to help. If you have questions or concerns about your homeowners insurance, don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Insurance Information Institute has recently produced a very helpful video, and we encourage you to watch. It’s a great reminder of how the process works.

As the video covers, filing a claim is a multi-step process. Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Contact your insurer as soon as possible and let them know what happened. The insurance company that underwrites your coverage takes the lead on the claims process. As your insurance agent, we can help you through the process, but your insurer needs the information about what happened directly from you.

 

  1. Have your policy number ready. One great way to always have this info handy is to download your insurance company’s mobile app and create an account. Some companies’ mobile apps even allow you to file a claim through a simple, user-friendly process.

 

  1. Complete the paperwork you receive from your insurer and return it. In some cases, an insurance adjustor will need to visit your property to inspect the damage. If your home has been burglarized, you’ll also need to file a police report.

 

  1. Write down the information of the insurance company representatives you speak with during the process, including names, contact information, job titles and the date and times of your conversations.

 

  1. Document, document, document. If you’re safely able, take pictures for visual evidence of destruction and perform temporary repairs to prevent further property damage. Use your home inventory to help.

 

  1. Keep detailed records of expenses for temporary repairs and living arrangements.

Remember, as your insurance agent, we’re here to help. If you have any questions, or would like us to review your homeowners policy, give us a call today!

Super Bowl Party Safety Tips - Cochrane & Porter Insurance Agency

Super Bowl Party Safety Tips

Are you planning on throwing a Super Bowl party this Sunday? While it can be great to gather with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers to watch the big game, homeowners and renters who are hosting parties should be aware of some insurance concerns that can be associated with welcoming guests into your home.

This quick read is a good refresher on some things to keep in mind as you get ready to host your party. Along with prepping those party foods, protecting guests from potential accidents, injuries and excessive intoxication should be some of your main priorities.

Here are our best tips on how to reduce risk and ensure you’re hosting a fun and safe Super Bowl Party.

  1. Keep floors clean and clutter to a minimum.

A spilled drink or even a jacket casually tossed on the floor can suddenly become a recipe for one of your guests to slip, fall and possibly hurt themselves.

  1. Keep pets away from your guests.

All pets can get scared, it happens. Strangers + loud noises can quickly lead to a dangerous situation. The last thing you want is for your pet to bite one of your guests. Even the most docile dogs and cats can bite when feeling scared or threatened. It’s best to eliminate this risk completely.

  1. Keep the party from turning Into a booze fest

Yes – responsible alcohol consumption is possible – even on Super Bowl Sunday. First, make sure you’re offering plenty of nonalcoholic beverage options. Also be sure that you’re storing alcohol in a safe place away from minors. This should go without saying, but never serve alcohol to persons under 21 and never let someone drive home if they’ve had too much to drink. Consider “confiscating” car keys for safe storage when guests arrive and don’t forget the beauty of designated drivers and ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Also consider having a guest room ready.

  1. Review your homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy and speak with your insurance agent during your party planning.

Not all policies are alike and you may have coverage for everything. You may also consider purchasing a Special Event policy, depending on the size and scope of what you’re planning. At Cochrane & Porter, we’re here to help. Give us a call!

GO PATRIOTS!

7 Safe Winter Driving Tips

7 Safe Winter Driving Tips

Even experienced New England drivers know driving can be more challenging in the winter months. While snowfall and ice certainly create the most difficult situations, there are other factors at play like earlier nightfall, fog, and salt and dirt kick-up on windows that can reduce visibility and increase the likelihood of traffic accidents. We’ve put together a helpful list of 7 safe winter driver tips that all drivers should remember.

  • Winterize your vehicle

Our first safe winter driving tip is to take basic safety precautions like having your brakes, tires, battery life and fluid levels inspected. A mechanic will let you know if you need any work done to make sure your vehicle is functioning properly.

  • Check the weather!

It sounds obvious, but life can get in the way and rushing out the door is all too common. Take the time to check weather forecasts before heading out on the roads. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Charge Up

Many drivers use their cell phones as navigation devices and as an audio streaming source for music, audiobooks and podcasts. Another great benefit we enjoy in the age of smartphones is that we can quickly seek assistance if we have car trouble – including getting stuck in the snow. But that cell phone isn’t much use to you if the battery is dead! Try to remember to keep your phone charged before driving, especially in the winter. Keep a spare charging cable in your vehicle to use while you’re driving.

