Archive for March, 2015

Almost Spring and Your Home Insurance Options!

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by Personal Insurance No Comments

It is really almost spring time so why not take a moment to see what your home insurance may now offer?

As an independent agency we represent over ten home insurance companies. This is good news for our clients as this translates into many options for coverage and price. As each home owner decides which coverage is “right” for them, we do recommend that our clients consider taking a look this new coverage option.

Underground Service Line Coverage

This provides coverage for service line repairs and also for damage to outdoor property caused by the repairs. Examples include driveways, walkways, lawns, shrubbery and plants. Service line repairs may include repairs to underground pipes and wiring that bring services such as water, power, data and communication into your home.

Here is an example of how this coverage assisted one of our clients

An underground sewer line on the client’s property was damaged by tree root growth. The driveway and landscape around the area were damaged while accessing the sewer line. With this added Service Line Coverage, the home policy provided a claim payment of $10,500 for these repairs.

As this is a newly available coverage we want all of our clients to know about this option. It is probably not automatically included in your home insurance coverage, but if you are interested we do have companies that will add this Underground Service Line Coverage to your policy!

Enjoy the spring weather coming our way!

Flood Safety Awareness Week

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by Personal Insurance No Comments

Flood Safety Awareness Week

In case you missed it, last week was Flood Safety Awareness week in Massachusetts.

With all of the snow still on the ground and the ice dam claims still rolling in, we did not spend a great deal of time celebrating Flood Safety.

However, it is the perfect time for all property owners to make certain they know what type of flood zone they are in and what the National Flood insurance Program thinks about the flood risk at their property.

You can simply check this out by going to www.floodsmart.gov. Once you know your risk you can even review a video that breaks down the cost of flood damage at a property.

The most important thing to remember is that 99% of all insurance property policies WILL NOT cover flood damage. Property owners need to obtain flood coverage from a separate policy.

Check out your flood risk before you need it!

Calling All Doctors

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by Commercial Insurance No Comments

More Choices, Better Malpractice Program

Operating a successful medical practice today has never been more challenging. The decisions you make regarding billing & reimbursements, patient care, and how your medical malpractice insurance is placed will determine the financial stability and long term health of the practice.

With the exception of employee health insurance, how your group’s malpractice insurance is placed may be the practices largest financial decision. One of the biggest misconceptions with insurance in general and medical malpractice specifically, is that all insurance is the same. Just like all cars, houses and businesses are not the same, all malpractice contracts are not the same.

What are your options?

The more options you have, the more control you have over the coverage and cost of your contract. Questions to ask; Who is handling your malpractice insurance? Do you have a malpractice advisor or an insurance generalist? Worse yet, are you working directly with a company providing a one size fits all approach?

A couple quick questions will provide your answer, Can you answer Yes here;

  1. Our advisor represents more than one company
  2. Our advisor personally meets with us and provides more than one option
  3. Your billing options does not include any fees
  4. The group is experience rated not individual physician rated
  5. Your risk management courses cut the cost of your insurance
  6. Your contract INCLUDES Physician-Consent-to-Settle

Individual physicians, Specialists and Large Medical Groups all benefit when they determine how their malpractice contracts are placed. Above all, you deserve an advisor working in your best interest. An option not available when your advisor represents one company or you elected the insurance company as your advisor.

For more information on how you can improve your malpractice insurance contract Call us Today! You have Malpractice questions, We have the Answers!

No Question. It was a MEAN winter.

Posted on: March 16th, 2015 by Personal Insurance No Comments

As we enjoyed a few days of spring temperatures last week, I remain hopeful that the worst of winter is behind us! Yet I do remember one twelve inch snow storm in April a few years ago.

As the severe weather winter claims continue to roll in to our office, across the country early February estimates are that these claims will total in the low digit billions. Many individuals and businesses have suffered weather related losses and unplanned expenses.

I know that just our home and our business “snow removable” costs were in excess of $8,000. We most certainly did not budget for that type of expense.

As the snow around us continues to melt I am sure our clients may then notice winter weather related damages. So from our agency perspective, the claims will roll on.

One of our objectives when our clients call us with claims is to review with them the impact of a “claim”.

Many of our companies offer substantial “loss free” credits and other loss free pricing options. We want to make certain that our clients review the pros and cons of submitting that $500 claim only to lose a $450 loss free credit and a change of pricing tier.

