Tag Archives: homeowners

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Take the “What the Flood” quiz

How much do you know about flood insurance? Probably very little, unless you’ve had an experience with flooding or your insurance agent has discussed it with you. Check it out – take this quick What the Flood interactive quiz to see if you understand the insurance protection that would apply should common water damage scenarios occur. The quiz is promoted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), who offer great info on Understanding Flood Insurance.

Here are a few common flood insurance myths

  • Myth: I don’t need flood insurance because I already have homeowners insurance.

Reality. Homeowners insurance rarely covers flood damage – talk to your agent.

  • Myth: I don’t need flood insurance because I don’t live in a high-risk flood zone.

Reality: More than 20% of the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) claims come from outside high-risk flood areas.

  • Myth: It’s already hurricane season so I am too late to buy flood insurance this year.

Reality. You can purchase flood insurance any time, but it generally takes effect 30 days after purchase for coverage to take place.

Here’s a handy NAIC infographic that shows homeowners vs flood insurance coverage:

Why not have a chat with your insurance agent to find out if flood insurance makes sense for you? Here are some great questions that NAIC offers as discussion points when you talk to your insurance agent about flood insurance.

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

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What’s an insurance deductible?

Like many other industries, insurance has its own unique jargon that can sometimes make shopping for coverage seem overly complicated. Your local independent insurance agent is always happy to break things down for you and explain any language or terms that you don’t understand. One term that is commonly used in auto, health and in other insurance policies is “deductible.”

In simple terms, a deductible is the amount of money that you, the insured, must pay for a claim before your insurance will kick in.

If you have a deductible, it means that you will be responsible for any losses or payment of services up to the stated dollar amount in your insurance policy. Usually, deductibles are defined as a dollar amount, but they can also be defined as a percentage.

Deductibles can be beneficial both for the insured and for the insurance company. For the insured, it can be a way to are a way to reduce the cost of insurance: The more risk for loss that you, the insured, agree to pay before the insurance kicks in, the lower your premium. For the insurance company, it is a way to avoid the cost of processing and paying a high volume of small claims. Talk to you insurance agent about what deductible options are available to you and how they will affect the cost of your coverage.

Let’s look at an example: You are in an auto accident and your car’s damages are assessed at $1250 in damages. If your insurance policy has a $500 deductible, you will have to pay the first $500 of the damages to your car out of your own pocket and the insurer will pay the remaining $750. Generally, once the deductible is met, any future losses that you might have during the term of that policy will be covered in full.

The Insurance Information Institute has a great article on understanding your insurance deductibles that explains how deductibles work to prevent surprise costs and save money. It’s a good introduction with clear examples. They also discuss homeowners disaster deductibles for hurricane, wind/hail, flood and earthquake coverage. (Reminder: your homeowners insurance does not automatically cover you should your home be damaged by flood, earthquake, and other natural catastrophes – talk to your insurance agent about what your homeowners does and doesn’t cover.)

Businesses can also opt for deductible plans for certain types of business coverage such as workers compensation programs.

Many people are familiar with deductibles through their health insurance coverage. Learn more about health insurance deductibles at HealthCare.gov.

As with all insurance matters, you need to check your own policy. Insurance can vary by state law, by type of coverage, and by individual policy. It’s a good idea to read your policy and to ask your insurance agent to explain any terms that you don’t understand.

 

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

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Thinking of a side hustle? Check with your insurance agent

Today, it seems like everybody’s got a side hustle, which is essentially just a fancy rebranding of what used to be called moonlighting. But today’s moonlighting often comes with a twist …. these gigs often involve using your personal car or home to generate extra income. Whether it’s driving for Lyft, dropping off packages for Amazon, delivering meals through DoorDash, renting your home through Airbnb or just taking advantage of a tourist influx during a big local event by renting out your home, five words of advice: check with your insurance agent.

If your goal is earning some extra cash, make sure you understand and are covered for potential risks. You might think you are covered by working for a third-party service, but if you injure yourself or someone else while working, if you damage or lose someone’s property or if you suffer a loss to your own property, you may be on your own. Here are just two examples:

Home rental – If you want to start renting out all or a portion of your home through a peer-to-peer rental service, what happens if a guest is injured on your property? Or if a guest burns the whole place down in a cooking fire, will your rental service cover your home replacement?