  • Fuel Up!

In the winter months, it’s important to keep your car fueled up. Don’t run the risk of getting stuck, even in ordinary traffic, with low fuel. Cold weather can quickly turn an otherwise frustrating situation into a potentially dangerous one.

  • Make sure your windshields, windows and mirrors are clean to ensure visibility.

Always brush snow off your car and scrape ice off before driving. Additionally, while modern ice-melt and removal treatments are a marvel that keep the roads running during and after winter storms, this extra salt, sand and other ice melting compounds tend to stick to vehicles and get them really, really dirty. This salt and sand can build up in important places that help with safe driving – like side mirrors and back windshields. A $15 car wash – although it won’t keep your car as clean as long as other times of year allow – can make a huge difference in safe driving.

  • Put Together a Winter Emergency Kit

Packing a winter emergency kit is a precautionary measure that can go a long way. First, the basics: you’ll want to include a first aid kit, blanket, flashlight, hand warmers, bottled water, snack bars, a multi-tool, and jumper cables. But you can also pack things like duct tape, a jack and lug wrench to change a tire, foam sealant for small tire leaks, map book, and more, just in case.

Did you know we offer roadside assistance coverage? 

  • Reduce speed to allow plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

This tip is vital. Snow, ice and even rain can make it more difficult for vehicles to brake, and the time it takes to brake can be the difference between an accident and a safe commute. Be patient and leave space!

Winter makes driving more challenging, but remembering these 7 tips will go a long way. Eventually Spring will come, but for now, let’s stay safe out there!

How to Save Money on Massachusetts Car Insurance

Your Massachusetts car insurance premium is based on your level of coverage and a number of other factors such as where you live, how much you drive, the type of car you drive, how long you’ve been driving and your driving record. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best ways you can save money on car insurance:

Shop Around

It’s 2017!  Why limit your options to the best rate available from a single company when you could have dozens of companies competing to insure you? But you don’t have to do that footwork yourself. At Cochrane & Porter, we can shop our selection of the top insurance companies in the state on your behalf!

Purchase Your Home and Auto Insurance from the Same Company

While shopping from different companies can save you money initially, our recent blog explains how you can save even more money by combining your car insurance with the insurance on your residence.

Maintain Continuous Insurance

Maintaining continuous coverage and never cancelling for nonpayment keeps rates down.

See If You Qualify for Additional Discounts

Many insurance companies offer additional premium discounts, and some may apply to you. These include:

  • Low mileage discounts
  • Safe driver discounts
  • Senior discounts
  • Good student discounts
  • Advanced driver training
  • Anti-theft discount
  • Pay In full discount
  • Paperless discount
  • Motor clubs (like AAA) discount
  • Automatic bill pay discount

Choosing Your Limits

Often, people think that higher limits will come with a higher premium. However, drivers with higher limits tend to be more appealing to insurance companies, so the difference between one limit and the next is often very minimal. In fact, sometimes the rate is actually lower if you go up to a higher limit. Also consider taking a look at increasing your Collision and Comprehensive deductibles to lower your premium rate.

Package Endorsements

Many companies offer at least one Package Endorsement that takes a number of individual endorsements and puts them in a package endorsement that is significantly less than adding all of the endorsements individually.  These can include accident forgiveness, loan/lease gap coverage, new vehicle replacement, improved rental and towing coverage, reduced deductibles, personal belongings, pet coverage, accidental airbag discharge, and many more.

Use an Independent Agent

Saving money on car insurance is great, but only if you still have the coverage you need. Some companies will offer what appear to be great prices but the actual insurance barely covers a thing! What’s the point in saving $10 to $20 a month if you’re short thousands after an accident?

At Cochrane & Porter, we’ll be happy to review your current coverage and make sure you get the right coverage for your needs at the right price.

Rest insured. We’ve got you covered.

 

Insuring Your Home to Value

Although not required by law in Massachusetts, Homeowners Insurance is required by most mortgage lenders. Typical Homeowners policies in Massachusetts provide coverage for your home, other structures on your property, and the possessions in your home against losses such as from fire, storm damage and theft. These policies also generally protect you and your family members from liability arising from bodily harm to others or property damage to other people’s property.