At the time of this writing many of our carriers have not definitely decided on how they will “count” these losses. Due to the extreme and wide spread nature of this severe winter weather, we hoping for some “waiver” of these weather related claims so that our insureds keep their “loss free” status. . Trust me; our agency is lobbying for this position.

In the MEAN time, we want to make certain that our clients understand how this works.

So when you are thinking about submitting those smaller claims, please check in with your agent before you start that process. They will able to advise you on the options. It is also a great time to look at your deductible! Maintaining a $1,000 deductible keeps your insurance cost down and assist with you keeping any loss free credits.

Looking forward to seeing my grass!

Cyber Liability, Data Breach and Your Business

Posted on: March 13th, 2015 by Commercial Insurance No Comments

For three years we have talked to our business clients about Cyber Liability Insurance , the conversation is usually a quick one with little or no action taken. Today more business owners are requesting information on Data Breach coverage, what’s included and at what cost.

More clearly defined, “Cyber Liability” is protection for the Personal information you collect and hold as part of your business. Personal information like; Social Security #, Drivers License #, Credit Card, Medical History, are examples of personal information you accepted and are untrusted to secure. Do not look to your standard property insurance contract for Cyber/Data Breach protection, you will be disappointed with zero or very limited coverage.

While most people are familiar with the media’s coverage of large Data Breach cases at Target and Facebook, the fact is, cyber criminals are targeting small businesses more than ever. Small businesses don’t have the deep pockets or the advanced security measures of big business and are easier targets for cyber criminals. Cyber criminals may target a large company as its end goal but gain access through the smaller business working with the larger company.

Perhaps the most important coverage in Cyber Liability protection may have nothing to do with a Cyber liability lawsuit, but Data Breach Response. By law when a business owner is aware of a Data Breach they are required to notify the state they do business of the breach. Data Breach Response expenses can include; Notification of all affected persons, Forensic accounting of the breach, Credit monitoring, Credit Card assistance. All these expenses can be mandated by the state and the business would pay out of pocket for each. A conservative breach cost estimate is around $80 per record, with even a minor breach of 500 records, the numbers get big in a hurry.

Businesses accepting credit card payments are especially vulnerable. Most credit card agreements include onerous hold harmless agreements and warranties about security. If credit card information is breached, you are obligated to fix the breach and pay reimbursement and penalties to the credit card vendor. Check your agreements, know what you signed up for.

Data Breaches targeting businesses are not going away anytime soon. Cyber Liability Insurance may prove your best defense. Be proactive, understand the personal information you accepted, and determine the best way for your business to protect.

You have questions on Data Breach and Cyber Liability, Call us, We Have the Answers!

Did you catch Sixty Minutes last week?

Posted on: March 6th, 2015 by Personal Insurance No Comments

Since there is no football in season Sixty Minutes came on the air the its correct time on Sunday so I did have the chance to view the entire segment. Although my kids groan when I advise them we are tuning in to this program, I persist and commandeered the clicker.

Sixty Minutes did a segment on Superstorm Sandy and fraud. In this case the fraud was perpetrated by the INSURANCE COMPANIES. I did sit in disbelief as I watched homeowners share their claims experiences with regard to their Sandy claims.

Short version of this story was that it appears that some insurance companies may have falsified engineering reports in order to reduce payouts. For the long version of this you can Click here and check out this link:

Following “60 Minutes” Segment Senators Call for Hearing into Fraudulent Reports Linked to Superstorm Sandy

Since some of the entities involved are federally funded there are now calls for further “Inspector General” review and numerous investigations that are planned.

From my insurance agent view, I think about how we can assist our clients when this type of situation arises. Our agency strives to be our client advocates at claim time. To our agency this means that we work diligently to ensure that our clients are fairly treated by insurance companies. As insurance policies are just “contracts” as needed we dive into insurance policy language to make certain that the insurance companies are fulfilling their contract terms. That is a very important part of our job as an agent.

From many of the stories on this Sixty Minute segment, I did not hear mention of an “agent”. I heard many mentions of the insured calling the insurance company and adjusters. As an “agent” it is our job to assist with the resolution of claims. When consumers go directly to insurance companies this agent role disappears.

If the Sixty Minute segment is true, the fraudulent practices of these companies should be reversed and all damaged by these entities will hopefully be compensated for their actual structural damages PLUS compensated for the unfair claims practices which were practiced.

If you ever have a question on your claim, please let your agent know. They can help!

Claims can be tricky. No one enjoys having something destroyed. As an agent our goal is to assist and advocate during this process so that the claim results in a fair and reasonable outcome.