Insurance Blog
Items filtered by date: February 2017
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 15:21

Insurance Checklist for Homebuyers

Sold sign

Are you moving into a new home? Looking to upsize or downsize? Then it's time to call us to review your insurance needs.

  1. Upon Signing the Purchase and Sale Agreement: Contact Baldwin/Welsh & Parker for an insurance quote. Be ready with: your new home’s address, square footage, year built, and years of updates to wiring, plumbing, heating, and the roof.

  2. Decide on Coverage: Your experienced agent will help you make decisions about your insurance needs (including special coverage for jewelry, earthquake, and flood), and provide you with a detailed proposal.

  3. Closing: Provide your agent with the mortgage bank’s closing attorney or mortgage broker’s contact information. Your agent will prepare the insurance documentation and provide it to the bank’s attorney for review prior to closing.

  4. Cancel Previous Insurance: If your former home is not yet sold at the time of relocation, discuss with your agent how vacancy may affect your coverage.

  5. Moving: Check with your mover to make sure that you have coverage for personal belongings in transit.

Published in Homeowners

Be prepared to Spring Forward on Sunday, March 12

daylight savings spring

According to the latest research, springtime’s Daylight Savings change is the most dangerous. In the first few days after we lose an hour of sleep, researchers have shown increases in car accidents and heart attacks. The Fatal Accident Reporting System found a 17% increase in traffic fatalities on the Monday after this shift! The loss of the hour of sleep, according to researchers, causes a significant disruption in sleep cycles. Lack of sleep impairs driving ability, and driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as distracted driving.

In preparation to Spring Forward on Sunday, March 12, here are 7 tips to help you adjust to the change:

1) Go to bed early the days leading up to the time change. Start going to bed early, about 15 minutes each night, leading up to the change in clocks. It will give your body a chance to acclimatize sooner.

2) Adjust the timing of your other daily routines. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that in addition to going to bed early, you should also adjust daily routines that are “time cues” for your body. For example, eating dinner a touch earlier each evening.

3) Spring forward in the early evening on Saturday. Set your clocks to spring forward early Saturday evening, then go to sleep at your “regular” bedtime. By doing so, you’re basically spring forwarding your sleep one night earlier. Stick to your normal bedtime on Sunday too.

4) Get some Vitamin D. Try to catch some rays in the early morning sunlight on Sunday.

5) Work from home. If you have the option to work from home, this is the ideal day (or two) to take advantage of it. That way, you can avoid other drivers who might be feeling the effects of lack of sleep.

6) Slow down. Pay attention. Don’t drive distracted. During the first few days, slow down and pay attention. Always important—no matter what time of year—but worth the reminder: don’t drive distracted. Turn the radio down, drink your coffee at the office (or at home), don’t take breakfast or your afternoon snack to go, and save the call (even if it is hands-free) for later.

7) Bring your sunglasses along for the ride. The shift in time may mean that you’re now driving home while the day is still bright. Make sure you’ve got a pair of sunglasses in the car.

Published in Auto Insurance
Monday, 20 February 2017 03:52

Steps to Manage Water Seepage or Flood Risks

basement flood 2

As we move from winter into spring, spring rains coupled with melting snow and ice can increase the risks of water seepage and flooding, and it’s not just those in high risk flood zones who are vulnerable. Here’s some information on evaluating your risk and how you can protect your home from these hazards and with flood insurance.

Floods are often associated with rivers and streams overrunning their banks, or with heavy rains from hurricanes and other major storms, and while those are very real hazards, the reality is that water seepage or flooding can be caused by a number of factors.

Steps to Manage Your Risk.

In order to help manage your water seepage or flood risk, here are a few simple steps to reduce your potential losses:

  1. Raise your furnace, water heater and any other basement appliances on cement blocks so that they are off of the floor. Even a few inches of water in a basement could cause serious damage to these appliances.
  2. Make sure your sump pump is working and consider installing a battery powered backup in the event of a power failure. You may also want to install a water alarm to alert you when water begins to accumulate in your basement.
  3. Have an electrician come in and raise any electrical components like power outlets, circuit breakers and wiring that may be near the floor.
  4. Have water proof containers for items you may be storing in a basement, and if possible, keep them elevated
  5. If your area is threatened with flood conditions, move any valuables out of the basement to a safer place elsewhere in the house.