Since a home is usually your single biggest financial investment, it’s important to make sure you not only have coverage, but you have the right coverage for you. At Cochrane & Porter, we help you avoid the most common home insurance mistake – under insuring the Replacement Cost of your home. The best way to do that is to insure your home to value, and here’s how:

Ask your agent to review.

  • Insurance to value is an insurance concept based on making sure you have enough coverage on your policy to rebuild the home if there is total loss. It differs from the market value of the home and does not include the value of the land. Independent agents like Cochrane & Porter can utilize cost estimators, check prior inspections, review information available through your town’s assessor’s office – and account for inflation and make sure your policy is sufficient. Other information from websites like Zillow or Trulia can also obtain information about your home that help make sure your Replacement Cost is accurate.

Consider requesting an inspection.

  • Some insurance companies will send an inspector if the home has been without inspection for a long time, but if you have made home improvements, built an addition, or made other changes that could affect the value of your home, it may be worth asking your insurance agent to talk to the insurance company about performing an inspection.

If your home is insured to less than 80% of value, then even in a partial loss you will only receive an equivalent percentage of the cost to repair the damages. For example, if the limit on your home is only 70% of the cost to rebuild it, in the event of a partial loss of $100,000 you would only receive $70,000. That’s $30,000 in out-of-pocket expenses. Ouch!

You want your Homeowners insurance to be there for you when you need it, and making sure your home is insured to value is the best way to get that peace of mind. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you get the best possible coverage for your home at the best possible price!

Rest Assured. We’ve got you covered!

What are the Benefits of Packaging My Homeowner and Auto Policies with the Same Company?

If you’re like most Americans, you have both car insurance and some type of protection for where you live – homeowners insurance, renters insurance or condo insurance. But if you’re a typical buyer, you may be shopping around for the best price for each; unaware that by securing both policies from the same insurance company, you’ll likely earn significant discounts and can be sure that you have proper coverage for your unique individual needs.

Additional Provider Options

Some insurance companies refuse to write mono-line (singular) policies. So, if you’re only shopping for car insurance, or only shopping for homeowners insurance, you may be missing out on offers from companies who will gladly provide you with both coverages.  And when you work with an independent agency with the resources of Cochrane & Porter, more than a dozen additional insurance companies could be competing for your business. That could mean big savings for you!

Premium Savings

Discounts of 20% are typical, and have the potential to be more than 35%. You’ll also be eligible for additional tiered benefits, which could reduce your premium even further. Many insurance companies have different tiers with lower base rates for certain tiers for which mono-line accounts are not eligible. Companies would rather write both lines of insurance for you at a discount than find another new customer who only wants one type of insurance.

Ease of Use

By getting both your auto and homeowners insurance from a single company, you’re making your life as an insured much, much easier. You’ll only be getting a bill from one place, only need to use one website to look up your insurance information, and only deal with one company if you need to file a claim. If a tree falls on your car in your front yard, you’ll have much fewer headaches trying to get the situation resolved. And, if you have an umbrella policy, there’s no need to submit your auto policy every year to confirm eligibility.

Ensuring Proper Coverage

While packaging all of your policies with one company usually makes a lot of sense, it always makes sense to write them with the same agency (and specifically Cochrane & Porter!). We can make sure you have the proper coverage in place, with no gaps, at the right price. We can do a full review of your policies and identify any areas where you may need additional protection or there are additional savings.

 

Contact us today to get your insurance bundled with one company, and with us!

What Happens if My Car Hits a Deer and I Am Injured?

In our last blog we explained which coverage would apply to your vehicle if you hit a deer. In Massachusetts, insureds need comprehensive coverage to be protected from financial loss in these types of incidents. But what if you get hurt in the accident? Medical bills are expensive, so it’s important to know what kind of financial support you can expect from a typical Massachusetts auto insurance policy and what you can do to make sure you have optimal protection.

There are four components to Massachusetts auto insurance policies that are required by law:

  1. Bodily Injury to Others
  2. Personal Injury Protection
  3. Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto
  4. Damage to Someone Else’s Property

Additional options include Collision and Comprehensive coverage. As explained above, comprehensive coverage provides financial protection for your property in case you hit a deer.

If in the unfortunate circumstance that you do get hurt, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will typically automatically cover the first $2,000 in medical expenses incurred. Additional medical expenses will then be submitted to your private health insurance provider to determine if medical coverage applies. If for some reason your health insurance provider denies payment for a claim, you must submit that claim to your auto insurance carrier and your PIP coverage would then be used to cover up to the standard limit of $8,000.