Some services, such as Airbnb and VRBO, offer programs such as host guarantees or host liability insurance. On first glance, these may look adequate – $1 million liability coverage should be enough, right? But like most things, you need to read the fine print because there are conditions, limitations and exclusions that could leave you exposed to serious loss. You also should not assume that your own homeowners policy will provide coverage in a home rental scenario. Insurance Information Institute says:

Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies are designed for personal risks, not commercial risks. Some insurers now offer a home-sharing liability insurance policy that can be purchased on a month-to-month basis, but there may be exclusions and limitations, so read the policy carefully. If you plan to rent out all or part of your home on a regular basis, many companies will consider this a business use and you may need to purchase a business policy—specifically either a hotel or a bed-and-breakfast policy.

Ridesharing – Check with the service you are contracting with about any coverage that they might offer – states are increasingly mandating that third-party services provide some coverage, but again – there could be conditions, limitations and exclusions that leave dangerous gaps in your coverage. And it’s a mistake to assume that your own personal auto insurance will cover you. Insurance Information Institute says:

Generally a standard personal auto policy will not provide coverage for ride-sharing. A standard personal auto insurance policy stops providing coverage from the moment a driver logs into a TNC ride-sharing app to the moment the customer has exited the car and the transaction is closed.

They also advise:

Prospective drivers should ask the TNC what level of coverage it provides. Drivers should also contact their own auto insurer to address gaps, if any, in their liability protection. It is also recommended that TNC drivers review a copy of their TNC’s insurance contracts so they know the exact terms and conditions of the coverage.

Learn more: Ride-sharing and insurance: Q&A

These are just two common examples of so-called side-hustles, but other income-generating activities might call for other types of coverage, such as product liability or home business coverage. Your agent can also help you assess the adequacy of coverage offered by a third-party.  If you are considering a side-hustle, give your independent insurance agent a call to talk things over.

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

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Your annual reminder: Any dog can bite

This week is Dog Bite Prevention Week and the US Postal Service would like to remind you that although there are about 78 million good doggies here in the U.S., “any dog can bite.” They should know. Their carriers suffer about 6,000 dog attacks a year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are victims of dog attacks each year. The most susceptible to dog attacks are small children, the elderly and postal carriers, in that order.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that most, if not all, the dog bites that occur are preventable. They tally some recent numbers: In 2017 there were nearly 350,000 people treated at hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal dog-related injuries. Of those people, there were nearly 10,600 children two years old or younger who visited emergency rooms as a result of dog bites​.

Liability Insurance and Dog Bites

Besides the human and canine trauma that can result, dog bites are also a costly problem. In 2018, dog bites and other dog-related injuries tallied $675 million in liability claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and studies by State Farm. In terms of states, California is #1, with 2166 claims at an average claim cost of $45,542. Florida is #2, with 1281 claims at an average claim cost of $43,893. Texas, Illinois and New York round out the top five states in terms of claims counts and expenses. You can check to see where your state falls on this III interactive state-by-state dog bite liability map.

Your homeowners insurance policy will typically cover and claims related to dog bites, up to the liability limits. If you have a dog, you should talk to your agent about liability limits and also the type of dog you have. I talking about dog bite liability, III says that

“Some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own certain breeds of dogs categorized as dangerous, such as pit bulls. Others decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether an individual dog, regardless of its breed has been deemed vicious. Some insurers do not ask the breed of a dog owned when writing or renewing homeowners insurance and do not track the breed of dogs involved in dog bite incidents. However, once a dog has bitten someone, it poses an increased risk. In that instance, the insurance company may charge a higher premium, nonrenew the homeowner’s insurance policy or exclude the dog from coverage.”

See our prior post on dog breeds that are sometimes blacklisted by insurance companies.

Helpful dog bite prevention resources

Dogs attacks occur for a number of reasons. The dog may be protecting territory. They may feel threatened by strangers or startled. They may be annoyed if they are eating. American Humane offers these tips for dog owners:

  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet.
  • Interactions between children and dogs should always be monitored to ensure the safety of both your child and your dog.
  • Teach your children to treat the dog with respect and not to engage in rough or aggressive play.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Never put your dog in a position where s/he feels threatened.
  • Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep him/her healthy and to provide mental stimulation.
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you can control your dog.
  • Regular veterinary care is essential to maintain your dog’s health; a sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
  • Be alert, if someone approaches you and your dog – caution them to wait before petting the dog, give your pet time to be comfortable with a stranger.