 

Is It Getting Warm or Is It Me?

During the days of spring where it can suddenly get very warm out, the ground may still be frozen, and so if the ground cannot absorb the water, melting snow can cause flooding issues for homes and businesses. As it gradually becomes warmer, though and the ground is able to absorb the water from melting snow and springtime rain, eventually it may become saturated, and with nowhere else to go, water could still accumulate on your property. All of the melting snow and spring rain can also cause the rapid accumulation of debris in storm drains, as leaves, sticks and gravel that had been buried under snow for several months are all of a sudden exposed and carried into the drainage system. If those storm drains are blocked, the water from just a single rainstorm can find its way to your property. When the water has nowhere else to go it can begin to come into basements and ground floors of homes and businesses. The other major risk comes from intense periods of heavy rain, where the rainfall comes down faster than it can be absorbed into the ground, something that can easily happen almost anywhere in the country.

What Are Your Flood Risks?

The first step in flood safety is to know the risks, and this involves finding out what type of flooding you may be vulnerable to. If your home is near the coast or a body of water that could spill over its banks, or if you live in a low lying area or valley, you may be in a high risk flood zone. You can check flood hazard maps, created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which can show you whether you live in one of these high risk areas and where your risk comes from. But even if you’re not in a high risk zone, you’re not immune to the potential for flooding, as heavy rains can fall almost everywhere, and if the ground cannot absorb it, the water has to go somewhere. According to FloodSmart.gov, 20% of all flood insurance claims come from areas that are not designated as high risk.

Another factor to consider when evaluating your risk of flooding is development and new construction in your area. A development project or new construction can drastically alter how the ground in the area is able to absorb water from rain or melting snow, particularly when the ground around the project is cleared of trees and other brush that help absorb ground water, or if the project has large paved areas, like parking lots, that could impact drainage and run-off. This could be true whether it’s a relatively small project like a new home being built next door to something much larger, like a shopping center, which may be large enough to impact flood risk for an entire neighborhood.

Flood Insurance.

Unfortunately, many people may not know that flood damage is not covered by homeowners insurance. Three major threats—fire, lightning and windstorms—are traditionally covered by homeowners property insurance. Flooding is excluded from homeowners coverage, as flood risk is very widespread and impacts all 50 states. In fact, in high risk areas, the risk of a home being damaged by a flood is twice that of it being damaged by a fire, according to FloodSmart.gov. Private insurers are not able to absorb all that risk.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is part of FEMA. It provides flood coverage to homeowners and renters as well as commercial building owners in communities that have joined NFIP, which requires they take certain steps to help prevent flooding. Coverage is provided through Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents, as well as through other insurance agents.

Flood insurance may not just be desirable for homeowners, it may be required. For example, mortgage lenders are legally bound to require consumers buying a house in a high-risk flood zone to have flood insurance.

If you own or rent property in low- or moderate-risk flood areas, you can buy flood insurance, and may be eligible for a lower-cost preferred risk flood policy. Unlike homeowners insurance, flood insurance typically has a waiting period. The NFIP sets a standard 30-day waiting period before flood coverage goes into effect, though it’s important to discuss this with your insurance agent to understand what the exceptions to the waiting period are and whether the waiting period would apply to your specific situation.

Call on us at any of our four Baldwin / Welsh & Parker (BWP) Insurance Agency offices in Bedford, Hudson. Wayland, or Winthrop to help you sort out the coverage you need, what the policy will and won’t cover, and can help you get it through the NFIP.

Published in Homeowners

Car dealer

From our Trusted Choice Friends

Hail to the chief! If you’re in the market for a new car, depending on what type of vehicle you’re looking for, President’s Day Weekend may be the time to find it. In addition to certain discounts from the automakers, dealerships also may be offering deals or incentives to buy. But whether you’re buying your first car or trading in for a “Presidential” upgrade, it’s important to keep in mind a few things about auto insurance when shopping for a new car.

