FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Homeowners | Auto | Business | Personal | Flood

HOMEOWNERS

What is homeowners insurance and who should buy this type of coverage?

Homeowners insurance is one of the most popular forms of personal lines insurance on the market today. The typical homeowners policy has two main sections: Section I covers the property of the insured and Section II provides personal liability coverage to the insured. Almost anyone who owns, rents or leases property has a need for this type of insurance. And many times, the lender requires homeowners insurance as part of the requirements to obtain a mortgage.

What is the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost?

Covered losses under a homeowners policy can be paid on either an actual cash value basis or on a replacement cost basis. When actual cash value is used, the policy owner is entitled to the depreciated value of the damaged property. Under the replacement cost coverage, the policy owner is reimbursed an amount necessary to replace the article with one of similar type and quality at current prices.

What factors should I consider when purchasing homeowners insurance?

There are several factors you should consider when purchasing any product or service, and insurance is no different. Here is a checklist of things you should consider when you purchase homeowners insurance.

(1) First and foremost, purchase the amount and type of insurance that you need. Most companies require that you insure your home for 100% of the cost to replace your home. The replacement cost is different than the purchase price or the tax assessed value. In the event of a loss, some companies may apply a co-insurance penalty if you underinsure your home. Other companies apply a limit or cap on their replacement cost feature, which may require a significant out-of-pocket expense to you if you underinsure.
(2) Determine the amount of personal property insurance coverage that you need. Many companies automatically extend a certain percentage of the dwelling amount to personal property. This may or may not be increased/decreased depending on the company.
(3) Determine the amount of personal liability coverage that you need.
(4) Determine which, if any, additional endorsements you want to add to your policy. For example, do you want the personal property replacement cost endorsement or earthquake coverage?
(5) Homeowner policies have maximum limits for some specific categories such as jewelry, furs, fine arts etc. If you own property in these categories, you may want to consider specifically adding coverage for these items.

What are some practical things I can do to lower the cost of my homeowners insurance?

There are several things you can do to lower the cost of your homeowners insurance. The easiest thing is to discuss and review your policy with your independent agent. Another way to lower the cost of your homeowners insurance is to look for any discounts that you may qualify for. For example, many insurers will offer a discount when you place both your automobile and homeowners insurance with them. Other times, insurers offer discounts if there are deadbolt exterior locks on all your doors, or if your home has a security system.

Be sure to ask your agent or company about any discounts that you may qualify for. Another easy way to lower the cost of your homeowners insurance is to raise your deductible. Increasing your deductible from $250 or $500 to $1,000 or higher will lower your premium. However, be careful to make sure that you have the financial resources necessary to handle the larger deductible.

What is scheduled personal property?

Scheduling personal property is a convenient way to help protect your valuable personal property. Scheduled Personal Property is generally an endorsement to your Homeowner, Condominium, Mobile Home or Renter policy, which provides additional and broader coverage; and generally with no deductible.

Do I need earthquake coverage? How can I get it?

Direct damages due to earthquakes are not covered under the standard homeowners insurance policy. Coverage is generally added as an endorsement to the homeowners policy and has a separate deductible. This endorsement will cover damages due to earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions and other earth movements.

Do I need Flood Coverage?

Your lender may require that you obtain flood coverage if your property lies in a flood plain as determined by US Government Flood Maps. However, since flood coverage is not covered under the standard homeowners insurance, you may purchase this coverage to protect yourself even if your property is not in a flood plain.

Why do I have Other Structures coverage on my policy when I do not have any other structures?

Other Structures coverage includes any unattached structures, i.e. garages, sheds, fences, and pools. Other Structures are automatically included in the policy and can not be deleted or decreased however they can be increased in the event you have other structures that exceed the limit provided.

What is Identity Theft coverage?

In the event you have your identity stolen, Identity Theft coverage will reimburse the expenses incurred while you go through the process of getting back your identity. Identity Theft coverages vary by company.

My basement is flooded does my homeowners cover me?