Find more dog bite prevention tips:

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

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Home burglars reveal the tricks of the trade

How do home burglars choose a home to rob? What makes it easier or harder for them to break into a home? What can homeowners do to ensure their home is not a target? To learn the answers to these questions, Portland Oregon KGW TV’s investigative team sent letters to inmates currently serving time for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections. Inmates were surveyed anonymously about how they broke in, when the crime occurred and what they were looking for. See: We asked 86 burglars how they broke into homes

Here’s an eye-opening video as a KGW reporter rides around a neighborhood with a former home burglar who talks about how he cased homes and commit robberies.

The linked article above is also worth reading. When asked “What is the one thing homeowners can do to avoid being burglarized?”: “Burglars suggest homeowners make their property visible with good lighting and trimmed bushes and trees. You should get to know your neighbors and alert police if you see anything suspicious.”

  • “In my opinion, I think homeowners should always leave a TV or radio on,” said one inmate.
  • “Get a camera and make it visible!” wrote another.
  • “Put bars on your windows and doors, get an alarm, keep an extra car in the driveway, keep lights, TVs and radios on when you leave your home,” read one questionnaire.
  • “Home alarm, know your neighbor so they can report suspicious people around the neighborhood,” said a burglar.

More secrets from robbers

For another brief video and tips from burglars see How do you prevent a burglary? Convicted thieves tell all – KSL in Salt Lake City.

We previously featured a post on Burglar Secrets: Expert advice on how to protect your home.. While links to the original article we cited are no longer operational, we excerpted several tips in the post. Among them,  mistakes that burglars said people often make:

  • Bragging about valuables, new purchases
  • Leaving doors and windows unlocked or garage doors open
  • Failing to enable security systems
  • Leaving valuables visible through windows
  • Leaving valuable things like bikes and riding mowers laying about in the yard
  • Having uncovered windows that allow views into the home

Talk to your insurance agent

Your home insurance company might also have good information about keeping your home safe. And if you have home security systems, you may earn a discount on your insurance policy – talk this over with your independent insurance agent.

Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.

Scary Myths about Home Insurance

Don’t be a victim of these homeowners insurance myths….

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Seeing as today is Halloween, I was thinking it would be appropriate to talk about a few myths about homeowners insurance that are downright scary because they can end up costing us a lot in the long run!

Myth 1: “There’s no need for me to review my policy at renewal because I chose the correct coverage the first time.”
Think about how much your life changes from year to year. For example, you inherit a diamond ring from your grandmother, or added an addition to your home; these all require important and necessary changes to your insurance policy.

Myth 2: Since I am a renter, my landlord will cover property damages.”
It is possible that your insurance company is partnered with a company that offers renters insurance to tenants, but it is more likely that your landlord’s policy only protects the building itself. Keep in mind that even if the landlord owns any appliances inside your rented home, they are not responsible for damages to your personal property.

Myth 3: “I have an umbrella policy, so I have full coverage.”
Okay, the purpose of a personal umbrella policy is absolutely to add an extra layer of liability protection on top of what your auto or home policies provide, but that does not mean you are fully covered! Here are 3 things you need to know about umbrella coverage:

  • It typically will not cover business activity. If an accident occurs in your in your home or vehicle while you are using it for business purposes, you probably won’t be covered.
  • Umbrella coverage only kicks in after you’ve exhausted your coverage on a primary policy, for example, your auto or homeowners.
  • Your umbrella policy will not help with your own injuries or losses; it provides coverage strictly for if you are sued by another person or found at-fault for injuring others or damaging their property.

There are many other myths regarding your homeowners insurance – don’t fall victim of them! Contact an agent at Cochrane & Porter if you have any questions about this: 781-943-1555 or info@cochraneandporter.com!

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Trampolines?

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It’s very likely you’ll have a trampoline at some point, especially if you have children!  It’s also possible you’ve heard of someone’s policy being cancelled for owning a trampoline. Before making the decision to buy one or not, it’s important you understand how owning a trampoline can affect your homeowners insurance policy.

So, the question is: how does owning a trampoline impact my insurance policy?