First, if you’re serious about buying a new car (or a new-to-you used car!), before you even step onto a dealer’s lot, let your Baldwin or Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice ® independent insurance agent know you’ll be buying a car. First of all, if you have a specific make and model in mind they may be able to give you a quote on the price of insurance coverage, so that you can factor it into your budget and decision making process.

Second, you cannot drive the car off of the lot without insurance coverage, so making arrangements with your agent ahead of time can save you time and effort scrambling to secure coverage while at the dealership.

Here are a few more things to consider…

Do you already have insurance?

Yes- If you already have auto insurance on your existing car and are trading it in, some insurance companies will cover your new car for up to 30 days before changing to a new policy, but make sure you ask your agent if your current company will provide coverage on the new car until you’re ready to make separate arrangements. If your old car or trade-in doesn’t have collision coverage and you’re financing the new car, the lending company will very likely require that you add collision coverage. Ask your agent if your new car is eligible for any insurance discounts your previous car wasn’t- some insurance companies provide discounts for certain safety features and anti-theft devices.

No- If this is your first car you’ll definitely want to make arrangements with your agent ahead of time. If you already have homeowners or renters insurance, you may be eligible for discounts on premium by adding an auto policy with the same company.

Test Drives

As a smart shopper you may want to literally kick the tires on a few models and visit a few dealerships before making your decision. In fact, you’ll probably want to take a prospective car out for a test drive. But what happens if you get into an accident during your test drive?

There are a lot of variables at play when you test drive a car. First of all, even though the dealer may have insurance on the vehicles, do not assume that you are absolved of all of the risk of taking the car for a test drive. Understand what insurance coverage you have and what insurance coverage may be required by your state or the dealership before taking a test drive.

Make sure that dealer assures you that if you do have an accident and damage the car, their insurance company will not come after you for reimbursement. Most garage policies (which insure the cars for the dealership) allow the dealer to waive subrogation in advance (in other words coming after you for the reimbursement).

Shopping for and buying a new car can be fun, and you should feel comfortable asking us questions about coverage and cost to help ease the buying process.

Published in Auto Insurance

Getting Married? 

Wedding ring

Getting married and embarking on a new life together is one of the most exciting experiences in two people’s lives. It’s a time of hope, promise, romance and … reality. Whether a couple is planning their wedding or deciding where to live, there are a lot of decisions to make before saying “I do,” especially when it comes to insurance.

Whether a walk down the aisle is in your future or you’re a newlywed, there are numerous insurance issues that come with being Mr. and Mrs. To keep them all straight, your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent has these helpful tips on how getting married impacts your insurance. No wedding planner or over-priced flowers required.

 

Auto insurance

  • Most auto insurers view marriage as an indication of greater responsibility – especially for men younger than 25 – so most insurance companies offer lower premiums for married people.
  • Getting hitched also means you can add your spouse and their car to your auto insurance policy (or vice versa), which will likely lower your rate with a multi-vehicle discount.

Health Insurance

  • Once you are married, most group health insurance plans allow you to put your spouse on your plan – even if it’s outside the annual enrollment period. If you both are enrolled in group plans, analyze each of them based on your current and future health care needs. One spouse’s plan my have a lower premium, but require a higher deductible. Also check each plan’s policy limits and rules about pre-existing conditions.
  • If your new union includes new dependants, and you need to include them on your policy, you should contact your employer to add them to your policy. This can also be done outside the annual open enrollment period. If you have individual health insurance, you may need to prove the child or children’s insurability prior to adding them to the policy.

Life Insurance

If you already have a life insurance policy, you may want to update it so that your new spouse is the beneficiary. If you don’t have life insurance, tying the knot is a good time to get a policy. Life insurance provides you and your spouse with the peace of mind that you’re financially protected from the unexpected.