This all depends on how the water comes into your basement. If it is ground water that seeps or leaks into the basement through the foundation there is no coverage under your homeowners insurance. However, if you have a sump pump that failed, you may have coverage if you carry the water backup endorsement. Contact your Customer Service Representative for more information.

I lost a stone out of my ring do I have coverage to replace it?

If you have specifically scheduled the ring on your Homeowners Insurance policy for a stated amount, you would have coverage for the replacement of the stone.

Would I have any coverage if someone visiting my home was injured on my property?

Your homeowners' insurance policy has Medical Payments which would cover any medical expenses incurred by the injured party up to the limit on your policy. Your policy also has Personal Liability that would cover for any Bodily Injury claim brought against you up to the limit on your policy. Also Personal Umbrella Liability policies are available which would provide coverage over and above your Homeowners Liability. Contact your Customer Service Representative for more information.

Does my Homeowners policy cover my child's personal belongings while away at college?

If they are living in a dormitory, 10% of your personal property coverage is extended to the dormitory room. If they are living in an off campus apartment building, they will need to apply for a tenant's policy of their own.

Should I add water back up coverage to my policy?

If you have the potential for water in your basement from backed up sewers and drains and/or failure or overflow of sump pump, water back up coverage is a good endorsement to be added to your Homeowners Policy for an additional premium.

When should I notify you of any improvements I have made to my property?

Any improvements that change the square footage of your property, and/or any major upgrades, i.e. kitchen, baths, finished basements, and swimming pools, etc. You should notify us prior to the project and then at the completion so that we can increase your policy accordingly.

What if I have an In Home Business?

Your Homeowners policy excludes coverage for a Home Business so you should always notify us of any Business ventures in the home. An endorsement can be added to your Homeowners Policy to provide extra coverage for your activities and/or business contents.

Is my personal computer covered?

Yes, your personally owned computer is covered under the MA Homeowners Policy for named perils. You may want to purchase broader coverage. Contact us for additional information.

When I go on vacation, is my personal property covered that I bring with me?

Your personal property is covered worldwide, for the perils insured against on the homeowner policy. There are also some internal limits on the policy for certain specific items ( money, theft of jewelry, watches, etc.).

During the last wind storm a tree fell and damaged my porch. Do I have coverage for the damage and also the tree removal?

Depending on the policy form you have purchased you are covered for the damage to the porch as well as coverage (up to a certain limit) to remove the tree. Bear in mind that most homeowner policies now contain a windstorm deductible, which is usually higher than the deductible which applies to all other claims.



AUTO INSURANCE [return to top]

What are some things I can do to lower my automobile insurance rates?

There are a several things you can do to lower the cost of your automobile insurance. The easiest thing is to discuss and review your policy with your independent agent. When shopping for auto insurance, be careful to make sure each insurer is offering the same coverage, in other words compare oranges to oranges.

Many insurers use the Insurance Standard Office (ISO) policy forms, but this is not always the case.Another way to lower the cost of your automobile insurance is to look for any discounts that you may qualify for. For example, many insurers will offer you a discount if you insure multiple cars under the same policy, or if you have had a driver education class in the last five years. Be sure to ask your agent or your company about their discount plans.

Another easy way to lower the cost of your automobile insurance is to increase the deductible. Simply raising your deductible from $250 to $500 can lower your premium. However, you should be careful to make sure that you have the financial resources necessary to handle the larger deductible.

Should insurance be purchased on an older car whose current market value is very low?

Most states have enacted compulsory insurance laws that require drivers to have at least some automobile liability insurance. These laws were enacted to ensure that victims of automobile accidents receive compensation when their losses are caused by the actions of another individual who was negligent.

Except for the liability coverage that you are required to purchase, many people with older cars decide not to purchase any physical damage coverage. It is often the case that the cost of repairing the damages to an older car is greater than its value. In these cases, your insurer will usually just total the car and give you a check for the car's market value less the deductible

Suppose I lend my car to a friend, is he/she covered under my automobile insurance policy?

