Oh trees and insurance... "If a tree falls in my yard am I covered?" "What if a tree hits my home?" These are questions we get all of the time. Let's jump right in and address the first question:
What happens when a tree falls in your yard and DOES NOT hit your home: Whether it's your neighbor's tree or your tree, most MA homeowners insurance companies will not pay for it to be cleaned up (debris removal). However, if it is blocking the street or a ramp designed for the handicapped, some insurance companies may pay for the cost of removing it. If you notice that your neighbor's tree is damaged and may possibly fall on your property, be proactive and talk to your neighbor about removing it before it falls.
So what happens when the tree falls and DOES hit your home?
When you purchase a MA car insurance or MA homeowners insurance policy, you'll be given a choice of what deductible amount you want to carry. So.. what exactly is a deductible and how does it work? Let's break it down:
What is a car insurance deductible? The deductible is the amount that you will absorb to fix the damage to your car if you are in a collision that is YOUR fault. Having a deductible reduces your premium. The higher the deductible, the less your premium is. A standard MA car insurance deductible is $500 but often times people go with a $1,000 deductible to reduce their premium even more.
What is a homeowners insurance deductible? A MA homeowners insurance deductible again is the amount you will absorb in the event of damage to your home. A standard MA deductible is $500 or $1,000 but a higher deductible can be purchased. The higher the deductible, the less your premium.
You may think that umbrella policies are only for the rich but that is totally not the case. In fact, umbrellas are very inexpensive and provide A LOT of coverage! Here is the rundown about umbrellas - what they are, how they work and why everyone should have one!
1. What is an Umbrella Policy? You have a certain limit of liability coverage on your homeowners or auto policy already. This is called an "underlying" limit. On your homeowners policy this limit it is referred to as Personal Liability and is usually a limit of $300,000 or $500,000. If you are held liable for an accident occurring at your home (trips and falls, etc) your policy will pay out up to this limit for damages incurred by the other party. On your auto policy, the limit is referred to as Optional Bodily Injury to Others and is typically a limit of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident, $100,000 per person /$300,000 per accident or $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident. If you cause injury to another party as a result of an auto accident, your policy will pay out the damages to the other party up to the limit shown on your policy. This all sounds great but what happens if you are sued? These "underlying" home and auto limits can be wiped out very quickly in the event of a major lawsuit leaving you with a big financial burden not to mention the potential of losing your assets. The underlying limits do include defense costs but as you know, defense costs can quickly add up, eating up your limit.. and then you're on the hook for the difference... ouch. UNLESS you have a Massachusetts umbrella policy! If your underlying limits are exhausted, your umbrella policy will be tapped into to account for the difference. No problem!
2. How do Umbrellas Work? A Massachusetts umbrella policy provides excess liability protection over and above your underlying home and auto limits. Most people purchase a $1,000,000 or $2,000,000 umbrella. If you have an underlying homeowners limit of $500,000, and a $1,000,000 Umbrella, you have a total of $1,500,000 in coverage. Same goes for the auto limits. The umbrella is additional protection over your auto limit. So, if you have a major lawsuit on your hands and your underlying limits are exhausted, you can rest easy knowing that you have backup: an umbrella policy!
3. Why Should I have an Umbrella Policy? Bottom line: It's CHEAP! Believe it or not, umbrella policies are CHEAP! For the average household (1 home, 2 cars, 6 or more years of driving experience and perfect driving records) the premium is about $150.00 per year! That's $12 per month for a lot of extra coverage and most importantly, peace of mind! The cost does go up if you have more cars or own more homes ( or if your driving history isn't stellar) but it is still very reasonable given the added protection provided.
PLEASE don't hesitate to purchase a Massachusetts umbrella policy. Contact us at (978) 562-3464 to review your current coverage and inquire. Or, simply click HERE to request a quote! We look forward to assisting you and providing you with the best coverages and options.
Thomas E. Sears Insurance Agency, Inc.
Insurance Companies do not like trampolines, to put in mildly. But why? We at Thomas E. Sears Insurance Agency get a lot of questions about trampolines and homeowners insurance and why it's such a bad mix. Here are your top questions regarding this subject and the answers:
1. Why don't insurance companies like trampolines? Sure, they're a great time but when your child, or your child's friend falls off and gets hurt, the party's over. Most injuries involve colliding with other jumpers, landing the wrong way or falling off. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cites nearly 92,000 emergency room visits each year with 75,000 of those injuries involving children under age 15. What does this mean for insurance companies? A LOT of claims paid out. If your child's friend is injured on YOUR trampoline, that friend's parents can sue you for medical payments and damages and your insurance company is on the hook for potentially a lot of money - and you, too, if your limits aren't high enough. Trampolines are considered an "attractive nuisance" by insurance companies and due to the large claims paid out, they have begun to restrict coverage, or in many cases deny it all together.