Homeowner’s/Renter’s Insurance

  • Couples can save money on their homeowner's or renter's insurance  once they are married for the simple reason that they’re under one roof instead of two. Couples who already live together, but have separate policies can get a joint policy after they tie the knot.
  • Whether you’re moving in together or already cohabitating, chances are you’re going to receive wedding gifts. Be sure to update your home inventory and insurance policy to include these new items. If you don’t have an inventory, you should create one that includes everything of value that you and your spouse own. The Trusted Choice Mobile App includes a home inventory tool.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re the one who bought the engagement ring or you’re the one wearing it, you’ll want that sparkler to be insured. Most homeowner’s and renter’s policies can be adjusted to include a personal property rider to cover the cost of replacing the ring.

Wedding Insurance

  • Getting married usually means orchestrating a wedding or some sort of gathering for family and friends, and planning such a party comes with a hefty price tag. While couples make hundreds of decisions when planning their wedding – from finding a reception hall to choosing china – many don’t spend the time and money to get insurance for their big day. Wedding insurance policies are usually relatively inexpensive (about $125 to $275) and protect your big day from being spoiled by bad weather, illness/injury, or a missing officiant or vendor. Wedding insurance will also usually cover damage to or problems with your ceremony and/or reception sites that cause your wedding to be rescheduled.
  • Before you take your vows, make sure you have the right insurance to help you through good times and bad, in sickness and in health. Contact us at Baldwin / Welsh & Parker with questions about your policy or if you need a new policy. Your agent is always happy to help newlyweds navigate their insurance – and you don’t even have to invite him or her to the wedding!
Published in Insurance Tips
Friday, 03 February 2017 16:32

Superbowl Party Hosts - Safety First!

Superbowl

Who is liable if a Superbowl guest gets food poisoning or drives home drunk? As millions of Americans host and attend parties across the street and across the country, many may be unaware of the risks they may be taking. Party hosts need to understand their responsibilities when inviting people into their homes and serving food and drinks. 

If you’re hosting a Superbowl party, make sure you follow these important safety tips:

  • Do your homework. When hosting a Superbowl party, you should look to the liability portion of your homeowners or renters insurance policy to protect you if you are sued and found liable for an accident involving a guest who consumed alcohol or got sick after consuming food at your home. Make sure you regularly review your liability coverage limits to ensure you are adequately covered should an accident or illness occur.
  • Watch what you eat and feed others. Even if food was prepared outside your home by a caterer, another guest, a local deli or the neighborhood pizza joint, you could be held liable if someone becomes ill from consuming it on your property. Make sure that you check food and don’t put anything out that you suspect may be undercooked, spoiled or contaminated. Use only reputable food purveyors. Follow proper food handling, heating/cooling and storage recommendations. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Know your state laws and statutes. In many states, party hosts can be held liable if a guest is involved in an alcohol-related accident. Many courts have found hosts liable for damages their party guests cause as a result of consuming alcohol and then driving motor vehicles. Many states have also enacted statutes that can be interpreted as mandating non-commercial social host liability. So, if a guest or third party is injured in an accident that is related to alcohol consumption and the drinking can be linked to you, you could be held responsible for the payment of medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work and—in the worst case—claims for wrongful death resulting in huge monetary settlements.
  • Mix up the activities, not just the cocktails. If the party centers around drinking, guests will likely drink more. Schedule entertainment or activities that do not involve alcohol. Provide safe, filling food for guests and alternatives to alcoholic beverages.
  • Party elsewhere. Host your party at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, rather than in a home or office, to decrease your liability.
  • Call a cab, get a room or have a slumber party. Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who cannot or should not drive home.
  • Just say no. Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated. Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end. Stay alert and always remember your responsibilities as a host. You might also consider hiring an off-duty police officer or professional bouncer to discreetly monitor guests’ sobriety or handle any alcohol-related problems as guests leave.
  • Consider an umbrella policy. While Superbowl partygoers and hosts alike should act responsibly and know their limits, consumers need to acknowledge that most risks cannot be entirely eliminated. But planning ahead and learning about what’s involved in hosting a reception is the best defense. Purchasing a personal umbrella liability policy—providing $1 million or more in additional coverage over the limit of a standard homeowners or renters policy—may be a prudent move for the frequent party host.

Have a terrific Superbowl Weekend and put safety first! Here's to a Patriots win!

Published in Homeowners

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