Whenever you knowingly loan your car to a friend or an associate, he or she will be covered under your automobile insurance policy. In fact, even if you do not give explicit permission each time a person borrows your car, they are still covered under your automobile insurance policy as long they had a reasonable belief that you would have given them permission to drive the car.

What is Comprehensive coverage?

Comprehensive coverage pays for physical damage to or loss of your vehicle, less any applicable deductible, resulting from damage such as fire, theft, vandalism, and striking an animal, but not collision.

If I lock my keys in my vehicle can I get reimbursed under my towing coverage?

Yes, this would be covered under labor cost as would the repair of a flat tire or any other labor done at the scene to get your vehicle running. You submit the bill for reimbursement up to the limit on your towing coverage ($50 or $100).

What is the difference between collision physical damage coverage and comprehensive physical damage coverage?

Collision is defined as losses you incur when your automobile collides with another car or object. For example, if you hit a car in a parking lot, the damages to your car will be paid under your collision coverage. Comprehensive provides coverage for most other direct physical damage losses you could incur. For example, damage to your car from a hailstorm, theft, vandalism, glass breakage etc. will be covered under comprehensive coverage.

It is important to know the differences between the collision and comprehensive coverage for a couple of reasons.

(1) To make an informed purchasing decision about these optional coverages, you need to know the difference between them.
(2) The deductibles under the collision and comprehensive coverage are often different.

What factors can affect the cost of my automobile insurance?

Several factors can affect the cost of your automobile insurance - some of which you can control and some which are beyond your control. Some factors that affect the cost of your insurance include the type of car you drive. If you use your car to commute to work or school, your driving record, where you live, even how you use credit can all affect how much your automobile insurance will cost you.

How do I cancel my Insurance/Delete a vehicle?

Whether you sell your vehicle, or take it off the road, you need to turn in your plates to the Division of Motor Vehicles and then contact us.

When do I have to add my son/daughter to my Auto Policy?

Your son/daughter needs to be added when they receive their driver's license. Note they do not need to be added while they drive on a learners permit. Once they pass their license exam, please contact our office with their license number.

Who should be listed on my Automobile policy?

All household members with driver's licenses must be included on your policy as well as any customary operators. A customary operator is anyone who uses the vehicle on a regular basis whether a household member or not.

When I rent a vehicle while on vacation, do I need to purchase the rental companies insurance?

Your Automobile Policy does follow you in the continental U.S., Puerto Rico & Canada as long as your vehicle is left at home and not driven while you are traveling or on vacation. However, we do recommend you purchase the coverage for the following reasons:

The Collision and Comprehensive deductibles on your own policy apply unless you purchase the rental company coverage which will waive your deductible.

In the event of an accident your Automobile Policy does not cover loss of use of the rental vehicle while it is being repaired.

If you do not carry collision and comprehensive coverage.

Do I need towing if I have AAA?

The basic AAA membership only allows a certain number of miles per tow. Your Automobile policy can offer additional coverage. Please note this coverage is a reimbursement not an actual towing service like AAA.

When do I need to complete a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report?

You should file a report if you're the operator of a vehicle involved in a crash where the damage to any one vehicle or property is over $1,000, or if there is an injury to any person, even if a police officer was on the scene. You need to file the report within 5 days of the date of the crash. You are NOT required to file an operator's crash report if the crash occurred on a private road, driveway, private parking lot or other private way. You need to send (1) copy of this report to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, (1) to local Police where accident occurred and (1) to your insurance company, note that copy can be sent through us.

What do I do if I have a broken window in my vehicle?

If you carry Comprehensive coverage, you should call us to determine how your insurance company handles glass losses. It can be as simple as calling a glass company to make an appointment they will repair or replace the broken window and bill the insurance company directly.

I am not at fault in my accident do I have to pay my deductible?

If you carry full collision with a waiver of deductible and you are found by the insurance company to be less then 50% at fault in your accident, and you can identify the responsible party, then the company will waive your deductible and pay you from dollar one.

I moved, what should I do?