If you have Medical Payments (MedPay) but don’t have private health insurance, PIP will cover the first $8,000 in medical expenses and any additional expenses will be covered by MedPay up to the MedPay policy limits. If you have MedPay and private health insurance, PIP will cover the first $2,000 in medical expenses and anything above that amount will be submitted for review to your private health insurance provider. Any expenses denied by the health insurance provider can be resubmitted through your PIP coverage and paid, up to the $8,000 limit, with additional expense then going through your MedPay coverage, up to the policy limit.

To keep it simple, if you are injured as an insured driver after hitting a deer or another animal, PIP will typically cover medical expenses up to $2,000 and private health insurance will kick in after that – although you can come back to your PIP coverage up to the $8,000 limit for certain items denied by health insurance. MedPay customers will have a slightly different experience. After the PIP limit is exhausted, MedPay would then be used for any expenses not covered by a health insurance provider.

A licensed and responsible insurance agent can be the difference between making sure you have the protection you need and facing eye-popping expenses after an accident.

Contact us today for a complimentary review of your insurance and let us shop our network of 40+ companies to find you the best possible coverage at an affordable price!

What Insurance Coverage Applies If I Hit a Deer?

You’re driving the same commute you drive every day and it’s starting to get dark. There’s light traffic and you’ve got the radio on and the windows down, not a care in the world. Suddenly, before you can even react – BOOM. No, you didn’t hit another vehicle; a deer jumped out to cross the road and collided with your front end. Thankfully, you’re okay. But your car isn’t. You get out to check the damage and know you’ve got a call to make. Once you’re done dealing with the police and the tow company, it’s time to think about insurance. Hopefully, you have the right coverage.

Living in New England, you may have already experienced this firsthand or know someone who has. Insurance companies want their customers to be protected from risks – including accidents involving wild animals. Many people wrongly assume vehicle damage of this kind is covered by collision insurance. It is a collision after all, right?

Although running into a deer seems like it would be viewed the same as any other accident, the language in Massachusetts auto insurance policies classifies it differently. Customers need what’s known as comprehensive coverage to be protected from financial loss in these instances.

The Automobile Insurers’ Bureau’s standard Massachusetts Insurance Automobile Insurance policy states “We consider….the following types of losses to be Comprehensive and not Collision losses: losses caused by vandalism, fire and theft, missiles, falling objects, larceny, explosion, earthquake, windstorm, hail, water, flood, malicious mischief, riot or contact with a bird or animal.“

Comprehensive insurance is optional and is not required by law, and many consumers incorrectly believe they are covered in the event of any collision.  An independent agent can make sure you have the right insurance policy to protect yourself from financial loss.

Call us today at 781-943-1555 to make sure you do! We’ll be happy to review your insurance and shop our selection of more than three dozen companies to find the best and most affordable policy for you so that if you ever do hit a deer, you won’t lose a whole lot of “doe.”

Replacement Cost vs. Market Value of a Home

As insurance agents, we are often asked, “Why is my house insured for more than the market value?”

Typically your insurance policy is based on “replacement cost.” According to Business Dictionary, replacement cost is defined as the “current cost of replacing an existing asset or property with the same quality of construction and operational utility, without taking depreciation into account. Replacement cost is usually higher than the item’s book value.” In other words, the replacement cost of a home is the amount needed to repair the damage or rebuilt the home to its condition prior to the loss.

If you experience a covered loss, your insurance company will pay the “replacement cost” value of the damaged property (up to the coverage limits). Keep in mind the replacement cost does not include the value of the land – it is simply the cost of rebuilding your home.

The market value of a home is the price that a particular home, in its current condition, will sell within 30 to 90 days. There are three important pieces associated with determining the market value of a home: the particular home, current condition, and 30 to 90 days. Core Logic explains, “Market value is the estimated price at which your property would be sold on the open market between a willing buyer and a willing seller under all conditions for a fair sale.”

While there are many differences between replacement cost and market value, we hope this helps understand the main – and possibly most important – differences.

As always, do not hesitate to contact an agent at Cochrane & Porter for any of your insurance needs. 781-943-1555 or info@cochraneandporter.com