Similar to many insurance-related question, it depends. It is important to speak with your insurance agent to know for sure if your insurance carrier is fine with you owning a trampoline, or if they have specific requirements for those who have one, such as padding or netting.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Will owning a trampoline increase my homeowners insurance rate? It’s possible your homeowners insurance premium will increase if you have a trampoline, but usually it will not. One of the main reasons why an insurance company will not usually charge more for a trampoline on your policy is because it is challenging for an insurance company to determine the potential liability loss. Based on the cost potential payout and legal fees, the additional amount charged to the policy would not make it worthwhile.

Can my insurance company cancel my policy for owning a trampoline? Yes, they can. Depending on the carrier guidelines, they may or may not accept any form of a trampoline. If they don’t, the company has legal rights to issue a cancellation notice for your policy. Of course, you would be notified beforehand. 

How come insurance companies don’t like trampolines?
There are a significantly high percentage of injury from trampolines. According to the Consumer Product Safety Review, in 2006 trampolines caused about 109,522 injuries. Many of these resulted in injuries including broken necks, spinal cord injuries, and disabling head traumas.

If you own a trampoline, be safe!

Remember if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact Cochrane & Porter so we can discuss the best options for your specific needs! 781-943-1555 or info@cochraneandporter.com

Swimming Pool Safety Tips

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To ensure a fun and safe pool experience this summer, it is important that parents build their current safety practices by remaining alert and staying close by, when their child is in both community and personal pools. Before you allow your child to jump in, be aware that drowning is the third leading cause of death among children.

Here are some suggestions on ways to prevent any accidents from happening around your pool:

  • Try to remember not to keep toys near pool while it is unoccupied
  • It is recommend to keep bicycles and other riding toys away from the pool
  • Understand that it is dangerous for children to run on the pool deck
  • Consider only diving into pools that have been determined to be deep enough for diving
  • Designate a responsible person to keep an eye on those who are in the pool
  • If a child or infant is missing, it is a smart idea to check the pool first

Babies
Start slow with babies. Around 6 months old is when it is generally accepted to be a good time to start introducing them to water. Be sure to always use waterproof diapers, and change them often.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Although it is beneficial to just about everyone, learning CPR as a parent will give you a piece of mind and help you be a better parent. CPR training is offered at many places, such as fire departments, hospitals, and recreation departments. Having your children learn CPR is an added bonus, and will benefit them their entire life.

Diving
Although many people believe that they know how to dive properly, often times, the average person hasn’t been trained by a professional. One suggestion is to think about enrolling your children in classes that will teach them how to dive safely.

It’s important to note that you should never dive into above-ground pools, or through toys that are in the pool. Surprisingly enough, the majority of injuries happen in the shallow end. Another important safety measure is to always dive with your feet in first, especially if it is your first time in that pool. You may not be able to determine how shallow it really is.

Fences
The safest fences are the ones that surround all 4 sides of the pool, and are at least 4 feet high. It should completely separate the pool from the house and the yard. Make sure that the fence does not have any openings – even small ones, as a young child could potentially fit through it.

Diving Myths

Myth 1: I’ve seen many people dive into water that is only 3 feet deep and they do not get injured, therefore it is fine for me to do the same.

Fact: Fortunately, most people who dive into shallow water are not injured. However, it is common for the person to hit their head on the bottom of the pool. Many people believe that just because others aren’t usually injured, or because they have done it before, it won’t happen to them. Unfortunately, over 1,000 people each year are seriously injured from diving into shallow water.

Myth 2: Everyone knows that it is very possible that they can suffer spinal cord injuries and break their neck by diving into shallow water.

Fact: Most people do not know that it is extremely dangerous to dive into a pool that is less than 5 feet deep. Many are aware that they can hit the bottom, but do not think twice about the possible serious injuries that they could suffer, because it has never happened to them before.

Myth 3: Diving is easy, and everyone knows how to do it.

Fact: Diving is not easy in the way that there are extremely complex laws of physics that are unknown by both scientist and especially a recreational swimmer. For an average recreational swimmer, your body is completely out of control once it leaves the diving area.


As a pool owner, it’s important to have the proper coverage in place, as you are liable for injuries that may occur to others. Call us today to review your coverage and help answer any questions you may have on your liability surrounding your pool.