Contact us with your new address and you also need to contact the Division of Motor Vehicles to change both your drivers license as well as your vehicle registrations you can do this on line or we can send you a card to complete and mail to the Division.

What discounts are available for Automobile Policies?

Each company offers different discounts they include but are not limited to Low Mileage, Multi-Car, Anti-Theft, Senior Citizen, Public Transit, Group Discounts, Account Credits, Good Student, Student away at school (if over 100 miles), Hybrid Vehicle, Pay in Full, Loyalty Discounts, Advanced Driver Training and more.

Should I keep a copy of my Automobile policy in my vehicle?

If you are traveling with your vehicle out of state, or in Canada, we do recommend that you keep a copy of your Insurance Policy with you.

How does my odometer reading effect my insurance rates?

TDB



PERSONAL INSURANCE [return to top]

What is a Personal Umbrella Liability Policy?

Umbrella Liability provides an additional limit of liability over your, automobile, home and other personal policies. This is designed to protect you from third party lawsuits.

Do I need a Personal Umbrella Liability Policy?

Yes - We recommend that everyone have a Personal Umbrella Liability Policy. This protection is invaluable in protecting your assets. Contact one of our fine Customer Service Representative today!

Are Personal Umbrella Liability Policies expensive?

No, when you review what they cover and their value, an umbrella policy is a nominal cost. An average consumer would pay between $175 - $200 per year, for 1 Million in coverage.

Is a $1,000,000 Umbrella enough coverage?

Your coverage amount is based on your personal assets. You should evaluate your finances closely to determine what is the proper amount of coverage that will fit your insurance needs.



FLOOD INSURANCE [return to top]

Is flooding covered by my Homeowners Policy?

No, it is not covered. However you can purchase a separate Flood Policy through our office provided by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Do I need Flood Insurance?

All mortgagees require Flood Insurance for specific flood zone locations, for everyone else it is optional. We can advise you of your flood zone within minutes.

Can I still purchase Flood Insurance even if I had previous flooding?

Yes, coverage is still available (as long as certain guidelines are met).



BUSINESS INSURANCE [return to top]

Just starting a business, do I need insurance right away?

Yes, it is important to get insurance the first day of your business. If you are renting a space, landlords will require that you have insurance, insuring your Business Personal Property and General Liability. The proof of insurance is usually forwarded by us to your landlord via a Certificate of Insurance. Workers Compensation is statutorily needed as well.

Is insurance coverage different for different businesses?

All businesses vary, so it is impossible to have a standard policy to cover all types of businesses. Also some businesses, regardless of their size, do not fit the profile of a standard Business Owners policy (BOP). For example, garages have special liability needs that are not met in the standard Business Owners policy. We can find the best coverage and policy to protect you and your business.

Is insurance coverage different for different businesses?

All businesses vary, so it is impossible to have a standard policy to cover all types of businesses. Also some businesses, regardless of their size, do not fit the profile of a standard Business Owners policy (BOP). For example, garages have special liability needs that are not met in the standard Business Owners policy. We can find the best coverage and policy to protect you and your business.

What type of business customers do you insure?

We help all types of businesses and property owners with their insurance needs. The following list is a sample of some of our customers just to a name a few;

Small businesses
Medium sized businesses
Large diversified businesses
Commercial Buildings
Manufacturing Companies
Wholesalers & Retailers
Commercial Real Estate Developers
Apartment Buildings
Restaurants
Technology Companies
Schools
Gas Stations
Service Stations
Transportation
Contractors
Consultants
Law Offices

What are my coverage options?

You have a wide range of COVERAGES, limits and deductibles available to you and your business depending upon a number of factors. Whether you own a small business or a large diversified business, we will tailor your coverage to your specific needs and exposures, by first learning about your business, listening to your individual needs and requirements, and then delivering the coverage to you.

What is included in Building coverage?

BUILDING COVERAGE includes the building or structure described, including completed additions, fixtures, permanently installed equipment & machinery. Building Property coverage will protect and pay for direct physical loss of or damage to Covered Property subject to exclusions.