There is no denying that winter has arrived! According to The Hartford, the most common claims in the Northeast during the winter are frozen pipes followed by roof leaks, wind damage and ice dams. Here are 7 tips to keep you prepared for the winter:
1. Know what you have for coverage: Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage resulting from burst pipes or fallen trees but flooding is not covered! Contact your agent to be sure what your policy covers.
2. Trim those trees: Trim any branches that are touching the house and cut down trees that are rotting or about to fall. A tree falling over on to your house or car can cause serious damage.
3. Check your heater before it's too late: Don't wait until a very cold night to check your heater. You'll be out of luck (and very cold) if you find it's not working. Be prepared and make sure it's working well beforehand. Heat outages can also lead to frozen pipes.
4. Take a lot of pictures of damage you incur: but BEFORE you start to make any repairs. Most people are prepared to take pictures of any damage to their home but the pictures should be taken BEFORE any repair work begins to give the claims appraiser and adjuster the full extent of the damage. An appraiser will also review the damage and take pictures but having pictures on hand right after the damage occurs can help the process a lot.
5. Prevent frozen pipes: Know how your pipes are insulated and let water drip out of the faucet on really cold days - to keep the water moving. If you plan on lowering the heat while you are on vacation, don't turn it off completely. The recommend setting is 65 degrees. Yes, heat costs are expensive but burst pipes are costly, too. In the event of a burst pipe, make sure you are familiar with how to shut off the water so that you can prevent further damage.
6. Clear the gutters: Be sure to remove sticks, leaves and debris from gutters so that water and snow can flow easily - otherwise it can freeze. Once frozen, snow will then start to pile up on the roof, leading to leaks as it melts. This is known as an ice dam. Ice dams can cause extensive amounts of damage.
7. Fix what you can fix: After you take the photos of the damage, you may start making small repairs to prevent further damage. An appraiser will need to see the damage before it's fixed to get a good idea of the type and size of the loss but it's okay to do small repairs that will prevent further damage from happening - like shutting off the water and placing tarp over broken windows.
Happy New Year and please call us at (978) 562-3464 if we can be of assistance to you!
Thomas E. Sears Insurance Agency, Inc.
Every month, we share easy tasks you can do to keep your home in tip-top shape all year long. So, here are 4 simple tasks you can take on in November!
1. Maintain Large Appliances: Appliances are a big long-term investment! That's why it's important to take good care of them all year long. Your refrigerator is a great place to start. Accumulating dust can make your fridge's cooling system less efficient. To prevent trouble, regularly pull the fridge away from the wall and clean the condenser coils with a vacuum. It's also a good idea to dust and clean the front lower grille. This five minute task can add years of service!
2. Clean the Oven & Stove Drip Pans: Next, move on to your stove. Let's get this clean before the holiday cooking marathon begins! The good news is that many ovens have a self cleaning feature that will do this work for you but the problem is that it takes awhile and usually smells pretty bad. Save this task for a nice day and open up the window to keep it well ventilated. Check your stove's manual for instructions and take a few minutes to clean the burners, too.
Halloween is just a few days away! We love any excuse around to celebrate and Halloween is especially fun around the office, but we wouldn't be good agents if we didn't give you a few good liability tips :)
You've heard most Halloween advice over and over:
Pack a flashlight..
Put reflective tape on costumes..
Check the candy before letting your kids eat it..
But what about the risks at your home? Your Homeowners Insurance does cover you if someone is injured on your property but here are a few tips to prevent accidents before they happen:
Every month, we share easy tasks you can do to keep your home in tip-top shape all year long. So, here are 5 simple tasks you can take on in October!
1. Pack Away the Air Conditioner: If you use a seasonal air conditioning unit, then now is the time to pack it up for winter. Make sure to spend a few extra minutes cleaning all the filters and coils as well. It will keep the unit in great shape and you'll be glad you did it when you dig it out next season.
2. Winterize External Plumbing Systems: It's much better to prepare for freezing temperatures before it's freezing! Winterize all exposed outdoor pipes and you'll avoid the trouble when there is snow or ice on the ground.
Every month, we share easy tasks you can do to keep your home in tip-top shape all year long. So, here are 5 tasks that you can do in September to prepare your home for cool fall weather!
1. Check Gutters: Take a few minutes to make sure your gutters are clear. With rain and falling leaves, gutters will be working overtime. By making sure they're clear now, you'll avoid possible water damage later on.
When quoting auto insurance for clients, we frequently discuss how to choose the right deductible. I thought I’d take a few minutes to share this information here, too:
A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket when you have a claim. If you have a $500 collision deductible and have an accident, then you would pay $500 towards repairing your vehicle (if you are at fault) and insurance would cover the rest. The deductible you choose directly relates to the amount of money you spend on premiums each month. The higher the deductible ($250, $500, $1000), the lower your monthly cost.