What is Business Personal Property?

BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY is all your Furniture, Machinery, equipment, Stock, all other personal property owned by you and used in your business, personal property of others in your care custody and control and leased personal property in which you have contractual responsibility. Business Personal Property coverage pays for direct physical loss of or damage to Covered Property subject to exclusions.

What type of property do I need to insure?

You business could have some of the following types of property that should be insured, such as Building and other structures , furniture, equipment and supplies, inventory, improvements and betterments, machinery, boilers, records of account receivables, valuable papers, signs, fences and other outdoor property not attached to a building, computers and media, leased equipment. You can use this listing as a reference to consider all your property coverages that you may need and we can help you establish the amount of insurance you may need on each.

If I rent office space in a building, do I need to insure my Business Personal Property?

Yes, insuring your building or your contents in a building you rent or lease is important. Some of the factors you should consider when evaluating what and how much to insure;

What is the cost to replace the property in the event of a total loss?
How likely is it for the value of your property to fluctuate?
Will inventory vary over the course of the policy year?
Do you have peak season?
Is your property subject to any unique causes of loss?
Do you have perishable inventory?

What is Business Income coverage?

BUSINESS INCOME INSURANCE (also known as BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE) Commercial coverage that reimburses a business owner for lost profits and continuing fixed expenses during the time that a business must stay closed while the premises are being restored because of physical damage from a covered peril, such as a fire.

What is D&O coverage?

DIRECTOR & OFFICERS LIABILITY INSURANCE (Also known as D&O coverage) protects the Directors and Officers of a company for negligent acts or omissions, and for misleading statements that result in suits against the company, often by shareholders. Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance policies usually contain two coverages: Personal coverage for individual directors and officers who are not indemnified by the corporation for their legal expenses or judgments against them - some corporations are not required by their corporate or state charters to provide indemnification; and corporate reimbursement coverage for indemnifying directors and officers. Entity coverage for claims made specifically against the company may also be available.

What is EPLI (Employee Practices Liability Insurance) coverage?

EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES LIABILITY COVERAGE is Liability insurance for employers that covers employers for alleged wrongful termination, discrimination, or sexual harassment charges made by the insured's employees or former employees.

What happens to my equipment and/or inventory not typically at my named location?

Certain businesses take their tools and equipment with them, such as Contractors, repair or service businesses and certain manufacturer rely on equipment that is off-site. Also, companies can be at risk for equipment stored off premises or in transit. We can design a policy that will insure this type of property is covered anywhere in the world.

What is Flood Insurance and is it included on my Business policy?

FLOOD INSURANCE coverage is excluded under most commercial property policies. Flood Insurance coverage for flood damage is available from the federal government under the National Flood Insurance, or can be added by endorsement.

Who has to provide workers' compensation insurance?

Most states require that you carry some form of workers compensation insurance. An employer may be an individual, partnership, joint venture, corporation, limited liability company, association, or a fiduciary such as a trustee, receiver or executor, or other legal entity.

Can the insurance company cancel my Workers Compensation policy mid-term?

Yes, the insurance company can cancel a policy mid-term for one of the following reasons only: non-payment of premium, fraud or material misrepresentation, or substantial increase in the hazard being insured.

Can an executive officer be excluded from workers' compensation insurance coverage?

Information to come.

Do I need a Business Auto policy for my company-owned vehicle?

Yes, you will need a business automobile policy, whether you have one company-owned vehicle or several being used for company business. The policy covers any motor vehicle used in your business including cars, vans, trucks and trailers pulled by trucks and offers coverage if they are damaged or stolen. It also covers liability if the business vehicle is in an accident which cause, Bodily Injury or Property Damage.

My employee fell off a ladder injuring his back on the job site. Do I need to file a claim and if so how do I go about it?

Yes, you should report the injury. If it is a medical only claim you will need to complete the Employer's Notification of Insurers of Medical Only Injuries form. Please complete and send this form to us and we will forward it to your insurance carrier.